#271 – Diary of a project (Part 2) – The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge guidebook

Winter over Ingleborough

(Left click images to zoom in, use browser return arrow to go back)

There’s a saying in the military, known as the 7 P’s – “Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents P*ss Poor Performance”. I soon realised that if I was going to write a guidebook for the Y3P (see post #270) I needed a plan before I even took a step on the ground.

The author taking some of the first steps on the Y3P project (JB)

Inspiration struck – I would write three simple circular routes (Routes 1, 2 & 3) up each of the Three Peaks for visitors who had never been there before. These would be followed by another three routes (Routes 4, 5 & 6). These would be linear routes, again covering the Big Three, but this time concentrating on covering the actual Challenge route on each mountain. The idea was to give Challenge walkers a good recce of the route on the ground with the opportunity for a bit of fitness training thrown in. The final route (Route 7) would be the full Challenge route itself.

Routes 1,2 & 3

Routes 4,5 & 6

The final Challenge route (Route 5 changed to include the longer option by Little Dale)

Some of my best days in the hills and mountains have been solo days, where there’s no one to please but yourself! By 2009 I had two years experience of writing walking routes and I knew that a bit of help would come in useful, so I recruited a couple of extras. My usual walking companion is my missus Chris, and she had patiently waited on literally hundreds of occasions whilst I took photographs of route waymarks and dictated walk directions into a pocket voice recorder – the Y3P was to be a doddle for her!

“That’s another fine mess he’s got me into” – a soggy looking Chris in the Lake District

‘The Man with the Beard’ – John Bamber and lots of cameras on the South Ridge of Pen y Ghent

John Bamber, on the other hand, is as daft as me, perhaps more so. I met John in my late teens, and our first project together was canoeing from the Isle of Man to Blackpool, a distance of about 100kms (60 miles) in a straight line. After looking at tide tables, we realised the crossing would be anything but a straight line, and we covered a good bit of the Irish Sea in the 24hrs it took to make the crossing. We subsequently shared the experience of sailing a 27-foot open boat around Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea, and both started potholing at around the same time.

Blackpool 1971 after canoeing from the I.o.M – The author (silly hat + hair!), JB (no beard, far right)

When I gave up the underground to concentrate on the mountains, John carried on caving. He’s since discovered the joys of high places, and is now an experienced alpine mountaineer, as well as having substantial experience of working in the Arctic. More importantly for the Y3P project, he is a better photographer than I am – he also has lots of cameras!

John Bamber (left) and the author with Border Collie ‘Mist’ – Glyder Fach, Snowdonia, April 2013 (JB)

There is another regular character who has appeared in almost all my blogs over the years, but who wasn’t involved in the Y3P project, and that’s Border Collie ‘Mist’. It’s hard now to imagine setting out on a hill trip without her, but in Autumn 2009 she hadn’t appeared on the scene and it would be over another year before she became my regular hill buddy.

Border Collie ‘Mist’ on a later trip up Pen y Ghent, February 2011 (JB)

I didn’t know it at the time, but it was going to take four months to log the various route variations on GPS and to gather the photographs. GPS logging was no problem, but it perhaps wasn’t such an inspired decision to start in November on a project requiring a large number of photos – having said that, the Yorkshire Dales can be dank and miserable in High Summer and glorious in Winter. So, ‘travelling hopefully’ I started on 18th November 2009 with the first route.

18 November 2009 – Route 3, Ingleborough, solo.

Route 3, starting at the flag and travelling anti-clockwise

That’s where I’m heading – Ingleborough and Great Douk

I picked Route 3 as a good start point, as it didn’t really matter which order I did the routes in. I had previously covered the route for WalkingWorld a couple of years earlier, but with a different start point and going the other way round. This time I was starting from near the Hill Inn at Chapel le Dale, and following the Y3P route up to the summit – then, instead of following the Y3P route to Horton, I headed to Park Fell and followed the low path back to the cave at Great Douk, before returning to the start point.

The start to route 3 – how it looks in good weather ….

…. but good weather wasn’t on the menu ….

…. and even the locals were looking a bit damp

It turned out to be a foul day, with rain and strong winds, but at least it gave me a chance to test some Gore-Tex salopettes that hadn’t been used much.

What the higher part of the route looks like on a dry day ….

…. but pretty wet when I recorded it – note the stream flowing down the hillside in the centre!

The same stream at the top of the main ascent ….

…. often just a trickle in summer

One of the objectives of the day had been to pick up some decent photos of the route, but it wasn’t to be – streams that were normally just a trickle were now raging torrents, and the extensive views on the almost flat summit plateau were non-existent.

The summit in good weather ….

…. but not so good on this trip

Heading back by Simon Fell

I had started fairly late, which guaranteed a finish in the dark, but I like night walking and it was enjoyable in a soggy sort of way. As I reached Great Douk cave I was surprised to see approaching lights, which turned out to be two hikers who were doing the Challenge route. Unfortunately for them, Great Douk Cave isn’t on the Challenge route, but I broke the news as gently as I could. I had about 10 minutes walking to reach my car, they had about 3½ hours and a crossing of Ingleborough ahead of them.

Getting near to Great Douk, and it’s getting dark ….

…. before the night finally arrives

Final score at the end of the day was Gore-Tex salopettes – 2, rain – nil, but as a photographic trip it had been a washout. Still, at least I had the track logged on GPS and there was always the chance that the next outing would be better. Some chance of that, as December rapidly approached!

Early evening on Ingleborough in more pleasant weather conditions

To be continued.

Text and images © Paul Shorrock except images tagged (JB) © John Bamber and (LS) © Les Staves

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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5 Responses to #271 – Diary of a project (Part 2) – The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge guidebook

  1. My favourite route up Ingleborough from Chapel… Not been to the cave at Great Douk although I have come down over Simon and Park Fells many times. I usually end up coming out at the old railway cottages and walking a mile or so back up the road to Ribblehead…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: #272 – Diary of a project – The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge guidebook (Part 3) | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

  3. Pingback: #274 – Diary of a project – The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge guidebook (Part 5) | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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