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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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
To be continued.
Text and images © Paul Shorrock except images tagged (JB) © John Bamber and (LS) © Les Staves