Sunday, 12 May 2013

Yorkshire Three Peaks April 2013

It was just over year the weather last Winter defeated our previous attempt at the Yorks Three Peaks, and so having compared calendars with walking buddy Dave, Claire and I found a date at the start of April this year to give the Three Peaks challenge walk another go.

It is an odd one it has to be said. Due to the nature of the challenge, you don't get a great deal of time to fully appreciate the scenery as you are trying to complete the walk in less than twelve hours. It also attracts a huge volume of walkers which obviously puts a strain on the footpaths of these fragile fells. A lot of work has been done to improve the path and make it more durable, especially across the infamous bog section between Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside

The sun was just coming up over the top of Pen-y-Ghent as we set off from Horton-In-Ribblesdale and it really was a beautiful morning to be out on the fells. The first couple of miles are very rewarding as although it is a sharp pull up Pen-y-Ghent, it isn't long before you reach the top, soaking up the views and thinking one down, two to go, that's not so bad!

Reality soon kicks in afterwards - the long trudge over to Ribblehead takes a few hours to complete and although I remembered this a being a flat march, there are actually a couple of short ascents and descents. The great news here is that the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and National Park Authority have done a fantastic job in putting a new path that diverts away from the boggy ground of Black Dubb Moss which makes for much easier going.

The tarmac on the road for the mile or so over to Ribblehead is hard on the feet, but this was all good as we had left a car here and knew that a breakfast stop and water bottle refill was soon to come.

The next long trudge was along the huge hump-backed spine of Whernside, which is a good couple of miles of non-stop ascent. I have really enjoyed walking Whernside individually but as part of the challenge walk is it pretty tough going - even more so on a snow-covered path.

With Ingleborough up next, we enjoyed the gentle walk between the two fells and the good path across the lower slopes leading up to the steep bit. Normally this is a tough slog up a zig zag path, but with a thick blanket of snow, the only way was to head straight up kicking holes into the ice and climbing the sharp gradient upwards. This certainly got the heart, legs and adrenalin pumping!

From the top of Ingleborough we had some spectacular views all around of the terrain we had walked and way beyond. This is a great fell and definitely deserves exploration on its own and not just as part of the challenge.

The last couple of miles seem a lot longer than they actually are as fatigue sets in, but the end is in sight, and soon enough we were back in Horton in Ribblesdale hobbling to the Three Peaks Cafe on tired but happy legs.

We decided to stay at a spectacular bed and breakfast not far from Clapham, and toasted our walk with a couple of drinks in the pubs of Ingleton that evening before sleeping extremely well!

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