The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge Walk from Horton in Ribblesdale comprising Pen-y-ghent 694m (2,277ft), Whernside 736m (2,415ft) and Ingleborough 723m (2,372ft) is one of the oldest established walks in the UK. These peaks form part of the Pennine range, and encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Despite its popularity however, The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge Walk remains 'unofficial'. It is not marked on Ordnance Survey maps for the area and it is not marked on the ground.
By tradition the grueling 37.5km (23.5 miles) must be completed within 12 hours though the actual time taken will vary depending on the stamina of the individual and the prevailing weather conditions.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge Walk is a rugged, high mountain walk over a variety of terrains and should not be underestimated. It also includes three big climbs totaling 1586m (5,202ft) of ascent with the last climb up onto Ingleborough - when the legs are tired, with perhaps a couple of hurting blisters and the spirit is weak - being particularly steep. As with all mountainous areas, the weather can change frequently and very quickly. Prior to our Group’s challenge on Saturday 18th July 2009 there was continuous heavy rain for the previous two days so we knew we were up against stamina sapping bogs and the difficulties of crossing perhaps a number of beck’s in full flood flow.
The Group and the event were skillfully organized by Anna Cross (from Edinburgh) and most members were raising monies for various charities. Gareth Williams, owner of Striding Ahead LLP., was the “Leader” for the day and here Anna did chosen wisely as Gareth knows the route “with his eyes closed” and if anyone was to get the Group round within the twelve hour window he would.
At 8.30am on a nice dry morning we set of from the bunkhouse at Horton in Ribblesdale (see Group photograph in slide show) for what we knew would be a hard walk due to under foot conditions and a number had never walked over twenty miles or attempted three mountains in pervious walking activities.
The Group got on well with lots of laughs along the way. Other groups were ahead of us and others behind, as this massive line of people made their way round this famous route. One poor man slipped on an under water boulder as he thought he had made it safely across a fast flowing and flooded stream. The only sympathy he gained from a crowd of onlookers was for all to burst out laughing and think to themselves - “I am only so glad it is not me having an early very cold bath”. Another two people were seen up to their waists in black peat bogs, being hauled out by walking friends.
The End Result
Our Group got round very much unscathed and with only seconds to go the last member crossed the line within the twelve hour dead line. Yes we had done it.
There was a pub by our finishing line and here we all celebrated a wonderful and special day. For me I completed my third challenge in eleven hours nineteen minutes and I had done this with a wonderful Group. Special thanks to Anna for coming up with the suggestion and for making all the arrangements and to Gareth for getting us all round in one piece and within the twelve hour window. Thank you also to all the great people who supported this charity raising event.
A small slide show of pictures taken along the way can be seen.