THE (Yorkshire) 3 Peaks – My Route…

25 01 2013

July 2007

After saying for years that, coming from Yorkshire, I really ought to have done the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge (or THE Three Peaks Challenge), I eventually decided, early in 2007, that I should get on with it. I asked Richard if he wanted to do it and he agreed to come with me. Also, it being a challenge walk, I decided to get it sponsored in aid of my favourite humane research charity.

(Richard was the official photographer for this challenge…)

Now, it so happened in summer 2007, the Open University Mountaineering Club, of which I was a member, were having a meet in the Yorkshire Dales in the vicinity of the Three Peaks – I decided to offer to lead a group on the walk if any of them wanted to do it – I did warn them I was planning a different route to normal though… Quite a few people said they would meet up with us on the Saturday in the carpark at Horton-in-Ribblesdale near the cafe where you ‘clock in and out’ before and after the walk. The agreed time was 0800…

I dragged myself out of bed uncharacteristically early to get to Horton by 0800 and Richard and I waited for the others to turn up. At 0820 we decided we really couldn’t wait any longer so we set off. Now, as mentioned earlier, we were taking a totally unconventional route which I’d decided was superior (to our tastes) to the normal route.

A month or so before, Richard and I had done a recce of the confusing, messy and boggy route between Penyghent and Ribblehead and decided it was a total faff – we really didn’t want to go that way (this section has now been upgraded).

My planned route didn’t start with Penyghent – instead we were going to dash the 6 miles up the road straight to Ribblehead. To our minds, that had several distinct advantages over the normal route… Firstly, we got the long drag part of the walk out of the way and then only had to deal with the three hills themselves. Also, bashing up a flattish road for 6 miles gets your legs warmed up before you start any serious ascent.

Secondly, there is a nice ‘butty wagon’ at the road junction at Ribblehead where we could get a hot breakfast – a fried egg sandwich and black coffee for myself and a sausage butty and tea for Richard. I hate trying to eat breakfast when I first get up as it makes me feel positively ill and slows me down so this was ideal for us. The quick flip along the road had taken about an hour and a half so it was my ideal breakfast time, we’d worked up a bit of an appetite and it was also nice to have a quick rest before tackling Whernside.

After sitting in the sun for ten minutes or so devouring our breakfast rolls, we then set off towards Ribblehead Viaduct and the normal route up Whernside which passes Ribblehead Tunnel en route. We were soon to find we’d picked the very hottest day of the year for our mountain challenge!

As we plodded up Whernside, we reached the stone-flagged area which crosses the bogs of the ascent. This area is in a large hollow and so any breeze was completely cut off and the sun was beating down on us. To add to our discomfort the heat was also bouncing upwards off the stone flags – I felt I was slowly being baked in an oven!

Neither of us usually take much of a break on a summit so we just had a couple of minutes to get a quick swig of water and Richard had brought some dried pineapple chunks to snack on. The water was a good idea but the pineapple chunks were a huge mistake… they were horribly sweet and just made us feel thirsty again – neither of us like very sweet things to eat anyway. We abandoned them into the bottom of his pack until we got home where we tried various ways of making them more palatable, including soaking them in water repeatedly and finally baking them in a sponge pudding – they were still far too sweet!

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On leaving the summit, we continued along the ridge briefly until we reached the point where the very steep stone-pitched path sets off down the mountain to the track which joins several farms together and heads towards the main road just above Chapel-le-Dale. Just before we reached the main road, we came across an enterprising farm which was selling cold drinks and ice lollies for ‘Three-Peakers’. We had a pint of weak orange squash and an ice lolly each – another mistake. The lollies were fine – very refreshing – but the pint of orange squash each just swished around in our stomachs and made us very sick and lethargic for our steep climb up the side of Ingleborough.

The summit of Ingleborough, after a hot climb up, had a lovely cool breeze around the summit area so we stayed for about five minutes to cool off.

Slide3

The walk from the summit to Horton-in-Ribblesdale is very long and, due to the excessive heat, seemed eternal that day. I love hot weather and can normally stand any amount of it but even I was getting fed up of being continually baked and the total lack of a breeze.

Not far out of Horton village, we bumped into a familiar face – it was one of the Open University group who was strolling about on the hillside. We asked her what had happened to the group that morning and she said they’d all had too much to drink the night before and didn’t bother getting up till around 10. A couple of them had actually set out to do the walk on their own but most had just mooched around the area – she personally had been sat on the hillside reading in the sun all afternoon.

When we reached Horton, the other advantage of my route made itself apparent. I’d decided that one of the reasons for feeling weary on a long challenge-type walk, is that your feet get very hot and therefore tired. So, my hidden weapon was fresh boots and socks in the car which I changed into. It was great to have cool, fresh feet again and I felt quite rejuvenated. My rejuvenation was helped further by a quick call into the shop (now sadly closed down) for more ice lollies.

Despite the rejuvenation tactics however, I found I soon started to tire on the ascent of Penyghent and, by the time I reached the summit area, I had to have a quick lie-down on the cooling grass before visiting the cairn to bag my final peak.

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Slide5

We couldn’t be bothered to do the full ‘round’ of Penyghent so just nipped back down the same way as it is a bit shorter. When we clocked back in at the cafe we found we’d been 10 hours 20 minutes – not too bad a time – I’m sure I could do it again quicker on a cooler day though!

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I’ve just found these extra photos which I actually took with Richard’s camera on the day. I’d say it’s around dead centre of the whole walk – equidistant from each of the three peaks. I took these photos, turning on the spot, to illustrate how far apart the three peaks are…

Penyghent from Dead Centre
Penyghent

Whernside from Dead Centre
Whernside

Simon Fell (Ingleborough) from Dead Centre
Simon Fell – Ingleborough is just behind this…

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15 responses

27 01 2013
Paul Shorrock

The Y3P is a great challenge walk – I first did it in the 1980’s when I was fell running, and completed in less than six hours. I could probably have done it faster but I allowed myself to become dehydrated – I also lost time in the truly awful bogs between Pen y Ghent and Ribblehead!

The next time I did it was in 2009 with an old mate from the Royal Marines – neither of us were in the first flush of youth, but we did it in under nine hours. We started at Ribblehead and went totally lightweight, even going so far as caching water at the Hill Inn and Horton.

On the back of that I wrote a guide to the Y3P, published by DWG in 2010 – my route avoids the infamous bog section by taking a short cut to the Pennine Way via Whitber Hill and Sell Gill Hill – it looks as though the new ‘official’ route follows my diversion, and I can’t wait to get back there to check out if that’s the case.

If you want to see the book follow the link below – mates rates apply 😀

http://www.hillcraftguidedwalking.co.uk/page8guidebook.htm

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27 01 2013
mountaincoward

Thanks Paul – I’ll have a look. Those are good times you were getting – makes me want to get out there and have a bit of a compete 😉

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25 01 2013
bob

A fine round Carol. Anytime I go to that area I always go underground. Not done the Three Peaks yet but always fancied it.

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26 01 2013
mountaincoward

It’s a great walk – I’m hoping to do it again sometime soon – but on a cooler day I think!

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25 01 2013
chrissiedixie

I’m all for altering routes to suit yourselves. I did that quite a bit on the Pennine Way. Individuality!

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25 01 2013
mountaincoward

I believe they’ve ‘done up’ the bit between Penyghent and Ribblehead now – we’re going to have a walk along that bit to have a look at it. We still thought going up the road was a quick and handy start though so I’m not sure we’d change the route next time either…

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25 01 2013
fedupofuserids

Well done on completing the challenge and armed with local knowledge devising another route 🙂

My only Yorkshire hill is Ingleborough done on a very misty day nearly 20 years ago! I would love to re-walk this along with Whernside & Penyghent (and a few others 😉 ) but when I finally get to them I’ll probably do them individually first. There seems a lot of distractions & things of interest on these hills so it seems a shame to do them in such a hurry on the first visit. I had hoped to head to the dales last spring but unfortunately never made it 😦

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25 01 2013
mountaincoward

Penyghent is another cracker – possibly more so than Ingleborough if you go up the south end first and make a round of it. There’s also Hull Pot (and quite a few other potholes) off to the west side of it near a junction of paths – all very interesting. I like Whernside but a lot of people find it boring…

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25 01 2013
smackedpentax

Great story…I did it in 2009 with 3 others in 10:15, but it is a bit boggy between Panyghent & Ribblehead. We decided we would only have a 15 minute break on each summit…but the hardest part of the trip is walking past the ‘Hill Inn’ on the hottest day of the year and not stopping!

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25 01 2013
mountaincoward

We don’t have any trouble walking straight past the Hill Inn on any day! Reason is that, last time we went in, the woman behind the bar shouted at us for wearing walking boots on her carpet! Not sure why they have a carpet in a pub between 2 of the 3 peaks really!

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25 01 2013
smackedpentax

Wow! Things have certainly changed. I haven’t been in for ages – but it used to be a cavers pub a long time ago. We used to sit around in muddy wetsuits and water filled wellies.

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25 01 2013
mountaincoward

My God! that would give her a heart-attack – get dressed up like that and get back in there! 😉

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27 01 2013
Paul Shorrock

I also remember the Hill Inn as a cavers pub. They used to have a ‘juke box’ mounted in an old barrel – bloody thing was a nuisance, ‘cos we all wanted to sing (as you did in those days).
One night we asked the tourist type who was feeding the machine with money to desist, so that we could carry on singing – he carried on in spite of our requests.
Our first response was to pull the wires out of the plug – that shut things up! For a while.
The guy must have been persistent (or dumb) ‘cos he re-wired the plug – there was nowt else for it, the barrel ‘juke box’ was unplugged and rolled out of the pub, 45rpm records flying everywhere!!
And the guys behind the bar didn’t bat an eyelid, and just kept pulling pints.
That’s what a good pub used to be like 😀

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27 01 2013
mountaincoward

In our Army days, we’d have drowned out the juke box with our raucous singing! 😉

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28 01 2013
smackedpentax

Grand times eh Paul? Nothing like that now unfortunately..only one similar is the Marten Arms at Thornton-in-Lonsdale, but I haven’t ben in for ages.

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