It’s 5am, the wind outside the tent sounds ghastly, and the rain hasn’t stopped since I went to bed at midnight. Martin, the German, rolls over; he is in a deep slumber. Then I hear the noise I was dreading, the opening of Freddie’s van door. It’s time to get up. While it’s hardly Alpine, the brisk morning wind and mist of the Yorkshire Dales National Park felt bloody cold enough. Freddie is amped, coffee is on the boil, breakfast divied up and food rations for the day laid out. Martin stirs. We engulf the food and grit our teeth whilst downing the instant coffee. Packs on, we should go.
Freddie and Martin checking that the map is communicating to us correctly.
The idea was a sparodic one which came up in a facebook group chat, with a vague discussion of a quick midweek venture north and suddenly I was on a bus from Sheffild to Liverpool to meet Freddie. The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge is a 40ish km walk through typical English country side; Moor, Heathlands and a variety of different rocky outcrops. The 3 Peak themselves ar not necessarily commending mountains, more like humble hills. I had never heard of the challenge before Freddie suggested it, but it sounded like something I would enjoy, while Martin only really realised what he was getting himself into when we picked him up from the Train Station and we explained the goal.
The misty ridge of Pene-Y-Gen
The hike starts and finishes in a nice, but small village named Horton-On-Ribbleside, it has 2 pubs. We set off at around 6:50am – later than we hoped – and initially in the wrong direction. Strolling through laneways and misty paddocks lined with ancient dry stone walls, we find ourselves in a good rhythm fairly quickly and are on top of humble hill no 1, Pene-y-Gent. This barely take as 1.5 hrs, this is meant to be a 12 hour day… seems like we are going to fly through it.
Seems like we misjudged the mud.
The next 10kms is a soggy affair to the base of humble hill no 2, Whernside. Dodging sheep, mud and rising and falling through the rolling hills we arrive at the base and unload for lunch. War wounds have started building up, blisters in particularly, though Martin also appears to be carrying a groin strain, he embarks on yoga sessions to get through the pain. The clouds lift, the sun shines but the wind turns real nasty and engages cyclone-esque mood. A long grinding approach to the Whernside peak puts Martin into the pain box, we discuss options. Onward is chosen, much to my personal delight. We reach the slightly snow dusted peak of Whernside and are nearly blown off from the ferciousness of the wind. The view is worth the steps taken to get here. We then turn our attention to the final humble hill, Ingleborough. It has a sinister vibe, large clouds hide the peak and the wind is blowing said clouds at an alarming pace.
We stumble down off the Whernside ridge, after further yoga sessions, and escape the wind. Freddie and I are finding a good rhythm with about 15km to go, it seems to be ‘in the bag,’ though Martin is still in a fair bit of pain, he continues to fight on as climbing over Ingleborough is the quickest route back to Horton. A comical elevation is install for us as we reach Ingleborough, it’s almost like the Secret Stairs into Mordor ala Lord of the Rings. We dodge Shelob and reach the top of Ingleborough and are greeted to the view of pure mist and cloud. A yoga session later, we find ourselves wandering down back to Horton. We visited one of the two pubs for dinner, which was welcomed with open arms. 11.5 hours later.
Ingleborough in all its glory.
Martin staring down Pene-Y-Gent the following day.