Yorkshire Three Peaks (2+1) Challenge
During 13thto 15thJuly Compton’s happy hikers headed off to take part in the Yorkshire Three Peaks (2+1) Challenge.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Walk is a very demanding but rewarding walk, which takes in the summits of
Our events fundraiser, Michelle Price, a regular on our weekend challenges took up the challenge with them. Here is her full and honest report on the trip:
“Please let me start by apologising for my lack of written ability, this report is usually written by one of our regulars who unfortunately could not make the trip this year.
So, the Yorkshire Three Peaks (2+1) Challenge, two plus one meaning we would be climbing two peaks on the first day and the last peak on the second day. I must admit when I initially flicked through the itinerary for this trip I was quietly smug. Well I have done a fair few challenges in last six years, trekking in faraway places and climbing various mountains, this one was going to be a doddle! What boosted my confidence even more was the fact that we would be completing the challenge in two days rather than the traditional 12 hours which is the required time to become a member of the Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club.
Friday 13tharrived, and the time came where we all met to board the coach. The weather was awful but still our happy hikers were smiling. I should have known from the date really that things weren’t going to be as easy as they seemed in my head, but still I boarded with a confidence that unknown to me was going to drastically diminish over the next two days.
The journey was pretty uneventful, apart from the rain and the usual Friday stop start M6 traffic, it was quite a pleasant journey. We were slightly behind the scheduled time to arrive but there were no great dramas and we all arrived at The Old School bunkhouse, Chapel Le Dale in good spirits.
The Old School Bunkhouse is situated 4.5 miles from Ingleton in Yorkshire Dales limestone country, between Ingleborough and Whernside, two of the three peaks we were to climb and with superb views of both. Well in any normal tourist manner I would have said superb views of both peaks but seeing the sheer size of them put into perspective the enormity of the challenge that we were about to undertake and on seeing these peaks for the first time I had my first pang of nervousness.
However, we were greeted with a lovely meal, homemade lasagne, salad and garlic bread courtesy of our guides for the weekend Dave, Shelley and Sarah from DM Adventures shortly before making the 100m trip to the local pub for some light refreshments and team bonding.
We were awoken the next day to a hearty breakfast, there was time to make our lunches and gather our rucksacks ready to board the transport to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, where participants of the 12 hour challenge sign in at the Pen-y-ghent café to log their start time and enabling them to make use of the safety services that the café provides. This was the start of our challenge and the beginning of our fight with the local gnats who were only too happy to feast on our bare skin.
Strangely enough Pen-y-ghent our first peak looked comparatively easy to the views of Ingleborough and Whernside the previous evening, so with confidence restored we headed off laughing and joking. The first part of the climb allowed us to warm up our legs, gently climbing slowly over a series of stiles and eventually meeting up with the Pennine Way. At this point we made a sharp left turn and were faced with the steeper climb to the summit. Now I enjoy a bit of a scramble, for me it makes a hike more interesting and breaks up the monotony of climbing steps, however I do have a fear of heights and some parts of the rocky climb I found myself slightly out of my comfort zone but nothing that would instill nightmares for years to come, all was well.
Reaching the summit of Pen-y-ghent, a well earned snack stop which had an unfortunate abrupt end due to the plague of gnats that had seemed to follow us up the peak. It is unlike me to forget any vital piece of equipment when hiking or trekking, but I am ashamed to say that it never even occurred to me to bring my insect repellent, bad mistake! To say these gnats were vicious was an understatement, every five seconds I would feel what felt like a pin being pricked into my arm, face or head, ok so that was an exaggeration but they were irritating little creatures! We discovered the best method of damage limitation was to keep on moving.
Heading down from Pen-y-ghent we entered the section of the walk that we were all dreading, the boggy moors! With the recent rain over the last few weeks and on hearing stories of dead cows being found sunken to their necks we were slightly dubious to say the least. But with our excellent, knowledgeable and very experienced guides we made safe passage to the resting point which was to be our lunch stop. At this point we were only too quick to comment on how kind the weather had been to us, it had so far been a dry day, slightly overcast but perfect walking conditions, very different from the previous wet weather. During lunch we have a brief rain spell which cleared up as we headed off for the second peak, typical, but at least we had finally managed to shake off the dreaded gnats.
Straight after lunch we had a nice piece of downhill walking, always a bonus when your tummy is full, ending at a crossroads where the 12 hour challengers would take a right turn to following the road past the viaduct to the base of Whernside their second peak, leaving Ingleborough as their third. We were taking a slightly different route, we were heading straight up to the summit of Ingleborough as Whernside , the highest of the peaks was to be our Sunday challenge.
When I say up to the summit of Ingleborough I really do mean up. This was by far the steepest section we had yet climbed, although the base of the peak was grassy and quite solid underfoot, it was set out in what I can only describe as uphill layers. I have climbed hills with false summits before, reaching what you thought was the top only to discover another section but in a way this was more demoralising as you could see all of the sections as you were climbing. The group camaraderie came into its own at this point, everyone was helping everyone else, kind words gave the encouragement for people to reach the top layer. I foolishly made a bet with one of the guides thinking that I couldn’t possibly reach the top section in 45 minutes I suggested that if I did then I would buy her a pint. In my ultimate wisdom I sped up as I didn’t want to be seen as slacking off on purpose, and found myself in a no win situation, note to self do not make silly bets on the side of a hill!
Once we made it to the top of the base hill, we had a very long gradual climb to the summit mound. This was the first time whilst hiking that we could really see the full extent of the route ahead. Ingleborough looked evil, I could totally see why this is deemed as the hardest climb. We were over half way up but the summit looming over us in the distance was quite unnerving. It was at this point that I started to question whether in my current physical condition I really would be able to do this challenge in under 12 hours and I had to be honest with myself and say not a chance. This wasn’t being negative, it was being realistic. Eventually, after the long slog and ample sets of steep rocky uneven steps the terrain lowered to a much manageable gradient for the last 100m to the summit. We had made it, all of us, through sheer determination had reached the top.
After a few brief pictures we started to head back down, there was no time party on the top we just wanted to get back to the comfort of our accommodation and a well deserved drink in the pub. Retracing our steps for the first part of the descent we were giving way to the teams of 12 hour challengers who were still ascending. In previous overseas challenges I have been smug in situations like this where I am on the home straight with people still having to do what I have just done, but here I was congratulating and trying to encourage the challengers still coming up, I felt a certain respect towards them as in fact they had done more than me, they were on their last peak and they had done all three. It was obvious that some of them would never make the time requirement but it didn’t matter, they had the guts to attempt it. With this came the feeling of how proud I was of our team, no they hadn’t done the whole challenge in 12 hours but they had taken their time to support the hospice, taken the time to train and taken the time to fundraise. Some of our team were completely out of their comfort zone on these peaks but the drive and determination they had shown in reaching the second summit was second to none.
My thoughts were quickly turned to the task in hand, we had to get down off this peak. The descent wasn’t as straight forward and as quick as I had hoped. Some people struggle physically with knees and mentally with confidence during the downward part of these treks but I am usually quite confident and can usually get down quite quickly. However this was a whole new ball game. We had a very steep and narrow descent of uneven and loose rocks paving the way to the ground below. We also had to contend with the continuous line of people streaming upwards, having to stop every few metres to let someone pass. It was on one of these stops that I committed the cardinal sin for someone who doesn’t like heights, perched on a dubious edge waiting for an on comer I looked down. Immediately my legs went to jelly and I felt a wave of nausea come over me, all I could do was to grab hold of the rocks at the side of me and slowly make my way downwards.
Eventually we reached the bottom, the rest of the route back to the bunkhouse was fairly flat and only a couple of miles long but the adrenaline of the descent had completely sapped my energy. Every step got heavier and I felt that my legs had nothing left, until finally we all made it back to the bunk house and a nice hot shower. Once down, showered, fed and watered it is funny how quickly you forget the trials of the day, every feeling of frustration, tiredness and anxiety gives way to a great sense of achievement.
The next morning, slightly stiff but with renewed energy we headed out for Whernside, our final peak of the challenge. Although this peak was higher and the path longer, the gradient wasn’t anywhere as near as the previous day. With the sun shining and the air warm we all happily made our way to the top admiring the views and taking time for more pictures on the way. A short lunch on the summit was very pleasant as was the choice of descent. There were two options, retracing our steps or a much steeper rockier descent which had been compared to the previous day. Surprisingly I opted for the latter, I wanted to try to overcome my demons from the day before so a little nervously I headed down. Luckily for me this path wasn’t anywhere near as scary as the track down from Ingleborough and another team member and I almost skipped down to save the pressure on our knees, shortly followed by the rest.
We have been doing these weekend challenges for 6 years now, our first being Hadrians Wall in 2007, and as I look back on this trip although all of our challenges are difficult I have to admit that in my opinion this was the most difficult and tiring yet. I am so proud of everyone who has taken part especially the members of the team who were completely out of their comfort zone. I would like to thank firstly our amazing participants, many of you have been with us since our first weekend challenge and each and every one of you truly make these challenges a pleasure to be on. Secondly I would like to thank the staff of DM Adventures, Dave, Sarah and Shelley. We have worked with DM Adventures for many years now and value their friendliness and expertise, we feel truly safe in your hands guys!”
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