3 Peaks


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Yorkshires Three Peaks

The hills of Pen-y-Ghent (694 mtrs/2,277 ft), Whernside (736 mtrs/2,415 ft) and Ingleborough (723 mtrs/2,372 ft) form part of the Pennine mountain range in the north of England. Collectively known as Yorkshire's Three Peaks, found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, encircling the head of the valley of the River Ribble.

Opened in 1875, one of the worlds great railway journeys, The Settle to Carlisle Railway cuts straight through the three peaks, stretching for 72 miles and crossing 325 bridges. The line penetrates 14 tunnels, 103 culverts, passing over 21 viaducts including the iconic Ribblehead. The journey passes through some of Englands's finest countryside, terminating within spitting distance of the Lake District.

Yorkshire's Three Peaks Walk

Spanning a distance of almost 24.5 miles (39.2 kilometres), encompassing 5,249 ft (1,600 metres) of ascents and descents, the walk incorporates the summit of Whernside. It may well resemble a giant pebble but Whernside is the highest point in North Yorkshire.

Yorkshire's Three Peaks Walk is a long and arduous circuit traversing rough terrain, where weather conditions can change rapidly. Some people race around them for fun! Others walk it for charity or just because it's there. Whatever the reason, circumnavigating these three big hills in the Yorkshire Dales is not to be taken lightly. I've done it almost twice and each time the result was the same; Agony and a tendency to walk like a chimpanzee the following day.

My Three Peaks Walk

I'm no stranger to climbing mountains albeit far from frequently. I've been up and down the three highest peaks in Great Britain; Ben Nevis, Mount Snowdon and Scafell Pike. The Himalayas have given my knees a good old fashioned spanking and numerous volcanoes around the world have bore witness to the dropping of my unchiselled jaw.

However, walking up and down these three beastly peaks in this opulent part of northern England had me questioning both my physical capabilities and my sanity. The previous day I had scaled mount Snowdon with ease.

However, 14 hours (taking into account the pub and an obsession with photography) after setting out one fine and dry, early August morning, there I was soaked to the bone using my hands to lift my legs over slippery limestone outcrops. Slippery limestone is one of the last things you want obstructing your path when descending the final peak, Ingleborough in the wet, pitch black.

An hour later, collapsing into my tent, I prepared for an early demise and departure from the physical world.

Much to my surprise, the next morning, with one slightly opened eye and a barely beating heart, I crawled out of my tent. Slowly chimpanzee-ing it to the car and dragging my tent behind me I promptly left Horton-in-Ribblesdale, vowing never to return.

Previous Attempt at Yorkshire's Three Peaks

On a previous attempt three years earlier, I'd mistakenly taken a wrong turn adding too many more miles to a route packed with already too many miles. There I was at the base of Ingleborough in the late afternoon sun, aching and baking, with the world cup about to kick off in a few hours.

At a push, I could have scaled it but doubted my ability to get back down. With hindsight, having now scaled that final peak, I'd made the right decision in abandoning any thoughts of completing it.

After all, the greatest footballing event in the world was kicking off and I needed to find a TV.

Completely Useless Facts about Yorkshire's Three Peaks

  • Built by the Brigantes in the first century, the remains of a huge iron age fort can still be seen on the summit of Ingleborough
  • With a high point of 736 metres (2,415 ft) Whernside is the highest of the three peaks and the 84th highest point in England
  •  J. R. Wynne-Edwards and D. R. Smith were the first to officially complete Yorkshire's Three Peaks Walk. It took them ten hours to do so in July 1887

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