3 Peaks


Yorkshires Three Peaks

Collectively known as Yorkshires Three Peaks, the fells 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. They can be found in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, in the North of England encircling the head of the valley of the River Ribble.

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

Yorkshires Three Peaks Walk

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

Yorkshires 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 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 1.66 and a sixth times. 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 climbed 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'd been in Snowdonia and scaled Snowdon with barely any backlash in the muscle department the following day.

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 haul 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 my final departure from the physical world.

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

Previous Attempt at Yorkshires 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 gotten up it but doubted my ability to get back down it. 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.

Oh Really?

  • 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 84 highest point in England.
  •  J. R. Wynne-Edwards and D. R. Smith were the first to officially complete Yorkshires Three Peaks Walk. It took them ten hours to do so in July 1887.

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