My favourite destination for a walk is the top of Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales, blog followers will know that I venture to the top frequently despite living well over 250 miles south. My second favourite walk is a tour around Whernside and that only just pips a trip up Pen-y-ghent.
In 2014, to be precise 12th June 2014, I tackled all three in one day. Crosby joined me whilst Lynnie and Dexter relaxed back in Settle. It was a hot sunny day and man and dog got round in just under nine and a half hours. (Crosby would have done it a lot quicker if he had not been dragging me behind him!).
Last year when we introduced Toby to the Dales with a climb up Ingleborough it wetted his appetite to tackle the other peaks. At some point Lolly suggested that she, Toby and I should do the Three Peaks Challenge walk together. I do a lot of walking, but Toby and Lolly are always working out in the gym. So I am concerned that my lack of general fitness will hold them back. I am also the best part of thirty years older than them!
I am not going to describe the walk in detail. If you are thinking of doing it you will need to do some planning, there are numerous maps available in local shops that show the route. It is well sign posted and well walked. If you are doing it for the first time, make sure that the weather is good, be equipped for all weather (I have been on top of Ingleborough in June in a snow storm!) and remember that it is called the Three Peaks Challenge because it is a physical and mental challenge.
Our starting point is Horton in Ribblesdale, where we clock into the cafe to register our start time. From here we ascend Pen-y-ghent. This is a stiff climb to start the day, the legs don’t get much of a warm up before the climb starts. At this early stage we are chatting, it is weeks since we’ve seen each other and there is lots of catching up. We soon focus on the climb and leave the chatting for the descent.
On the way up we are into a strong head wind, this means that the final section requires full concentration. It is a bit of a scramble but we are soon on top and pause for a photo at the trig point.
I have been up Pen-y-ghent many times but never reached the top inside an hour, it suggests that we are in for a quick time. The next section, downhill and across to Ribblehead is a great walk. It is gently undulating and all around there are stunning views. Its a real joy to be walking with Lolly. When she and Ben were nippers we used to take them walking in the Dales. Lynnie said that I would put them off walking for life. It is great to see that now as an adult Lolly can appreciate the pleasure of a good walk.
We reach Ribblehead Viaduct, last time around this was a stopping point for me, but we agree to carry on and stop on the way up Whernside. Our picnic spot is besides the Winterscales Beck just over the aquduct.
Refreshed we crack on, as we go up Whernside the folk coming down are wearing every item of clothing they possess. It must be very cold, they remind me of one of Jeanne Judd’s christmas party games where you had to wear as many different outfits as possible at the same time!. These folks do not look like they have been to a party, if they had, it was not one they enjoyed!
We are fortunate that the wind is at our backs and we are moving at a pace. In next to no time we are at the top and posing for a picture by another trig point.
The descent from Whernside is steep and for an old fellow with dodgy knees it is hard going and it is a relief when we are on level ground again. After passing The Hill Inn it is the start of the climb up Ingleborough, we take a slight (longer) diversion from the normal route which involves a very steep ascent which would be challenging with Crosby, and take a diversion around Great Douk and then climb up towards Simon’s Fell.
Don’t for one minute think this is an easy way up. With tired legs and heaving lungs it is a challenge. We meet a fellow walker who suggests that this is by far the best route up Ingleborough, It is a real test, but with a few breathers I am at the top, where Toby waits patiently. Lolly has been worried about her poor old Dad and has made sure that I was not left behind.
We are soon on the top of Ingleborough, a very special place for me. I make my customary wave to Mum and her close friend Phyl, it is so sad they are no longer with us to share the joy of days like these.
It is as we walk off the summit that I tell Toby that this is where, when the time comes, I want my ashes spread. I warn him that I plan to hang around for a while and if I live beyond ninety he will be as old as I am now, so he had better keep himself in good shape!
Many people, including me the first time, think that once you are off the summit of Ingleborough you have done the hard work. This is far from true. The descent from here back to Horton in Ribblesdale is a long trudge on tired legs. We are all carrying aches and pains but push on. We are well inside my previous time and are now aiming to get around in under eight and half hours.
Eventually we reach the cafe in Horton to clock back in. Lolly has been galloping the last mile and geeing Toby and I along. We arrive back with a time of eight hours and twenty-five minutes. A personal best for me that I will never get close to again. I am well and truly knackered.
After a refreshing shower back at the Coachman I have just about enough energy to walk into Settle for a well earned meal and a few pints of Thwaite’s Wainwright at the Lion.
It has been a cracking day and one that will never be forgotten. Hopefully we will repeat the walk together again, but in my case at a slightly slower pace.
To follow this walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map OL2 – Yorkshire Dales – Southern & Western Area
13th May 2016
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)