WE DID IT! On September 16th, 15 of us embarked across the Yorkshire Dales and completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.
We arrived in Yorkshire on the 15th September. What should have been a 2 hour 30min drive was more like 4/5 hours. Arriving at the accommodation, Stackstead Farm, we all pulled ranks and started cooking the 10 Sainsbury's Pizza's Dixie and Raj had purchased. It was an early night as we had to be up at 04:30am.
Dixie was up at 4:15am with the aim to wake everyone up. Slowly but surely we all emerged "Freshfaced" and raring to go.
Peak 1 - Pen-Y-Ghent
At 6.25am we started our challenge at the pastel green Golden Lion Hotel, strategically chosen as it was close to the very first peak: Pen-Y-Ghent. Ten minutes in, we all realised what we were in for as straight away the incline got steeper and steeper right to the very top! Starting as early as we did was fairly strategic so that we were not out walking late into the night... but it also meant we were able to see the sunrise through the grey clouds, lighting up the green moors. Getting down was much easier and we completed the first peak in just over two hours. Easy!
Then came the 10-mile walk to Whernside. Although this part of the route was relatively flat, it’s fair to say this was the most tiring, as we had to pick up the pace and take advantage of the terrain.
Peak 2 - Whernside
This part of the route was had some of the most breathtaking views, filled with streams, a viaduct, waterfalls and a stray dog called Meg... yep, against the clock we came across a scarred dog that looked as if she had been out all night looking for her owner. She looked in pretty bad shape. Sam Roberts went to some local barns to see if she could find her owner whilst the rest of us fed Meg and tried to cheer her up with some of Joe's sausage rolls. Not knowing when Sam would be back, we made a leash out of spare boot laces and prepared to carry on walking.
As if by fate, Sam returned with the owner. It turned out that Meg was blind, deaf, had only been missing for 10 minutes and just cheated Joe out of three sausage rolls! But we were all happy that she was back in safe hands and decided to crack on with the challenge.
When we reached the top of Whernside, it was a nice flat, 1 mile walk along the ridge to the peak, so we rested for a few minutes and re-adjusted our boots because next up was one of the steepest descents we would encounter on the whole challenge. A sharp drop with rough terrain; readjusting our boots was a good idea as this had to be carefully co-ordinated in order to get down safely. We were all just glad to have walking poles.
After coming down Whernside, the mood in the group after this was losing its positive vibe. We stopped for lunch for 10 minutes then stumbled across a barn/café to regroup, freshen up and have a quick cup of tea. Straight away, the group perked, but, to put a spring back in our step, we split in to two sub-teams and decided to have a race to the bottom of the next peak: Ingleborough.
Peak 3 - Ingleborough
The teams were on two minutes apart when we reached the bottom of Ingleborough, but what we were confronted with what could only be described as “The Staircase to Mordor” (for you Lord of the Rings fans).
It was an extremely steep incline that winded up the side of Ingleborough. The majority of us took the outlined popular route which was still very difficult as its still required you to scramble on all fours at times, but a few of us ‘daredevils’ decided to take a more direct, challenging route. It wasn't outlined at all, and we were constantly on our hands and feet meaning we were almost rock climbing. This was possibly the most challenging part of the route, with another climb to come. After about 15mins from being at the bottom of Ingleborough, we all got to the peak safe and sound.
Feeling a huge sense of achievement and extremely fatigued at the same time after climbing up three peaks, there were smiles all around with some breath taking views. It was great to take it all in really.
However, we still had a five-mile walk ahead of us and it was all downhill from there. With two hours to go, we powered on. It had been clear all day, in fact the weather had been perfect, but all of a sudden rain clouds formed along the ridge of Ingleborough. It was time to get our waterproofs out, but as soon as we got our waterproof trousers over our muddy boots in the wet weather, it stopped. Just our luck!
To add further frustration, and what seemed like forever, we stumbled across a signpost. Thinking we were nearly at the Horton-on-Ribblesdale, it turned out we were still two miles away. The last hour was crucial as we really needed to pick up the pace. Fortunately, the ground had changed from hard, rough terrain to soft, cushion-like mud, bringing some relief to our feet.
Then there it was. Forty minutes later, the Horton-On-Ribblesdale train station. We were back at the village we started from! A huge sigh of relief and smiles came from all of us… but we still had to navigate ourselves through the village to get to the pub we were parked at. This had to be the longest five minutes of the day, however we arrived at the pastel green pub on the corner, filled with locals and walkers enjoying a drink or two.
Once we walked in, we all knew what was on the cards… a nice cold pint and a cushioned seat before getting back to our accommodation to order copious amounts of Chinese takeout and dine like kings and queens.
Overall, the weekend was amazing. Calling it difficult is definitely an understatement and it did break us all physically. It’s a challenge for a reason! But what the weekend really did was bring together people we have never said hello to, gain new friends and prove to ourselves that we are capable of pushing ourselves.
More importantly, the challenge has helped us raise nearly £2,200 for our corporate charities Hope House and The Alzheimer’s Society. Our team and everyone who has donated have raised a wonderful amount of money for those people who are supported by these amazing charities.
Now we just need to prepare for the national Three Peaks Challenge!
To view all pictures from the challenge, please Click Here. Enjoy