One of Yorkshire’s big hiking challenges is right on our doorstep.
For several years now Large Outdoors has been guiding groups around the Yorkshire Three Peaks route, a 25-mile circuit that takes in the county’s highest peaks, Whernside, Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough.
So what’s it like?
Well, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Yorkshire Three Peaks is a challenge, not just because of the mileage involved but also the 5,249ft of ascent and descent that walkers will need to tackle. Plus there’s a 12-hour cut off point to complete the journey.
However it is distinctly do-able as long as you have the right gear, the right level of fitness and a great group to walk with that will provide that all-important motivation and camaraderie!
Expect fantastic views along the way through some of the best Dales and Pennine scenery and, upon completion, a real sense of achievement, and walkers’-elation!
For our starting point we meet at Horton-in-Ribblesdale, about 15 minutes’ drive from Settle and then, unlike many other guiding companies we tend to follow the route in reverse.
Having crossed over railway tracks we begin climbing with views of our last peak for the day, Pen-y-ghent appearing in the distance. The route picks its way over grass and limestone pavement sections before becoming steeper and briefly following an old cobbled path which then gives way to steps. As we move around a small rocky outcrop the trig point onto the distinctive plateau top comes into view (if good visibility).
From Ingleborough we make our way down a sharp rocky descent to Chapel-le-Dale. With Whernside, Yorkshire’s biggest peak, in our sights, we pass close to the iconic Ribblehead viaduct, steadily climbing before a short pull which then eases off as we reach the summit with its panoramic views across to the Lakes and the Yorkshire Dales.
Our route descends and picks up a track at High Birkwith, crossing close to two impressive pot holes, Hull Pot and Hunt Pot, before we head over Horton Moor and start a steep ascent to Pen-y-ghent. Descending from the summit we follow the Pennine Way before crossing fields and open pasture to reach a track that leads back to Horton.
To give yourself the best chance of successfully completing the 3 Peaks challenge, here are our top tips:
- Training. As your body is going to come in for a little punishment, it’s important to do some training beforehand. Get used to walking up hills and build up your distance gradually.
- Have the right gear. This is so crucial. Irrespective of what the weather is like when you leave home or at the start of the walk, conditions can change dramatically when you’re up high so remember to bring waterproofs (as opposed to water resistant), wear good walking boots and proper walking socks (rather than sports socks).
- Food. You’re going to be using up a lot of calories during the day so it’s important to fuel up with a good breakfast and then have carbohydrate-rich foods on-board throughout the day. Eat little-and-often is the best advice (don’t wait until your ravenous) and remember to have enough water because even on colder days, it’s easy to become dehydrated.
Gareth Williams is the founder of Large Outdoors which runs sociable guided walking breaks and challenge events throughout the UK. The group runs guided Yorkshire Three Peaks days and weekends throughout the summer. To find out more visit: www.largeoutdoors.com