Welcome to the 3rd of my blog posts leading up to the 33 Peaks event in May. As you have seen on posts so far I tend to do my training walks solo, but on this occasion I was joined by the full JMC team.
It was an early start, 5:30am for me, to meet and start to walk at 7 am from Horton in Ribblesdale in Yorkshire for the famous Yorkshire 3 Peaks.
Once everyone had arrived and was ready it was 7:30 and off we went. I’ve completed the 3 Peaks a number of times and so for a change I decided to reverse the route climbing Ingleborough first. This is an easy long climb away from Horton over fields and eventually into the limestone scenery that makes these peaks so iconic. If you’ve read my earlier blogs you can guess what we walked into next, yes more SNOW. We were also in cloud by this point and the white conditions made finding the path difficult. We continued to climb until we reached the saddle of Ingleborough and the cross roads for a number of paths. The snow was at this point probably 6 – 8 inches deep and made the going quite difficult. These conditions caused some of the team to really struggle so after a quick discussion we split the party with the majority continuing to the summit. I have a strong connection with Ingleborough in that my mother’s ashes are scattered on the western edge of the summit and I always visit the spot, and after ensuring that the team was OK I was then able to climb the last few yards onto the summit.
1 peak completed, still 2 to go. I knew the next section was going to be difficult. The descent from Ingleborough is very steep and in the snow it proved to be very slippery as well. This slowed the party and after a number slips and slides we reached the bottom of this section safely. The route then follows a section of stone slabs across moor land down to the first road crossing.
The photo above is of the slabs looking back at a very snowy Ingleborough. Once at the road crossing we had our first retirees. As part of the planning for this walk I had made sure we had transport available at each road crossing to make it easy for people to drop out as required.
Once we’d taken on some food, we set off across the valley for the slopes of Whernside. This is an easy walk along a tarmacked road, which takes you to the bottom of the hardest climb of the day. The climb is steep and continues for about a mile. In places it is stepped but the steps have been built by tall people and so climbing them is hard. We again climbed above the snow line and into the cloud once again.
Walking along the summit ridge we continued to climb until we reached the summit, the highest point of the day. By now the temperature had started to drop and after just a couple of minutes at the top I started to feel cold, so we started the descent. The descent continues along the ridge until eventually turning right down a gentle slope. This section is again made of stone slabs and with the covering of snow was again very slippery. We made good progress on the descent passing lots of other people heading up. Most of them looking very unhappy!
We dropped out of the snow and cloud and made our way to the second road crossing at the Ribblehead Viaduct. We reached this point at approximately 2 pm so we had been walking for 6 ½ hours and covered approximately 15 miles. We took on some more food and discussed if we would be able to make the third peak. With approximately 4 ½ house of daylight left, 1 peak and 10 miles left, it was going to be tight. At this point we had 2 further retirees and 2 more who would walk back but would bypass the final peak. So from a group of 12 we were down to only 6.
Leaving the road we increased the pace considerably and made our way towards the final peak, Penyghent. You can see the summit most of the way, it just never seems to get closer so it was a case of head down and walk. One of the things that the 3 peaks is famous for are the peat bogs near Penyghent. I had been tipped off beforehand that a new path had been opened and sure enough as we got closer new signs appeared and took us away from the traditional route. Once on this new path of gravel we continued to make good progress. On the final climb the party once again split up as we climbed it at different speeds. We all met at the summit and enjoyed spectacular views from the now clear sky, with views all the way to the coast.
Again descending out of the snow down the steep side of Penyghent we made the short walk back into Horton arriving at 6:30pm just as it started to go dark.
From an initial group of 12, 6 finished the route in 11 hours ( 25 miles with over 5000 feet of ascent). The team will be announced this week,nd I’m confident that we can complete the 33. My next blog is likely to be after Easter at which point with a month to go we will be in final preparations for the event…