The Infamous Three Peaks Yorkshire Dales Walk

When I started walking around Yorkshire I didn’t know much about the place. I looked at a map and thought to myself, the Yorkshire Dales National Park must be a good place to walk just by judging from its topography. I then looked around on the internet and found out that it was one of the top walking places in the world. And then I discovered something even more interesting, the Three Peaks Yorkshire Dales challenge. A 25 miles circular walk linking three 2000 feet peaks located in the National Park which are Pen-y-ghent 694m (2,277 feet), Whernside 736m (2,415 feet) and Ingleborough 723m (2,372 feet). I had to do it!  Well since I heard about it I have now attempted it twice and failed twice so I thought I would tell you what happened so you can try not to do what I did.

The first attempt, mistakes and silliness

When I first started looking into it about three years ago I found a lot of documentation and especially a write up from the Walking Englishman that included directions. I then thought it would be nice to do it with someone and I got my best friend Xavier to join me who came all the way from France. We both had done a lot of walking back in France including the Massif Central, Pyrennes and the Alps and 2000 feet “mountains” seemed nothing compared to the mighty Alps. So to spice it up a bit I said to him why don’t we walk from my place in Bingley to there via the Dales Way? That was it, we had a plan and a great walking holiday about to unfold. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! I will not tell the story of our walk on the Dales Way since it would need a complete new article just for it but I mentioned it because what I read about the challenge was that you really needed to be fit and trained before attempting it. So five days walking with big rucksacks before it was just what we needed to get back in shape wasn’t it? Well yes and no. We didn’t do the challenge with our rucksacks thank god and the relief of that probably raised our spirits for the first two peaks. However the five days spent walking was draining our energy and our poor feet were suffering even more and when we had Whernside in sight we just folded and went for a pint in Ribblehead pub. I have never run a marathon but I have heard about something called “hitting the wall”. Well that’s what happened to us. We were unprepared (or badly prepared I should say) and had a silly conception about it. Not to mention that we left quite late too (well after 10 o’clock) after a massive English breakfast at The Old Hill In in Chapel-le-Dale (really recommend this place). And although it was early June and daylight would probably be to our advantage, it was also a scorching hot day meaning that our 2 litres of water were gone in no time! So take my word for it, don’t try what we did.

Route details available on other websites:

I have compiled some pictures of our journey if you are interested:

Second attempt, mistakes and bad weather

So it took me almost three years to decide that I should do it again. It’s the kind of thing you don’t really want to do on your own and when I joined Onna Walks last year I was glad to learn that most of the walkers were interested in doing it and for some it wasn’t their first time either. Earlier this year, we finally agreed on a date and Good Friday would be the day. This time I decided to get trained and ready for it. I walked long distances but never reached the 25 miles required. Just wanted to get my muscles and feet ready for action. After all you do this to challenge yourself in a way so you don’t have to go mad on the training either – well at least that’s my thought. And as quoted by Mumtaz our group leader, “we were just doing it for the fun of it!” I really felt like nothing would be in my way a week before the walk until I watched the weather forecast on TV; snow was coming! We had one of the best and warmest months ever recorded in March and suddenly it couldn’t be more different. Honestly up to the evening before the walk I thought we were not going. However Mumtaz convinced me to go and it turned out that most of the snow had already melted away. Even so it probably discouraged a few people since only four of us up turned up for the walk. Now I won’t be denunciating but someone among us had an alarm crisis which delayed our start quite considerably. We started the walk at 9 o’clock sharp which is not so bad but daylight in early April is not in our favour as it turned out unfortunately. Not only that we had to brace ourselves for foggy, windy and misty weather on the peaks and I think that sapped away our spirit. The walk itself is a challenge but what makes up for it is the landscape in my opinion. However when you can’t see 10 metres away you really feel like you are going nowhere. Besides I found out that my fellow walkers were not as trained as me and once on Whernside they hit the wall. It was time to wrap it up and finish the walk at the Old Hill Inn where we all had a warm meal. Even though I probably had the stamina for it, carrying on would have been dangerous and irresponsible since darkness was falling and the fog had now fallen down the valley. Well we went back to the car by taxi but I’d rather have done that than fall down Ingleborough!

Route details available on other websites: Walk4Life route detailsTrailzilla

Again I have compiled some pictures of our journey if you are interested.

Word of advice

After two attempts starting at two different points I could say that I have done the Three Peaks after all. Well I have done Pen-y-ghent twice and Whernside and Ingleborough once. I am not an expert and I have just shown you what you shouldn’t do. So I think that judging by my own experience I can tell you what you should do. Don’t we say “do as I say, not as I do”? Then if you are interested in knowing what you should do, why don’t you have a look at my Yorkshire Three Peaks Walk page.

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