Over the weekend, I did the Yorkshire Three Peaks. I’ve been thinking about doing it for the last two years but every time that work has organised an outing for it, I’ve had other plans. Until this year. I don’t think I would have been able to complete it the previous years so I’m glad I waited till this year. I’m far from an expert walker but I thought I’d give you some tips on how to survive if you’re thinking of doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge yourself.
It took us 10 hours and 30 minutes to complete the route. It’s a long walk and the last thing you need is a heavy backpack to slow you down. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pack all the food, snacks and water to stay hydrated that you need, but make sure not to put stuff in there for the sake of it. I brought three bottles of water, half a litre for each mountain. Don’t get me wrong, I was thirsty when I got back but it was enough during the walk and I never felt the need to have a wee during it.
I also packed two sets of sandwich wraps, fruit, a couple of energy bars, sweets and crisps to keep me going throughout. I only had the wraps, one bag of crisps and an energy bar during the walk so clearly walked around with unnecessary foods but luckily nothing too heavy.
The weather forecast said heavy winds but no rain so I felt comfortable wearing 3/4 gym leggings, a running t-shirt and long sleeved running top. As I know it gets cold at the top of the mountains and I suffer from Raynaud’s Disesase (finger tips go cold, white and numb), I also packed a hoody and gloves. I forgot to think about something to cover my ears so I’m very grateful that my friend had a headband I could use. It was a lifesaver up the first mountain, Pen-y-ghent where it did rain and the wind was blowing it in to my right ear.
A wind/rain jacket would have been good but I always get very warm from the inside wearing them. I felt better off letting the wind air dry the clothes I was wearing and continue lightly dressed as I was. It was only on the first mountain where it rained. Had it continued I would have put on my thin wind jacket. I was never cold during the walking stages, only at the mountain tops, so never used my hoody.
Since walking Ingleborough and Cadair Idris, I’ve invested in a pair of walking trainers and I must say they are far better than regular trainers, especially in more wet and muddy conditions. I prefer light shoes over decent walking boots that you can get. I find they would hinder me when walking.
The hardest part for me wasn’t the physical work but instead the psychological strain. I work out regularly cycling to work and going to the gym in the morning so I knew I’d be capable of walking it all. Having climbed Pen-y-ghent on its own the week before without any major issues, I knew I’d be fine. What I didn’t realise is what 10 hours of walking can do to your psyche.
The challenge is to complete the Three Peaks in 12 ours or less. As we didn’t set off till 8.30am and the coach would leave at 7pm we knew we’d only have 10 hours and 30 minutes to complete it in. Knowing that, we knew we’d not have time for many stops or to doddle around. I can honestly say that after the first mountain and the long walk to reach the second one I started to feel stressed about finishing on time. It’s not a nice feeling to have but I powered through. This despite having done the first mountain in 1.5 hours and walking in a decent pace to the next.
I never once felt like giving up. Knowing I had sushi in the fridge waiting for me at home and be able to say I completed it in a respectful time frame is what kept me going. The second mountain, Whernside, is horrendous! The long walk up to the summit feels like forever and the poor conditioned track going down almost made me want to cry. I have a fear of heights and with a steep downhill with bad steps going down I had to take a couple of deep breaths to cope.
By the time we reached the top of the third and last mountain, Ingleborough, I got a second wind. We knew we were on the home stretch but oh my is it long. They say 4-5 miles but it kept going on forever and the sign posts does not help. I was not happy at this point. Knowing we only had half an hour left by the time when we could see Horton village, we had to walk really fast, almost run. I didn’t feel like myself at the end but we did it and I’m proud as punch. I’m not sure I’d do it again though.
Have you done the Yorkshire Three Peaks? What was your experience? If you haven’t already, are you planning on doing the Three Peaks sometime? Check out my Instagram for more photos and videos from the day.