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Blood, sweat, tears....
These things are strictly optional on an average weekend, but on the challenge weekends we only promise to help you avoid the blood!
And this past weekend was no different; loads of sweat, some well shed tears and no blood. That constitutes a good weekend, but what did our challengers say?
“What a delight to see a smiling face as we approached our checkpoints”
“You guys made it such a great weekend that I won’t forget this for a long time”
“My goodness that was hard, but I’m really glad I did it”
The Challenge – What’s Involved
26 miles. 3 Peaks to ascend. All in under 12 hours.
We make a start from our accommodation at 0600 to make sure we get out on the hills with enough time to complete the route in daylight and under 12 hours. Not that you can’t walk in the dark, but the risks associated with doing this after walking for over half a day are rarely worth the risk.
From Horton-in-Ribblesdale we take the route the opposite way round to the vast majority of people, we do this because we want you to remain safely a part of your group, and walking amongst the 100’s that are out on this route every weekend can be disorienting. Much nicer instead to walk against the flow and feel reassured that you know who you’re walking with. So with the first ascent of Ingleborough under your boots, you walk down to cross the Ingleton road and are welcomed by your hosts who are waiting with hot drinks and our secret recipe flapjacks.
Next, you’re off to make your way up to Whernside, hoping for some views out to Morecambe bay and, if you’re lucky, the hills of the Lake District. We’ve noticed, over the years, that the descent from Whernside can be quite disorienting, bringing you round in a big U-shape to face Ingleborough, which looks to be the next hill on your tick-list, but is one you’ve already done. This is one of the areas where your mountain leader is a helpful, maybe essential, presence, showing you the route you’re actually going to take (the long schlepp over to Pen-y-ghent), potentially saving you hours of wasted time and effort, and even total failure!
Talking of time, this next section, over to Pen-y-ghent, is the one that seems to drag. You’ve got quite a long and reasonably flat section to negotiate, and it’s this one where really upping the pace and getting into a sound, fast rhythm will pay huge dividends when you get toward the end, whilst giving you time to play with in ensuring that you get back within the time goals. Learning how to walk fast and efficiently on the flat is something that is hardly ever thought about, in my experience, and is probably the easiest of your physical hill skills to develop, given that you can do it almost anywhere. Contrast that with your hill climbing ability, where you really can’t get away without having a hill (or taking your rucksack into the gym and using the stepping machines whilst fully loaded, and who’s ever seen anyone do that?), and you might just find that, come the time to book yourself onto one of Large Outdoors Yorkshire Dales 3 Peaks Challenge weekends, you’ll find the flat section that much easier. Just saying.
So, here you are, at the last of your challenges. Pen-y-ghent. The lowest of the 3, but only a by a few metres. And it’s the last one, so this is where having taken on lots of our flapjack is going to come in handy, giving you energy to burn all the way to the end.
I have to say that, being emplaced at the finish point, it was a total pleasure to see those tired yet exalted faces turn off the country lane toward us, being welcomed by cheers, handshakes, hugs and not a few tears. Make no mistake, this is a challenge for all participants and one that will leave ‘interesting’ memories for years to come. Most people choose to take advantage of the facilities on offer and down a brew or five and then we head back to our accommodation for a hearty and well deserved 3-course-meal. on this weekends menu was baked brie with fresh french bread for starters, chicken with chorizo and tomato sauce for mains, and home-made sticky toffee pudding for dessert.
I’ll close with Gareth’s advice to our weary walkers once we’d finished our main meal; “my advice is to take yourself to bed and enjoy yourselves there”!
See you on one of our Yorkshire Dales 3 Peaks Challenge weekends next soon (they restart next year once we get enough daylight hours again).
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