This Saturday I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peak challenge, walking the 23.5 mile circular route taking in 1570m of ascending and descending to take in the summits of Pen Y Ghent (691m) Whernside (728m) and Ingleborough (723m) and in the required 12 hours (with half an hour to spare). It was tough especially the last 3.5 hours which was the final climb and then the 5 mile rocky jaunt to the finish and a lifesaving HUGE mug of tea.
My legs are not working so well today and I have a couple of blisters but it was worth it for an incredible walk, stunning scenery and the sense of achievement. For me it was also hugely enjoyable for the camaraderie of the 10 great blokes I was strolling with.
There was another fun aspect too, in that Christians against Poverty were there in force with an organised fundraiser and 70 of their supporters were also battling with fatigue, gravity and pain. We enjoyed some banter with them (and their generous donation of bananas and additional water to our merry band).
If anyone picks this post up from the search engine and would benefit from some of our experience for their assault on these stunning but foreboding hills, here goes:
Very glad we made a prompt start, 07:00 seemed to be a good kick off point
We were totally taken by surprise by the vicious hordes of midges on the climb up Pen y Ghent (I'm not sure this is typical but we got really bitten)
Be aware that you get hot and sweaty on the climbs but cool rapidly on the summit so have layer(s) ready
We worked on a schedule of 5 minute break on the hour every hour and a 20 minute lunch break (this seemed to work for us)
The climbs are steep, really steep and often a little precarious and may require your hands and feet in places.
Poles took some of the strain on the descents and I was glad I had them
If you're there on a Saturday in main season then there are 2 places to buy snacks and a brew on the route.
Do not for a moment think you have made it when you summit on the bleak top of Ingleborough, you have a tough 5 miles of steep then gradual descent BUT the 'path' is uneven stones, puddles, grass clumps and the like that require concentration and don't really allow for any rhythm of walking. (It took us well over 2 hours from the summit to the finish)
This was the toughest physical challenge I think I have undertaken (tougher for me than the 100 mile bike rides) which I think is not just about the three ascents but also in keeping your body working hard for near on 12 hours,
Would I do it again? Yes, may even see if CAP are running their fundraiser again in 2014 and join their fold.