Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

Approximately six weeks ago a group of people, myself included, from my work did the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. Quite frankly, I'm astounded that I haven't written a post about it yet... I think it has only just stopped hurting enough for my brain to contemplate re-living it.

First off, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I wasn't even going to do it until my friend  talked me into it. I was so laid back about it, I didn't do any training and joked that my walks to and from school were enough exercise for me. It certainly was not.

It was such a challenge. It was exciting, extremely trying and at some points downright scary. There were so many occasions where I'd pretty much made up my mind that I couldn't do any more yet I just kept going. My own determination shocked me.

We climbed three mountains. The first was Whernside (728 metres) we started at this one because A. There was free parking and B. It was close to the hostel we stayed in the night before. Then there was a short walk to Ingleborough (723 metres) which I have since renamed Bitch Mountain. Then there was a walk which took us about an hour and a half to a village called Horton where the final mountain, Pen-Y Ghent (691 metres) began.

If I remember rightly we began walking around 7am. It was damp and a bit chilly and I was overly confident that I was ready to tackle this thing.

Just before Whernside there's an absolutely stunning viaduct bridge which I love. I love viaducts, I think they're so majestic. It kind of follows you around the first mountain as you can see it in the distance at different points.

Here's myself and Mel all smily... didn't have the foggiest what we were in for.

Before long we were in the clouds. For the first hour or so everything was okay, nothing too technical and the ground was pretty flat. However the gradient increased (what felt like quickly but compared to the other two it was very gradual) and soon enough I was puffing and panting my way up the side of a mountain.

The peak of Wernside felt pretty flat to me for a while. But the weather at the top was horrendous. It was raining and I've never felt wind like it... it was blowing right through my ears and it actually rubbed the (very minimal) makeup I had on the left side of my face off. I couldn't see any further than about 10 feet in front of my eye balls and it was at this point where the first seeds of doubt were planted.

I thought the decent was going to be easier but in reality it's just as difficult as the ascent. But in a different way. You're not struggling for breath but the concentration needed is vast. It was slippery and windy and I couldn't take my eyes off my feet for about an hour through fear of putting a foot in the wrong place. Also, despite the fact I'd been warned to cut my toe nails... my toes still killed.

Finally we came out of the cloud and that beautiful viaduct could be seen again. The sun was breaking through the clouds and my doubt had vanished after catching my breath on the flat walk to Ingleborough.

It took us until 11am to finish the first mountain and I know this because I remember saying, 'Oh gosh it's 11am...my sister will just be getting out of bed and I've already climbed a mountain.' It made me laugh even if no one else.

There were some parts of the walk that really gave me a good mental giggle (didn't have the energy for a physical one). One of which was this massive hole in the ground. The picture doesn't do it justice but it was like a mountain engraved into the earth rather than sticking out of it.....

Around 12pm we were about half way up Ingleborough and there's a slight lapse in picture taking here because I couldn't actually comprehend my life at this point never mind getting my phone out to photograph the event.

I have never felt anything like what I was feeling climbing this mountain.

The pictures just don't do it justice and it's annoying because unless you do a lot of walking or have done challenges like this yourself you just can't comprehend it. I know this because had I looked at this picture beforehand I'd have just thought 'oh it's a few steps, I can do that' but it's two hours, two hours of climbing the steepest stairs I've ever seen. Towards the top we were literally on all fours, grabbing on to tufts of grass to pull ourselves up.

By this point I had very little energy, I had food in my bag but my appetite was little to none, I knew that if I went back down the mountain nobody would be there and I would have hours to wait until someone would be but I just couldn't contemplate going on. It was the strangest feeling I've ever felt. Knowing that you're in a situation where you can only help yourself, no one can click their fingers and you'll be at the top. You've got to get yourself either back down or up to the top and it's just crazy.

Melissa and I were adamant that we weren't doing the last one. We were going to be giver-upers. After we sat and ate Starburst at the top we lost the rest of our group who had bounded on ahead and from there on it was just the two of us until we finished the whole challenge. 

I think it took about an hour and a half to walk from Ingleborough to Horton, a little village placed between Ingle and Pen-Y. It was a relatively flat path but very long winded and I met some cows in a field:

We strolled our way into Horton gathering our thoughts and gradually began talking ourselves into the third peak. 

Two things convinced me to carry on: 1. The shame of going into work on Monday having only completed two thirds of the challenge and 2. A very flamboyant and enthusiastic man who gave us an encouraging speech about there being 'no such word as can't'. He was an excellent guy and exactly what we needed. 

At 3pm we found Horton and ate sandwiches at this picturesque train station. It was the first time I'd felt like I could stomach actual food so you can imagine my disappointment when I discovered my Mum had put apple sauce on my turkey sandwiches. I hate apple sauce. 

We ate chocolate, drank Lucozade, vowed that we were a team and it didn't matter how long it took us as long as we finished it in the end. My 10 hour goal had gone right outta the window.

We found Pen-Y Ghent after some confusion at the start. The track began with tarmac... I had never felt so privileged. It was like a cloud after walking on uneven stones all day.

The majority of Pen-Y-Ghent is a fairly gradual climb. Until the top where it very much makes up for it.

I found Ingleborough aka Bitch Mountain in the distance and zoomed in on it. It's very distinguishable by it's flat top. 

In the picture below you can see how far we walked. The highest part in the distance is Ingleborough and we walked all the way down the side of there, through the village of Horton and we were half way up the last mountain. It really stunts me. 

Distance always makes me feel a bit dodgy. At my old house I could see a pub at the top of a hill throughout my bedroom window and we used to go to this pub all the time, it took about 20minutes in the car to get to. When I got home after being there and saw it through the window I couldn't get my head around having been somewhere so far away in the car yet being able to see it at such a distance through the window. Such a long ramble but that's the same feeling I get looking at this photo. I used to look at the flood lights in the car park and think 'I was stood there not 20 minutes ago'. Very surreal. 

Unlike Whernside, Pen-Y-Ghent really catches you out... one minute you're leisurely cruising along and the next you're very much scaling the side of a freaking mountain. This was without a doubt the steepest section of all the mountains, it was mostly rocky and we had to hold on for dear life because the wind had picked up and I really thought I was going to blow off the side. I definitely felt the most fear climbing this part.

I didn't feel the breathlessness and inability to go on like I did climbing Ingleborough because we were really taking our time. We were egging each other on and didn't have to keep up the pace with others. 

Here's a visual representation of how steep it was. 

You can imagine how unamused we were to think we were at the top only to be faced with this. It really snook up on us this last part, we didn't even know it was there until we peaked our heads over the last rock and there it just chillin'. 

After that very rocky climb we were faced with a nice, flat (or at least paved) walk to the top.

Here we had a celebratory sit down, shared two packets of crisp between us, took a victory selfie and chilled with some sheep. I think we had about 20 minutes (the longest break we'd taken all day) just thinking about what we'd accomplished. 

Here's another funny picture I took on the walk back down to Horton. As with all these pictures, they don't look like what they did in reality but these boulders were absolutely massive... definitely the size of cars if not bigger and Mel came out with, 'Oh my God it reminds of Frozen! The scene where the stones become trolls!' that pretty much summed up the rest of the walk for me, it was so funny.

We finished the walk at 6:45pm so it took us very nearly 12 hours to climb three mountains. Neither of us had done anything like it before... we aren't the fittest of people but we damn well did it anyway and we celebrated with a pint of cider which went straight to my head. 

The next day I couldn't even walk downstairs... the pain was real. And I was horrendously sunburnt too. It didn't even feel warm but being that bit closer to the sun must've made all the difference. It took about a week for me to stop hobbling around the school and for my muscles to feel normal again. 

When I got home that night I said I'd never do anything like it again. I thought I'd tried it, it nearly killed me and I shan't be attempting it again. I feel differently now though... I would climb another mountain but I would have to do some training first. I don't want to huff and puff my way up the next one I want to enjoy it so next time someone organises a Three Peaks Challenge I'll be all over it, that and a rower and a cross trainer lol. 

Before I end this extremely long winded post, I'll leave you with a picture of a Flintstones car we found behind the back of where we stayed....  

I really hope you enjoyed reading this. I know it was long winded and if you're still here YAY! :)

Leave me a comment telling me if you'd have a go at the Yorksire Three Peaks or if you already have I'd love you hear how you managed it!

Thanks for reading!
Leanne x

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  1. Welldone! I just wanted to say that I have nominated you for the versatile blogger award.



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