Having lived in the Yorkshire Dales for nearly 2 years, I could not leave the UK without completeing the Yorkshire 3 peak Challange.
Challenge: Climb the 3 highest peaks in the Yorkshire Dales in under 12 hours. Distance: 24.5 miles, Height: Pen-y-gent (691 metres), Whernside (728 metres) & Ingleborough (723 metres)
Being a generally fit individual, I thought a long walk would be relatively easy to complete, so I set the goal to make it in under 10 hours rather than 12. Without any training or experience, we set off on what appeared to be a nice Yorkshire 4th of July day – sunny with a bit of wind, about 70F/18C.
However, it soon turned into a typical Yorkshire Day and started pelting down rain. At this time, I was thankful we had decided to get a guide as I had come wilfully unprepared for any kind of inclement weather.
By the Valley of Whernside, the second peak, I was still feeling optimistic about reaching the end of the trail within our 10 hour goal – until I started the decent of the last peak, Ingleborough.
It seems that my 27 year old body had somehow hit a brick wall – my left knee simply gave out on me. With 5 miles to go I was forced to resort to hobbling my way to the finish line. What should have taken a little over an hour turned into over 2. Turns out it was good that we had set the pace relatively high as we would not have made it in 12 hours had we not kept such a good pace earlier in the day.
Lesson learned: Be prepared for the unexpected when doing something you have never done before.
Although I have hiked up Mt. Fuji, done a 4 day trek up the Lao mountainside and completed many triathlons, Half Marathons and other physical feats – Ingleborough defeated me.
But all is not lost – we made it in under 12, completed the challenge, got the patch and checked another off the bucket list. Highly recommend doing some, if not all, of the challenge. The Yorkshire Dales are truly a thing to behold and one of the must do’s if visiting England.
If interested in doing it yourself, here are some helpful links/recommendations:
Attire: Come prepared for any weather. Store wet/cold weather gear for the tops of the hills/peaks. Temperature changes drastically from the valley to the Peaks (and it also tends to be quiet misty/wet)
Physical shape: You do not need to be in excellent physical shape to complete – but we aware of your bodies limitations. I had previous issues with the knee that gave out on me – ended up pushing it too far. If trying to do it in under 12, shoot for 10 or 11 just to make sure and don’t take too long on breaks. Those are the areas that really eat up your time.
Guide or no Guide? Honestly, even if it is your first time going, you can easily complete to trail without a guide, especially if completing during the summer months/high season. Just do your research, bring a map and pay attention. Most paths are well paved/marked and filled with others completing the same task.
What to Bring: Other than clothing in case of inclement weather, make sure to stock up on lots of power bars, gatorade (lucozade for those in the UK) and of course water. You do burn a marathons worth of calories so come prepared with the needed boosts.
When to go: Summer months are recommended for both temperate weather and long summer sunlight. However, you will often run into long lines of hikers upon summiting each peak who had the same brilliant idea you did. So if you can get a a good day in either May or Sept I would recommend trying then. Bring a flashlight just in case it takes longer than you expect.
Helpful links on mapping & hiring a guide:
Other 3 peaks challenges in the UK for those who think Yorkshire is just too easy
National 3 peaks:
3 Peaks Yacht race: