The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge

Last Saturday I completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge! The hike covers 26 miles and Yorkshire’s three highest peaks; Pen-y-ghent (694m), Whernside (736) and Ingleborough (723m) which are situated in the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park. The traditional challenge is to complete the circuit within 12 hours and I am proud to say we did it in just under 11 hours!

The walk passes stunning scenery, iconic landmarks such as the Ribbleshead viaduct featured in the Harry Potter movies; awe inspiring geographic features such as limestone pavement and the peaks themselves and panoramic views of the National Park.We did it just as a group of friend for fun but the challenge is popular with charity groups for fundraising. They provide a fantastic opportunity to do the challenge if you feel more confident doing it with an organised group. They usually take care of the transport, meals and stop of points on the day.

We began at 7.39am from the Holme Farm campsite (review to follow) and followed hundreds of other people doing it the same day. The weather was magnificently warm and sunny but with a good breeze to keep us cool. The menacing looking peak on the skyline in the photo above is Pen-y-ghent.

It was a mad scramble to get up the natural stone steps on the edge of the peak due the hordes of people. No time to catch your breath! 

We reached the trig point in great spirtis even if a little sweaty and windblown.

The decent of Pen-y-ghent was tame in contrast to the accent and the path was enforced with hardcore.

We conveniently parked my car in a layby by the Ribbleshead viaduct where the walk crosses the road, just under half way around, providing us with a stop of point for lunch. We had put our sandwiches and extra supplies in the car to avoid having to carry everything the whole way. This was a smart move as a rucksack is extremely heavy when filled with enough water and food for 12 hours plus extra for emergencies! D and two friends planned to just do the first 11 mile leg of the journey up to the peak of Pen y Ghent and to the parked car. The laybys are free to park in but fill up early so I recommend dropping your car off the night before like we did.

While eating our sandwiches at the car among the masses we were treated to the spectacular sight of a low flying Chinook helicopter.

The Ribbleshead viaduct was visible from the peaks of Whernside and Ingleborugh. It marked the end of the slog from Pen-y-ghent and the approach of Whernside.

The Whernside approach was a gradual but gruelling assent due to the stone slaps and steps and single file queue of traffic to the top. We managed to keep a good pace and reached the top a lot faster than predicted. Light clouds swept over the ridge on which we walked making the journey somewhat eerie.

The Whernide decent, in my opinion, was the worst part of the walk due to the stone steps that made my knees tremble in pain. Half way down, the steps disappeared and the deep foot holes that replaced them, created by the thousands of hikers that descend each year, were even more painful to navigate. Walking poles definite help here!

D and the two friends who ended their walk at the first stop met us by the pub in Chapel-le-dale and greeted us with a hot cup of tea and salted nuts to prepare us for the last 7 miles up Ingleborough, down again, and onto the finish line back at Horton In Ribblesdale.

There are several places to park and it is conveniently located just a couple of miles up the road from the first stop by the viaduct. Places fill up quickly so get there early. There is a farm selling hot drinks, snacks and ice creams just before this point which is convenient for those who don’t have a support vehicle. It’s the only snack stop, other than a couple of pubs, located on route.

The plateau on top of Ingleborough was a welcoming brake from climbing on all fours. The mist covering the peak suddenly lifted and the valleys on both sides suddenly became visible. It was beautiful.

 We had a quick swig of whisky at the final trig point and then made our decent in the glorious sunshine.

The last 4 miles from the foot of Ingleborough to the finish line was slower paced as one of the team was in a bit of pain. We knew we would get back within the 12 hour window so there was no rush and the comfort of the injured was paramount! The path meandered  through limestone pavement and over gentle rolling hills. Up until now I had loved every second but the final mile made my knees really hurt. We just wanted to get to the end. And we did; in just under 11 hours. Wahoo! 








 PS. Have you completed the challange? I would love to hear who has.

PPS. If you are attempting the challenge, dont hesitate to
ask me any questions 🙂

By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.