On Saturday I went, I saw, I partially conquered. I only managed the first peak, and admired the other two from the safety of flat ground. Saturday proved to me that I do not enjoy hill climbing and it will not be featuring much (if at all) in any of my future walks. Perhaps it was the heat (one of the hottest days of the year in the area), perhaps it was the stony, rocky path we had to clamber up, perhaps it was the fact that my nose was running almost continuously and stopping to blow it was getting very tiresome, or perhaps it was just that I am not cut out for clambering up rocky hillsides, but one peak was more than enough for me.
All the time I was preparing for this challenge I kept telling myself that it was perfectly possible to complete, and the lack of enjoyment of climbing Mount Snowdon a few weeks ago was due to my fitness and the very wet weather. After Snowdon I had considered pulling out of the Yorkshire challenge, but decided to increase my fitness level, do as much walking as possible and give it a go. So, I am pleased that I didn’t pull out, but disappointed in a way that I didn’t complete it. However, I feel I gave it my best shot and when I decided to call it a day after the first peak I knew I had made the right decision. I will still go walking, because I enjoy that and can walk for miles and miles, but will stick to flat and slightly undulating ground with the odd small steep section!
We drove up to Yorkshire on Friday afternoon and checked in to the Ingleton Youth Hostel where we were staying for two nights. Saturday morning was a very early start, with breakfast at 5.15 before reporting to the starting point at 6 a.m. The sun was shining already and the forecast was for a hot day, with a slight breeze and the chance of some rain later in the afternoon. Laden with waterproofs, hats, suncream, extra water, emergency equipment, snacks and a packed lunch, our group set off at 6.30, at a brisk pace, towards Ingleborough, the first of the three peaks in the challenge. The incline was gentle to start with and the early morning misty sunshine was beautiful. By 6.45 we had to stop to admire the view and remove a few layers of clothing …
The peak in the distance is Whernside, the second of the three peaks which form the challenge.
I had to keep stopping for a drink, or to blow my nose, so took the opportunity to take another photo.
It was really quite hot by now, and we were only about an hour into the walk. The main group of elite walkers, as I liked to think of them (the ones who were obviously mountain goats in previous lives!), were getting further and further ahead. They stopped occasionally for the slowcoaches to catch up, but as soon as we did they were off again – they had a 12 hour deadline to meet!
Another hour of walking – the path was starting to get quite a bit trickier now, with lots of boulders and loose rocks to negotiate, and I was starting to think this activity was just not for me! The thought of having to do this three times was not filling me with any kind of pleasure! All my grit and determination was coming into play now as the incline got steeper.
The lead walkers in my group had disappeared over the top by now, and my nose blowing sessions were getting closer and closer and I was having to stop more and more to catch my breath. However… finally… two hours and twenty minutes after setting off from starting point, I reached the summit! Ta da!
As soon as I was at the top, I recovered my breath, had more water and snacks, had a rest with the other slower walkers and ten minutes later was ready for the challenging scramble down some very steep rocky ‘steps’ and the walk towards the first check point.
Coming down hills is often the most difficult part for some people, but I find it very much easier than going up. As I was walking down I made my decision to call it a day and be pleased that I had managed to complete one of the peaks. My plan was to go back to the car, leave my rucksack and go off and find the local cafe where I would have a drink and read the paper for a while, then perhaps drive off somewhere and see the area. My plan was scuppered, though, by the fact that Mr Decisive had the car keys and when I got to the checkpoint, at 10 past 10, he had already set off for the next peak with the faster walkers! Luckily the support team said it was no problem, I could wait with them until all the walkers had gone through the check point, and they would take me to the second checkpoint where I could wait with them for Mr D to arrive. Two other people had dropped out at this point too, having decided that peak walking was not their thing either.
So that was the end of my challenge, and for the rest of the day I admired the views from the comfort of the support van, and dispensed water and flapjacks to the other 90 or so people who were part of our group. It was so hot, and I have no idea how they managed to keep going. Some more people stopped after the second peak, having given it their all, or because they were nursing injuries. I am full of admiration for the people who completed the three peaks (and many did in within the 12 hours) – they don’t call it a ‘Challenge’ for nothing!