Saturday 2nd July, 2016
7.00am on a rather cool, dull midsummer morning. Fifteen keen North Cheshire Nordic Walkers and Goostrey Wheelers (minus their bikes) assemble at the car park in Horton In Ribblesdale. The anticipation levels are high; the dilemmas are many. How many layers? How much water to carry? Waterproof over trousers or not? To run or walk?!?
7.15 just as we are about to set off the rain starts, just a light drizzle. It’ll be OK – it will blow over. By 9.00am as we approach the summit of the 1st peak, Pen Y Ghent we are soaked, feet squelching in our boots, hair plastered to our heads and absolutely no visibility at the top so no stopping for photos. At this point Richard and Adam set off to run (yes RUN) the rest of the way. As we head down for the long trek to Ribblehead the rain eases, and by the time we get to our 1st checkpoint, we are dried out by the wind. Helen is our saviour! Never have simple comforts been so welcome – coffee, hot chocolate, towels to dry ourselves with, snickers and dry socks.
After a 20 minute break we set off again totally revitalised and eager to bag our next peak – Whernside. The sun actually puts in a brief appearance on the long gradual ascent lifting our spirits even higher.
As we approach the summit of Whernside the cloud drops (nil visibility) and the pleasant breeze that had dried us turns to a howling gusting gail force 9. So it’s a very brisk trot along the 3 km ridge and a tricky descent out of the cloud to meet Helen again for more hot coffee, sustenance and dry clothes.
This is the test point – the brooding mass of Ingleborough looms in the distance, cloudless and beckoning. There is no mention of not carrying on – everyone in the group is upbeat and keen to complete the challenge even with the awful conditions.
The approach to Ingleborough is a beautiful scenic walk across limestone pavements and boardwalks. The actual ascent of Ingleborough is a steep scramble up a pretty much vertical hillside then a rocky path along the shoulder and on to the trig point at the summit. By the time we reach the shoulder guess what happens – pouring rain, sleet, stinging hail driven at us horizontally by the 35mph gusts of wind – and nil visibility!!
We beat a hasty retreat from the summit and head down the the toughest part of the walk – the 5 mile trek back to Horton. Very wet, tired legs, sore knees, crazy hairdos all forgotten as soon as we get into the pub and are greeted by a roaring log fire, great beer and chips, all enhanced by that après ‘challenge over adversity’ feeling of euphoria.
Distance: 25.43 miles; Ascent: 4637 feet; Steps: 65340; Calories: 4296; Inches of rain drained into our boots: actual unknown – felt like 6″. Total Time: 10 hours 4 minutes. Walking time: 9 – 91/2 hours. As for our runners Richard & Adam – their time was 8 hours and 4 pints ahead of us in the pub. Phones drowned: 1.
“Took my map out of its waterproof case inside the waterproof rucksack liner inside the rucksack and it’s totally soaked!!!”
“Next time I do it I’m waiting for summer!!”
“Many thanks to all for your company in what seemed like a parallel universe. Great fun in hindsight.”
“Great company on a tough day”
“Maybe one day we will do it again when the sun shines over those 3 Peaks…as it is amazing scenery – who knows?”
“Next time Bev says ‘I’ve just been thinking ……., or ‘I’m hatching a plan’….. shut her down!”