So you’re an adventure seeker looking to push yourself to the limit and you’ve set your heart on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. You’ve certainly had the right idea, as the challenge is pretty much a marathon through the Yorkshire Dales.
At 24 miles, the challenge is in fact only 2.6 miles short of an actual marathon. While most marathons are run over smooth asphalt, the Three Peaks Challenge takes place over arduous terrain with unpredictable weather conditions. In return you’re treated to stunning landscapes, with incredible views.
Here’s all you need to know about the challenge, and the steps you should take to get prepared.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge will see you taking on the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, all in under 12 hours. The 24-mile route includes 5,200 feet of ascent, ensuring you’ll be partaking in plenty of hill climbing. The peaks, which encircle the head of the valley of the River Ribble, form part of the Pennine range within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
To tackle the peaks, you may join an organised event, or embark upon the challenge yourself as part of a self organised group. The Three Peaks website is a good place to go to find groups.
Organised trips usually take about 12 hours, with most groups starting at 6am and finishing at 6pm. A mountain leader will guide and navigate while also informing you of where to park, but you need to ensure you have sufficient food, water and equipment to support you along your journey. Don’t overload yourself however, and limit your water supply to two litres of water per peak.
If you decide to take on the challenge by yourself, you can find public parking spaces in Chapel le Dale, Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Ribblehead. Each of these locations are in close proximity to starting points, depending upon whether you’re taking on the challenge in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. Since you’ll be without a guide, and to ensure you don’t get lost along the way, the maps.me app is a useful way to download detailed maps of the area which you can view without mobile phone reception.
First and foremost, you need to ensure you’re fit and healthy enough to take on the challenge. Taking in 24 miles and over 5,000 feet, it’s best to be a seasoned hiker before you head to the Dales.
Just as you would with a marathon, start small and work your way up. Take on smaller hikes that last only a few hours first, and get used to taking on difficult terrain. In between your practice hikes, you could gain more climbing experience with the stepping machine at the gym, or even by taking the stairs versus the lift when heading to the office. Build up your stamina this way and soon you’ll be itching to take on those peaks.
As well as preparing your body for the challenge, you also need to think about your kit. Firstly, ensure you have a comfortable rucksack, complete with dry bags to protect your kit from potentially heavy rain showers. You should pack plenty of food and water, plus an all-important map and compass to help you find your way. A first aid kit is a must too, in case of any blisters or scratches picked up along the way. Make sure your phone is fully charged before you set off, and pack a torch as well should you get stranded after nightfall.
Outside your rucksack, protect yourself with suitable walking clothes, including hiking trousers, thermal layers and a quality pair of waterproof socks.
Ensuring you have all the kit you need will help you enjoy the stunning terrain that awaits.
Taking on the challenge isn’t just about putting yourself to the test, it’s also an opportunity to take in the stunning sights of the Yorkshire Dales. A historic national park, the Dales are home to ancient woodlands, spectacular waterfalls, and the remnants of pre-industrial Britain.
The peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent are centrepieces of the park, and are amongst the highest peaks in all of Yorkshire.
Whernside is the highest of them all, and offers great views out to the Howgills, Morecambe Bay, and even the Lake District. The ascent to Whernside is long and steady, while the descent follows a steeper path finishing beneath the breathtaking Ribblehead Viaduct. Ingleborough takes in stunning limestone scenery, as well as the incredible Ingleborough caves and Gaping Hill. Pen-y-Ghent is perhaps the most popular of the three peaks, starting in picturesque Hortonin-Ribblesdale, and climbing up through Brackenbottom Scar, with spectacular views to be had from its 694m high summit.
The sights you’ll take in while tackling the challenge will definitely make all the effort worth it.
Now it’s over to you. With a good rucksack, all the kit you need, and a list of sights to enjoy, you’re ready to take on this world famous challenge. Be sure to pack a pair of quality waterproof socks and you’ll be good to go.