Monday, 2 July 2012

Challenging Peaks

Ever since the idea was fielded at one of our monthly Committee meetings I've been excited at the prospect of taking on the Three Peaks Challenge.  Not one for hiking and walking the nearest I've come to walking such is a distance is the yearly British Heart Foundation Skipton to Leeds canal walk which Martin and I did several years in succession with differing family members from adults to our own children, Martin even completed it one year with our then youngest, Tom aged 9 months in a papoose baby carrier on his back, the two younger ones walking beside us! We didn't put them off too much as Tom, Marc, Craig and his partner Becky accompanied us on the final one we did which I think was at least 5 or 6 years ago, before our annual event became the Great North Run.

Taking on the challenge on Sunday 1st July 2012 were Alison, Kerrie, Gillian, Janice, Tricia, Neil, Taylor, Robert, Dan, Brian, Paul, Martin, Marc & Myself along with two chaps from Hughes and Julie (Alison's colleague and friend)
Arrival at Horton-in-Ribblesdale in the rain!

So the Three Peaks.... I read up about it on the internet, got tips off various people of what to do, what to wear, what to carry with us, but nothing, but nothing could prepare us for what was in store.  We met fellow Eccleshill 'runners' at Morrisons and set off to meet our guides (two chaps who work with Alison at their Hughes Family Bakery) at Macdonalds in Keighley.   Off we set to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire.  As we neared the village the weather gradually got worse, by now it was teaming it down with rain, parking up our cars we walked to a small cafe where walkers can 'clock in' just like turning up for work! You clock out again on your return and this gives you your total time for the challenge. We were advised that we were going to walk the peaks the opposite way round to the 'normal' way due to the amount of rain which had fallen. Off we set to Pen-y-Ghent, shrouded in mist we could only see the very base of it.  It was a fairly tough but steady climb up, but in what seemed no time at all we were at the summit.  A brief pause in readiness for the descent and we were off, going down was made all the more tricky with gusting wind and driving rain, a little spoilt really as it made it necessary for me to pull my hood over my face as a shield.  Once down though, the first part of the challenge completed, it was a great feeling! Marred though by the words of my brother-in-law Neil 'I'm dropping out', and the reason became apparent, he was holding the sole of one of his boots in his hand! Blood was dripping from his fingers, he'd fallen several times. My Sister-in-law (Neil's wife) Tricia appeared behind us with one of the guides and upon learning of Neil's mishap she promptly agreed to retire with him.

Whernside was to be the next challenge, to reach it though we had a long trek to Ribblehead, to our surprise Tricia and Neil were there in the car, they'd decided to see if they could catch us and give Taylor Neil's jacket which was more substantial than the one he was wearing, after much deliberation we decided to attempt to reach the start by going over the moors rather than add two miles to the journey by going round following the railway line.  Once again most of us were totally oblivious to what was in store despite being warned that it would be boggy.  As we negotiated the treacherous terrain it felt like we were in a wilderness, no idea where we were going to end up, along the way people lost their shoes, got their walking poles stuck in bogs, screeched as they sunk, it was fabulous! Such an adventure. We finally arrived at the start of the upward climb and the weather turned windy and raining again, the weather, the terrain and our surrounding changed so quickly it was difficult to take it all in.  This was the point where we seemed to get separated into small groups, some into singles as it turned out, the climb became steeper and steeper and the weather got worse and worse,  I can only liken it to what I imagine it would be like being in the abyss, we couldn't see anything around us, we were now above the mist. It was very surreal. I ended up being with Janice, we arrived at the summit to see a young couple sheltering, they informed us we were at the top and a group of chaps had gone on straight forward so we decided to take our chances and carry on, by now the wind was bitter and we didn't want to stand around getting cold, so off we went. The descent was rather precarious at times, almost vertical and I wondered more than once if I was going to be blown off the side and end up rolling down and landing in a heap at the bottom, I tried not to dwell on that though!  By now my legs were very tired and aching and I did start to wonder whether I was going to be able to take on the final peak, Ingleborough.  Janice and I found our way to a small cafe the guides had told us about which promised a toilet and a warm drink.  Relief wasn't the word.  Rob, Dan, Paul and Brian were already there, we had a lovely cup of coffee and a sit down in the basic facilities which were actually a caravan at the side of a barn which housed a few tables and the very welcome toilet! Soon after the others started to arrive, once we were all refreshed and ready for off we began our journey to Ingleborough.

The weather had brightened up and we had a very pleasant walk over green fields to the base of the 'hill'. Although attempts had been made at making steps up, it looked vertical! I squealed with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. We started the climb, Janice was way out in front and in no time at all she looked like a small ant in front of us, to our surprise the weather didn't deteriorate this time and we were able to periodically stop, turn round and admire the views, it was absolutely magnificent.  I felt alive, it was breathtaking! We carried on climbing until finally we reached the summit, touched the famous stone structure which marks the spot, took photos, stood a while to admire the sprinkling of fell runners and began our descent. It was a much easier descent than the other two had been apart from a section of limestone groupings which were tough on the feet but it turned out to be a very long journey back to the village where we found the cafe closed so we were unable to clock back in.  They had however, left a sign in the window instructing us to complete a form with the time we finished, our names and email addresses so we are waiting for them to get in touch now, and hoping they allow us to purchase memorabilia to mark our achievements.
on the way up Ingleborough

We did it!

I feel proud of each and every one of us for taking on and completing the challenge and even more so of the two youngsters Marc and Taylor. The icing on the proverbial cake is that I can say 'I did it before I'm 50'! Marc did turn to me at one point and say 'what a way to spend your last weekend of being this side of 50' but actually I can't think of a better way! Tricia and Neil I'm sure will take it on again and this time succeed...... It just has to be done!

1 comment:

  1. Well done, I think you should get extra points for doing it in such awful conditions. I'll bet you were gutted that the cafe was closed. When we did it, all I could think of was custard - they obliged!