Looking for a long, gruelling but achievable challenge, offering breath-taking views and an interesting variety of terrain?
Look no further! The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge is a great choice of adventure for a some-what experienced hiker, looking to push themselves into the next level of walking.
Me and my partner first completed The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge in January 2016 but had to complete it over 2 days, as we didn’t have enough daylight in winter. After a busy year or so we then came back and completed the challenge properly in May 2017 and have since then completed it 3 more times all in one month.
So what is The Yorkshire Three Peak Challenge?
For anyone reading this post wondering what on earth this challenge is, it’s basically a 24 mile walk based in the Yorkshire Dales that requires the walker to reach 3 different major peaks (Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent) in 12 hours or less.
I wanted to share with you some tips about what to expect, what to take with you and the different ways of completing the challenge that I have tried and tested personally so far….
Aim for a realistic timescale:
Me and my partner haven’t really challenged ourselves to do it in good time yet, as we didn’t want to take the fun away from completing the route by stressing about timings. So far our fastest time is currently 8 hours, although we will be attempting to do it in our fastest possible time somewhere in the near future. Some very experienced and serious fell runners hold records such as 2 and a half – 3 hours! But I don’t recommend trying to work to a certain timescale if it is your first time completing the challenge – just focus on finishing before the 12 hour mark which is a realistic and do-able target for the majority of people. There is a helpful checkpoint system that you can follow during the hike that will provide you with an estimated completion time based on how long it takes you to reach each peak, you can find it by clicking here.
What to take with you…
Pack for all weathers:
So you’ve probably heard it all before (in fact hundreds of times) “wear plenty of layers” but I honestly stand by this being the most important factor in preparation for your hike. The first time I ever completed the challenge, the day started with glorious sunshine and ended with thrashing rain and thick fog. The key is to set off confident that you have enough resources to enable you to keep warm and dry throughout the whole journey.
You definitely want to wear/pack:
- Plenty of thin layers
- A waterproof jacket
- Walking boots (not trainers)
- Thick walking socks
- A fleece
- A hat/gloves/buff (preferably waterproof)
- Plenty of water
- A first aid kit
- Waterproof pullover trousers
- Sun cream (just in case – I’ve made this mistake of thinking I know better plenty of times and ended up severely sun burnt as a result)
The most important part… THE FOOD:
The night before embarking on a big adventure, a little trick I was taught is to always have a big carby meal the night before (a protein filled pasta dish always works well) as this will provide you with a good sleep on a full stomach and strong slow-releasing energy for the morning.
In regards to what food to take with you on your hike is entirely up to you – there are actually plenty of food stops around different points throughout the challenge, such as pubs and burger vans but personally I feel very grubby and tired after eating greasy foods when walking. Me and my partner began by cooking up a healthy stir fry for dinner but quickly discovered that it worked better for us if we cut down to smaller, more frequent snacks every hour or two. This meant that food was easy to access and we didn’t need to stop to eat, as we both prefer to go slow and steady without stops as a pose to a faster pace and having to take rests in between.
Snacks are great for walking and although I’m not one to usually promote sugar – THE SUGARY THE BETTER.
Things like the famous Kendal Mint Cake, Jelly Babies or Haribos are great to keep at hand for a quick energy booster when you start to feel drained. I also like protein bars, flapjacks and heavy chocolate bars such as ‘Boosts’ or ‘Double Deckers’ to give you that extra kick you need during your last couple of gruelling hours.
So now we’re packed lets talk about…
The most popular order to do the The Yorkshire 3 Peaks is to start at Pen-y-ghent, heading to Whernside and then finishing at Ingleborough. This is a good and safe way to complete the challenge if it is your first time, as you can use the Pen-y-ghent cafe as a starting point and they also offer a service where you can write down your details and either hand them in at the desk or post them through the letter box if you are starting before the cafe is open. They will keep your information and use a register system so that you can call in and tell them you are finished once you have completed the challenge. This helps to eliminate the dangers of people becoming stranded on their journey and no one being aware that they are still out on the hills. You can find more information about the clocking in/out system here.
The first time we completed the challenge we started at Pen-y-ghent and clocked in at the cafe. This way around gives you quite a steady route, with most of the steps being downhill and just one major up-hill climb on the last peak to reach the top of Ingleborough. You then set off back to the cafe walking on a straight and steady pathway for somewhere around an hours time.
For the majority of people this route works well for obvious reasons but me and my partner couldn’t help thinking that we would rather get the long path out of the way at the beginning of the walk, climb down the major up-hill climb at Ingleborough and walk up the steps as it puts less stress on the knees. So the next time around we gave our idea a go and we have now completed the route backwards ever since. It just makes more sense and works better for us as walkers. So I would definitely recommend playing around with different routes if you plan to complete the challenge more than once and it also helps to make the hike seem new and exciting again if you work on changing it up from time to time.
If you plan on completing the challenge the popular way around, the whole route is sign posted very clearly and even if you do find yourself unsure at any point, there is always plenty of other people around to ask or follow on the route (even if you complete it in the January snow!). Always try to take a map and compass with you on any hiking trail as a safety precaution, even if you are confident of the route. If you’re like me and my partner and struggle to read a map (which is not very ideal being keen walkers) there is a very trustworthy and informative app called Viewfinder that uses GPS, so doesn’t need the internet or signal to find where you are. Find more about Viewfinder and the app by clicking here.
I wish you all the best on your travels and hope you found this blog post helpful in some way! If you have already completed The Yorkshire 3 Peak Challenge, let us know about your personal experiences in the comments sections below.