[img::alignleft:small:]Date: 24th April 1999
Distance: 23 miles
Participants: Mark, Paul, Chris, Stuart & Kev.
I think the idea behind this walk was as a training exercise in preparation for that year’s Scotland trip, that and the fact that I’d never done the 3 peaks before, and had always wanted to. This was the first time that I’d met Kev, Chris & Stuart’s neighbour, and I was later to find out that this was approximately the 19th time he’d done the three peaks. What a nutter I thought, little did I realise how much I was to enjoy the day and go on to do the 3 peaks with him 3 more times the following year!
I drove, as per usual, and we arrived at Horton-in-Ribblesdale early, too early to register our walk with the famous Pen-y-Ghent Café. It was a glorious spring day, lovely sunshine and very warm for the time of year. Our first objective after getting changed and waiting for Mark to put his lenses in was Pen-y-Ghent (This is now my favourite hill, for no specific reason apart from it is). I knew this was going to be a long, walk so as usual started off at a fair but not too hard a pace. Kev turns out to be a great bloke, the type you wished you known all your life. He was telling tales of previous 3 peak walks, one in particular when three of them had set off full of macho bravado and reached the top of PyG in 40 mins. I was impressed but continued at my steady pace. We reached the top of PyG in glorious sunshine and had the pleasure of stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales (my favourite place in the world, The Lake District a close second and Down 5 at 99 is Wales.) From the photos you will see that everyone has their tops off, with the exception of me. The reason for this was not to upset the others too much by showing acres of flabby white skin. As was the norm at this time I’m overweight, fitish but overweight, as I’ve probably mentioned before (more than once) due to my on going thyroid problem. You will see that my torso is well and truly covered up with my T-shirt, which came in a generous size of BFB (that’s Big Fat B******).
After a bite to eat we set off down the other side across the undulating moorland towards Ribblehead viaduct. This part of the walk is probably the least exciting part of the walk. The rough path crosses the Pennine Way and several areas of black claggy bog. Today wasn’t too bad, previous walkers had place wooden planks over the worst bits, but we still had to make the odd long jump. Walking poles are brilliant for this and quite a distance can be achieved with a little practice. No mishaps but hard going so we stop for another bite to eat. Kev produces this large lunch box filled with pasta twists in a creamy sauce; there is loads of it. After a while Kev declares that he hates pasta but eats it for its carbohydrate content. Sounds good but you can’t beat a Mars bar and a drink of Lucazade for a bit of a boost on a walk. The trek over to the viaduct goes on and on and on, 9 miles of it and can get a bit tedious. Still the weathers great and we’re making good progress. We pass through a field with “Beware of the Bull” signs on the gates; Mark & Chris look a bit twitchy and do good impressions of an Owl, with their heads almost rotating 360 degrees, on the look out. All’s well and no bull appears, we decide to alleviate the tedium with a game. Each takes it in turn to say a different name for an object. Now let’s think what object shall we choose? Easy “m***e”, “v**”, “t***”, and so it goes on. We moved on to other bits of anatomy and before long we were hitting the tarmac road leading down to our lunch stop, by the 4th Peak café near to the viaduct.
We stayed hear for about half an hour while we all ate and rubbed various ointments onto our feet and changed socks etc.
Then off we went again. The route up Wherneside has now changed, and instead of a direct approach you now have to traverse around the left flank and the well-made track, over the railway and bridge and eventually take a left over a style to head toward the summit. The weather was still great and quite hot for April. We noticed a lot of train spotters on our way, and wouldn’t you know it they were waiting for a steamer due any time now. Chris & Mark were keen to wait on the railway bridge for it, but I decided to trudge on as I knew my pace was not as fast as theirs and they could easily catch up. I thought I was doing well until Kev steamed past me closely followed by Stuart. Still never mind ‘cos we’re all going home in the same car at the end of the day. It was quite a pleasant walk up Wherneside as it turns out, and we were rewarded once more with stunning views down to the viaduct and back to PyG, which seemed an awful long way off now. We could also see the next stage of our route over to Ingleborough, which didn’t look too bad. However from here we couldn’t make out the sodding Duckboards, though.
We descend the flank of Wherneside, which is quite steep in places; but soon levels out to a nice meandering path across the field towards the road and the pub. We decide to have a rest at the pub, more food and drink. The pub – run by the longhaired yetis mentioned in another walk sells pints of orange squash for £2 a pint. I’m not normally tight but I decline as I think they’re taking the mick. So on we go towards Ingleborough, the path starts nice enough through fields and over stiles (or through gates if you realise that their open before you take to the stile) and then “what’s this”, large pieces of wood called “duck boards” stretching for ever over the boggy ground. They make the going easy but are very monotonous and Kev hares them with a passion. I’m none too keen either as I’m feeling rather tired and have slowed down considerably. Mark being Mark stays with me to offer encouragement. I can hear him quite clearly as he’s walking backwards up the duck boards. I can just keep up with him walking forwards, he says it’s to take the strain off his knees a bit, I think it’s to take the piss out of me, I can hear him laughing inwardly (only joking). Eventually the boards finish at the base of a rather steep pull to the summit; this is very steep and very hard going. We manage it with not too much effort; the path levels and we head for the summit, not the large shelter just before it but the second proper summit. Brilliant three peaks done and now just the odd five miles back to HiR.
The weather remains fine but I’m really tired by now. There is a sign along the route which indicates that there’s only 2 mile or so back to Horton. It provides more encouragement but lies. It’s more like 4 miles as it turns out. We’re getting closer and the Blue Lagoon comes into view, we cross a couple of boggy fields which I find very hard work and arrive at the railway station, cross the line and head into town (sorry village) I am very tired and hobble down the street. Still we’re back in a not unreasonable time of 11 hours and 15 minutes. After getting changed we head into the Pen y Ghent café for a cup of tea. When we came back out a strange thing happened, I began to shiver uncontrollably and felt extremely cold, Kev did the same. I don’t know what the exact reason was, probably tiredness dehydration, but we decide to call it the Hard Man Shiver. All in all, a very hard but most enjoyable walk, can’t wait till the next time.