Having lived in the Yorkshire Dales National Park for 2 years 5 months now, we felt it was finally time to take on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge. Having had several groups stay at St Marks Stays doing this particular challenge and often for charity, we get asked what it is like, so we decided to find out for ourselves recently with a group of friends.
Every group that has stayed with us has had different advice and how you cope with walking the 24 mile route whilst hiking the three highest mountains in the Yorkshire Dales, depends on you individually I feel. We all have strengths and weaknesses and different capabilities, so the challenge can vary from person to person.
As a group, here are our top tips for hiking the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.
Consider a different starting point
Many groups start at Horton-in-Ribblesdale because there is plenty of parking and more facilities, but we chose to start at Chapel le Dale because it would be less busy and we would not be walking amongst too many other groups.
Choose a week day
Weekends in high summer are busy due to the long day light hours and people being available then. We walked on a Thursday and at no point did we have to walk behind any other groups, because it was much quieter. If your group prefers time and space to take on the challenge, then it could be worth taking time off work to do the challenge in the week.
Assess your group capabilities
Our group was of a similar fitness level and smaller in numbers, so we could stay together. From the experience of chatting to our guests who have had groups that have split up, maybe have the chat in advance, as to if you are happy to split up if your group take on the challenge at different paces. If you are faster, it can be hard to wait at certain points for the rest of the group as you don’t want to lose your momentum. If you are the part of the group trying to catch up, it can be demoralising. So talk in advance of the walk about how you may take on the challenge to ensure the whole group is happy.
We also had a friend who felt she was not at a stage where she could take on all 3 peaks, so she joined us for the final peak. This was also a boost for the group to have someone with new enthusiasm to meet us. Out advice for this though is to plan a meeting point in advance, where the person can wait for you comfortably, with realistic timings and be aware that you may not have mobile phone signals at certain points of the route for updating each other.
Be prepared to carry 3 litres of water, or have a support car at different points to refill, especially in hot weather. Apart from Horton-in-Ribblesdale, we personally found that there are not really any points to get water. Even on our rainy day start, we got through a lot of water.
Have the right kit
This goes without saying, but poor footwear means blisters because it is a long walk. Have waterproofs and sun cream as the weather changes quickly. Good rucksacks and walking poles all help to make your walk more comfortable.
Know your route
Have a map, plan the route and have someone in your group that does know their navigation. Parts of the route are not always obvious paths and there are different routes. We had proper whiteout mist at the start of our day, so paths, or target points were not even visible in the distance at certain stages of our walk.
The earlier you start, the earlier you finish and you can get a head start on any crowds of groups taking on the challenge – especially on a Saturday. We started at 6am and could be back, showered and in the pub for a celebratory dinner which was a great way to finish the day.
Don’t underestimate the challenge
We have seen people who do cross fit find it hard and people with no training achieve this challenge, so it can be up to the mental and physical capabilities of the individual. We have seen people find it easy and people come back broken and struggle to walk down the stairs the next day. Our advice as a group is to not underestimate it. This is a long walk with some scrambling at parts and lots of steps up and down. The three peaks are mountains after all, so take them seriously and take on the challenge with a level of respect and you’ll be fine.
Little and often
We found that smaller breaks more often helped keep us walking. Snacks and food on the move was much easier for us personally, than stopping to get out boxes of pasta and having big breaks for example.
It is that simple – enjoy the views, the company and the achievement!
The Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge is 38.6 km (24 miles) of walking over 1585 mtrs (5200 ft) of ascent in 12 hours. The peaks form part of the Pennine range and take in Pen-y-Ghent (694 mtrs), Whernside (736 mtrs) and Ingleborough (723 mtrs).
(NB. Our route was 38.72 km / 24.06 miles and we made it as a group in 11 hrs 50 mins)
See link for further information:
How St Marks Stays can help
The house sleeps 10 if you are travelling up as a group to take on the challenge.
We can be in to have your food shopping delivery sent in advance for your arrival.
We can put the BBQ coals on to have it ready to cook on upon your return.
If you’ve pre-made a big lasagne we can put it in the Aga so piping hot for your return.
We can arrange sports massage for the day after with enough notice.
Distance to drive from the house:
Horton-in-Ribblesdale : 57 mins
Chaple le Dale : 50 mins
Ribblehead : 45 mins