A new Slant on training

John , Tim and Greg had for some weeks planned to go up to visit the Yorkshire Dales to do the 3 peaks hike, but it was only at the last minute that I decided to take the time out to do this.

And so it was Friday that we set off and after a 6 hour journey, with David, John’s Brother, and a stop off in Nottingham to pick up Rob, John’s nephew, that we arrived in Horton-in-Ribblesdale at the southern-most populated edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

We met up with Mike, Martin and another David, John’s friends of old who have done this trek on an annual basis with him for some years, and after debating whether to get up late for a full cooked breakfast or set off early the next morning, turned in for some rest.
Unfortunately, the ‘start early’ crew had won the first round and so we set off, with Greg who had joined us, just after 6:45am.
The weather was ominously overcast as we started up Pen-y-ghent, although with no wind or rain at the bottom of the mountain, we were optimistic of a dry day.
The first climb pushed some of the guys hard and as they didn’t want to hold the others back, we split into two groups with John falling back to navigate for his brother, nephew and Martin. The rest of us pushed on and we reached the top at just after 8:00am. The wind at the top was chilling and the inevitable cloud had surrounded us halfway up, so the views were nothing to write home aboRibblehead Viaductut! Two minutes later we were making our way back down again for the long haul to Whernside.

The next 7 km was punctuated mainly with slipping and sliding along the variety of terrain, mostly heather covered peat bog and limestone deposits, with the odd lost shoe which had to be extracated from the mud, before continuing.

Nevertheless, we made reasonable time to 14km and the temporary respite of a road surface for about the next 3km to the majesty of the Ribblehead Viaduct at 17km. Passing straight on to the side of this victorian engineering masterpiece, we started the slow ascent of Whernside which was to last another 6km, 50% of this distance again being shrouded in mist after about 1000ft, on our way up to the 2300ft peak. The Top of Whernside was even more exposed, windy and cold, a fact laid testament to by the deep patches of drift snow from several weeks previous which still laid on the sheltered side of the peak.

Descending the other side of our second peak was a race to try to keep ahead of a youth group but our reward was a welcome flask of warm, sweet tea and packed sandwiches back down under 1000ft, although by this stage the rain had followed us down and we decided not to stick around for too long.
Ingleborough - Peak III
We started out along farm tracks and within 2-3 km we were across what appeared to be a busy main road, given that we saw at least 3 cars on it, before turning off towards our final peak, Ingleborough. With two peaks down, I had the bit between my teeth and got into a good rythmn on the way up the thick slate slabs, duck boards and stone steps in place to assist intrepid explorers on their way up or down.

The by now expected mist did it’s normal thing and the wind at the top of the flat top ‘peak’ was as harsh as on any of the others. We had to wait for Mike and David at the top and unfortunately, the exersion of the ascent had meant getting up a sweat which with the wind chill was now becoming uncomfortable, so when the others arrived they offered us the map so that we could carry on down for the 7km descent to the village.

Mike and David arrived about 30 minutes after we had returned, but John’s party had the biggest adventure, not getting back to the pub until 8:30pm after getting disoriented on the top of Ingleborough in the dark and although with torches, the four of them had to inch their way down the steep initial descent to arrive back at the ‘main road’ where David picked them up.
In the end it took us 9½ hours to cover around 24miles. Compared to the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail, the distance is about a quarter and the ascent / descent was about a fifth of what we will have to do. Nevertheless, none of us were pushed and had plenty left in reserve and could even have covered the distance in a quicker time with some jogging if necessary.

And yes, the beer at the end tasted good.

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