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Way back in time before the onset of adulthood I enjoyed countless days heading into the hills of Yorkshire with nothing more than a squashed sandwich & youthful sense for adventure! Despite long past youthful and work commitments keeping me in the city, the sense of adventure and love for the outdoors never left me. After digging my boots out and returning to the hills I attended a number of courses to improve my hill knowledge and skill base, during one of these courses it was suggested I join the Mountain Leader Training scheme and was delighted go on to gain the MOUNTAIN LEADER Award in April 2012. As well as spending time on the hills and mountains of the UK I have also enjoyed trips to the Nepalese Himalaya, Swiss & French Alps, Mallorca’s Tramuntana, Andorran & French Pyrenees, Morocco’s High Atlas, Tanzania’s Mt Meru & Kilimanjaro, Argentinian & Chilean Patagonia and winter expeditions to Norway’s Hardangervidda. Since gaining the ML I have also gained the SINGLE PITCH AWARD, INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD and the WINTER MOUNTAIN LEADER AWARD. I am now enjoying working in a freelance role whilst trying to get out climbing as much as possible.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Yorkshire 3 Peaks - A Tale Of Nine Virgins!

 Saturday April 20th saw me join a team of 11 other Mountain Leaders to help guide a total of 115 people around the route of the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

 As anyone reading my blog reports of previous Yorkshire 3 Peaks outings may of guessed it is my favorite long distance UK day route and I have the greatest respect for anybody undertaking the 38km & 1500m of ascent (23.5miles & 4950ft in old money!) that is required to make the complete circuit.
Heading off Pen-y-Ghent for the long walk to Whernside.

 Meeting at 06:30am on a chilly but bright Yorkshire spring morning I introduced myself to Grace, Hugh, Jonothan, Kirsty, Neal, Paul D, Paul K, Rachel & Robert, the lucky people who had been assigned to me and would make up group 6 for the day. We had a brief chat about safety, kit, any illness or injury I should be aware of and level of previous hill walking experience, which was limited with none of the group having attempted the route before - Yorkshire 3 Peaks virgins!

 Setting off from the 'Old Hill Inn' at Chapel-le-Dale we made our way to Ingleborough, which would be our first of the 3 peaks, as I chatted to members of the group about the day ahead and their individual reasons for wishing to complete the route. I made it clear that my priority was to help everyone complete the route safely rather than in a race against the clock, and as we reached the foot of the 'Devils Staircase' it was obvious from the look on some of the teams faces my reasoning for setting a 'steady' pace had become clearer!
Approaching the 'Devils Stair Case'.

 Negotiating patches of compressed snow which hung onto the upper section of the ascent we made our way onto the stony plateau and over to the summit point. A quick photo and a rare opportunity to be able to look out to Morecambe Bay on the horizon before we set off down the seemingly never ending path to 'Horton-in-Ribblesdale'.
Ingleborough - 1 down, 2 to go!
Crossing the famous Yorkshire Dales limestone.
 Pausing for a quick water & toilet stop in 'Horton in Ribblesdale' the support team informed us we were making good time and currently at sub 9.5hr pace. Whilst pleased to be making good time I was cautious that if we maintained that pace then there was a chance of running out of steam over the latter stages of the route, plus it wouldn't make a very good impression if I couldn't keep up!

 Skies were clear and it was beginning to warm up, "It's always like this in the Yorkshire Dales" I informed team 6. I did get the impression some were not totally convinced however.
Bright skies over Pen y Ghent.
The steep climb to the summit of Pen y Ghent can't beat team 6!
 Another very brief pause at the summit and we were off again heading for Whernside, which summit to summit was 18.5km (11.5miles) away, and though clearly visible seemed to take an age to appear any closer! Making use of the new rerouted 3 Peaks path which crosses Horton Moor and so avoids the deep bog which has claimed many a persons footwear, we continued on to the tea & cake refreshment stop at 'Old Ing'.
 Still together as a full group I was pleased to see everyone in good spirits and encouraging each other as we set out on the just less than second half of the route.

 Members of 2 fellow '3 Peaker' groups joined us as we reached the B6479 and began walking on the edge of the foot blister inducing tarmac road towards the arches of 'Ribblehead Viaduct'. We must of resembled an overgrown school outing snaking along in single file to the oncoming traffic.
Group meeting at Ribblehead Viaduct.
2 down 1 to go says Hugh, or its a one man peace protest?
 Encouraging the team to take on food and water before the long ascent to Whernside, I took the opportunity to pass on some facts about the local environment which I could see the group found extremely interesting.......

 The rigours of the challenge started to make an appearance on the long ascent of Whernside (it's not everyday most people embark on a 12hr, 23mile hill walk!) with blisters, sore joints and fatigued muscles causing problems for people from various groups within the event. One of our group was now battling bravely on despite a knee problem and I had stopped to do running repairs to the badly blistered feet of a member of another group (who we had 'swept up' along the route!).
 
 Most of group 6 were continuing strongly so after ensuring they would be accompanied by another group leader I sent the group on ahead to have a good chance of completing the route within the 12hr point.
On & on & on & on & on ascending Whernside.
The final stretch from Whernside summit, Ingleborough in the distance.
 Over Whernside and onto the steep final descent I pointed out the views to the Southern Lakeland Fells and the wind farms of Morecambe Bay. Although outstanding views by any body's standards, it was obvious they did nothing to distract from the pain and discomfort felt making every step by my small band of walking wounded.
 The relief was obvious as the going flattened  out on reaching Broadrake and the final 1.5km to the finish line. Gently encouraging my (now more than slightly broken!) team that they still could make the finish line within the 12hr point we broke into an uncomfortable jog over the last 300metres through Philpin Farm. Although resulting in burst blisters, a strong contender for the dodgiest walk prize and more than a few loud expletives I was delighted that they battled on to cross the finish line with just seconds to spare!

 With the other members of group 6 having completed the route approximately 30 minutes earlier we had an impressive 120% completion rate (having collected an additional 2 members), and all within the 12hr challenge time. 
Group 6 well earned refreshments on completing the Yorkshire 3 Peaks!
Summary - I would have to say I felt quite fortunate to have been allocated a group of randomly selected people who came together for the day and were motivated, got on well, encouraged each other throughout the event, listened to advice and safety information, tried to control their laughter when I slipped in mud and pretended to be interested during my local environment talks!
 
 Well done to Grace, Hugh, Jonothan, Kirsty, Neal, Paul D, Paul K, Rachel & Robert of Group 6!





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