We were lucky as the previous week the weather forecast had predicted a very rainy day but by the time Saturday arrived they had revised it to possible showers. In fact we only got our waterproofs on once, coming off Whernside - and they didn’t stay on long!
The 24.5 mile route starts at Horton in Ribblesdale and heads out to the first of the three peaks – Pen-y-ghent (694m). With everyone still fresh this was the easy one! After that there is a long, long walk to the Ribblehead viaduct where we stopped for a short lunch break, made use of the roadside tea van and delved into first aid kits to sort out sore feet.
The route then follows the viaduct before the path takes an extremely long but gentle ascent up Whernside (736m), the highest of the three peaks. It was quite cool on the summit so after a quick photo stop we headed off again. There’s a short, super steep section descending Whernside which was starting to get damp and slippery, slowing things down a little but with care we eventually were on flat ground again and heading to the road crossing at Chapel-le-Dale with its tempting pub. Unfortunately two of the team called it a day here, a very difficult and emotional decision when so much effort had already been put into the day, but with time rapidly passing by, we had to make speed or be out in the dark.
So we continued on to the last peak of Ingleborough (723m), the summit of which was now in the cloud. For tired legs it looked a million miles away. It was definitely a tough one as we’d been on our feet for over 9 hours so were feeling pretty tired. However determination to get to the end of the challenge won the day and we made it to the summit plateau in good time for team photos. The descent off Ingleborough was gentle but long and the end of our challenge at Horton in Ribblesdale couldn't be seen until right near the end - however the scenery made up for this with the path negotiating beautiful limestone pavements where I saw lots of flora including orchids, saxifrages and primulas.
Getting to the car park was a welcome sight – 13 hours since we had set out. We left the team ending their challenge with a ‘team’ stretch of the legs before heading back to their hotel for some welcome food.
For ‘mountain dog’ Don it was also a challenge, his longest walk so far and as soon as he got into the car he fell soundly asleep – a very tired dog, although with four legs I’m sure he wasn’t as tired as the rest of us! He also slept most of the following day and did not have his usual keenness for walkies!!!
Well done everyone and many thanks Verity, Chrissie, Alex, Lorna, Gemma, Caroline, Issie, David, Matthew, Alison and Chris for such great team spirit and making it an enjoyable day!