Pen-y-ghent is one of ‘The Yorkshire Three Peaks’, the other two being Ingleborough and Whernside, they are all within fairly close proximity so there is a popular local challenge to walk all three in twelve hours, a distance of about 26 miles. If you register at the pub at the start you can get a certificate at the end!
In May a group of forty colleagues from work are going up to stay for the weekend and walking the three peaks on the Saturday. It should be a great weekend as there is a good mix of people, doctors, nurses, radiographers and cardiac technicians, all ages, I’m really looking forward to it.
I did make it clear right from the beginning that there was no way I could do all three, I know my limits! I’d just do one, one of the doctors is also just doing one so I’ve got someone to walk with. However, I decided I wanted to do a practice walk, make sure I could actually do it (I’ve got no balance) as I really didn’t want to throw a wobbly with one of my work colleagues!
Yesterday we decided to tackle it, it was a nice clear morning, though it was pretty cold, we needed extra jumpers and hat and gloves! We parked at Horton in Ribblesdale and set off, there was a lovely view of the fell from the church, we were climbing up the steep right hand flank and coming down the gentler left hand side.
As soon as we gained a bit of height the wind started, and it was pretty strong, we were walking straight into it so it was hard work. Strong winds always make me a bit nervous when I’m walking as it’s so much easier to lose my balance. The path up Pen-y-ghent is pretty much straight up with varying degrees of steepness, so we had several rests on the way up, taking a photo of the view is always a good excuse!
We decided to assess the wind when we got to the start of the final ascent, however having scrambled up one steep bit there was no way I was going back down it so we were committed! Climbing up the final flank is a steep scramble, all hands and feet required! There’s no photos of this bit as the camera went in the rucksack! At times there was quite a precipitous drop beneath us so we had to keep calm and hold on! At the moment I’m reading a book by Simon Ingram called Between the Sunset and the Sea, it’s all about climbing mountains, he describes the fear and exhilaration you get climbing a mountain perfectly!
We finally reached the top, it was pretty busy up there but some gentlemen squeezed up on the stone bench in the windbreak shelter so we could sit and eat our sandwiches. It was a fairly busy route really, it’s popular anyway and it’s also half term so there were a few families out walking, we reckoned over the walk we saw about 50 or 60 people. There was a good view of Ingleborough from our sandwich spot at the top, I was so glad we weren’t heading that way today!
The way down is much easier terrain, though a slow descent is hard on the knees. We did a short detour to see Hull Pot. This is a huge pothole, a collapsed cavern really, what brought it to our attention is that a few weeks ago there was a sudden downpour, 5″ rain fell in a matter of hours. The whole pot flooded! There’s some photos here if you want to see. Hull Pot is about 60′ deep and wide and about 300′ long, you can just see some climbers at the bottom. It was quite awe-inspiring to think of it flooding so quickly.
We saw some very cute lambs on the way down, which helped to distract our tired legs!
Altogether we walked about eight miles, it took us about five hours including lots of breaks (sausage roll break, coffee break, sandwich break, sticky bun break…) but it was pretty tough terrain for me and straight into a strong wind so I’m pretty pleased with that. At least I know I won’t throw a wobbly on my colleague in May!