Saturday 8th of September and I was joined by my good friend and fellow leader Gavin to run a Yorkshire Three Peaks event for Guenther Bakeries who were raising money through sponsorship for the Ronald McDonald House Charities
The challenge involves walking a 23.5mile circuit, including over 5000 feet of ascent, that takes participants over Pen y Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales.
Meeting the participants at Ribblehead we would be walking the route in a clockwise circuit which would take us over Pen y Ghent first before Ingleborough and finally Whernside. Undertaking the challenge in this less popular direction and from Ribblehead allowed us to avoid the crowds and adding to the early morning disturbance in Horton In Ribblesdale.
Although a small event of just four participants, we would making use of a backup vehicle which allows one leader to drive to a pre determined meeting point along the route where if there any issues these can be addressed. A leader only option relies on everybody remaining injury or issue free and can result in an event being ended early if an injury arises.
Leaving Ribblehead at 7am myself, Jim, Scott, Peter and Andrew set off on the long section to Pen y Ghent and within an hour the cloud had descended and slight drizzle began to fall, it was just enough to require waterproofs (for all but the hardiest….) but also warm enough to make wearing waterproofs uncomfortable.
As we climbed Pen y Ghent the rain increased and visibility was reduced to less than 50 metres which didn’t make for the greatest summit photo!
We then made our way down the path to Horton In Ribblesdale 1.5miles away.
At Horton we met Gavin who would lead the guys during the Ingleborough leg of the challenge whilst I drove around to the Old Hill Inn to meet them there.
Unfortunately Peter had sustained an injury whilst descending Pen y Ghent when he slipped on the wet ground and though having tried to soldier on up Ingleborough he decided it was better to turn back and let the rest of the team maintain their good pace, and he joined me for the drive around to Chapel Le Dale.
The guys were around 30 minutes in front of my estimated 12hr completion schedule at Horton at maintained this over Ingleborough despite the persistent rain increasing in intensity.
Gavin led the guys down from a cloudy, wet and windy Ingleborough via the dreaded ‘Devils Staircase’ to the ‘Old Hill Inn’ where Andrew also had to unfortunately withdraw through injury rather than continue on and slow the pace. It’s often hard as a leader as you want the participants to finish the route but are also in the knowledge that an injury is probably going to made worse by continuing and also slowing the pace down can allow everyone to become cold and have to spend an extended time out in the conditions.
Myself, James and Scott set off in the now heavy rain on the path that would take us up to Whernside summit. It was noticed that James had some sort of coloured fluid running down one side of his face which was then explained (thankfully) as nothing to worry about as it was just dye from his much treasured kangaroo leather hat!
We made our way up the recently installed stone steps then the steep section of path up to summit path where finally, after approximately 8 hours, the rain stopped and we even spotted some blue sky!
After a brief stop for a summit photo and a chat with another challenge group we made our way along the summit path before descending towards Ribblehead with Gavin having walked up the path to meet us.
We were soon walking alongside the magnificent ‘Ribblehead Viaduct’ which is a very welcome landmark as it signals the finishing line of the challenge and also that we were approaching the ‘The Station’ pub!
Summary – It was such a shame that both Peter & Andrew were forced to withdraw through their separate injuries (caused as a result of the poor conditions) after giving their time and effort during preparing and undertaking the challenge, they both deserve much credit for unselfishly making what was the best decision for the event despite their disappointment.
The weather conditions were well on the grim side of ‘inclement’ and I drove home with a car full of wet clothes and kit to prove it! The constant rain can be moral sapping but the guys kept good spirits and banter which was key to the success of the challenge.
Thank you to Gavin for being as professional as always and helping confirm my belief that even in small numbers a back up vehicle and additional event leader is the way to avoid events having to be brought to an early end through possibly even just one participant injury.
Well done to James & Scott for completing the challenge in 11hours and 20 minutes and well done to all for really putting their ‘heart’ into the event to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities 👏👏👏