Duncan and Adam’s Three Peaks Challenge
Duncan and Adam completed the Three Peaks Challenge back in March and their story features in the upcoming Summer edition of Creative Life. You can read about their achievement in Duncan’s own words below.
Adam and I set off from the car park in Horton in Ribblesdale at 7:15am. The weather was cold and there was a sprinkling of snow on the ground. The forecast was for changeable weather with the odd snow shower, and how right they would prove to be! Adam and I headed out towards our first milestone of Pen-y-ghent.
As we started our climb up Pen-y-ghent, we could see by the footprints in the snow that there were three walkers in front of us, so as the weather and the visibility deteriorated and the snow on the ground got deeper, there was no obvious path to follow so we used the footprints as a guide. As we gradually climbed, the early enthusiasm and general conversation gave way to aching limbs and aching lungs.
For the majority of the walk up Pen-y-ghent, the summit was shrouded in a low lying mist, which isn’t a bad thing as you can’t exactly see how far away the actual summit is – you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s 25 years since I last did the walk so I had forgotten just how far the first part of the walk was. What I hadn’t forgotten was the final 100 metre scramble up and over a rock face. Adam hadn’t done the walk before so he didn’t know what was coming up.
We got to the rock face only to find it covered in a layer of snow and ice, it was very slippery under foot with no path to follow so it ended up as a slippery scramble to the summit. At the summit we met the three walkers who had been in front of us. We had made really good time to catch them up, in fact we were ahead of schedule, but this early enthusiasm was soon to take its toll on me. We took our photographs at the trig point and had a very quick drink and bite to eat and then it was off to our next destination, Ribblehead Viaduct.
Whernside via Ribblehead Viaduct
As we set off down the mountain, visibility was virtually nil, but I had a rough idea of the direction we should be heading in and it wasn’t long before visibility improved enough for us to see exactly where we were heading. We were down the mountain no more then 20 minutes and we then had a long walk of approximately 6 miles across country to Ribblehead Viaduct. The walk was relatively easy, but that initial push up Pen-y-ghent had already taken its toll on me and I started to suffer from severe cramp in both thighs. I continually had to stop and stretch my muscles and this started to slow us down, but Adam was patient and he encouraged me to continually drink and eat. We pushed on, and by the time we got to Ribblehead we had slipped behind schedule, from the viaduct to the summit of Whernside was a continual uphill slog of almost four miles and there was also a surprise waiting for us as we got to the summit.
We began our gradual climb and we could see the ridge we were to follow, but the more tired you get you never seem to be getting any closer to the summit. Other walkers began to walk past us and as they disappear into the distance, it really does have a demoralising effect on you psychologically. My knees were really starting to give me lots of pain, but this had happened to me in the past so I had come prepared with plenty of painkillers. I was started to really struggle so Adam kindly lent me his walking poles – without then I really don’t think I would have been able to complete the walk.
As we got to within 2km of the summit, the temperature really started to drop, the wind started to get up, the snow started to fall and the conditions started to deteriorate. The snow on the ground was about a metre deep with a path cut through where a few walkers had walked before us. We eventually reached the summit, a little worse for wear, but nevertheless that was the second mountain ticked off the list so we decided to press on, eating and drinking as we walked.
We were soon down the mountain and walking out across the picturesque U shaped valley that stretches out between Whernside and Ingleborough. Adam kept checking our time and we were still on target. Although it is a relatively short distance, 6km, from the peak of Whernside to the peak of Ingleborough, we still had the steepest part of the walk to come. As we crossed the valley and headed to the base of Ingleborough, we could see a wall of snow and ice in front of us. However, it was the only route we could take, and Adam reminded me we had to get to the summit in one hour and 40 minutes to keep to our target. I was in so much pain, I had had double the dose of painkillers that I should have and I was really beginning to think I wasn’t going to get round. We got to the wall of ice and started to climb, it was really difficult to get a foothold but we slowly made our way to the top. Once at the top we had an uphill 500 metre walk to the trig point. We had made excellent time and we worked out we had two hours and 30 minutes to do the remaining 8km down into Horton and to the finish.
As we began our descent, the spring returned to our steps and we began chatting again – mainly because it was the first time in about 20 miles that I was walking alongside Adam. For the majority of the walk, I was 30ft behind him. Without knowing it, our momentum gathered pace and we came across signposts, 2m to Horton, 1m to Horton – and then as the sun began to set behind us and the moon rose in front of us over Pen-y-ghent, Horton in Ribblesdale came into view. We then had a short walk to the car park we had started from 11 hours and 12 minutes earlier! Job done!
Adam and I would like to thank everyone who has been so generous in supporting the walk – work colleagues, friends and acquaintances – and we have raised £450 for Eden Vale.