Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Yorkshire Three Peaks....Again!

Due to a date calculation error, the planned walk of Trollers Gill with Sam couldnt happen, so I asked Bob if he wanted to try something else...

'Y3P', was his reply. So, on Monday, we yet again headed to Horton in Ribblesdale, a little later in the morning than normal, and after Bobs customary visit to the public conveniences, parked up behind the pub, and started to get kitted up.

The weather was excellent. 'T-shirt tabbing' straight from the off, however, the forecast was for showers later in the afternoon. After a protein shake and banana breakfast, I dropped a £2 coin into the honesty box for the parking, and we headed off around the church.

The walk to the foot of Pen-Y-Ghent was about as uneventful as it gets, other than having to keep moving aside to let the farmer on his quad bike past, as he did his rounds feeding the sheep.

Heading up, the fine weather had us working up a bit of a sweat. There seemed to be very few people about, and most of those were coming the other way!

It wasnt long before we were tackling the first scramble. In the fine conditions this proved no problem.

Once at the summit, we paused to play a little radio. Pen-y-ghent is a SOTA summit, and we needed just four radio contacts to make it an official activation. Well, these were hard to come by! We had to resort to the big telescopic antenna, but eventually Bob bagged the needed contacts.

As we set off again, we passed by the chaps you can see in the background in the picture below, at this point it was realised that Bob knew one of them, who lives not far from him!

Pen-y-ghent done, we began the descent down to the long tedious drag over to Ribble Head. In the nice sunny weather, and with our nice new comfy boots, this seemed no hardship, and we decided to make a small detour to visit Hull Pot.

This ancient hole in the ground is seriously scary! I cant imagine what neolithic people thought when they came across it.

From Hull Pot we backtracked to rejoin the path and headed toward the Ribblehead viaduct, just visible in the photo below, with the imposing bulk of mistress Whernside dominating the horizon.

At the road junction we avoided the sarnie waggon and decided to just have a snack, tighten the old laces and crack on up to Blea Moor Sidings, to get up the horrendous slog that is Whernside.
Crossing over to Ribblehead viaduct, you can see Ingleborough through the arches, a reminder of whats to come

Its over there!
As the weather had been good for some time, all the water courses were mere trickles

Even the paved slog up Whernside didnt seem as bad as last time. But then, last time the weather was abysmal. As we climbed Whernside this time, it became apparent  just how amazing the views from its summit are! The whole of the Dales, and the peaks of the Lakes, could be seen, as could the sparkling waters of Morcambe Bay and the Irish sea. A slightly less attractive sight was that of a lamb with its eye hanging out.

At the summit, we had a spot of lunch, and Bob changed socks whilst I tried for the SOTA contacts. This time though it seemed everyone was busy elsewhere. Desperate attempts were made to get a spot onto the online alert system, but the only one that worked, via a Facebook page, was sadly too little too late. Bob had a brief run in with a self appointed member of the frequency police, who berrated him for 'not proper procedure' whilst at the same time breaking his own license conditions by not giving his callsign. Despite all attempts, including Bob bagging a summit to summit contact with an activator on a hill in North Wales, we gave up without getting enough contacts to qualify. But, we'd been stopped for about half an hour, time was marching on, and despite the warm weather the slight breeze was making us cold as it dried off our sweat. Without changing my socks, we moved on and tackled the nasty rocky descent.

Yet we still felt good, it seemed all easy going. But dark skies were brewing to the North. The breeze was holding them off, but it was becoming obvious that we were on borrowed time with the weather.

It started to rain, slightly at first, then heavier, as we approached Ingleborough. It was quite heavy as we hit the wall.

NO photo ive yet seen does the wall justice! Like the one above, they all look a much  gentler gradient than is the case. By the time we were half way up, and reaching the scramble near the top, the heavens opened in a torrential downpour.

We had waterproof jackets on, but the effort of the climb meant we were as wet inside as out, but also hot, and with laboured breathing and misted glasses I completed the wall a little behind Bob, and to my dismay realised i'd forgotten that the wall doesnt go to the summit, but just to a slightly less steep section! As we headed back down the other side for the final four miles to Horton, the ground was just a mass of fast flowing rivlets. The only consolation was that at least it wasnt sideways blowing sleet like the last time!

By the time we reached Sulber Nick, probably one of the worst parts of the walk generally, everything was a sea of mud, every rock was slippy, and I was so wet that even my underpants were damp. I also had a very cold left nipple, which turned out to be an open pocket in my jacket that had filled with rain water!

Caked with mud, we left the rain behind as we descended, and having passed the two wooden signs that tell you how far to Horton it is but lie like a cheap NAAFI watch, finally had the roofs of the railway cottages in sight, and Pen-y-ghent in front of us on the horizon. Just a couple of miles to go.

By the time we descended towards the railway, with the beautiful but toxic waters of the Blue Lagoon off to our right, our own body heat had started to dry us out a bit. Bobs bunion was pissing him off a tad, and i'd developed a sore spot under the ball of my right foot, due I believe to choosing to not change to fresh socks. As we crossed the bridge in Horton to head up the main road towards the Pen-y-ghent cafe, it was clear just how much it had rained, as the previously gentle river was a raging torrent below us.

We reached the car, ending our walk just inside the challenge time, at 11h 30. Not our best time, but we had set out to have a steady bimble and not push hard. We both gently steamed as we packed our kit away and took off our boots in favour of trainers for the drive home. The sore spot on my foot was clearly from sweat, something changing socks would have prevented. But apart from that and aching legs, oh and a little extra sunburn, and being decidedly moist, we were none the worse for it.

On the drive home, Bob tried to kill me by feeding me a ridiculously hot spicy sausage, and we decided that, having done the Yorkshire Three Peaks many times now, we would reserve it for an annual test, and from now on look at walking some of those other summits we could see so clearly from the top of Whernside.

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