Every year many walkers decide to take on the three peaks of Yorkshire. As a warm up to the more arduous National Three Peaks Challenge it is a great way to prepare. The three peaks are traditionally under taken in 12 hours compared to the national event at 24 hours. However don't confuse warm up with easy, the three peaks of Yorkshire is a tough challenge made more difficult when foul weather descends and the terrain gets really boggy and energy sapping. Regardless of what the weather has in store, the completion of the challenge is a major achievement no matter how long it ends up taking.
The usual route starts and finishes at the Horton Cafe in Ribblesdale, and the first peak is Pen-y-ghent at a not insubstantial 694M, then on to Wernside at 736M and the final peak of Ingleborough at 724M. The challenge takes in 1672 M of vertical height and forms a 25 mile circular route. It is a hard challenge in itself, however to get within the 12 hour time frame requires a high level of fitness and strong resolve.
The first part of a successful attempt is to build up fitness, which is why the challenge should be prepared a few months in advance. It will take a little while to get fit enough to be able to enjoy the hike rather than sweating panting and puffing the entire way through. It is only a mile short of a full marathon and marathons do not tend to involve climbing over 1600M and will require a good level of fitness.
Many charity groups set out to tackle the challenge each year to raise money for their causes. It is a popular choice as it offers a demanding challenge worthy of donation. Of course you don't need a charity to scale the heights and many independent walkers set out to conquer the largest that Yorkshire has to offer, and take in the stunning scenery of the Yorkshire Moors in the process. Groups taking on the challenge in 2010 see some regular event organisers come back again to beat previous times and to raise more money for great causes.
Heart Research UK will be taking on the challenge on 19th June this year, as walkers take part to raise money for this worthy cause. Sponsorship forms are provided and an online fundraising page to make fundraising and collecting sponsorship money easier. Hundreds are expected to sign up for this year's event, and is the flagship fundraiser which enjoys its 14th anniversary this year.
The Cave Rescue Organisation of North Yorkshire will be taking on the challenge on August 7th 2010. The event is to raise funds for the mountain rescue in the 3 peaks and Malham area, and sponsorship of £50 is a minimum requirement along with a £25 registration fee. Places will be limited, so get signed up early if you want to secure your place. They provide a valuable service in the region for helping stranded walkers and hikers and they help to make the entire area safe for fellow walkers and hikers. You never know when you might need their services.
The Institute for Outdoor Learning and MerseyVenture are running their annual programme of monthly challenges between April and August at a cost of £120 per team of 4 without any commitment to fundraising, leaving this down to the individuals taking on the challenge.
There are many groups throughout the country for likeminded individuals to meet up and take on the walk as a group. It is a great way to socialise, make new friends and get much needed encouragement on the way.
Before you start, make sure you have a good quality pair of walking boots. 12 hours hiking across varied terrain will take its toll on the feet and the correct support and grip is vital to maintain comfort and to prevent injury. For a lightweight option and to conserve energy, super lightweight high quality outdoor sandals are a good choice. In summer the saved weight will make all the difference after 12 hours of walking. The weather can change suddenly at any time of year, so make sure you pack enough layers and waterproof clothing just in case, even in midsummer attempts. You will also need a good map, as 25 miles presents many opportunities to get lost and be sure to take ample provisions should the shops be closed for an early start.
All that then remains is the challenge itself. Properly prepared and fully fit the hike is one of the most enjoyable walking challenges in the UK which sees many walkers returning year after year to try to beat the previous personal best each time. However one step at a time, get your kit on, get out there, and first complete your first challenge and get your membership to the exclusive Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge Club.