THE YORKSHIRE THREE PEAKS
October 2012 Pen-y-Ghent Whernside Ingleborough
"The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is to at last set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land."
- G.K. Chesterton
"One doesn't just simply walk into Yorkshire... It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire and ash and dust, the very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly" (after Boromir... ) Well... we didn't have ten thousand men, but we are full of folly, so why not take on the bogs and grit of Yorkshire's finest of a short October day? The challenge will be familiar to many who love the hills: 23 miles and around 1600m of ascent in under 12 hours. So why not add our own spin on a well loved classic: three of us, three peaks; thus three quotes, three poems, and three drinks; one apiece and one of each at the summits. Inspired, and not something I can take credit for - but as with so many grand plans hatched of an evening in the pub, neither could Jim or Paul!
Starting on a dawn of a very Yorkshire kind of bleak beauty we rapidly left the still streets of Horton-in-Ribblesdale below us as we ascended onto the moors.
Looking across the dale to Ingleborough from the flanks of Pen-y-Ghent it was truly magnificent.
As we came to the flanks of the mountain, a beam of light like the Eye of Sauron lit the desolate waste of Fawcett Moor.
At the summit Paul unleashed Jaegerbombs on us, whilst I readied my poem. At 0800 in the morning it was a surreal but hilarious experience.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us; Let us journey to a lonely land I know. There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us, And the Wild is calling, calling. . .let us go. - from 'The Call of the Wild' by Robert W. Service
At the foot of Pen-y-Ghent, the great sinkhole of Hull Pot with its thundering waterfall was testament to a hidden landscape of caves and rivers carved into the soft limestone beneath our feet.
From Hull Pot it was a long walk across moorland toward the distant Cyclopean masonry of the Ribble Viaduct. We passed the time with idle speculation, laughter and gawping at the scenery. This was rapidly becoming one of the best days of my life.
Classic Yorkshire scenery of ancient barns amongst rolling hills
A much needed pitstop at the foot of Whernside saved the day. This snack van has become something of an institution among tired 3-Peakers!
At the foot of Whernside, a field of gold beneath the dark arches of the viaduct.
Passing between the great arches was like entering a gateway to the next phase of the walk. A testing climb lay ahead.
As we climbed the steep flanks of Whernside the view back to Pen-y-Ghent opened up, with the graceful curve of the viaduct pointing at it like a Hogarthian ogee.
The face of fatigue
"Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory." - Mahatma Gandhi
Ingleborough emerging from its cloak of mist
The Ribble Viaduct
With serendipitous timing the sun finally burned off the last layers of cloud from Ingleborough as we reached its base. A handsome mountain standing proudly at the head of the dale and the crux at the heart of the whole route.
Erratic boulders littered the slopes on the descent, dropped there by glaciers as if they were pebbles.
A glorious symmetry to the end of the day. The very hills stained pink at dawn now greeted us ablaze with sunset fire. Tired legs but happy hearts.