Far from being over confident the team took to the task like ducks to water until the harsh reality of Penygent stood before them. Steep is most definitely an understatement. Cry, I could have shed a tear.
Luckily the cloud covered sun and a gentle breeze made up for the relentless unyeilding climb to the top. Yeh, that was Penygent sorted. “If the rest are like this, it’ll be a walk in the park”, says Rob, to which we all agreed, but I did wonder why our superb guide Allan Whittaker looked a little like a cheshire cat as we celebrated our own accomplishments. Anyway I’ll come back to that.
Collectively the scenic views were absolutely fantastic. We soaked in the atmosphere for a maximum 2 min break and nurtured the thought that from a distance the next peaks were friendly and unassuming. For approximately 12 miles we walked briskly and free towards Whernside (marsh bogs and stile permitting).
Mentally drained and physically exhausted we focussed hard on our trek to the base of Whernside where the beauty of the viaduct seduced and snared us. We sat for what felt like our last supper and were blessed with seeing a train shoot past on the Settle to Carlisle railway track.
It did look awesome glistening in the near setting sun.
Then we were off.
How a peak that is approx 2472 ft high can suddenly creep up on you I just don’t know, but creep up it did as it slowly sapped the energy from every part of our bodies until we reached the summit and yet again celebrated our own victories (we jumped in a tiny way due to exhaustion).
I knew then why our guide Allan had not said a word back there on little old Penygent.Feeling very pleased with ourselves but physically wiped out we continued on our journey into the unknown. I personally thought this would be the perfect time to jump off of the path and make my way home, but there was only one way down and you know what, as arduous as Whernside was climbing up, you could triple the effect going down, picture this, a huge digger truck picks up a pile of limestone rock and drops it down the side of a 2472 ft(approx) hill, you then have to walk down that very same hill (2472 ft approx) because there is no where else to go. Sure you could go back but then you’d have to face Penygent and its steepness, nah, push on we said, and push on we did.
Before I knew it we were off and trekking once more, as we entered Ingleboroughs interests of 2372 ft high approx. I know for me, something didn’t feel quite right with this one as I couldn’t see the destination point only a long, long windy bolder laden pathway. Not so bad we thought as we all took off at differing speeds to get to the end. With it’s deceptive gradient our legs were weakened beyond belief. By the time you get to the end of the pathway your eyes search for any other exit point than the one facing you right now…a near vertical climb of a mile or two high and believe me this was no ordinary climb or descent, this really tested our raw guts and determination, well lets face it we had nothing else in the tank and we were sinking fast. With extreme focus John really stuck into it and polished it off in quick time, very impressive. For a minute I saw Rob halfway up the hill face, the next he was gone (The spawn of Spiderman or what?).
The final stretch down 2372 ft high approx was not dissimilar to Whernside in its asthetic cruelty, only there seemed to be more of it. A concentrated silence evolved as we willed our bodies to make it to the end. We were absolutely cream crackered and hailed a cab or two in our heads.
We very slowly entered the ‘clocking in’ cafe (we couldn’t enter any other way. Sprint it, your having a laugh). Our official clocking in time is recorded as 9hrs 59mins 59 secs. The friendly locals commended us on our achievement but made it quite clear that they treat the peaks like a vitamin tablet (recommended daily dose – ONE). As they say there is fine line between bravery and stupidity, so it was hard to tell which one the locals applauded.
As we had completed in under 12 hrs we are now members of the Yorkshire Dales walking club and were awarded badges to signify we had indeed survived the beautiful pain of the 3 Peaks Trek.
I am very thankful to the team for their support and camaraderie, the day was a true testament to the will of man(Humans) to endure and overcome extreme situations.