- Light is Right. Go through your rucksack with a fine tooth comb. Do you really need it all? Remember there are food stops at Ribblehead (all year), at the farm shop at Philpin (SD7425 7787) and The Hill Inn (SD7434 7763) so you don’t need to take 10hrs worth of food and water. It’s a good idea to have some sort of support, especially for water and extra food as it’s difficult to leave bags around. Make sure all your kit is as light as you can afford.
- You can wear hiking trainers, it all depends on the state of the terrain. If it’s wet good quality boots will be needed, recent improvements to the path help and on a dry day trainers would be fine. Don’t forget to carry spare, dry socks. The whole walk can be done in trainers and at the end of the day you’ll be glad of it. A word of warning though – they need to be high quality trail running trainers or expect them to fall apart! At the very least a pair of trainers for the last leg will ease the weight off your legs. My usual footwear choice is a pair good quality hiking trainers, 2 x walking socks, 1 x Seal Skinz socks (worn on first section over Horton Moor which is always always wet). I have never had a blister with this combination.
- It’s very tempting to take the right hand fork after you have dropped off Pen-y-Ghent. This is often very wet and boggy and will slow you down. There is a large stream and big boggy area to cross. Better to follow the new route which has been improved in 2012, much drier and faster. Drop down the good path towards Hull Pot, continue over the small hillock and pick up a good path heading rightwards.
- It’s a very long section over Horton Moor, Middle Pasture to Nether Lodge, but get psyched it’s good ground and you can cover it fast. Be motivated by the fact that there will be food and drink at Ribblehead.
- Do the route in September, the ground is often still dry and you’ll lose the crowds. The busy times are June, July and August. I’ve been snowed on ascending Whernside in May and had clients with severe sunburn in June and July. September is usually a beautiful month in The Dales and I remember completing the walk in September 2009 and seeing only one other party. I’ve lead fundraising groups around in June,July and August and it’s often very busy, it’s a great atmosphere though with plenty of people around to motivate you .
- Use walking poles. I can’t emphasise the importance of these highly underrated tools. Even if you don’t use them most of the day, you’ll be glad of them at the end. Do use two though, one is next to useless.
- Sort your food out. I’ve tried lots of different food options. I’m often trying to get a sub 6 hour time; this leaves me with very few stops so I eat on the move. My favourites are Powerbars; I can stash these in all sorts of pockets, they don’t melt and can be digested easily. They are expensive though and I have to remember to leave plenty of food for the last leg as I’ll be hungry. I can always look forward to Fish and Chips in Settle at the end of the day. My drink choice is good old fashioned water. I remember drinking the orange quash at Philpin only to bring it all up again, climbing Ingleborough. So don’t forget to ask for it watery. Gels? Yuk!
- Keep a good time. The record for the race is just under 2hrs 30mins!! Now I’m not suggesting trying to keep that but I’ve lead school groups around and only just made the 12hrs. I believe that sub 7hrs is a good time for most fit people who are trying it solo or as a small team. That means you’ll be dressing and carry appropriately, have a good mindset and be jogging some of it. You should be able to walk it in 8 hours, but many people are walking for charity and aren’t in a rush and that’s fine too.
- Carry first aid, but don’t go mad. I’ve seen some monstrous First Aid kits in all the years I’ve been leading the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. Remember the area is very populated and you are never too far from a road. You can get a good quality signal from most of the route, so an MRT is never that far away, most areas can also be served by helicopter, the other year I saw the Yorkshire Air Ambulance land on Whernside to evacuate a gentleman suffering from heatstroke. It never fails to astonish me that hikers and climbers in the UK are too embarrassed to call for rescue and will try to ‘sort it out themselves’. If you’ve had a genuine accident, don’t hesitate. Always carry an emergency shelter. So, my personal 1st Aid kit consists of some blister plasters, a 6” bandage and a tube of Volterol Gel. I carry a much better one for guided days. Do go on a specialised 1st Aid course, better to have a good knowledge of first aid and a small kit, than a huge kit and no knowledge of what to do. Remember – knowledge is ultra lightweight!!
10. Enjoy your day, sometimes you’ll be asking yourself why you signed up. But it’s a very beautiful part of Yorkshire, so take some time to soak it all in and remember to take your camera. If you are very lucky and in the right place at the right time the orchids can be stunning. Enjoy!
Yorkshire 3 Peaks – essential kit list (my personal selection)
Clothing: Hiking trainers or lightweight walking boots, 3 x socks, running leggings, baselayer/merino briefs, Merrino wool t-shirt, cycling arm warmers, Lighweight fleece jacket. Lighweight waterproofs, powerstretch gloves, baseball cap, sunglasses, 2 x buff.
Rucksack: Lighweight 22L pack should be sufficient.
Equipment: BMC Mountain Map -Yorkshire Dales covers the whole route in excellent detail and is ultra-light and waterproof, compass (Silva Expedition 4), Petzl E-Light (summer), Petzl Tikka XP (early spring/autumn), Black Diamond Alpine CF poles, lip salve, sun cream (tiny amount squeezed into a plastic bag), Suunto Vector watch, mobile phone. £30 cash (in case you need to call a taxi from the Hill Inn).
Food: 6 x Powerbars and a 1 litre of water. I’ve either got support or I’ve stashed water and extra food. Eat a bag of ready Salted crisps at Philpin. I can take some peanut butter and banana sandwiches too. I’ll have a sandwiches and a brew waiting back at the car. Energy Gels don’t agree with me – I always bring them back up. And of course, my well deserved Fish and Chips.
Dave is available to guide small groups at all levels for the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. Email him on firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Great Fish and Chips at the Fisherman’s in Settle; go on you’ve earned it!
Quality accommodation in Settle at Settle Lodge.