New guide to the Peaks trek
More and more people are tackling the Yorkshire Three Peaks - often in a fundraising challenge - and the improving weather is increasing the numbers. A new guide aims to help those takig on the challenge. Leslie Tate reports.
AS we approach the longest day of the year - Thursday, June 21 - we also approach the busiest time for those taking part in the gruelling Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge, writes Lesley Tate.
All manner of charities and organisations call on their supporters to tackle the three peaks - Penyghent, Ingleborough and Whernside - to raise money for their worthwhile causes.
Indeed a team from Craven Leisure in Skipton is due to tackle the peaks next weekend (June 9) to raise money for Manorlands Hospice, and the pages of the Craven Herald have been full in the last few weeks of groups carrying out the challenge.
Those successfully completing the challenge - a distance of 24 miles with a total ascent of 1.6km - in under 12 hours are considered to have done well. Meanwhile, there are plenty of people who underestimate the peaks, including those who have to be rescued by volunteers from the Clapham based Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO).
Now, I have climbed all three peaks, Whernside, the tallest at 736 metres; Ingleborough, 724 metres, and Penyghent, 694 metres. But never one after the other. I have seen plenty of walkers clearly on a mission to do all three in daylight, but I would rather take my time, and enjoy the experience - but then I do have the advantage of living nearby to go when I want, and to put it off if the weather is inclement, which it can often be.
However, I am very tempted to join the ranks of walkers and fundraisers with the publication of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Route Guide, by Saltaire-based Tony and Chris Grogan.
First of all, the map is a useful, foldable A3 size., large enough to read and small enough to pop into a roomy pocket, or small backpack. Opened out, it covers the full, 24 mile circuit, with detailed, large scale mapping and based on the latest OS maps - but with all the superfluous detail taken out.
There are clear helpful directions on the map itself. The guide includes a route profile, along with mileage and suggested timings at each key point.
It is, say Chris and Tony, designed to help walkers get the most from their adventure and to find their way easily and safely around the route, it is also aimed at addressing some of the issues associated with the thousands who visit the area every year.
Chris and Tony are highly aware of the impact of the estimated more than 70,000 people who visit the peaks, and how at peak times, it is not unusual to see a thousand setting off at the start of the day - usually from Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
“It is also designed to help address a number of concerns that the rising popularity of the challenge route has raised, with fell rescue service, local residents and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority,” they say.
They point out that last year, Clapham based Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) were called out to 91 incidents, many of which were to walkers of the peaks, and including many who were ill prepared.
On one occasion, in November last year, when the nights were drawing in, volunteers went to the aid of a man and a woman, in their early 20s at the summit of Ingleborough. They were inadequately shod and clothed, had no spare kit or food and only had mobile phones, for light and navigation.
Chris and Tony, mindful of the amount of traffic pouring into the area - in 2012, Horton Parish Council engaged Colin Speakman to look at the traffic issues in the village. He recommended people being encouraged to travel to the area by train.
“A major opportunity,” said Colin “is to work with Northern Trains ... to encourage many more three peaks walkers to travel to the area by train, including using the railway to park and ride, thereby reducing their carbon footprint and also pressure on car parking space in the village.”
The guide therefore encourages walkers to avoid early morning starts in Horton by car, and instead to use the early morning daily train service to start and finish at Ribblehead - next to Whernside.
“There is no official route or starting point, though the most popular route is the one shown in the guide. Many choose to start in Horton, but Ribblehead, with its early morning train service, makes a better starting point. Whernside is climbed first, then Ingleborough, leading down to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. Penyghent follows, then there is a seven mile trek over Horton Moor to finish back at Ribblehead.”
A proportion of proceeds of the guide will be donated to the Three Peaks Project, to help maintain the route and to protect the surrounding landscape from erosion.
The guide also includes shorter walks - for those not wanting to do all three at the same time. The three routes take a more leisurely route to each summit and with a start point at railway stations at Horton and at Ribblehead.
The Yorkshire Three Peaks Route Guide is published by Skyware Ltd, priced £1.99. Available at: skyware.co.uk