Reasons why you should consider taking on the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge, especially if you are looking to raise funds for charity.
Last year Charlotte and I signed up to take part in the 2020 Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge in support of The Alzheimer’s Society. Originally scheduled for the 6th June but, due to Coronvirus restrictions this was postponed until the 5th September. Last weekend we completed the challenge and I wanted to share what I learnt from doing this event, which I hope will help you, should you wish to take up the challenge.
When searching the internet it became clear that there wasn’t much information available to novices like us. We had a large number of questions but not enough answers, which left us wondering what we would discover on the day.
The Yorkshire 3 Peaks are three mountains which form part of the Pennine range in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and they are Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent. The elevations above sea level on these mountains are 723m, 736m and 694m. The challenge is to complete the 3 mountains in less than 12 hours.
What equipment is required?
Charlotte was in charge of ensuring we had the right kit and I knew she would buy the best quality we could afford. Don’t skimp on the equipment and clothing as it will look after you during the event and will be money well spent. The items you need is personal to you but these are the clothing and equipment we invested in.
- Walking boots – We both needed new walking boots and decided to go for ones which supported the ankle and were lightweight too. They weren’t cheap but we will use them again. When buying new boots, ensure you train in them to ensure they are fully broken in before the day. You don’t want blisters hampering your chances to complete the Peaks.
- Lightweight fully waterproof jacket with hood. On the peaks, these jackets were an essential part of our kit as we had 3 seasons in an hour, with strong sunshine which quickly changed to gale force wind and driving rain, then back to sunshine again. Go for a lightweight option though as you will have to carry it in your rucksack if the weather becomes too warm
- Lightweight walking trousers – The trousers we purchased had zips about the knee so they could also be converted into shorts if required. When it rained they did stick to our legs though and might not have been fully waterproof but when the rain stopped they dried our really quickly.
- Shirts and fleeces – We both went for thin layers to ensure the weight wasn’t too much to carry, if we need to remove any. A t-shirt and a sports top were sufficient for us but we were walking in September.
- Backpack – You need to carry the backpack for the whole 24 miles so you want one big enough to fit the equipment, clothing, water and snacks. But be careful not to go too big as you will end up taking more than you need and this all saps energy. You will also need a backpack that can carry 2 litres of water. It is best to get a water hydration pack that sits snugly into the back pack and can allow you to drink whilst you walk.
- Other items you will definitely need are mobile phone, head torch, map of the peaks, first aid kit, hat, gloves and waterproofs.
- Some options are a camera, GPS tracker and walking sticks. Most phones have decent cameras but I would suggest taking a portable phone charger pack in case you need to top up your phones charge. Charlotte used walking sticks and found them an essential piece of kit for getting up the mountains but if you get some ensure you train with them before the day.
What training should you do before the big day?
We were walking in support of the Alzheimers Society and we were sent some guidance on training within our pack. Due to the Covid outbreak our training schedule wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. We ended up training a fair bit on the treadmill as it was safer than some of the more popular walks. We practiced medium length walks of 6 to 8 miles regularly and did some hill walks too. We also did the longest walk of 18 miles, 2 weeks prior to the event so we knew how hard it would be to cover a longer distance
What happened during the walk?
We were aware that walking too quickly could scupper our chances of finishing but we did have a target, to finish in 10 hours. We amended this during the walk and refocused on finishing within the 12 hours guidance. Walking downhill for me was harder than walking uphill and slowed us up greatly as my left knee ballooned around 17 miles. My hands also became very swollen during the walk as I became aware my fingers looked like fat sausages after 8 miles. Charlotte hurt her hip after 12 miles and slowed her progress on the climbs. As mentioned previously the weather also changed quickly so it was important to be properly equipped for all weather conditions.
It does get busy too, so be prepared for hold ups at pinch points, where the paths are too narrow for the amount of people out there. I would suggest you should also be prepared for rude people who do not make room for you to pass, there are those that also walk past and do not say thank you, when you step aside for them
What would I do differently?
There isn’t much I would differently should I take on this challenge again apart from train more walking downhill. My knee was in bits from 17 miles and was a struggle to walk down the mountains. This is common apparently with new walkers as they tend to focus on the climb rather than the descent. This is the biggest mistake you can make in you preparation so don’t forget to work on walking downhill, it is essential for your success.
Would we do it again?
As we crossed the finish line we both said never again. Charlotte hasn’t changed her mind but as my recovery was so quick I was thinking maybe I would do it again but would train slightly smarter and focus on the downhills more next time.
Would I recommend the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge?
Absolutely. It is exhilarating, exhausting and incredibly painful but, it is rewarding too and if you can support a charity whilst doing so all the better. Some charities ask you to raise a minimum of £300 to compete but you do get a shirt to walk in as part of the package. We managed to raise almost £1400 for The Alzheimer’s Society which was beyond our expectations.
Alternatively you can pay around £70 per person from the National Three Peaks Challenge website, whichever you choose good luck. If you take up the challenge, we wish you all the best and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.