The Three Peaks Of Yorkshire: 1. Pen-y-ghent

Shortly after completing the previous post about La Vuelta this morning, I looked at the computer and wondered where my summer was going. I then looked outside and questioned the use of the word ‘summer’. Grey sky, breezy… but dry. August? Well, if the calendar says it is. Otherwise I’m sceptical. Earlier in the summer-that-has-never-really-been-summer, I had made tentative plans to climb the Yorkshire Three Peaks; Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent with a friend but for logistical reasons they never came to fruition. Sitting at my computer this morning and realising that the ‘summer’ was rapidly fading away, I made an abrupt decision; **** it! I’m going to do them by myself.

30 minutes later, after having dressed, washed and walked around the house filling a box with things that I might need (the camping equipment is kept permanently in the car should I ever be caught short in a remote area, a scenario that has, admittedly, yet to happen but I live in hope that my life might one day become exciting…), I was sitting in the car waiting to set off. I paused momentarily to do a mental check that I had everything and came to the conclusion that I did (seven hours later I have only come up with head torch and walking stick, neither of which are absolutely essential). I then set off.

How nice to make a decision at 10:30am and by 11am be driving off down the road to do it. The week before last when I went to the CTC Birthday Rides in Moreton-in-Marsh I spent several hours packing stuff that I never eventually needed. Today it was a small bag of clothes and a few basics; bar of soap, two cans of beans, coffee, percolator and a minimal collection of electronic gear: the iPhone and a couple of back up batteries.

I bought an OS map of The Dales – OL2 – in Skipton, stocked up on emergency rations (pork pie, peanuts and a bar of chocolate, most of which will probably be consumed later in the week when back at home watching the TV…) then followed the sat-nav along one-track roads to Horton-in-Ribblesdale. I was hoping that with its proximity to two of the three peaks that there would be a campsite and… there was! I paid my ยฃ8 to a guy in a chaotically sumptuous shed, erected the tent, chatted very briefly to my neighbours about possible routes up Pen-y-ghent, put on my boots and set off.

The rest of today’s story is contained in the pictures below. Apart, that is, from the bit that I’m indulging in now; a couple of pints of Black Sheep and a large Cumberland sausage in The Crown pub. The beer and food is good but most other things are either not on offer (wifi, free payment by card) or banned (dogs, laughter…). Tomorrow it’s a hike over the summits of Ingleborough and Whenside* before an end-of-day stroll across the valley to admire the Ribblehead Viaduct, a train ride back to Horton-in-Ribblesdale and a second night in the tent before a return home on Tuesday to consume the emergency rations. Welcome to Yorkshire!

(*Weather permitting…)

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