A Guide To The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

The Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge is indeed the challenge to climb not only 3 peaks within Yorkshire, but the 3 largest peaks, consecutively, and to complete them all within 12 hours.

What peaks are involved in the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge?

Pen-y-ghent
Whernside
Ingleborough
The distance covered in the Three Peaks challenge is 24 miles, so yes it’s pretty much a walking marathon during which you ascend 1,585m and so, quite obviously, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
I.e. It’s probably not the smartest idea in the world to decide you’re doing it, the night before you do it, with no training and little preparation.

This is exactly what we did.

But, we lived to tell the tale, and if you’re feeling spontaneous with a decent level of fitness… we have proven it possible.
That sounds like i’m making out we are super heroes – we aren’t. But just don’t underestimate the endurance required to walk for 12 hours!
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What will you need, to take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge?

{based on our August summer walk}

THE OUTFIT:

– REALLY Good Walking Shoes / Boots

I walked in my Timberlands and they were perfect. But really, is no perfect shoe, you’re just going to want to make sure they are comfy, that they have been trodden in a bit {otherwise hello blister central} and they are weather proof.

– Layers Are Key

The weather in England and in the Dales is temperamental so the ability to take layers on and off during the walk will be a luxury. I wore a sports bra {bit of support when you’re hop skipping and jumping down the side of the mountains}, a vest top, a long sleeve North Face top and then my thin waterproof top layer.

– A Waterproof Coat / Top Layer

To protect you from the winds and rains – we are in England after all.
Shop North Face here {a good waterproof coat is so worth the investment}

– Anti-Chaf Bottoms

You know what i mean. I wore my Nike dri-fit gym leggings and they were PERFECT.

– Well Cushioned Socks

The pressure of your feet up against your shoes for 12 hours solid is going to cause some friction so good quality socks is a MUST. One of the refreshment trucks was actually selling some socks along the way, so it’s clearly a school boy error a fair few people make. A few in the group would have appreciated a spare pair of socks for when theirs became soggy with mud.

– A Backpack

One that’s not going to dig into your shoulders because, i’m not sure if i’ve mentioned this already but… you’ll have it on your back for 12 hours. I took my trusted Kanken backpack with me and it allowed room for  all I needed to endure the walk.

You can shop my exact backpack here 

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What to take in your backpack?

– A packed lunch
We all took a sandwich each, a piece of fruit and a choc bar, all of which we were hungry for and ate after second peak. That was all I bought and though i’d want, so it was a good job some of our gang over accounted for all of us in food resources!
Hence…
– A handful of sugar resources
e.g. Lucozade jelly beans, lucozade, mars bars, snickers, protein bar.
Energy central.
– Tissues, Paracetamol, Lipbalm
Tissues for the blood, sweat, tears and muddy bottoms! Paracetamol for when it gets a bit much. Lipbalm for the changes in weather and the avoidance of the little things that can irritate you along the way.
– A bottle of water
As big as you can carry. There are places you can top up along the way like pubs, fresh water streams and food trucks. Water is so so essential for this walk as you need to stay hydrated to avoid illness and headaches. PLUS obviously some stages of this challenge are pretty demanding and will leave you gasping for a quench.
– Money 
Incase you want to buy refreshments along the way and also, some of the pubs ask for a contribution for you to use their toilet {if you aren’t a paying customer}.
– Your phone
Particularly if you are taking on the walk unguided, as we did, you should take your phone with you. Whilst during most of the walk, mainly on the higher altitude points, you will find you have no signal anyway, it is good for safety. We lost a couple of the team along the way due to exhaustion / injury and them having a phone meant they could call for help and arrange a pick up from their exit point.
Optional:
A camera {you can shop the cameras i use here}, your country flag for a photo at the peaks {saw some people doing that}, an outfit {some people were dressed up for charity}.
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Where to start the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge?

There are 3 places, apparently, that you can start the challenge. Obviously I can only speak from experience of one {and i won’t be putting the others to the test any time soon}, and that one was…

Horton-in-Ribblesdale — BD24 0HE

…which I believe is the most popular starting point. The other two starting points are…

Chapel le Dale — LA6 3AR (limited free parking, usually quiet)

Ribblehead — LA6 3AS (some free parking)

…the only difference between all three being, you will complete the peaks in a different order.

Take your pick!

The Walk…

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My Experience of the Three Peaks Challenge…

My experience was pretty much just 12 great friends on a weekend away, spontaneously taking on the challenge and having a few laughs along the way.
Although the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge is technically about completing the 3 peaks in under 12 hours, I didn’t actually know this until after we had finished. To our delight though, we did actually complete it in 11 hours starting at 08.10 and finishing at 19.15, which is wonderful.
A lot of people take this challenge on alongside a charity and there quite a few organisation that will organise and guide the walk for you should you be looking to do it solo or would like the support.
The first peak for us was Pen-y-ghent, which took us straight into a pretty hefty incline from the get go. With low visibility and rain pouring upon us, this part and also the incline up to peak number 3 are the two tough parts that stand out in my memory. But there’s nothing to say you can’t take it slow, and lots of people do. You can stop when you want and for as long as you want, so it’s not a massive deal.
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The rest of it was all about endurance which is why the strength of your outfit and your mentality are so important. It’s a crazy long distance for the average person who doesn’t run and prefers a 45 minute HIIT class at the gym.
Our time of 11 hours was based on a fairly leisurely pace and we stopped for 20/25 minutes on, i’d say, 4/5 occasions.
My level of fitness is higher than average as I do undertake a lot of active adventures with my career and I work out most days when i’m home, for a bit of routine, so this is based on that too.
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My Tips and Tricks for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge…

Take some spare socks for when yours get wet / muddy
The best day to do it alone? Saturday
There will be lots of other people doing it at the weekends, particularly Saturdays, so you will not feel deserted / lost en route. We were doing it on the same day as Help For Heroes and they had stands and support along the way in place.

Questions you may have…

– Will there be toilets along the way?
Yes, there are pubs and some toilets too {we went on a Saturday so not sure the opening times of all that were available to us but if not… you’re in the countryside just bring some tissue!}.
– If I want to end the challenge after one/ two peaks can I?
Yes there is car access between all peaks so you can get picked up. Signal is VERY intermittment though, so keep an eye on your phone and plan the pick up thoroughly when you do have signal.
– Is there food available along the way?
Yes there are pubs along the way and on the Saturday we walked there were a handful of food trucks dotted along the way. It is a seriously popular route so there’s even some snack bars plotted perfectly on course for walkers.
– Are trainers okay to walk in?
If you’re English – you’ll know this, and if you’re not english you’ll probably also know this… it rains in England… a fair bit.
Be it Summer, Winter, Spring or Autumn, the rain is bound to show up and sure, we got some during our 11 hour walk.
A combination of the rain and a very popular footpath, results in some churned up, muddy situations in which wearing trainers will mean they turn brown, get wet and could leave you on your bum during a few of the inclines / declines due to the lack of grip. Walking shoes are definitely better as they are waterproof + have better grip for the unsure terrains.
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If you have any other questions pop them below and i’ll do my best to answer!

Come + join the live adventure on Part 1 and Part 2 of my Yorkshire Dales Vlog…

Have you done the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge?

I really want to do the National Three Peaks next! 🙂

Thank you for reading <3

If you liked this post… please SHARE it, I can’t do it without you guys <3

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie x

A Guide To The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge | Where's Mollie? A UK Travel and Lifestyle Blog

  • Jessica Thoma

    I would love to give this a go! I just recently stocked up on some hiking gear for a trip in the Alps so I’m all prepared haha 🙂

    Jess | jess-inretrospect.blogspot.com

    • do it do it! 😀 😀 Love achieving and completing things like this 🙂

  • Abi

    I have completing the 3 peaks challenge on my #30B430 list of things to do, but this one is right on my doorstep so may attempt instead! Have you got plans to do the national one yet?

    Love Abi

    http://www.abidurrantpt.com