Three Peaks of Yorkshire - Top Tips.
For those of you wishing to try and climb Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in 2009, here's some tips and advice to help you on your 24 mile challenge walk..! Please feel free to add you comments or observations if you've walked this route before.
1. Make sure you get an early start..! The earlier the better. If you have started walking by 7am, then you can aim to finish around 7pm, and possibly have a little time spare for food breaks enroute. Any later starts risk not only a finish in the dark - but possibly even arriving back at the finish after they've finished serving food - disaster...
2. Carry spare socks. The section across the moss, just after completing Pen-Y-Ghent, is always boggy. Even in dry weather, you are unlikely to reach Ribblehead with dry feet. Wet feet & wet socks will ensure blisters well before the end of the challenge - so ensure you at least have spare socks, but also consider some foot powder and blister pads (compeed etc).
3. Carry some money. Ribblehead has a Public Inn, and usually a mobile catering van. Chapel-Le-Dale also has a Public Inn, and the farm just before the Inn often serves snacks to walkers. Also bear in mind any walkers wishing to retire at the above - carry emergency money for a train or taxi home.
4. Get to know the route. Check out the route fully before you start, and read the many route descriptions and trip reports. Get a good idea of where other walkers had any problems with underfoot conditions or navigation.
5. Carry the right kit. I assume that in reading this blog, you are fully aware of the right clothing and equipment you should be carrying to ensure your own safety and comfort during this challenge walk. If not, check the equipment list here.
Three Peaks of Yorkshire - Top Tips.
10. Finally: Do some research on the places you will visit, the routes you will walk and the roads you will drive on. Be aware of the sensitivities of the communities you pass through remembering hundreds of other people may have driven or walked past just hours before you. Get up-to-date information about roadworks, traffic delays, weather reports, path diversions and have alternative plans in place - Be Ready and Stay Safe.
9. Standby Team Members: Inevitably, out of the 10 people who agreed to take on the challenge (when you suggested it in the pub) some were never really going to attempt it, some just are not fit enough, some will get injured or be unwell, and some won't be able to get the time off work. Get some financial commitment up front, and don't book accommodation, etc., until you have some money from them! One or two members may still pull out very close to the date for genuinne reasons, so try to have a standby walker and driver ready and waiting. Don't be tempted to share the driving between the walkers if your driver drops out - have a standby ready...!!!
8. Setting The Dates: The end of June gives the longest daylight hours, and the shortest periods of darkness. It is possible to organise your challenge so that you do not have to walk any mountain in the dark at this time. However, this is also by far the busiest time of year for the challenge, and you certainly won't be alone. Check the internet for dates of large organised events, and try to avoid these dates. If possible, use mid-week or a staggered weekend (ie, Fri/Sat or Sun/Mon) rather than the weekend itself. For dates either side of the summer (April, October) you may well find that you have to walk two mountains in the dark.
7. Food: You need to formulate a good plan for getting food! Many people simply opt for leaving a cooker and some flasks with the driver so they have a supply of hot water, then eat instant meals, soups, tea, coffee, etc., supplemented with sandwishes, cold pasta, crisps, nuts, fruit, energy bars, etc. Others opt to make use of the chip shop, McDonnalds, motorway services, etc., en-route. You will need a lot of water, especially during the summer if the weather is warm, and we suggest around 5 litres per person. Supplies can be purchased from the Morrisons or Tesco Metro in Fort William.
6. Group Safety: Leave your driver with a list of contact details, and emergency contacts for each walker. They should know your intended routes and any summit ETA's, plus the time you should arrive back at the vehicle. Agree a plan of action should you not return by a certain time, and if no contact between the group/driver is possible. A mixture of mobile phones and VHF radios can help maintain contact - just remember that batteries do fail, signals are lost, and radios have lots of 'dead' spots. Any group should have enough first aid, safety and emergency equipment to remain 'comfortably' on the mountain for at least a few hours during night-time.
5. Accommodation: Getting a goods night sleep before the challenge helps significantly, and stopping over after the challenge allows everyone to enjoy a celebratory drink without worrying about the long drive home. Fort William and Llanberis both have a large selection of campsites, hostels, bunkhouses, B&B's, Guest Houses and Hotels. Book early, especially around the school holidays, and for the end of June when many people choose to attempt their challenge. Some links to help find accommodation can be found here.
4. Transport: During the challenge you will spend some 11 hours and over 450 miles in your vehicle, trying to get some sleep, so it's important you use something big enough to be able to spread out, and store all of your kit. 5 people in a Ford Fiesta is not comfy. As a guide for larger groups, try to leave some 25-30% or seats free, ie. 15 seater minibus = 11 people maximum. If hiring a minibus, bear in mind most are now restricted to 62mph, your driver will need D1 catagory on their licence, and some hire companies will charge a mileage excess. You MUST have at least one driver (ideally two) that will not be taking part in the walking. Have breakdown cover, check you've got a servicable spare wheel, wheel brace and jack, don't run out of fuel!
3. Get The Right Equipment: Our seasons now are only determined by the temperature of the rain! You need clothing and equipment for all weathers - just select what you need on the day. It is very possible to encounter sub-zero temperatures and near arctic conditions on Ben Nevis on Saturday, heavy rain and high winds during the night at Scafell Pike, then hot and dry conditions to finish with on Snowdon. Take plenty of fresh base layers, underwear and socks, and something comfortable to travel in. Walking boots are essential - don't even think about training shoes. You should always have a bivvy bag, some extra food, and a head torch with spare batteries in your rucksack, even if you expect to finish in daylight. A full kit list can be found here.
2. Navigation: Ben Nevis and Snowdon are relatively straight-forward in terms of navigation. Paths are well established, and in good, clear conditions should not pose any real problems, assuming you have good basic navigational skills. Extra care should be taken on the summit plateau of Ben Nevis which may be covered in snow well into the summer (summit map and information here), and groups using the Pyg Track on Snowdon should ensure they don't stray onto Crib Goch. Scafell Pike, however, presents walkers with many more problems - especially in darkness and/or mist. It is highly recommended that you take a dry run on Scafell Pike before you attempt the challenge. If in doubt, employ a mountain guide.