challenge complete?

A few months ago Lisa, from Hollybobbs, asked me if I wanted to do the Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge with her.  [Note the word challenge and not walk].  I agreed as the challenge was to raise money for Alzheimer's society and after reading the itinerary, 26 miles in 12 hours, I thought it would be a good challenge.

What I knew about the challenge was :

Climb the three peaks of the Yorkshire Dales :

Pen-y-Ghent (691 metres)

Whernside (728 metres)
Ingleborough (723 metres)

the challenge is a total of 26 miles and takes 12 hours.  There is no resting in between, you walk between the peaks and then climb up and back down them, one after the other.

So on Sunday, Lisa, Amanda and myself met for our briefing at 6.30 am in a very cold and wet field in the village of Horton in Ribblesdale

briefing before the walk

We attached our numbers and braced ourselves for the start.  We were told very clearly that we had to be at the second checkpoint by 4pm.  Any later than this, even by 5 minutes, and we would not be able to continue.  This second check point is at the base of the third and final peak of Ingleborough, and whilst it is only 7 miles to the end it does take 5 hours.  The briefing also clearly stated this was not a race and we should pace ourselves for what would be a very tough challenge, both physically and mentally.

numbers at the ready

We started off for our first challenge, Pen-y-Ghent.  The clouds started to get darker and the rain began to get heavier.  

Start of PEak one

I was promised a fantastic view but all I did see was lots of clouds.  

View on the way up

The more we climbed the harder it became to see, this is about half way.  The visibility is almost at nothing.  What this does not capture is the wind, which caused me to loose balance a few times, or the cold.  

bad visibility

Soon the paths, I say paths I mean very slippy rock, disappeared and we were faced with a rock face to climb.  Hands were needed to pull yourself up.  The wind and rain pouring down as you try to grip onto the cold hard rock face.  This was tough.  I have a huge fear of falling from a great height.  In some ways I am glad of the poor visibility, so I could not see too far down.  However when you do look down and all you see is cloud, you are reminded just how high you really are. When we did finally reach the peak it was a total shock, and completely unexpected.  

reached the peak

The rain eased slightly, but then the hail stone came.  The visibility I am pleased to say improved.  The muddy flooded paths made for a difficult long walk to the first checkpoint.  Our waterproofs no longer waterproof, even one of the other walkers in waterproofs costing over £200 was soaked to the bone.  Our feet squelched in the water which had flooded our boots, cold water at that.  The walk was long and mentally draining, as you tried to lift your spirits with a promise of dry socks at the next check point.  My fingers were so swollen from the cold I could not make a fist.

Visibility improved

The rivers were fit to burst, but thankfully the rain eased.  The wind died slightly making it more bearable and less knocking off your feet.  The slippy paths made for an interesting course, as we tried to jump over the flooded paths and escape loosing feet in large patches of mud.

river fit to burst

The checkpoint was a welcome break.  Clean socks and a chance for a quick rest before starting the climb up Whernside.  Whernside is the tallest of the three peaks and for me had some of the most beautiful features and views.

ribbleshead via duct

The waterfalls on the climb up made for a welcome distraction as we could see the steep climb in the background

waterfall

The views made up for the pain in the legs as we climbed up.  Amanda had instructed Lisa and I to go on ahead as she was slower than us and did not want to hold us up for the 4pm deadline.  It was 2pm.


almost there

At 2.20pm we reached the top.  I do not think I have ever been somewhere with such strong cold wind before, I cannot begin to describe it.  Bitter cold and hurts your face, strong enough to push you over.

peak 2

The view from the top was amazing, simply stunning.  We began to make our descent in high spirits, we had over an hour to make it to the bottom, only 2 miles, we thought we Can do this as we had been averaging 3.3 miles an hour.

top of peak

Our checkpoint is just visible in this  next photo, see below text.  The mountain at the back of the picture is Ingleborough.  The far right corner of that square patch of trees was our checkpoint.  That was were we needed to be in an hour.  Those step rocks your looking at, yes that is the path to get to the bottom.  You cannot see the bottom it was that steep.  You would look and think oh its not that far then there would be another sudden drop.  The rain made for difficult climbing.  Lisa told me to go on ahead, so I did making sure I could see her at all times.  I kept turning round to check she was ok, then she wasn't there.  

I heard a cry, she shouted my name.  I went back up.  She said 'I can't do this, it hurts too much' She wanted to turn round and go back to the guides at the top.  I gave her my hand and said, 'we can do this'  I held her and started to very slowly walk her down.  I saw the pain in her eyes every time she put her foot to the floor, how she fought back the tears.  I offered to strap her knee with a bandage, but she declined.  We took it very very slowly.  I gave her my walking stick so she could put her weight and use it for support down the mountain we went.  Lisa walking sideways as it was the only way she could and me trying to keep her spirits high.  She kept telling me to go ahead so that I would make the checking time, telling me I could still do it, but how she was in too much pain to attempt the third.  I knew the second I saw her face how much pain she was in and that we were no longer going to be able to do the third peak.  Whilst I was able to do it, physically and mentally, I could not do it.  I could not leave my friend on that Mountain side.  I could not do it, we were a team.  My challenge changed from The Yorkshire 3 Peaks, to get my friend off that mountain and to safety so she could receive medical attention.

the descent

The climb down was difficult.  It was steep and slippy and I fell twice.  My spirits dropped and my focus shifted onto how would I tell everyone I had failed to complete the challenge, and how can I make sure Lisa is ok.  Perhaps the shift of focus and the lack of concentration resulted in the fact I stopped paying attention to myself.  I stopped listening to my body and because I was felling low, missed the key signs I was low in sugar.  I felt faint.  Lisa looked at me and then started shoving biscuits into my mouth.  I was down, deflated and felt like a failure.

As we approached the foot of the mountain one of the marshals walked past us.  He took one look at me and came to the same conclusion as Lisa had.  I needed sugar.  He offered to take my backpack but I said 'My friend needs it more she has hurt her knees'.  He took my pack and then took Lisa's from her.  He then stayed with us the rest of the walk into the checkpoint.  

We arrived at the check point at, according to my phone 4.22 pm.  The shop had a cafe selling hot drinks, after a drink I felt absolutely fine and really wanted to ask to climb the third peak.  I knew exactly what my answer would have been.  Perhaps rightly so, we had missed the cut off time.

The mini bus took us to the finishing point, were we sat and watched other people completing the challenge to cheers and rounds of applause.  It was too much for me to take.  Whilst I was proud for them that they had completed the challenge I was gutted I had not.  After an hour Amanda arrived, also on mini bus, we could set off home.

medala challenge






When I look back on the challenge, I look back with mixed emotions.  I am disappointed that I did not do the third peak and feel I failed in the Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge, yet at the same time I would not change anything.  I have no regrets for the day because my friends and I made it safely home.  We climbed two of the three Yorkshire Peaks and walked a total of 19 miles [just over 19, some of us round up and others round down].  Whilst some of us are aching and sore we did not break or sustain any major injuries.  What I am the most proud of though is the money we raised for an amazing charity, Alzheimer's Society.  All of those that took part raised over £40K which is fantastic and will make such a huge difference.  

Next year we will be back, places already booked, and this time we will be stronger than before, those peaks better watch out, team #blogy3p are coming for you.

A huge thank you to Alzheimer's Society and to the amazing team at Discover Adventure, in particular to Mark who supported us right to the end.

This day I love  challenge complete?



This article has been referenced by the Park Leisure Guide to Yorkshire, discussing the most challenging walks in Yorkshire

30 Comments

  1. You all did amazingly well!!
    Well done xx

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  2. Huge congratulations - loved reading your stories and so much joy in seeing women working together and supporting each other and all in a very amazing cause.

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  3. Congratulations on your AMAZING achievement Leyla. You climbed two of the three highest peaks in Yorkshire in the same day and walked 19 miles! You did brilliantly and your post shows the strength of your's and Lisa's friendship. I'm very proud of you both xx

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  4. Wow amazing Leyla, you should be SO proud of yourself. It sounds like it was seriously tough out there. Well done :))

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  5. Well done - I could not have done it! Poor Lisa hope she is ok now! Super Congrats from me :) xoxo

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  6. Wow Leyla, that sounded really tough and so lovely that you stayed with Lisa. Well done for taking part and all the walking and climbing that you did xx

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  7. You are a great friend Leyla, your friend sounds like she really needed you there.It looks like an adventure and well done on the money raised. #PcCoLo

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  8. I think you all did amazing and definitely didn't fail!

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  9. Well done, such an amazing achievment!!!!

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  10. I think your support of each other was amazing and I think that is the challenge you completed - to be there for each other. Well done on your fantastic achievement. Thank you for linking to PoCoLo x

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  11. WOW. Well done both of you! Sounds like an utter feat of endurance.
    I am seriously in awe.

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  12. Wow, what an amazing achievement and what an emotional post. I was with you every step of the way there! Really admire the way you supported your friend.

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  13. Excellent, well done. Love the photos.
    Sandra @ www.notesonaspanishvalley.com

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