Pen-y-Ghent (Yorkshire Three Peaks)
One of the most demanding walks in the UK is the "Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge", which requires walkers to climb to the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside in under 12 hours. This entails walking a distance of 25 miles and approximately 7,000 feet of ascent in total. Those who successfully complete the challenge within the 12 hour timeframe are eligible to join the Yorkshire Three Peaks Club. Whilst it is certainly one of my ambitions to complete this challenge, in the first instance my aim is to concentrate on conquering the peaks one at a time.
And so it was in August this year that I set off to tackle Pen-y-Ghent. This wasn't just to be my first "Three Peaks" summit, but also at 2,277 feet Pen-y-Ghent is officially a mountain. At the beginning of this year, when I took up walking seriously again, I promised myself I would start to tackle hills and eventually mountains. It had taken a little longer than I anticipated, but after my adventures in the Preseli Hills of Wales I felt ready for a proper mountain, albeit a small one.
There are several routes to the top of Pen-y-Ghent and we opted to take the most popular southern ascent. Leaving from the village of Horton-in-Ribblesdale, the route climbs steadily to begin with, following the line of drystone walls until the serious final stage, which includes something of a scramble on bare rock. It's a very popular walk, with people converging on the summit from all directions. Joining us on the ascent were family groups, fell runners, dog walkers and those taking part in the bigger challenge.
We chose to make the walk a circuit (approximately 8 miles) and so descended by the gentler northern slope, thus passing by Hull Pot. This is a natural feature, formed when the roof of a natural cave collapsed and said to be the largest natural hole in Britain. My photograph doesn't really do it justice - but it was a long way down! The only way down to the bottom is by rope.
Unfortunately the day was overcast and the light less than favourable for photography (most of my pictures were taken with my phone), so although I did take a shot from the summit, the view looks rather lacklustre. However, the lack of sunshine did make for a more comfortable climb.
The climb wasn't too difficult and it left me wondering whether I could perhaps tackle the full challenge after all. With one peak down and two to go, I decided to reserve judgment until I'd properly acquainted myself with Ingleborough and Whernside.