The Roaches

Memories from our Yorkshire 3 Peaks challenge - July 8th, 2017

Sean, Mike, Alison M, Nigel, Mark, Jon, Sarah, Ken, Netty, Harry, Rich, Ann, Rob, Susan, Jim, Alison B line up in readiness for the challenge.

Weeks of planning and training had prepared us for one of our more challenging walks. Gordon and Jane had already opted out due to Jane's broken arm and Sandra had decided that her lack of training would result in a lack of completion but, despite this, they all travelled up to Malham to enjoy a few nights in the Dales.

Alison and Susan had become the queens of the Roaches as this had been their training ground for many weeks. A 24 mile epic training walk was their final test and one which they'd completed with ease.

Sarah had issues with blisters from previous walks so was dropped into Terry's blacklist envelope along with Alison M, Netty and Sandra. Netty hadn't done a great deal of walking so was worried about what was to come. Mike and Alison M hadn't knocked up too many miles but with the former's experience and the latter's young age there weren't too many worries on this front despite Terry's prediction. Netty was however wearing knee supports that Steven Gerrard would have been proud of so would the day's walk eventually take its toll?

As for the rest of us: We'd all done a reasonable amount of training and were quietly confident but, as we know, anything can happen once we're on the hills. Harry Bond was on for the challenge at the tender age of 13 with a previous long distance record of 14 miles so could he smash his record? On the other end of the age scale was Ken, the Pighole marvel, who is now nearing XX.

My 1992 effort of 5 hours 45 minutes was never in danger of being beaten as was the 1993 time of 8 hours when I completed the walk for the fourth time with the late Mike Joyce.

The weather on the Friday before the walk was overcast, warm and eventually wet but the outlook for the Saturday was good and they were right.  The weather was fantastic and perfect for a long distance walk.

The British Heart Foundation had also decided to take on the challenge on the same day so rather than battle through the crowds at Hordon-in-Ribblesdale we decided to start the walk at Ribblehead. We arrived at around 6:50am and began the walk at 7am.

After a short team shot in front of the viaduct the trek to the top of Whernside (2415 ft) began. This would be the first and highest of the three peaks on the 25 mile route but it's ascent is long and gentle compared to the others.

Team Pighole march towards Whernside. Ingleborough, the second of the three peaks, can be seen in the distance.

Numerous other groups caught up with us as we rambled up the easy gradients of Whernside. There was no need to hurry but we were aware of the 12 hour challenge so didn't want to use up too much time so early on in the day. Sarah stopped to carry out her usual boot\sock amendments which we now believe is a tradition. Was this the start of something more worrying?

Mike, Jon, Sarah and Ann (two other walkers behind Mike) on the ascent of Whernside.

We reached the summit of Whernside at around 08:45am and mingled in readiness for the summit photo....

One down, two to go. Team shot on the summit of Whernside.

Ann was complaining about back ache and was the last to reach the summit. She'd suffered from back niggles for a few weeks so hoped that the pain would disappear over the day or at least allow here to walk on. Sarah's boot amendments had done the job so she was OK to continue.

The descent of Whernside, heading south towards Ingleborough, descends on a steeper slope so care was taken on the parts of the track that had been paved to maximise the chances of falling and maximise the severity of any injuries. We all survived and waited for the slower walkers at the farm at the base of the hill.

Ann still wasn't happy with her back so on reaching the Hill Inn pub she decided that she couldn't continue. Whernside had proved too much for the old duffer so we fired Ann towards Ribblehead where she would look at taxi or bus options in order to return to Malham.

Ingleborough (2372ft) was next.

Ingleborough. Our route took the rising moor at centre left and onto the steep zig zags leading to the summit plateau.

We ascended Ingleborough at various speeds with the steep section proving to be a sweaty mid-morning challenge. A short climb saw us reach the summit where a grand view of Lancashire and the Lakes was the reward. The last time we ascended Ingleborough the views were non-existent so this was a real treat.

Two down, one to go. Ingleborough summit shot at 11:40am. Alison M would like to thank Macca for the shorts.

Pen-y-Ghent is a fair trek from Ingleborough so the team was reminded that although we'd completed the two highest peaks we still had a lot of walking to do. We were yet to reach the halfway point which is where we'd have lunch.

The track off Ingleborough was rougher than I remembered which hampered a good yomp. On reaching the limestone pavement at Sulber we decided to take lunch and spend a few minutes on our bums.

Harry plays on the limestone pavement at Sulber. Pen-y-Ghent (2277ft) can be seen in the distance.

The descent to Horton-in-Ribblesdale always takes longer than expected but we eventually reached the village which gave is the chance to enjoy a toilet break. Mark decided that fags were required so walked on to find a suitable faggery.

The temperature in the dip was noticeably higher as we started the ascent up to Pen-y-Ghent where a steep field marks the start of the route so for many this was a tester.

Jim, Rob, Harry and Nigel wait on the ascent to Pen-y-Ghent.

The final steep slopes of Pen-y-Ghent were almost upon us where one final push would see us conquer our final peak. The breeze had turned into a wind of sufficient force to blow our hats off but it was an enjoyable cooling presence despite its growing strength.

Nigel and Harry play on the rocks on the ascent to Pen-y-Ghent. The route takes the slopes to the right of the photo.

We gathered as a team at the foot of the final steep climb and then ascended at various rates. An enjoyable little scramble near the summit ridge added an air of excitement but we were soon on the summit where a walker took the final team shot...

Peak three of three. The summit of Pen-y-Ghent at 15:40pm.Team Beige Floppy Hat stand to the left.

Certain members of the team were under the impression that a gentle descent would lead us back to the cars. They were partly right but the gentle descent was in fact a 7 mile trek over undulating moorland back to Ribblehead.

We joined the Pennine Way where the initial descent was over a newly laid blocky path which allowed for reasonably fast progress. The steps soon disappeared but the track remained in good nick and, as far as I can remember, was much better than the last time I walked the route which was admittedly over 24 years ago.

Nearly there. Look back to Pen-y-Ghent from Nether Lodge.

On reaching the road all that was left was a final mile to the cars. Alison B spotted something that looked like Ann but it couldn't be - could it? Surely she'd be back in Malham by now but thanks to an extornionate taxi quote and a train strike Ann had decided to stay in the Ribblehead area and wait for us.

We finished the walk at 18:40pm and had beaten the 12 hour challenge by just 20 minutes. Phew! The aim was to simply complete the walk and any thoughts of a  sub-12 hour completion time was a 'nice to have' but we'd done it.

25 miles, three peaks and a great effort by all. Sarah, Netty and Alison M had completed the walk despite been placed in Terry's envelope of doom. Ann, who wasn't in the envelope had let Terry down so apart from Sandra's non-show Terry had been 100% wrong. Sarah walked on despite blisters and Netty's knee supports had helped her through the day - an excellent effort.

Young Harry 'Haroldihno' Bond had smashed his 14 mile record with a brilliant effort and, I believe, many others had broken their record for the longest single walk in a day.

The Queens of the Roaches had completed with ease - their training regime had worked! Will they ever bother to walk on the Roaches again?

Ken had done it again. Who or what will stop him?

Gordon, Jane and Sandra enjoyed a 10 miler around the sites of Malham and, I assume, had enjoyed a few pints in the afternoon.

Alison B had set up a JustGiving page for the walk to provide funds for the Alzheimer's Society and so far, at the time of writing, we've raised over £2500 - many thanks to everyone who'd donated. Knowing that so many people had donated so much really helped us to battle through the blisters, sore knees, sunburn, baldness and various downstairs distempers that affect people our age when taking on epic undertakings.

The weather had been magnificent and couldn't have been any better for such a walk and the return to Malham would see us enjoy beer, wine, food, beer and wine and reflect on the day.

Team Pighole. What can I say?

Harry with his Yorkshire 3 Peaks completion medal. Well done!


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