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Gales in the Dales

Monday November 26, 2018 at 9:31pm
Gales in the Dales

Earlier this year three friends of mine persuaded me to join them on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. I considered myself to be fairly fit, and enjoy long walks, so I thought, why not? The challenge involves a walk of 24 miles, ascending 3 mountains, with a total climb of 1600 metres. If you manage to complete it within 12 hours you get a certificate.

I hadn’t realised at the time what a hot summer we would have, which made lengthy training walks seem particularly tiring, but nevertheless we made use of every opportunity to head out, making full use of marginally cooler early mornings to get some mileage in.

There’s a lot of lovely walks locally but we don’t have a particularly challenging array of hills. I felt confident that I was fit enough to walk 24 miles on gently undulating terrain, but that does not equate to being fit enough to include 3 mountains within that route.To compensate for this we identified the biggest hill in our area (a mere 40 metre climb) and dedicated several evenings to going up and down the same hill over and over again, tracking our total climb to tally up as much height as possible.

Homeopath Suzanne on a training

By the end of August, we felt ready to tackle a practise climb, and headed for Kinder Scout, which is the highest spot in the peak district. Still in the blistering heat, we completed the 9-mile route, with its 710 metre total ascent, in 6 hours. The next day we were a little stiff, but felt pleased with ourselves, and confident that we would be able to attempt the Yorkshire 3 peaks in October as planned.

We watched as the weather forecasts change from mild and dry, to cool and drizzly, and one week before the event, news of Storm Callum came in.

Suzanne on training walk up Kinder Scout
The forecast was strong gales, relentless rain, and punishingly cold temperatures at the tops. The event organisers confidently informed us that the challenge would be going ahead, but we began to doubt whether we would be able to complete the circuit in the extreme weather conditions.

On the morning of the event, we turned up at 6am to a car park in Chapel-le-Dale at the foot of Ingleborough. The wind wasn’t too bad in this sheltered spot, but our waterproofs got an early test as we gathered with 140 others in the rain, with mud reaching our ankles as we shuffled through the puddles.

After a quick safety briefing we were allocated to a group of 30 walkers with 3 guides, and headed off across the moors to begin our ascent. Our walking poles became quickly useful, to test the depth of waterlogged areas around stiles, and to steady ourselves on the slippery ground.

As we entered the early ascent of Ingleborough, we began to climb a seemingly never ending series of shallow stone steps that demanded a huge amount of stamina. I soon realised that our time spent repeating our practise hill had not been all that useful! Many of the stones had water flowing over them from a ruptured stream nearby, and some of them were 8-10 inches under water. My feet were soaked within the first hour, but I wasn’t cold due to the exertion of the climb.

When the stone steps eventually ran out, we found ourselves at the base of an almost vertical climb, the top of which we couldn’t see due to the low lying clouds above. Surprisingly, this section was a lot easier. The difficulty of the climb meant that we had to slow the pace right down, so got to catch our breath a bit.

The view from the top was a bit other-wordly. Ingleborough is quite flat at the top, a bit like table mountain, and with the clouds being so low it felt as though we were floating on a misty platform. We didn’t stop there long, and began the descent, down a rocky trail that in many places had been encroached by a stream, with trickles of water springing out all over the place. The walking poles came in very handy again, and saved me from many a fall on the wet, crumbly surface.

Our route on Ingleborough had been fairly sheltered in most parts, but as we crossed the moors towards Horton-In-Ribblesdale the rain became harder, and the wind lashed continually across our path. Paths became streams, streams became rivers, and the route was hard to make out between the marshy pools. In several places we had to jump across raging torrents, trusting the guides to grab our hands and yank us up the other side.

Although the weather made going a lot harder than it would otherwise have been, battling the elements in such a raw landscape was very exhilarating, and I felt more alive than I had in ages.

Arriving in Horton-In-Ribblesdale was somewhat surreal. We had seemed so far from civilisation whilst on the moors, yet here was a railway line, a street full of houses and paved footpaths!

After a brief stop to take on water and eat a few snacks, we set off towards Pen-Y-Ghent, the second of our peaks. Again there was an extended section of low-gradient climb. I found this much easier than the stone steps that had led to Ingleborough, perhaps because it was a similar terrain to our practise hill, with a continual sloping track for the first mile or so.

It was at the top of this track that our guides received a radio message from the group ahead of us. The winds had reached dangerous speeds on the final ascent to Pen-Y-Ghent, and they advised us that it was not safe for any further groups to attempt the climb. We would not be climbing any more mountains that day. Whilst it was disappointing news, it was a relief to know that we would not have to risk injury by climbing in such perilous conditions.

However, we were still 10 miles away from the car park, and so our guides led us around the base of the mountains for the remaining distance. With the challenge now out of our reach, our pace dropped to a trudge, each mile seeming the same as the last.

We arrived back tired, windswept and utterly soaked through, very much looking forward to a warm shower and a hearty meal.

I didn’t achieve the three peaks challenge, but I survived Storm Callum and I climbed Ingleborough and walked over 20 miles through the dales. I would like to visit the area again one day, to see what the landscape is like without the floods and the battling wind and rain. Who knows, I may even try to climb the peaks again!

Learn more about Suzanne and Homeopathy

Suzanne sees patients at the Rugby Osteopathic Centre once a week. Learn more about Suzanne and homeopathy.

» Categories: General Health, Homeopathy


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Rugby Osteopathic Centre, 69 Albert Street, Rugby
Warwickshire, CV21 2SN, Tel: 01788 560646, Fax:01788 571318