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Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 27 Jul 2014, 22:36
by mdolhun

I attempted the 3 peaks yesterday with 3 friends, but it was a disaster from start to finish - one of us lost the sole of a boot less than half a mile from Horton and had to go back, then we got halfway up Whernside before we had to give up due to the heat. :oops:

We're all keen to give it another try, so I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations for when the best time of year is to do it, balancing concerns such as temperature, rainfall & hours of daylight? (Obviously British weather is pretty unpredictable, but any advice would be gratefully received!)

I also wonder how easy is it for relatively inexperienced walkers to do the walk without being part of a guided walk? (We have all climbed a mountain before, but our regular walking is generally on more gentle terrain.) We struggled being part of a guided group because our uphill pace wasn't quite up to the pace of the rest of the group, and whenever we caught up with them, they'd had a nice 10 minute sit-down to catch their breath, which we never managed to get! We reckon we might do better if we could set our own pace, decide when we rested etc.

Thank you!

Re: Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 28 Jul 2014, 11:07
by three peaks
Its been really hot recently and a lot of people have struggled. Don't be so hard on yourselves.

One thing immediately springs to mind - do a few short practice walks beforehand to test your equipment and legs.

The other thing I would advise is to spread the walk over three days and do a peak each day. So many people rush round in a day and miss so much.

You can still do a circular walk of all three peaks stopping at B&B's each night. But you can also take time to view some other the other things along the way. The waterfalls, archaeological sites on Ingleborough, the viaduct, some caves. As well as the odd pub...

Re: Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 28 Jul 2014, 21:10
by mac.hawk
There is no best time of year really as it's all relevant to how you prepare for the walk and what equipment you're prepared to take or leave behind. People do it in the winter but make sure they've got the appropriate clothing/footwear and adequate lighting and are usually familiar with the route. From a daylight point of view mid-March to late September gives you a 12 hour period where daylight is prevalent. By avoiding the summer period of mid-June, July & August you reduce the risk of blistering heat/sun (but hey, this is Yorkshire, it's been known to snow in June!). As a general rule, it's easier to prepare for the cold, wind, rain etc of spring & autumn than it is the blistering heat of a hot summers day.

Group walking can often be challenging for exactly the experience you've encountered. Within any group of say, 10 or 12, you will always get people who 'get a move on' and those that are more sedate, either through physical ability or simply not wanting to rush the experience. The people at the front get frustrated as they feel they want to press on whilst those at the rear get frustrated too as they feel pressurised to go faster than they feel they can/want to and inevitably suffer from a lack of a recovery period as/when they rejoin the others. Makes no difference (in my experience) whether you're all friends or complete strangers, it always happens.

To comment further on why you weren't given recovery time I'd need a bit more detail on the timescale. The aqueduct over the railway line a couple of miles after Ribblehead viaduct is roughly half way point on the 'Anti-clockwise from Horton route' and I'd expect a 12 hour traverse of the route to reach there at about five and a half hours (including whatever breaks you had).

Finally, you don't need a person to guide you round this challenge as it is perfectly achievable if you can (a) read and, better still, (b) read a map.

The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Walk by Brian Smailes is a complete guide to the route (currently in it's 5th Edition) and has gained good reviews, currently available from Amazon for under a fiver and would seem a bargain. Alternatively 'The Guide', as produced by myself (Mac.Hawk), is totally free and whilst it is a text only file it contains everything you need to complete the challenge, from general advice to an extremely detailed route guide (see comments on the June & Late February 2014 & August 2013 Version of 'The Guide' posted on this Forum), it also includes detailed timescale points for both a 10 & 12 hour traverse of the route and it is current - (I last walked the whole route in June 2014) - latest version is July 2014.

Re: Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 28 Jul 2014, 22:23
by mdolhun
Thank you both for your advice, it's very helpful. I think from what you say that we were probably a short way behind schedule. I like to think we'd have been faster if the temperature had been milder, but in any case I'll definitely be working on my general fitness levels before our next attempt! Unfortunately when it comes to practice walks, my local walking area is the North Downs in Kent and your hills in Yorkshire make ours look like molehills... ;)

Re: Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 28 Jul 2014, 23:32
by mac.hawk
If you were behind schedule at the aqueduct (given you were apparently on a guided walk) I think that, as brutal as it seems, you were either not as fit as you thought you were and/or under-estimated the the physical needs to complete 'The Challenge'.

I cover this in 'The Guide' but I'd reaffirm that you don't need to be 'super-fit' to complete this challenge. If you're healthy, active and not seriously under/over weight 'The Challenge' is achievable in all but the most severe conditions, whether that be cold, rain, wind, sun, heat or a combination of any of these, providing you adequately prepare for the prevalent conditions.

The following is a direct cut and paste from 'The Guide' regarding preparing for any attempt

'In my opinion (for what ‘it’s’ worth) ……it’s not the distance that will get you, it’s the steps.

If I were to give one simple piece of fitness advice to anyone attempting the challenge it would be to prepared for the ‘stepping’. There’s an awful lot of it on this challenge – both up and down hill - and any ‘training’ you can give the knees and thighs beforehand will be rewarded on the day'

Re: Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 30 Jul 2014, 13:59
by The Moth
Totally agree that you dont need to be guided round this route. It's as clear as a road all the way round.

Also the ability to read a map is the most important and a bit of training beforehand always helps.

Have always found May or June or September the best time of year to do the walk.

Re: Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 30 Jul 2014, 19:36
by PaulC
Firstly, for the OP, well done for attempting it! I like to think of myself as reasonably fit & reasonably experienced (at least over the past 3 years that I've been walking up mountains) but I found it hard going when I completed it on Sunday (27 July).
Certainly the weather was cooler on Sunday than it had been for a few weeks, which helped but if we always waited for ideal conditions we'd never set foot outside of the door.
What I did was to climb each one separately over the past few months, so I wouldn't have to be stopping to look at the map when completing the full route. Obviously you're going to take a map & compass but the route is very well signposted so I would say that a guide is not essential.
I also took a good amount of water - 4 litres - & I drank all but the last couple of mouthfuls. What I didn't take (& regretted it) was energy tablets / gels. I find these invaluable when needing an extra burst of energy.
Other than water I travelled as light as I could, which meant shorts & T-shirt with a light kagool. I know the weather can change dramatically but with the temperature being 18 degrees in Horton I decided below freezing was unlikely. Nevertheless the kagool came out a few times & stayed on when the rain reached torrential levels on top of Ingleborough & halfway back to Horton
When you try it again, let us know

Re: Any advice for a 3 peaks dropout please!

Posted: 30 Jul 2014, 23:22
by mdolhun
Thanks for all the suggestions, I will definitely take some energy tablets next time! I walk pretty much everywhere as I don't drive, and I've been doing an 8-10 mile training walk every weekend for the past couple of months in preparation, so hopefully if I now just focus on walking the hillier sections of my local routes it will be good practise for next time!