My Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

0.    In a village called Horton – in – Ribblesdale. Stood in a field. 6:30am. The grass a vivid green in the low contrast of a dull morning. Milling around a caravan, a group of men putting up a blue flag.
This is where I found myself on Saturday, nervously waiting to walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks.
6:45 Mallinson Number 18, ready? Yes. Off you go
1.    Leave the tent, scuff your boots on the ruts leaving the field, and cross the road. A wooden bridge over the Ribble takes you past the toilet block. A crowd of hikers waiting for the Pen-y-Ghent Cafe to open, I quickly scribble my details on a scrap of paper, Mallinson; 06:50; parked by the crown; 0795blah di blah. Push the scrap through the letterbox and grin at the Hiker who says “Can you do that? I’ve been waiting 30 minutes for it to open”
2.    Cross over the road to a gate into a field. Jostled for position by the spaniels with more energy than anyone else. Feeling a bit chilly, on with the gloves. Another gate, gravel scrunch under boots.
3.    “Left or Right”, “It doesn’t say, follow the man in the gloves”. I lead the way, closely followed by the chatty couple and the busy spaniels. The scrunch changes to a clump across a wooden footbridge to Brackenbottom.
The gurgle of the stream drowned out by the trees beating each other in the wind. Tarmac, hard under foot, the slope steep, not gentle, but easing cold legs into the day.
Farm gate, farm yard, farm gate, hill. Moss covered rocks, pathways worn deep. Boots soundless as the gradient tugs against your pack
4.    Pass some stragglers, words of encouragement. One brave soul heading back, words of agreement for his reasons, a silent prayer you will be stronger. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. Daydream of the glory of the finish, brought back to reality as the steep rock clacks against slipping boots. Grip with wet gloves and pull yourself up. Pavement a distant memory. Say good morning to sheep who look quizically at the crazy man. They don’t answer back.
5.    Pavement. steep, but pavement. A gate opens onto the Penine way and the high fell begins in earnest. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. Crunching boots under loose scree and man carved steps. Watch as a small stone makes a mini avalanche. Drumbeat of your heart pounding in your chest. foot in front of foot. hand holding where it can. No sound but your booming pulse in your cold ears. Breathing deep gulps, a last pull. Silent boots on wet slabs.
6.    thousand steps. The summit of Pen-y-Ghent. Not too bad. I can do this. Selfie and go.
7.    Through the gap in the wall. Pick up the pace, its downhill. realise that it is steep, going uphill was easy. every step a potential toboggan ride as boots shimmy for purchase on the loose top. Find a rhythm. Warm legs. daydream that quick fit make shock absorbers for hikers. Brought back to reality as a tripping stone makes me run a few steps to catch up with myself
8.    Rain. there’s a cliff face round here, if the rain stops I might see it. It doesn’t. I don’t
9.    Rain. there’s a right turn I need to take. If the rain stops, I might see it.
10.    Rain. there’s a right turn. …Ah here it is. Steep. Sunshine. Gloves off. Pass a few others. How many is that? 8 on the way up, maybe 10 at the summit, these two, call it 20. Steep. scrunch rhythm.
11.    Look back, there was a mountain there a few minutes ago. Cloud curtains the peak. The effort just a memory. Boots quiet on soft grass. Life is good.
12.    Life is not good. No-one mentioned another uphill, it’s supposed to be the 3 peaks. Oh, actually that wasn’t too bad. Life is good. Sunshine. Jacket off. Juice and a mars bar.
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20.    passed by a hobbit
21.    what?
22.    Blue flag waving over a mobile home. The thought of a hot cuppa spurs me on and I become aware that I have been walking for 5 miles without a thought. Now the only thought is a brew. simple pleasures. Slap of boots on tarmac.
23.    Sugar? yes honey? Do you want sugar in your coffee? What? oh, yes please. Bliss experienced through burnt lips. Introduced to old man in an old car, name in one ear, out the other. lost in a world of hot drink and still boots. Too soon the cup is drained, wave a cheery hand in the general direction of the support team, and away. Careful across the road, eyes drawn towards the immense viaduct. Boots relentless step after step.
24.    detour. hillock. hidden from view. zip, ahhh, zip. the coffee was good while it lasted. Hands washed in a deep clear pool. dried on grass, watched by quizical sheep who rudely ignore you when you say hello.
25.    Back on the trail. Rain. It won’t last. Boots splash in ever deepening puddles. It may last. Stop, waterproof trousers, check, waterproof jacket, check. Rucksack cover check. Still raining. start walking. Feeling dry and smug. Sunshine. Hot. Really hot. Stop. Jacket off. Rain. Give me strength. Jacket on. Bollocks, I don’t care. Let it rain.
26.    Hail. Christ
27.    Wind and Hail. Bloody Nora.
28.    Steep. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy.
29.    Ears stung through my hood. When did hail start going horizontal? Ouch. Just Ouch. I don’t care what noise my boots are making. Reality narrows to 18″ wide. Reality is wet and steep. Reality hurts my ears.
30.    Thousand steps. Summit. Don’t care. No selfie. Not stopping.
31.    Down. Wind straight at you, helps slow your descent. Daydreaming, every cloud has a silver lining, but these have got bloomin’ streamers and party poppers. Back to reality as someone on the way up asks again, “how is it at the top”. “Carnage, but not too bad if you’re a duck with a death wish” A smile softens the impact and leaves them wondering if they heard you correctly. Boots giggling on the downhill scree. Sunshine.
32.    Look back, there was a mountain there a few minutes ago. Cloud curtains the peak. The effort just a memory. Boots quiet on soft grass. Life is good.
33.    Life is not good, downhill is hard! Realise that last bit was easy. Realise I am relying on cliché, and that the last bit was not easy, actually.
34.    Decide a song may lift my spirits. Lustily launch into a good song. Watched by quizical sheep. I am fairly sure that one said something, and it was not very polite. Stop singing.
35.    Scrunch under Boot, roadway. Clock under boot, wooden bridge. Crunch and skitter along pebble strewn path to the farm, and the big blue flag. Checkpoint Charlie. Who knew? Nectar comes in pyramid shaped bags!
36.    End of the path. Roadway. Cars. Feeling very vulnerable. 2″ clearance. whipped by slipstream. impolite salute. “Ingleborough 2 miles”, over this stile. I’ll take it. Silent boots on springy tundra. Life is good again.
37.    Slurp Chug Mud. Clack of gate. Clack of gate, chit chat spoiling my solitude.
38.    I stop at Braithwaites wife hole, a vacuous gap in the landscape, and let the gossipers go on ahead.
39.    A slight steepening of the land.
40.    Crossing limestone pavement majestic Ingleborough towers. At least it should do, but not today. Rain. sigh. trudge. splash.
41.    Kendal Mint Cake! woohoo! life is good! what are those ants doing on that hill in front? They aren’t ants, they are people. That’s vertical! shit. Steep. Gingerly approach. take another snort of mint cake. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. Get passed by a Spaniel. Head pounding, not sure if it’s a headache or a loud pulse.
42.    It’s a headache. Seriously consider missing the summit and taking the turn to Horton. Take two Ibuprofen and the turn to the summit. Steep. Realise that this bit really is steep, the last bit was easy. regret being a trooper, but carry on anyway, the view will be tremendous. Fog. sigh. crunckle of boots on a lunar landscape as the summit does not loom into view.
43.    Thousand steps. Nearly trip over the trig point. Take a selfie to prove to myself I was stupid enough to be here. Hide behind a wall and change my socks. Better than drugs! Life is good. Ok, maybe the sun isn’t shining, but hey, I have summited the three highest peaks in Yorkshire! Rain. Fog and Rain. Give me strength! time to go home.
44.    Steep. Don’t care, Its all downhill from here
45.    whistle
46.    sing
47.    sunshine. smile. say high to some cows. They don’t answer, for once I am grateful. It’s not that they are rude, just that I am sane. Just.
48.    Pass another couple. Brings my total to… Not sure, let’s say 180. Daydream about playing darts in a warm, dry pub with a beer. Brought back to reality as the field becomes pock marked with boulders.
49.    Squelch. Mud sucking Boots. The Hills don’t want you to leave. Dig deep, last push.
50.
51.    A train! Nearly home!
52.    Clack of the gate, dull ring in the tracks as you cross the rail. Left to Settle, right to Carlisle, or is it the other way round? Straight on is the finish, eyes on the prize.
53.    Thousand steps. Field. Blue Flag. Coffee. Happy.

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