Going round again
This time we were better prepared and more than a bit determined to improve on our previous time. We started from Houghton this time, the ‘official’ start point the 3 Peaks Cafe and clocked in. Disappointingly the clock wasn’t actually working and a hand written note was shoved through a letter box with the time and date scribbled on it. The note paper and a pencil being borrowed from another couple also fortuitously doing the same thing at the same time.
The start from Horton begins easily enough, crossing the road by the church and following the path around through the farm then joining the road at the old school house. The sunshine breaking through the early morning mist and the effort of walking shrugging off the chill. Turning left at the farm at Brakenbottom the climb to the first top, Pen-Y-Ghent, begins it’s relentless attack on the legs. The path’s attack on the iconic jagged profile of PYG is as steep as it looks in it’s final section and by the time the summit is reached, in almost exactly the hour, we know we have expended some real effort.
The long trek down from PYG to Ribblehead is taken at run wherever we can, the rough ground and boggy terrain slowing us down too often. The stream, Hull Pot Beck, is crossed gingerly over the stepping stones, visible this time but slippery. We know from past experience that much time can be wasted trying to find a better crossing only to realise that this is as good as it gets and you’ll get wet feet whatever you do. Press on through the bog and minor detours around the worst bits, its no where near as bad as it has been but still over the ankle/knee/thigh in places. It’s a long way to Ribblehead and we join the road at Lodge Hall with no time to stop at the pub where we stayed on our last visit, pressing on to the direct route up Wherneside itself.
We’ve decided on the direct route as it cuts about 1.5 miles off the route but at the expense of the steepness of the approach. After a minor back-track, too eager to cut under the railway line, we find out just how steep the alternative is, damn steep but it’s agreed that its better this way rather than the never ending ‘usual route’.
There’s a brief, very brief stop at the summit for a handful of fruit nuts and other energy before the jog down to Chapel-le-Dale. Thats two down and one to go.
The last top, Ingleborough, looks very far and very steep and high from here. The mist has cleared and the huge bulk of the mountain is exposed and fills the view in front of us. We agree that ‘this is going to hurt‘ and it does.
The final run back to the cafe from the station showing willing but we’d missed our unspoken target, or maybe targets, finally coming in at 7hr:42m.