Beating the odds

What started as a casual conversation on Christmas Day with my daughter Emma, about taking on the ‘Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge', became a reality when Emma’s friends, Amber and Sam plus my colleagues at Source, Martha, Marta and her partner Tiago, decided to join us. A date was set, accommodation booked and the charity chosen. There was no backing out for the Magnificent Seven.

Steve summed up the preparations perfectly, including my purchase from Sports Direct which stock knee supports on the top floor!

Preparation is key for a 12-hour walk. We therefore arrived at the cottage in Giggleswick the night before with rucksacks fully stocked with energy drinks, glucose tablets, fruit, sandwiches, sweets, Kendal Mint Cake, water and more.

Martha wasn’t quite as well prepared. She’d bought an expensive Camelbak backpack the day before which held two litres of water and nothing else. There wasn’t even enough room to squeeze in a note naming her next of kin. She hadn’t brought any food so she called Marta en-route to get her a cheese and ham sandwich for the 24 mile walk!

At 7.20am, on a gorgeous sunny morning, we set off from Horton-in-Ribblesdale sensibly dressed for the challenge ahead, apart from Martha who looked like she was taking a trip to the Arctic – there’s a pattern emerging here! Wearing her complete winter wardrobe, including two fleeces, gloves, a wolly hat and waterproof trousers - with no backpack to put them in when she got too hot – it was obvious she hadn’t thought anything through properly.

We breezed up Pen-y-Ghent, lulling us into a false sense of security about the ‘challenge’ ahead.

On the summit we took time to take in the fantastic views. I also lightened my rucksack by offering some of my full loaf of strawberry jam sandwiches to random individuals. A gesture which I repeated on each summit, helping me to grow in popularity on the way round.

After Pen-y-ghent there’s about an eight-mile trek to the base of Whernside. That’s why we put in the hard yards walking along the canal, Steve.

Getting to the top of Whernside proved more difficult, as we had to stop to attend to blisters, calls of nature and for constant wardrobe changes by guess who.

Another summit ticked off and it was on to the final and, in our opinion, the hardest peak – Inglebrough - which loomed high and daunting in the distance

Scrambling up the almost vertical climb we reached the final trig point where I put our client Pure Retirement’s tee shirt on, which we shared on social media to promote the fact you can have an active life when you get older. Always working!

The final walk from Ingleborough to Horton-in-Ribblesdale was a killer. With inaccurate mileage posts giving false hope, loose shale and sharp rocks underfoot, tired legs and blisters, we were literally dead on our feet.

However it suddenly developed into a race against time. With about two miles left and only 25 minutes before the 12 hours were up, we started to run to the amazement of the other walkers we overtook.

With only a few minutes left we had almost given up but when we saw Horton-in-Ribblesdale railway station the adrenaline kicked in once more and we reached the finish at 19.17pm. Just three minutes spare!

Walking like John Wayne we all hobbled down to The Crown for a well-earned drink!

It was a great team effort with lots of laughs mixed with pain on the journey. We’d like to thank our generous clients, Woolpack customers and friends for helping us to raise more than £3000 for Cancer Research, it really made it all worthwhile.

As for next year’s challenge…watch this space.

Written by Peter Downey, 24/06/2019