I proudly tell anyone who will listen that I'm a Yorkshire-based artist who LOVES to paint and walk in the Yorkshire Dales, and nowhere in the world can beat a walk in Yorkshire, thank you very much. And yet, i'd never walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks. With all the attention that the Lake District gets from people eager to tick of the Wainwrights, I sometimes feel that the three peaks get left behind. Yet right here on our doorstep are three fabulous mountains ready to explore. Even better still, they can all be reached by train.
Although the challenge of completing all three peaks in one day sounds appealing (and exhasuting) was keen to tackle each one individually and give them all the special attention which they deserve. So i started with Pen Y Ghent. It was a late start, arriving in Horton in Ribblesdale in the early afternoon, but watching the distinctive silhoutette of Pen Y Ghent from the window of the train was exciting. stepping off the platform, I stumbled across another solo hiker who was unsure of the route so we ended up walking the entire day together as I shared my map. That navigation training really had started to pay off. The first climb up is long- really long, and seems to never end. But eventually the path reaches a stile and suddenly you are faced with the exhilirating scramble to the summit and before you know it, there you are looking down at stunning views of the dales. The walk back down into Horton in Ribblesdale is pleasantly and consistently downhill, passing the collapsed cavern Hull Pot on the way.
Whernside is the tallest of the three peaks and also the highest point in North Yorkshire. Getting off the train at Ribblehead Viaduct, the path up to Whernside begins just beside The Station Inn and provides a close-up view of the viaduct itself. Ribblehead viaduct is a breathtaking example of Victorian engineering with 24 arches. walking alongside the structure gives you an idea of the time and skill that went into its construction. Following the tracks for quite sometime until you cross the river with the waterfall Force Gill in view. the climb to the summit is easy and steady, although it rained the enitre day that I was out and my views from the top were....challenging! ALthough I had no views as I approached the summit, as I began to come down the other side, it was quite awe-inspiring to find myself emerging from the thick cloud billowing around me. Eventually after descending far enough, i could once again see the viaduct guiding me back to the station and my train home. The volunteer-run station tea shop is well worth a visit.
The final challenge of Ingleborough started at Clapham train station and after a 35 minute walk into the village, the path begins at the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail, eventually passing both Ingleborough cave, the gorge and Gaping Gill (if you don't mind a short detour) A tough half hour of walking up towards the summit results in stunning views across the dales and way beyond. Its especially exciting to see both Pen Y Ghent and Whernside whilst standing atop the final peak. the route loops back down into Clapham.