Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough.
After arriving in Horton-in-Ribblesdale and putting up the tents on the Saturday evening, thoughts of an early night quickly disappeared as we decided instead to head for the pub. After the first pint, someone (I think it was Dan) had the bright idea to say… “Shall we set of now? It’s only 10 o’clock, we could be back in time for breakfast.” While most people shrugged this off as a rather stupid drunken idea, Steve and Simon seemed to agree that might indeed be fun. After further discussion and drinking we were all still keen to go. However after some persuasion from the rest of the group we somewhat reluctantly made our way back to the campsite.
It was early next morning (about 7.30) that everyone got up and started walking. It wasn’t long before we we’re climbing the first peak, Pen-y-Ghent and the sun began to break through the morning mist. It was fantastic to feel you were the only people on the hill on such a beautiful morning as we scrambled up the final rocky section to reach the summit cairn.
The next section involved crossing a large bog, which was great fun. Steve and Sadie both went in waist deep! It was then fairly easy going to the viaduct at Ribblehead. Here we found ‘The Forth Peak’ – a burger van that did some much needed bacon sarnies. Resisting the urge to call into the pub, we continued with the ascent of Whernside. The summit proved to be somewhat colder and windier that Pen-y-Ghent, and the shelter was very welcome. At this point we were well over half way and there were a few tired legs. A quick rest, some cake and chocolate, and we we’re off again. The group now split into two, as four of us marched away down the steep grassy path and then along the track to reach the second pub on-route, the Hill Inn. We managed to avoid the temptation of a pint by the fire, and continued are way up towards the final peak – Ingleborough. a steep, rocky path lead us up to the ridge and it wasn’t long before we were at the summit. Now I’ve been up there on a nice day and you can see all the way to the west coast and the Lake District, but on that occasion we could barely see the way down it was so misty.
The first part of the descent retraces are steps back down the ridge slightly and we were a little surprised not to see the other group on their way up. We later found out they had called into the pub before climbing Ingleborough. The way down from the top back to Horton is a bloody long way for the end of a 23-mile trek and we were glad when we saw the lights of the village and the station. We completed the route in a respectable 9 hours, and the certainly welcome this time. We even finished just as it was going dark.
It wasn’t long before we were joined by Stevie and Emma who had set off later that everyone else and climbed Whernside and Ingleborough. We ordered food, it arrived, we ate it and drank some more beer and there was still no sign of the other group. Still, they eventually did show up and their 11 hours was well within the required 12 for the challenge, so we were all happy (even if very tired). It turned out that their pub stop had meant they reached the summit of Ingleborough as it was going dark and the route down (which is mainly over limestone) had proved to be fairy tricky.
I’m so glad Dan and I didn’t take up Jaques’ offer of £100 if we did the route again that evening – I think we might still have been plodding round.