Earlier in the year Ali put a post up about the EHH 3 Peaks weekend away . Last year it clashed with Scarborough and Haltenprices 10K’s so unfortunately I didn’t go coz I had entered Scarborough but this year I was determined to be there . Now I don’t often run further than 8 miles and have only “run” over 20 miles once in my life and that was July 2016 when I attempted to run the 3 Peaks. I had previously walked the full route many times before with a fastest time of 8 hours 5 mins . My run time from 16 months ago was 6 hours and 45 mins and that day was dry and sunny , but I had taken the compleatly wrong route up Pen y Ghent . I had decided to going up the “runners” route instead of my normal “walkers” one … Unfortunately I went up neither and just went the long way up , adding about a mile and half to the distance . So this year was determined to not get lost …….
Parking was at a premium at the lodges so car sharing was encouraged . I offered to take “half a Harrier” Alan Smith there coz Debbie needed their car . It was his first time attempting all 3 but he had previously done 2 of them individually . The few days before the weekend was spent collecting supplies which was mainly sweeties with plenty of carbs , plus a last minute sorting out of kit … So you can see were my priorities were.
Alan finishes work early on a Friday so at half 2 on the dot I was outside his house and we was setting off a couple of mins later. The drive there was ok , just the normal PITA of Harrogate and an annoyingly frustrating road work near Blubberhouses , plus my normal lap n half of the roundabout outside Skipton . Approaching Ingleton , it was getting dark and Inglebrough Hill was surrounded in mist . Now my shot gun partner Alan is still in the stone ages and his phone is the one the Slag brothers , Rock and Gravel use so doesn’t have internet or that incredibly helpful tool called Google Maps . So in the fading light we overshot the lodges but we stopped at the petrol station in Ingleton and I had to use my phone to do an internet search . We had gone passed the entrance by a few hundred meters and was soon parked up and unloading the car.
My room was with Alan and Dave Rimmer. Some more from the lodge was off to the chippy so we tagged along . The chippy had a queue outside which is normally a good sign and after a bit of a wait we was filling our faces then re-tracing the route back to the pub for some more liquid carbs. I decided that 2 pints was enough and was happily tucked up in bed before midnight.
Morning greeted us with mist and rain , not looking good . With the cars packed we set off in convoy towards Ribblehead . It was dark n very foggy but luckly I had been down this road a few times so knew just about where I was . Then right turn and into Horton in no time , and I flukily got the last free parking space
… We mainly all gathered outside the car park toilets and had a group photo just before the 8am
Then off we went . I had decided to do the walkers accent up Pen Y Ghent and as 30 odd runners turned left just after the cafe I carried straight on to the grave yard then turned left . So who would get to the top first ? The other Wacky racers or me doing a Dick Dastardly (DD)?
Climbing is steady at first on the road for a kilo or so , then thru a style and on to the grass for 2 n bit K, then as you turn left again to join the Peninne way it gets steep aswell as very windy and misty . Approaching the top I can hear people but not see them . I’m wondering if it’s one of the walking groups and I am last runner there , coz I feel I’ve got to be coz I was so slow . To my amazement there’s only Neil , Andy and Danny there at the trig point . Its took me 41 mins to cover the 2.6 miles.
Others start to arrive , but not the runners I’m expecting to finish with . In these conditions I’m expecting 6 hours 30 at best , these guys should be at least an hour better than that . So I hang about waiting for some others to turn up . But after 7 mins I think , I’ll descend with a faster group and then when I’m blowing let them go and tag on to the next group to catch me up . Going down from the top is great now they’ve paved it . I’ve been on my bum plenty of times before when descending on the wet grass .
I’m at the back of a group with Vinny and the Ant Hill Mob infront are dissapearing into the mist, loads are still ascending and I laugh to myself like Mutley , the plan seemed to have worked some how … Some may call it cheating or taking a short cut … I don t care lol . Now should I risk the old shorter but boggy route or the sensible longer but drier new route , I don’t wanna push my luck and get stuck in a bog so I go the new Whitber Hill way , but wonder if the runners infront or behind will . In this fog there is no way of knowing coz I can only see about 40 metres around me.
We start going back uphill and I’m blowing now and Peter Perfect look alike Vinny and me team up and we walk up the small hills but jog the flats and run the down hills , We overtake a few walkers and they confirm that there are Harriers infront doing this route . It always seems a long drag to Ribblehead but at least I know about where I am . Don’t think Vinny has a clue and he’s staying close to me to avoid getting lost . Eventually the mist clears a bit and we can see a small group of Harriers about 500 metres behind but none infront . I’ve no idea who they are tho , so decide to do a bit less walking n talking and to run again a bit .
Near the farm , just before we get to the road there’s another DD moment where I take my usual “Short Cut” and miss out the 60 metre loop , catching up an unknown runner who had past us a bit earlier . Don’t think he liked it and he ran off again , Mutley laugh number 2 popped into my head . There used to be hundreds of sheep skulls on the dry stone walls here aswell as mad dogs barking , now its just dogs barking . Onto the road and the mile to Ribblehead cross roads . Just before we get there , Lucy, Kirsty and Rob catch us up . Quick drinks bottle top up at Nippy’s car and off we go again (2 hours 21 has passed)
The long drag up Whernside beckons , and we are joined by Janet and Ade , so 7 of us run as a group , till we cross over the railway line and I decide I’m just gunna walk to the top . So 5 of em dissapear again in the mist and Vinny tags along with me . The path is never ending as we loop round the mountain , visabilty is down to 30 ft and it’s just one foot infront of the other … Vinny is like my kids used to be … “Are we there yet” he shouts , “nope just about half way” I reply every time …. But eventually the summit is achieved and Trig point touched .
And after a quick snack and wee , we are on our way towards the bit I hate , the steep decent off Whernside.
Hate is maybe a too strong word , I love it in the dry , but dread it in the wet and of course today it’s wet. I take it very steady and have a couple of “near miss moments” but manage to get to the bottom un-injured . Thru the awkward gate and an other choice …. left towards the Barn cafe and pub or straight on to Chapel le Dale and maybe another DD short cut ? I decide to go left and lament not seeing the old tractor after it got removed a couple of years ago . We walk/run till we hit the road , and some kind soul had left a bottle of water here . I haven’t needed much drink on this bit so decide to leave it for others following.
Up past the Pub and Rob isn’t too far ahead . Right turn over the style and the Ingleborough Hill starts climbing gently . I catch up Rob , exchange a few words , but he doesn’t sound like he wants to talk much so I press on . Then we reach the pavers and wooden walk way , its another head down , thumb up bum time as we continue to climb . We pass the super volunteers repairing the pavers , they don’t look to be enjoying it tho , the weather has turned a bit nasty , mist , strong wind and that awfull drizzle that just sticks to you . Finally I stop and let Vinny catch me up . I say “here we go , we’ve reached the steep bit .”
The wind is howling , and visabily is 15 ft , it’s steep , wet and never ending … I know where we are, and it’s purgatory , Vinny is back to asking “are we there yet?”, I keep saying “not even half way” even when nearly at the top coz we know it’s not really the top . Thru the gate and it starts climbing again , the wind is even stronger , its blowing me off the newly laid pavers , we pass Lucy and Kirsty as they come down , first time I’ve seen them for the last 2 hours or more . Finally its the plateau and its hunt the Trig point . We can’t see a thing but I have a good idea where it is , and we walk in just about a straight line there and then across to the shelter to look at the brass Toposcope. I give Vinny my last Soreen and half of my fruit n nut choc bar and off we go again into the murk . After 100 metres I realise we are going wrong and stop . I try to remember how to set my watch to map , but with frozen fingers and frozen mind it takes me a couple of minutes to work it out , we turn more into the wind and carry on. We see some figures coming towards us and it’s a group with Ali, Kadi, Ann , Gary , Emily and Magda at the back looking miserable . I had been expecting this lot to catch me up going up Whernside .
We descend the first steep bit and take the right fork towards Horton . Its now 5 miles and down hill to the finish and hopefully about an hour to go . When the track improves I speed up a touch from the steady walking I’ve done the last few hours . I m still scoffing my sweets and really glad we’ve got off the top un-harmed in quite tricky conditions , deffo the worst I’ve encountade in my previous 10 times I’ve walked this hill. but I normally am here in the summer .
With just 3 n half miles to go , legs are starting to hurt a bit , but seeing as its 3 times further than I’ve walked or ran in months its no surprise. I hear voices behind and its Kadi and Ali catching us up . Kadi flies by followed closely by Ali , I tag on the back while shouting to Vinny to get his finger out . It’s a lesson in style and balance to follow Kadi as she effortlessly floats across the rocky, muddy and puddley path , I’m just barely in control of my gangly legs as I slip and slide and it’s constant swearing from me . After a couple of K chasing these mountain Gazelles, cramp starts to come on with about 2K to go to the railway station , I have to ease back the pace and the two girls pull away . They are still in sight when I slip then kick a rock , the pain shoots up my leg and into my back and I decide that’s enough trying to pretend to be a runner and I go back to being a walker with a limp .
As we approach the station the mist clears a bit and Vinny catches me up . As I pass my car I collect my dry clothes and head to the Cafe . I stop my watch at 6 hours 46 mins for the 24.5 miles , so about a min slower that last year . But that was better conditions but I ran 1 n half miles further. I wanted 30 mins quicker this year and prob would have if conditions allowed . I was very slow coming down the last 2 hills . Hopefully will go closer to 6 hours on a better day .
Arriving in the cafe there was loads of Harriers there . All had a tale to tell , so it was deffo an adventure for every one . Put on a dry T shirt but legs are too much in pain to attempt to change my wet shorts or take off my boots coz i know i’ll never get them back on again . So wait till I’ve walked back to the car. The drive back to the lodge was ok , I put the heater on full aswell as my music . After a quick meal of pasta and chicken , then a shower , change and off to the main lodge for alcohol and story telling and more food with the rest of the gang . My legs are too knackered to attempt any dancing tho . I’m in bed by half 11 and snoring by 11.35 .
Looking forward to next years event already . Thanks to Ali and Matty and the rest of the EHH Massive on a great weekend.