3 Peaks of Yorkshire, activation report

With a good weather forecast and the last day on the winter bonus, it seemed like at good idea to play radio on some hills and judging by the alerts appearing I wasn’t the only one with that idea.

My poison of choice was the Yorkshire 3 peaks, I’d had it in mind to have a go at this for a while, in fact I’d nearly attempted it last October, when some mates did so, only I already had a booking that weekend to go play in the Scottish Borders.

I knew John G4YSS had already completed this and I wouldn’t bet against a few others having done it too. Johns report was really useful, particularly to give me an idea of timings for the various legs.

Anyway set the alarm for 0500 (0500!! but it’s a weekend!!) not in the same league as G4YSS & G4OIG but early enough. Made myself a bowl of porridge before setting off, in fact I made extra to take a bit with me.

An uneventful journey to Horton in Ribblesdale to the sounds of Sharlene Spiteri for those who take an interest. Kitted up whilst eating my extra porridge (with blueberries, ‘cos they contain antioxidants so they’re good for you)

Left the car at 0715 to make the direct ascent of Pen-y-ghent to meet the main ridge south of the summit. I passed a group of students who I was to repeatedly see during the day as they followed a similar route to myself, I’d pass them on ascents then they’d pass me whilst I was playing radio. Reached the summit at 0818 so I was a little bit early, I wandered a bit away from the trig and set up against the drystone wall that runs over the summit. Some glorious views and plenty of sunshine on offer. I set the beam up for horizontal polarization and started on 144-ssb, I immeadiately found Paul GW4MD/P on NW-047 for the first summit to summit, I had hoped to catch Paul on some later summits but he was too fast and I was too slow. I then went to put my own call out….nothing….oh, high swr…whys that?..oh the clip’s disconnected itself from the element on the beam. With the clip reconnected I found Richard GW4ERP/P on MW-010 for s2s number 2. Mike GW0DSP asked me to go up to 144.330 which I did, leading to a further 5 contacts ending with Don, G0RQL in North Devon. 2m FM brought another 9 stations. I’d picked up a “partially” charged slab and it finally gave up during QSO with M3VYD, apologies for the delay whilst I quickly found the handheld to finish the QSO. Fortunately I’d brought another slab, phew! Packed up and was on the way at 0908.

The next leg was the longest and Whernside looked a long way away, it was also the stretch I’d never set eyes on before. It’s a bit boggy in places this stretch, thank goodness for gore-tex. Although I did mange one step into bog over my shoes, the gaiters and quick retraction of said foot ensured it stayed mostly dry. It’s a long leg but the sight of the Ribblehead viaduct is a welcome one although the albeit short stretch of tarmac wasn’t so welcome. I had a break sat under the Ribblehead viaduct for lunch of Jamaican gingerbread (it sounds better it you say it with a Jamaican accent!)
I don’t usually bother with my walking poles now unless I’m doing some long walk-in in Scotland or carrying an exped rucksack but I’d stuck them on the rucksack as a late addition and pulling them off the bag I was pleased to have them today. Made my way up to the summit, arriving at 1257. For some reason I really felt this ascent so was pleased reach the summit and have a break to play radio.

It was a bit breezier now but at least the wall could be used as shelter rather than the wind blowing along the wall. Just as I was setting up, a chap introduced himself as G6CGI (or something like that, sorry I’m rubbish at remembering callsigns) although he hasn’t been tempted to drag his kit up a hill yet. Anyway 8 contacts on 2m FM including a s2s with Rick M0RCP/P on Inglebrough, I could have waved if there hadn’t been a cloud in the way. A further 5 on 2m SSB with David, G2BOF in South London being the best in terms of distance and a s2s with Rob, G4RQJ on Pike of Blisco.

Packed up again and left the summit at 1342 following the wide track all the way down past the Hill Inn. The stepped approach to Ingleborough leads to one very steep section – although the path is good. At the base of this section saw two chaps who’d asked me what I was up to on Whernside, unfortunately I was in the middle of the QSO with M0RCP and they hadn’t hung around so at least I was now able to explain my antics to them.

Reached the summit of Ingleborough at 1552. The wind was really picking up now and the summit was fairly quiet and covered in cloud, with the few visitors quickly moving on. As I’d been ascending I’d been listening to G0EWN on NP-030 work his way through a sizeable pile-up, fully intending to make the s2s I continued to listen as I set up, then all of a sudden I realised he’d gone, doh, sorry! 9 QSO’s, 7 on 2m FM and 2 on ssb, I left the summit at 1643, after having a chat with and taking a summit photo for a chap who was just out walking his dog and planned to do the 3 peaks later in the year.

It can be a bit tricky getting off the summit of Ingleborough in the cloud, and I knew there are 3 major paths leading off the western end of the plateau all in different directions, I’d just stopped to consult the map when a brief parting of the clouds allowed me to see my decent route clearly, bingo!

A quiet descent back to Horton, although I was amused by the notice saying that cows “can act defensively when confronted by large groups of walkers”, the cows I’ve met have the potential to act offensively, ie they charge after me!! Arrived back at the car at 1820. Pink Floyd & Elbow for the journey home although not at the same time!

Many thanks to all the stations worked, especially to G4BLH, G1OHH and G4USW who worked me from all 3 summits, it was nice to have a bit of company all the way round.

I haven’t got any nice mapping software yet, I really must get my finger out there, but according to the interweb, that’s 37km and 1627m of ascent or 23 miles & 5337ft in old money, phew, little wounder I slept well. The interweb also tells me that the record for this is 2hrs 51min 49sec, the marathon world record is only 2hrs 4min for 26 miles!!!

Iain, M3WJZ

In reply to M3WJZ:

I saved this for a read today Iain and what a read it was - truly excellent. What an achievement as well and you’re a brave man to be taking any account of John YSS’s times up and down mountains. Sounds very much like you would make a suitable joint activation partner for him! Makes me feel tired just thinking about it.

73, Gerald

In reply to M3WJZ:
Hello Iain,

Just a line to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your report both for its layout but far more its content. I’m really pleased that I was able to help with your planning by means of that old report.

You put in a very sprightly time, I see. (8hr-39 walk time; 2hr-26 summit time; total 11hr-5). Goodness knows how you managed it after the mention of not one but two SLABS, walking poles and horror of horrors; a beam aerial! That backpack must have been rubbing your shoulders a bit after 23 miles! It wasn’t that cool a day either. You even mention shoes? By that I hope you mean boots.

My attack on it was the lightest possible. I only took a handheld and vertical half-wave. I think you did it the harder way round too. As you say that Peny - Whernside section is pretty dreadful and very boggy too. I bet we both landed in the same one. I remember getting wet feet at one stage.

Well, you brought back many happy memories of the days when SOTA was simple. Thanks for taking the trouble to write it down and very well done for getting round!

I don’t know how on earth you managed to find that old report or even how you knew to even look for it; I haven’t found it myself yet!

Brilliant stuff and I’m right with you on Pink Floyd!

73, John.

PS: I think if I’d been faced with a flat SLAB on the first one, it would have ended up disguised as ‘Just Another Brick in the Wall.’ (Pen-y-Ghent’s, that is) but I bet you carried it another 22 miles!

Indeed John, I too noticed the mention of SLABs (plural) and read on in awe.

I would like to try this circuit with Jimmy sometime, but I wouldn’t be taking a SLAB or even an 817. I probably wouldn’t even take the half-wave antenna. Jimmy made loads of contacts using HH and RD on a midweek activation of Whernside recently.

Yes, I would keep it mega-lightweight as far as radio kit goes. However, walking poles would be a must. I always use mine though, even on flat sections. You will never see our walking poles fastened to rucksacks adding to the weight.

Is that you in hibernation until December now John?

Great report Iain, you’ve made me want to attempt the route.


In reply to M1EYP:
Hi Tom (and all)

What a quick time and an interesting useful report from Iain. If I can spend 10 hours walking and up to two hours making QSOs and eating/drinking I will be happy.

I hope to do the same round as Iain myself in the spring with a small group of 3-4 guys. I will be the only Ham. We will be clocking in and out at the Pen-y-ghent cafe. I reckon on taking a VX-170 handheld and a half wave rucksack special myself, and no extra batteries. I will spend less time on the tops than Iain did or I won’t qualify for the Yorkshire 3 peaks club which is the main reason for us doing it! Here’s looking forward to (hopefully) an enjoyable but knackering day!

73 Phil

In reply:

Pleased folks found my scribblings interesting. If the info is of use that’s even better.

As Andy 'FMF says “google is your friend”

is John’s report from the days before the reflector, I’ve actually found a few useful sota related sites from “googling” summits, Phil’s report from Gisborough Moor, TW-003 was another one.

They’re only 1.2Ah SLABs I was carrying, not the larger ones that many activators use.

My shoes/boots, well they’re what gear manufacturers call “multi activity shoes”, for want of a better description they’re gore-tex running shoes with an aggessive tread. I could write a whole thread on the pros/cons of these, but in the main advantage is that they’re lighter than boots, no you don’t get the ankle support but I’ve got used to that, after all those fell runners wear even lighter runners.

I did ponder which was the best way round to do this as I was wandering round and even whether there was a better starting point, although if you want to get your card stamped at the PyG cafe you’re “a bit” limited. My only thoughts were that from Horton, anticlockwise (as I did it) means you get the longer, boggy leg over earlier, whilst you are still relatively fresh, for me the bogs meant it was difficult to get into any kind of rythmn walking but leaves more ascent till later.
Doing it clockwise means you get more of the climbing done earlier but leaves that boggy stretch between Whernside & Pen-y-gent till later when you are tired.
I didn’t really reach any decision, depends what you fancy I guess.

Lightweight has much more going for it for sure, I was the only eedjit that I saw carrying anything more than a 25l pack!!

It’s under 12hrs for the complete round to qualify for the 3 peaks club isn’t it. Although you might think that the time spent on the summit playing radio is eating into your walking time I actually found it beneficial in that it gave my legs a break from walking and I felt a bit better after the break rather than just walking all the time. I guess it’s just getting the balance.


Is the cafe open for as long as 12 hours in a day?


In reply to M1EYP:

So long as you leave(clock out) by 0930 in the morning, not tues or fridays.

Check out


In reply to M3WJZ:

My shoes/boots, well they’re what gear manufacturers call “multi
activity shoes”, for want of a better description they’re
gore-tex running shoes with an aggessive tread. I could write a whole
thread on the pros/cons of these, but in the main advantage is that
they’re lighter than boots, no you don’t get the ankle support but
I’ve got used to that, after all those fell runners wear even lighter

I have a pair of Merrell trainers, GoreTex lined and with a Vibram sole. They’re the only pair of trainers I’ve ever had to break in! The GoreTex does make them a bit warm but they do work really well. Completely waterproof. It’s a weird feeling at first, you can tramp across grotty ground and you don’t end up soggy and you have grip. But the lack of ankle support is disconcerting.

The biggest downside is the price, they cost more than my Berghaus GoreTex boots did! They do promote instant activity. I was driving back from Linlithgow the other day past Cockleroy Hill. I was able to stop, and nip up for 10mins quick exercise and admire the view. The ground was muddy and slippy and ordinary shoes/trainers would have been useless. There and back without a slip and still nice and dry. I’m not sure about a long walk without ankle support though.