Firstly, thanks to Mark G0VOF for providing the SOTA reflector with a brief and timely report of our walk over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough last Thursday. Much appreciated Mark.
We couldn’t have had a better day for the Yorkshire 3 peaks than we had last Thursday. My friend Geoff and I left Pickering at 5.15am for Horton in Ribblesdale. We took the slightly longer 90 mile route via the A170/A61/A59/A65/B6479 through Settle and were parked in the village layby at SD 811720(free parking) before 7.30am. It is worth mentioning that the public toilets in Horton are open very early in the morning but at that time have not been supplied with toilet paper. We always carry our own!
Horton to Pen-y-ghent NP-010 2.4 miles
To be eligible to join the Yorkshire 3 Peaks club administered by the Pen-y-ghent cafe, the walk needs to be completed in less than 12 hours, so after posting our log card through the door of the cafe we departed at 7.43am for Pen-y-ghent NP-010 less than 2.5 miles away. We were on the summit in less than an hour with my first CQ on 2m FM providing a surprise summit to summit contact with Rob G0HRT/P on NP-029 Sharp Haw. Further contacts with Mike G4BLH, Geoff G4CPA, Mark G0VOF/M on his motorbike, Colin G4UXH, Mike GW0DSP, Roger G4OWG and Allan G4PF were quickly completed. All operators were brief and I was very grateful for that. I was travelling light with just the VX-170 handheld, food and water. I usually carry the G3CWI Rucksack Special vertical which has served me well for five years providing almost 2000 contacts from summits. However with time being short, I decided to go for simplicity - albeit with lesser efficiency and so I used a quarter wave Diamond RH771 whip attached to the radio.
Pen-y-ghent NP-010 to Whernside NP-004 11.5 miles
This next section was the longest at 11.5 miles. Although Whernside is the highest of the 3 Yorkshire Peaks it is the easiest to climb, although it is a long old slog on the path which takes you around the north side of the mountain. Our intention was to follow the gpx track which I had downloaded from the Harold Street website, however in a few places the Yorkshire Dales National Park advises walkers with signage to keep to the main paths and we respected this. As we came down off Pen-y-ghent NP-010 we therefore stuck to the Pennine Way down to Tarn Bar at SD 823743 passing west of Hull Pot to join the path again at Todber Moss SD 824751. This is the boggy section of the walk and in several places on Todber and Black Dubb Moss we had to track around deep bogs. The footpath according to the marks left in places ran to more than 100m wide as walkers had previously tried to find the driest route across leaving their marks in the mud. We emerged at the end of it to rejoin the Pennine Way at SD 810761 unscathed, me having been down to my boot tops at one stage but just escaping with dry feet. The two young ladies we spoke to at the start (Bryony and Jess) must have struggled to get through here in their training shoes! We left the Pennine Way at Nether Lodge and joined the B6479 Gauber Road which took us to Ribblehead. We had not stopped since leaving Pen-y-ghent and were delighted to find the tea van parked at the junction with the B6255. The feisty lady who runs this provided us with a refreshing brew of tea and after a bite to eat we were off towards the viaduct with Whernside in our sights.
Approaching the top of Whernside I heard Colin 2E0XSD calling CQ from the Wainwright Summit of Brandreth - brilliant - a new one for me. We had a chat and that led me into the activation zone. I also worked Liz M6EPW on Brandreth for our first ever contact. Liz is newly licenced and came into ham radio mainly because she enjoys fell walking and operating from summits. The summit was busy but there is plenty of room. There must have been around 20 people behind the wall having their packed lunches. I took over the frequency from Colin (thanks Colin) and made quick contacts with Rob G0HRT/P S2S who had now arrived on Cracoe Fell NP-032, Colin G4UXH, Mark G0VOF/M, (who filmed the entire operation for youtube from his motorbike near Blackburn - thank’s Mark:)
Rob G4RQJ, Peter M6ANX and Mike GW0DSP. This was our lunch time stop as well so we stayed a little longer and enjoyed the sunshine.
Whernside NP-004 to Ingleborough NP-005 5.2 miles
The path off Whernside to Bruntscar has been much improved since I was last here in 2008. The steep section off the summit was becoming seriously eroded and dangerous so 100s of tons of rocks and gravel have now been put down with the path being stepped out in places. It’s less easy on the knees but safer. We were soon passing the Hill Inn on the B6255 Ingleton Road taking the footpath through the wall straight after the Hill Inn at SD 743430 77660. This is not marked as a path on my 2005 1:25000 map. We crossed the Ingleborough Nature Reserve and the enormous pot hole of Braithwaite Wife Cave at SD 743762. I had never been this way before and the size of this hole amazed me. Ingleborough from this side is a formidable climb and I was feeling it, however we reached the summit of NP-005 80 minutes after leaving the B road. Fewer contacts were made from here. With Mike G4BLH, Mark G0VOF/P, Mike GW0DSP, Roger G4OWG, Nigel 2E0NHM (Welcome back to SOTA!) and Brian G4ZRP being logged.
Ingleborough NP-005 to Horton 4.8 miles
With all 3 summits activated it was now just a matter of getting back to the Pen-y-ghent cafe. We knew it closed at 5.30pm however there is an arrangement where it is possible to obtain a logged in time when you arrive if they are already closed. The route back is straightforward once you are off the top of Ingleborough. You go via Sulber Nick avoiding the path turning off to Clapham but at this point we hit a problem. My friend Geoff jarred his left knee badly and we suspected a torn tendon. A brief rest, some Ibuprofen, Paracetamol and the use of a second walking pole and a slower pace meant he was able to continue and by the time we reached the Pen-y-ghent cafe at exactly 5.30pm in time to get a cup of tea. By then the pain had eased thanks to the tablets. We had completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks in well under the time allowed and were very happy!
Distance walked: 24.1 miles
Ascent: 5225 ft
Time spent walking: 8 hours 42 minutes
Time stopped: 1 hour 7 minutes
Average walking speed: 2.8 mph
Overall average speed: 2.5 mph
Number of SOTA contacts made: 22 (NP-010 8 NP-004 8 NP-005 6)
Breakdown of Times:
Cafe to Pen-y-ghent = 57 minutes
NP-010 activation = 11 minutes
Pen-y-ghent to Whernside = 4 hours (12 minute rest stop at Ribblehead for tea)
NP-004 activation /lunch = 22 minutes
Whernside to Ingleborough = 2 hours 14 minutes
NP-005 activation = 13 minutes
Ingleborough to Horton Cafe = 1 hour 49 minutes
Although Karen 2E0XYL was working and we did not make a contact thank you Karen for informing me that the cafe was closed on Tuesdays, which was the day we originally intended to walk. If we had we could not have authenticated the challenge. Thursday was also far better weather wise, it was perfect for walking with good visibility. Thanks to Roy G4SSH and Mike G4BLH also for support with DAS and spotting and anyone else who spotted me. Lastly to the chasers for their brevity in the exchange of signal reports. Thank you to all for their best wishes.
73 Phil G4OBK