Ten Tips For The Yorkshire 3 Peaks by Dave Sarkar
- Light is Right. Go through your rucksack with a fine tooth comb. Do you really need it all? Remember there are food stops at Ribblehead (all year), at the farm shop at Philpin (SD7425 7787) and The Hill Inn (SD7434 7763) so you don’t need to take 10hrs worth of food and water. You can stash water and extra food at Ribblehead viaduct and the pumping station at SD7453 7772, leave 1.5 litres of water at each stop. Drink half a litre there and carry the rest. Make sure all your kit is as light as you can afford.
- Wear trainers and carry spare socks. The whole walk can be done in trainers and at the end of the day you’ll be glad of it. At the very least stash a pair of trainers at the pumping station for the last leg. I have never done the walk in walking boots. My footwear choice is a pair of Scarpa Apex GTX trainers, 2 x walking socks, 1 x Seal Skinz socks (worn on first section over Horton Moor which is always always wet). I have never had a blister with this combination.
- It’s very tempting to take the right hand fork after you have dropped off Pen-y-Ghent. This is often very wet and boggy and will slow you down. There is a large stream and big boggy area to cross. Better to follow the race route, much drier and faster. Drop down the good path towards Hull Pot, continue over the small hillock and pick up a faint path heading rightwards.
- It’s a very long section over Horton Moor, Middle Pasture to Nether Lodge, but get psyched its good ground and you can cover it fast. Be motivated by the fact that there will be food and drink at Ribblehead.
- Do the route in September, the ground is often dry and you’ll lose the crowds. The busy times are June, July and August. I’ve been snowed on ascending Whernside in May and had clients with severe sunburn in June/July. September is usually a beautiful month in The Dales and I remember completing the walk in September 2009 and seeing only one other party. I’ve lead school groups around in June and it’s often completely rammed.
- Use walking poles. I can’t emphasise the importance of these highly underrated tools. Even if you don’t use them most of the day, you’ll be glad of them at the end. I use Black Diamond Alpine CF poles – awesome!
- Sort your food out. I’ve tried lots of different food options. I’m often trying to get a sub 7 hour time; this leaves me with very few stops so I eat on the move. My favourites are Powerbars; I can stash these in all sorts of pockets, they don’t melt and can be digested easily. They are expensive though and I have to remember, I may go hungry but I won’t starve and I can always look forward to Fish and Chips in Settle at the end of the day. My drink choice is Nuun tablets. I can carry them and add them to water when I want some flavouring; they stay down too! I remember drinking the orange quash at Philpin only to bring it all up again, climbing Ingleborough. Gels? Yuk!
- Keep a good time. The record for the race is just under 2hrs 30mins!! Now I’m not suggesting trying to keep that but I’ve lead school around and only just made the 12hrs. I believe that sub 7hrs is a good time for most fit people. That means you’ll be dressing and carry appropriately, have a good mindset and be running some of it. You should be able to walk it in 8 hours. Here is a map of the route.
- Carry first aid, but don’t go mad. I’ve seen some monstrous First Aid kits in all the years I’ve been walking the 3 Peaks. Remember the area is very populated and you are never hugely far from a road. You can get a good quality signal from most of the route, so an MRT is never that far away, most areas can also be served by helicopter. It never fails to astonish me that hikers and climbers in the UK are too embarrassed to call for rescue and will try to ‘sort it out themselves’. If you’ve had a genuine accident, don’t hesitate. Always carry an emergency shelter. So, my 1st Aid kit consists of some blister plasters, a 6” bandage and a tube of Volterol Gel. Do go on a specialised 1st Aid course, better to have a good knowledge of first aid and a small kit, than a huge kit and no knowledge of what to do. Remember – knowledge is ultra lightweight!!
- Enjoy your day, sometimes you’ll be asking yourself why you signed up. But it’s a very beautiful part of Yorkshire, so take some time to soak it all in and remember to take your camera. If you are very lucky and in the right place at the right time the orchids can be stunning. Enjoy!
3 Peaks Essential Kit List
Clothing: Trainers, 3 x socks, running leggings, Falke men’s briefs, Montane bionic t-shirt, cycling arm warmers, Arc’teryx Atom Jacket. Haglofs LIM Ultimate Jacket (dodgy forecast), Montane Speed Lite (good forecast), Rab Off Limits pants (dodgy forecast), powerstretch gloves, baseball cap, shades, 2 x buff.
Rucksack: Osprey Talon 22, this is still too big but a good, well featured pack.
Equipment: BMC Mountain Map -Yorkshire Dales covers the whole route in excellent detail and is ultra-light and waterproof, compass (Silva Expedition 4), Petzl E-Light (summer), Petzl Tikka XP² (early spring/autumn), Black Diamond Alpine CF poles, lip salve, sun cream (tiny amount squeezed into a plastic bag), Suunto Vector watch, mobile phone. £30 cash (in case you need to call a taxi from the Hill Inn).
Food: 6 x Powerbars and a 1 litre of water. I’ve either got support or I’ve stashed water. Eat a bag of ready Salted crisps at Philpin. I’ll be hungry but I won’t starve. I’ll have a sandwich and brew back at the car.
Great Fish and Chips at the Fisherman’s in Settle; go on you’ve earned it!
Quality accommodation in Settle at Settle Lodge.