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4am on a Saturday morning and my alarm booms out breaking the silence - much to the anger of my wife. The house is freezing but I spring out of bed and into the shower as I have to meet my Director in a supermarket carpark in just 45 minutes. Today is the day myself and 7 other colleagues (hopefully) complete the Yorkshire 3 Peaks; 24 miles and the 3 peaks of Pen-Y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough to raise money for our charity partner, Derian House Children’s Hospice.
By this stage, a couple of weeks of collections had passed and we had managed to raise £2,558 for our very worthy cause, so there was no way I was going to bail!
I realise early on that it’s not going to be a great day when a series of calamities occur from the off: I was trying to prepare a hot brew for my flask by warming milk on the hob whilst also attempting to get packed in the next room when a minor milk explosion and a mess in the kitchen occurred. I don’t have time to clean this and leave it for the missus. Upon setting off and arriving at my prearranged meeting point (already late), I realise I have forgotten my walking boots and I am dropped back home to collect them. Whilst rushing the front door key snaps into the front door. The result of which is me waking my pregnant wife and instructing her to get up and phone a locksmith as ‘I’m running late and can’t fix this’.
We arrive in Horton-in-Ribblesdale around 6:20am, the last to arrive after my buffoonery and I am disappointed to find that the team have already been tipped off regarding my mishaps and the banter begins early - it’s going to be a long day! At 6:35am we begin at a rapid pace and within the early yards many realise we have overdressed and begin to strip off layers, with the 20 degree temperature no longer an issue, we make our ascent.
We reach the peak of Pen-Y-Ghent in good time, before stopping for a photo and a spot of breakfast. I feasted on Wine Gums and Water! We settle back to a steady pace as we commence the next leg of our journey, a 12 mile walk to Whernside - this was my happy point of the day as there were very few hills and a I had a bag of Percy Pigs to keep my energy up. We sit for a breather at the base of our next peak where I sample the warm brew from my flask and prepare for the next climb.
As we make the climb, myself and a colleague slip back as a large blister occurs and we make a slower pace on the hills. We reach the snow covered top just as the advanced group finish their lunch; gallantly agreeing to soldier on without a break. We are greeted by the news that the path is being repaired and faced with a treacherous mudslide to the bottom. A colleague slides to the bottom with finesse and is greeted by applause only to fall in the mud as he tries to stand. The rest of us desperately try and fail to keep our footing. We arrive at the base of Ingleborough, where I am delighted to see a wonderful pub, only to have my hopes crushed as I am told we don’t have time to get a pint!
I am permitted to use the toilet and resist the temptation to order a sneaky pint as I pass the bar. We start the climb to the final peak and miraculously, I have my second wind, leading the pack up the hill. We hit a steeper section and I grind to a halt! In my endless need to keep taking a break, the rest of the group have disappeared and I am again left with the same colleague. We slowly make our rise, arriving at the top, just as the rest of the group have given up hope on us and are about to set off back, we run the final few yards, before almost walking off the wrong side to our death! We set off straight away for the final 5 miles back to the car feeling buoyant, but are quickly left behind by the better-rested and significantly fitter advanced group.
The final miles are a low point, jagged rocks make them slow paced and disheartening, before finally arrive back in 11 hours and 20 minutes to a pub where we find the rest of the group already sitting with a beer. I run the final 50 yards much to the amusement of the group and settle down to a lovely local ale! On arriving home, I am relieved to find the locks have been replaced and, to my surprise (and some may say undeservingly after the mess I had left at home), a key has been left for me outside!