Horton in Ribblesdale to Hawes
Every weekend a different charity organises their own Three Peaks Challenge in which participants have to climb the three big Yorkshire peaks and return within 12 hours. I had a farmhouse full of them last night and they were up at 4am preparing for the event. The poor farmer’s wife was cooking a full Yorkshire breakfast at 5am and they were all gone by 6am.
I breakfasted at 7.30 because I’m on holiday and enjoyed my usual cereal and toast. It was raining outside and the sky was thunderous so I put all my waterproof gear on and the farmer returned me to the Pennine Way in his big Mercedes AMG car. Strangely, there was no rain all day until I reached Hawes. I sat outside the first pub, ordered a pint of Peroni (£4.95 – I must get a Yorkshire accent) took all my gear off and the rain suddenly lashed down, from nowhere.
But I’m jumping ahead. I hadn’t gone far on the Pennine Way this morning when I saw a steady stream of Three Peaks people already coming down from Pen-y-Ghent. They shared the path for a kilometre before heading off to the next peak and they told me how much fun it is. One man said he did it in 8 hrs 15 minutes when he was 17 and then 8 hrs 21 minutes when he was 32 but now he was hoping for anything close to 9 hours. He sounds a bit of a softie to me: three hours per hill but he was a local man so he couldn’t have been.
It was a relief to see the throng heading away and to leave me once more in the solitude of the high wilderness grasslands. But hang on! Two people seemed to have missed the sign and were following me, perhaps thinking I was on the challenge. I waited to turn them around but, Praise the Lord, they are walking the Pennine Way and they come from London. Oh to hear people talking normally after all these weeks up north. Had it not been for the virus I would have hugged them like Stanley meeting Livingstone.
And what a lovely couple too. They live in trendy East London. Rich works for a fintech, writing apps and Becky works in the very very heart of Government and is being fast tracked to the top. Meetings with Dominic, Briefings for Boris, Coffee with the new man, what a fab job. I entertained them with my own appalling experience in Government before they put me on a COBOL course in 1980 (hello Roger) and then let me loose in the dazzling new world of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. And then I gave them a taste of Top Shop in 1985, where I landed after making my escape from Westminster.
They are walking a faster schedule than me and camping, of course. I said I would normally walk much farther each day than the half days I’m doing but I had been over cautious and fearful that the terrain would be a constraint. They laughed and said the Pennine Way was a stroll and it was only the northerners who put out that myth to discourage too many people from down south spoiling the scenery. These are my sort of walking companions. I shall miss them.
Hawes is the home of Wensleydale cheese, my favourite English cheese. Too bad it’s the weekend because I wanted to see the creamery in action but they only make cheese during the week. I looked around the visitor centre and learnt about how they add the cranberries for the US market. I took some photos for you, cheesy woman, if you’re still here.
One of many caves and pot holes in this area
The 3 Peaks Challenge
Rich & Becky