Is there an alternative Yorkshire Three Peaks route that avoids boggy ground?

Q. Hi. I took a group on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Walk last July and we found most of the track between Pen-y-ghent and Ribblehead to be very boggy, slowing us down quite a bit.

We're going back this June to repeat the walk and I'm wondering if we'd be better taking a different route to avoid the boggy area. Not sure if we were just unlucky last year to pick a very wet week with lots of standing water or if it's always like that.

Any advice on alternatives if the ground is very wet would be appreciated.

PS - Great to have the downloadable GPS this year - last year it took ages to key them in.

Jim Goddard-Jones, Bristol

A. There are no dates on the above posts so I suspect they were posted a while ago.

As from the beginning of 2013 the boggy bit after Pen-y-ghent is now not part of the 'official' Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. [The new Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge which avoids the boggy bit is described on The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge - The new 2013 Walk - Ed].

I have completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge 27 times and done 1 and 2 together on numerous occasions. Personally I would encourage any one to come up here and enjoy the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. However the 3 Peaks Challenge is the official route at the time (certain bits of it have changed over the past 30 years) in under 12 hours. That now does not include the boggy bit, just as you do not go up the sheer ascent of Whernside but a longer, gentler route which was changed a few years back (unless you run the annual 3 Peaks Fell Race.) If you want to get a badge and say that you have completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge then you need to follow the set guidelines.

If you want to come and walk 1, 2 or all 3 and miss out the sections in between then come and do it and enjoy it - but do not say that you have completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge. The challenge is 24-25 miles, 3 Peaks in under 12 hours. Just like a marathon is 26 miles 385 yards all in one go. You have not completed a marathon if you do 12 miles one day and 14 miles 385 yards another. The challenge is to do the final 6 miles 385 yards when your legs are burning, your energy levels dropping and your mind is in turmoil after doing the first 20 miles. The Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge is no different.

Whatever you do however, stick to the 3 Peaks route as this will leave me to enjoy the rest of the area in peace!

Patrick Turton, Settle

A. i intend to 'do' the three peaks starting with whernside, then ingleborough and finally penygent. i do not drive so i am reliant on the train!! this gives a walking window of between 8 and 10 hours on a weekend and 10 and 12 hours approx on a week day. this totally misses the boggy bit of the route and in my opinion no way detracts from the challenge of the three peaks..!

Rosemary Johnson, Shipley

A. Much as I would want to join this fun and games around how best to enjoy the "Yorkshire 3 Peaks (and the boggy bit too) Challenge walk", I should merely add that taking the route left at Hull Pot (the big hole at the bottom of Pen-y-ghent) is marginally less boggy than that to the right. Additionally, I believe that either route will satisfy the most ardent of rule followers too.

Simon Packham, Keighley

A. Could not agree more. I have just returned from supporting a group doing the Three Peaks Challenge. The group started the walk from the Old School House Bunk Barn at Chapel-le-Dale which was booked for the weekend. Ingleborough was the first hill climbed and Horton In Ribblesdale the first rest stop. I tried to sign everyone on at th Caf'e to register for a badge etc onlt to be told by the not too friendly assistance that the walk had to be atarted and end at the Cafe. He then said that 'some people sign on , go for a drive and sign off' therefor making themselves eligable for the club ? I pointed out that I could do that but wanted to sign the walkers on who were genuinely allready a third the way round the course. This was not allowed !!! So the moral of the story is either start at the Cafe or Cheat altogether and spend the day in the pub just signing on and off. It's a strange world. PS The party completed the walk within the 12 hours best time 8 hours 50. Well done to them all and Please try harder to the Three Peaks Club and the Cafe. PPS Station Inn at Ribblehead very good, good food and beer. Hill Inn at Chapel-le-dale not good, unfriendly and very expensive. Regards Dave M.

Dave Muscroft, Leeds

A. Unfortunately, that particular section of the walk can be boggy - particularly after heavy rain and the passage of many pounding but determined feet. Unfortunately, the boggy area is wide and pretty much unavoidable.

You could follow the Pennine Way from Pen-y-ghent all the way back into Horton in Ribblesdale and out again to rejoin the Yorkshire Three Peaks route further North - but this would add considerable distance to what is already a very long walk.

Besides you and your party wouldn't actually be walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks walk if you take an alternative route - even if the route you took was actually longer.

The only advice I can offer to to try and pick a day after a long dry spell.

Thanks for the feedback on the downloadable GPS co-ordinates - glad you like them.

For the latest route guide for this walk - complete with fully downloadable/uploadable GPS Waypoints - see ny101 The Yorkshire Three Peaks from Horton in Ribblesdale

For more information on the walk itself, our guide to The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge tells you everything you need to know.

Mike (Editor)

A. Why not start your walk at Ribblehead by climbing Whernside first? You can then go on to climb Ingleborough, then back to Horton-in-Ribblesdale, pause for an excellent cup of hot chocolate at the Pen y Ghent cafe before climbing the mountain itself. From the summit follow the Pennine Way route back to the village (see walk ny143 Pen-y-ghent from Horton in Ribblesdale for route details Ed.).

You can then enjoy a well earned fish and chips and a pint in one of the pubs and catch the last train back to Ribblehead.

OK, this would not be the 'traditional' 3 peaks route but it is only a 'walk' and the walk does not have any official status anyway. The route down Pen y Ghent has some good views but once you hit the boggy bit and the roads it is pretty dull, so why not miss it out?

Let's not be all precious about this route. If you manage to climb the 3 peaks then you have done the Yorkshire 3 Peaks. There are no special routes for the real 3 peaks and Wainwright often encouraged people to find their own routes.

Go and enjoy the mountains and don't be bullied by the snobs of the fells.

Chris Fearnehough, Liverpool

A. Why not 'do' the Yorkshire Three Peaks as a two day walk over a weekend? Or the Yorkshire Three Peaks as a three day walk (one peak per day) over three weekends? Or one a month for three months. Or one peak a year for three years. As long as you get out and into the hills - does it really matter?

Mike (Editor)

A. I think Mr Fearnehough's comments above are utterly ridiculous. If it [is] OK to miss out part of the route because 'it is a bit boggy' - why not just miss out one of the peaks? Or two peaks? Why not miss out the whole walk altogether? Why not just stay at home where it warm and comfortable?

Because the whole point of a challenge walk is that it is a challenge. Something that will test your mettle and give you a huge sense of pride and achievement if you succeed.

Look, it is supposed to be difficult. Its a challenge!

Once you have succeeded where others have fallen by the wayside (like Chris I suspect), just imagine what else you could go on and achieve with your life.

As for the route, if your challenge is to walk the traditional route of The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge walk then you can only walk the route designated as the traditional Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge route - and do it within the traditional 12 hours.

If you walk some other, easier route - that's fine. But do not pretend you have done the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge walk - because you haven't. You've simply been for a walk on some footpaths up three mountains that aren't even the three highest in North Yorkshire (Whernside is the highest, Ingleborough is 2nd - but Pen-y-ghent is only 8th!)

And the whole point of the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge is to test yourself. Its about you and the peaks and the miles in between. Every foot, inch and blade of grass. All of them. Nothing else matters.

If you cheat and miss a bit out because it is boring, or too difficult, or too boggy then all you are doing is cheating yourself.

And as for the 'bullying snobs on the fells' comment - words fail me.

Peter Milne, Settle

A. Peter, just relax a little. We are on a message board, so there will be differences of opinion. But to dismiss another posters' comments as 'utterly ridiculous' is quite insulting and kind of backs up the point about snobbery and bullying, don't you think.

My point of view, if I may offer it, is that walking the fells or any other area of the great British countryside should be enjoyed rather than endured. I do understand the concept of a challenge and the sense of achievement that goes with it, but at the end of the day it's about making the most of what nature has to offer.

Damian Bradley, Speke

A. If Mr. Milne sees the fells only as a challenge then that is fine. He is welcome to stand at the bar proudly sporting his 3 peaks tie and blazer badge and bore everyone around him with his best time!

However, I do object to him dissing anyone else's attempts to enjoy the day because they don't match his rules and procedures. If the Yorkshire 3 Peaks are an exercise in fell walking machismo to Mr Milne then so be it.

It is different for everyone and so are the challenges. He should accept this. Also, not everyone has to work to a time limit!

The last time I climbed Ben Nevis, the views from the top were magnificent and we stayed up there for hours. If I was working to a 24 hour schedule then I couldn't afford this luxury. A treadmill could give me the same challenge!

For me, the fells are there to be enjoyed however the individual sees fit. There are no rules. They are wide open spaces. This is the great outdoors. Isn't this what it's all about?

And finally, Mr. Milne, how can anyone cheat on a walk? It's just a walk!

Chris Fearnehough, Liverpool

A. Can't understand what Mr Milne is getting all worked up over?

Mr Fearnehough suggested an alternative route to help an earlier comment by Mr Goddard-Jones but I find Mr Milne's reaction over the top and discourteous.

He appears to have missed the point completely and saw the whole thing as a threat to his personal achievements and is now acting as a virtual bouncer on the door of 'the three peaks club'.

The way I read it, Mr Fearnehough was just encouraging people to go out and enjoy the countryside and not get hung up by traditions.

I think Mike (the editor) supported this by also suggesting alternatives?

As long as you get on the slopes and enjoy it, it doesn't matter which way you go or how long it takes you!

To introduce the word 'cheat' is outrageous!

Jon Potter, Blackburn

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