The Perse School

ARC takes on the Three Peaks Challenge

22 Apr 2015

Last weekend, the Perse Adventure Racing Club headed north to complete the infamous Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. All of our students did fantastically well, completing the gruelling 25 mile course in under 10 hours. Year 8 student, Kirill Nezhentsev has written a great account of the weekend.

“The journey began with an early rise, the sun had barely risen and in the pearly grey dawn light of what promised to be a perfect day we were on our way. The walk to Pen-y-Ghent was filled with nervousness, excitement and anticipation. The spring atmosphere seemed to have infected us for we were beginning the ascent in no time. Strange ribbed slabs of rock littered the path as it wound its way through the dew-drenched grass. We could now clearly see the outline of the mountain, its distant summit shrouded in a blanket of wispy clouds. The boulders around us had been pushed up and rumpled like bedclothes and it is through these rocks that we scrambled, now struggling, tired but with a view of a peak, which was no longer so far away. The final push came as we ascended the near vertical cliff face, emerging to see a long waited for summit stone and a view to rival any in Britain.

A quick, jarring descent which took its toll on our ankles but which was thoroughly enjoyed lead on to a long walk to Whernside. We continued with renewed vigour, the flocks of sheep like clotted cream on the green base of the grass. As we passed the Ribblehead Viaduct which had been depicted in the Harry Potter movies it became clear why Whernside is described as the “Roof of Yorkshire”. Standing above the clouds it is unnervingly tall. The climb lasts hours, rising from one crest to another, soon Pen-y-Ghent is but a distant shadow, a hazy outline many miles away. A highlight is the beautiful waterfall, cascading crystal clear water from high above us. Reaching the summit requires a great deal of resilience, stamina, but above all – patience. In no way can emerging onto what you thought was the top of Whernside and discovering that you are only half way up can be called “fun”. Yet the group moved on and, at last, after nearly two hours climbing we reached the long-awaited end of a most gruelling ascent. The storm that had been fast approaching us veered South, the wind seemed to polish the sky and it now shone a clear, tender, blue. Descending Whernside is by many considered the hardest part of the route, it is steep and painful, requiring agility and careful timing, however it is over very quickly and to those who enjoy sliding scrambling down grassy banks it is full of merit.

The final mountain, Ingleborough is but a few kilometres away, it was a pale, creamy emerald, or, in places where the heather grew, a rich chocolatey-mauve. The temperature was perfect; the sun was shimmering, illuminating the steepest ascent of the route, nicknamed by the Three Peaks Club “the Devil’s staircase”.

Several hills forward and you look up to see it in-front of you. On a misty day one could be halfway up and look down to see stairs all the way and look up with similar success. After completing this final part of the ascent one finds himself on a large plateau where the wind is so strong that it is blowing large pebbles off the cliff. Here the group surveyed the beautiful Yorkshire countryside before moving on to the final 9km walk back to the café where the day had begun so many hours ago.

Some say that this walk is the perfect chance to observe the immense magnitude of your journey; these people describe the final few miles as magnificent. Undoubtedly they are right, however it cannot be denied that by the time we were two miles away, full appreciation of our surroundings was replaced by hunger, fatigue and pain.

Finishing the Yorkshire Three Peaks requires both mental and physical strength, like all such demanding challenges there are moments when one thinks he will not do it, when you ask yourself “why was it that I wanted to try this in the first place?”. However, despite its difficulties it is immensely rewarding, when one looks back on the day’s events the hardship is forgotten, but the sense of achievement and pride in oneself remains, it is an experience which very few could forget.”

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