Last weekend I was down in the Yorkshire Dales for the weekend with a group of friends. We'd rented a house in Horton-in-Ribblesdale for the weekend and some of us planned on running the classic Yorkshire Three Peaks walking route, and some of us had a 40 mile mountain biking route planned. I was doing the run - a route which I have wanted to do for a number of years.
We all met up on Friday evening and went to the Crown (a few minutes walk from the house) for a final bit of carbo loading. We were all very sensible so by half nine on Saturday morning were ready to set off on our grand day out. From Horton, the 5 runners set off up Pen-y-ghent and reached the top in 40 minutes. It was a nice climb up, enough to get the blood flowing but nothing too strenuous, and a good steep rock section near the top. We were in the cloud on top so no excuse to stop and look at views - soon enough we were off down the Pennine Way and on our way across bogs and farmland towards Whernside, the second of the three peaks.
Whernside looked a long, long way away from Pen-y-ghent (it's the big flat hill in the distance in the photo above), but the running was nice so we ambled along at an easy pace chatting away and admiring the sheep. After about 8 miles we joined a road which led us along to the Ribblehead viaduct, a very impressive bit of engineering. All along the route so far we had been passing walkers doing the same route as us - I was glad to have lightweight running shoes and clothes on rather than the heavy kit most of them were carrying. I suppose it would have been nice to have a flask of tea though.
We climbed up from Ribblehead onto Whernside, where the path got really busy. The walkers we met were really friendly and courteous - they would move off the path to let us past and more often than not had a word or two of encouragement for us. It was almost like having supporters at a race. Atop Whernside it was really windy and we didn't hang around to get cold, and the run down the front of Whernside into the valley was good fun. We'd stuck together as a group of five to this point but decided to split up into two groups to suit our natural paces over the last peak. The climb up onto Ingelborough just got steeper and steeper, but the path was good and the scenery wonderful which kept our minds off our tired legs. Another of our friends was waiting for us at the summit - he didn't fancy the whole run so met us at the summit of Ingelborough for the five mile run back to Horton.
The run down from Ingelborough to Horton was five miles of fairly good paths, a bit rocky over the last couple of miles as we crossed over some limestone pavement. We got back to the house at Horton five hours after we had left in the morning - the run had been 24 miles with about 1,500m of ascent and descent. Then we spent the afternoon eating and resting, before making our way along to the Crown to have a few pints of Old Peculiar, Black Sheep and Monumental (all excellent), some Steak and Mushroom, and Game, pies (also excellent), and very generous helpings of sticky toffee pudding (very excellent).
It was a great weekend and great to spend the day with good friends running a brilliant route. On Sunday morning a few of us had a quick run up Pen-y-ghent (probably my favourite of the three peaks), and a wee mountain bike ride (I fell off into the mud). Then my legs hurt and I haven't run for the last four days because of man flu.