The famous Three Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales – Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough – encircle, and form a dramatic backdrop to, the head of Ribblesdale, fascinating and challenging both visitors and locals alike.
The Three Peaks Walk, taking in all three peaks in a tough 12 hour challenge, attracts large numbers keen to test their stamina against the terrain in a battle to achieve a certificate confirming their final success. Even more demanding are the Three Peaks Fell Race and the longer Cyclo-Cross Race.
- Famous peaks circling Ribblehead and Chapel-le-Dale
- Stunning views across The Yorkshire Dales fells and beyond
- Three Peaks walk a demanding 12 hour challenge
- There’s also a Fell Race and Cyclo-Cross race
- Network of caves, potholes and waterfalls to explore
The Three Peaks
The peaks are formed from sandstone and limestone, weathered over the years to create, in the case of Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough, a distinctive stepped look. Part of the Pennines that form the backbone of England, the area combines dramatic limestone landscapes with wild, heather-covered fells, bubbling streams and boggy grassland.
The famous Settle to Carlisle Railway runs past the Peaks and they look down on the engineering wonder of the Ribblehead Viaduct.
Around 250,000 visitors come to enjoy the Three Peaks each year, and this inevitably puts a strain on the natural environment. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has set up the Three Peaks Project in an effort to protect the area and raise awareness about the importance of the peaks. Individuals and organisations can also get involved through the Friends of the Three Peaks scheme which was launched in 2009.
- At 2,277ft (694m) high, it is the lowest of the Three Peaks
- There are three well defined paths, two of which lead to the summit
- One of the routes to the top involves a bit of scrambling over large rocks
- The well known Pennine Way goes across the top
- About 80,000 people each year climb Pen-y-ghent
- From the top you can see the trains on the Carlisle to Settle railway as well as great views of the local hills and fells.
- 2,415 ft high (736m) and the highest of the Three Peaks
- The summit is the highest point in North Yorkshire
- There are two well defined paths to the top.
- Attracts about 50,000 walkers each year
- Fabulous views of the imposing Ribblehead Viaduct
- Offers spectacular views on most days while, on a clear day, you can see as far away as Blackpool Tower (with the aid of binoculars) some 40 miles away.
- At 2,372ft (723m) in height, it is the 2nd highest of the Peaks
- Formed by layers of limestone, shale and sandstone
- There are four paths to walk to the top where an Iron Age fort can still be seen
- Some 120,000 walkers reach the summit each year.
- Has a network of underground caves, some of which can be visited, e.g. Whitescar Caves.
- The views are spectacular and it is claimed that, if the conditions are right, the peak of Manod Mawr in Snowdonia, North Wales – some 103 miles away – can be seen.
The Three Peaks challenges
Three Peaks challenges
Three Peaks Walk
Any of the three peaks can, of course, be climbed individually and there are numerous paths to and from each. However, the Three Peaks challenge is a 24 mile circular walk that takes in all the summits, some 5,000 feet of climbing.
This terrain is demanding; with a combining fell walking, boggy sections, scrambling over rocks, steep paths with the relief of an occasional flat section.
- Wear suitable footwear- walking boots or walking trainers with ankle support
- Check the local weather forecast
- Take a backpack with food, water, some warm clothing and waterproof jacket
- A detailed map of the area, e.g. and Ordnance Survey map, and a compass
It pays to be prepared.
Alternatively, travelling by train is easy as the village is on the Settle to Carlisle railway line with the trains regularly stopping at the local station.
Three Peaks Fell Race
This is a race for serious fell runners. It is run under the UK Athletics, the Fell Runners Association and the Three Peaks competition rules. Competitors are required to carry a compass, whistle, wind and waterproof jacket and trousers, emergency food and a map of the route. Numbers are issued to the competitors and an electronic recording system is used. There are also time-out points along the route.
The route generally follows the Three Peak walk route although it alters slightly each year.
More information: Visit the Three Peaks Race website
Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross Race
The Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross is an annual event organised by Bradford Racing Cycling Club. It takes place in late September and describes itself as the “hardest cyclo-cross race in the world” because of the variety of the terrain crossed, the climbs and weather.
Although the race takes in all three of the peaks it is longer than the walk or fell race at 38 miles and starts in Helwith Bridge, rather than Horton-in-Ribblesdale.
More information: Visit the Three Peaks Cyclo-cross website