• Graham

As any fule kno Yorkshire has three peaks. They are Pen y Ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside and they are universally known as THE THREE PEAKS without any further geographical reference. Such, in fact, is their magnetic attraction that there is a constant demand for pieces of cloth inscribed - I Climbed The Three Peaks - to be sewn on rucksacks and bobble hats alike. There is no doubt that part of this popularity is they combine to make an ideal route for a sponsored walk and because such walks are as often as not a case of follow-my-leader, this particular circuit gets more than its fair share of wear and tear. Although they are not unique in this regard (there has recently been an appeal to free Scafell Pike from the ravages of the charitably minded) there is a danger that the ground will become so degraded that it reduces what should be a pleasant walk into a rock-strewn stumble.

It is therefore incumbent on hill-walkers to spread the load and discover the less visited parts of the countryside. As an example, there are the three peaks of yorkshire (Mark 2) which consist of Aye Gill Pike, Calf Top and Great Coum. This group of hills is easy of access being near the M6 where, hidden in plain sight, they are often sped past without a second thought. As with their more notorious counterparts, they can each be climbed individually but, as before, it is also possible to include all three in a round starting and finishing at Dent. Although there is less total ascent and descent this excursion is rather more demanding than its easterly counterpart. The ups and downs are frequently steeper and paths are less evident.

If you should decide to do all three in one go, the better way is anti-clockwise, starting with Aye Gill Pike before making your way to the rollercoaster of Calf Top and Great Coum. On your way you will be straying into territory that hosts the oldest continuously held athletic event in Great Britain (and therefore probably the world). The Wilson Run, a cross-country event started as a paper-chase in 1881 but after the local farmers complained their livestock were being poisoned by the print ink, a proper course was set out and named The Ten Mile Steeplechase. In 1913 it was renamed in honour of the housemaster Bernard Wilson who had not only instigated the event but had also done much to improve the School’s floundering fortunes. The boys of the school compete annually in this event and such is its fame that, over the years, it has attracted the attention of both Pathé News and the betting fraternity.

Climbing up and over Calf Top and Great Coum means you enter the lesser visited Barbon and Kingsdale. The head of the latter is particularly isolated and is often cut off in the winter snows. Not for nothing is it known locally as Little Switzerland. But this combination is by no means the only way to get off the beaten track. The area of land between the Howgills and the Settle/Carlisle railway line, for example, is worthy of closer inspection. Mind you, it is not for the gregarious. In all the times I have been up there, I have only met one man and his proverbial dog.


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