Yorkshire Three Peaks: Conquered!

After thirty years I finally hiked the Yorkshire Three Peaks again. Last time I did it I was twelve years old. I can remember being pretty worn out back then, and this time I am sunburnt and currently on crutches due to me getting absolutely dreadfully painful, unwalkable blisters as a result. That aside, I feel so great. I also recorded a vlog that I intend to edit and upload to YouTube very shortly.

My friend John and I did the classic route, Pen Y Ghent > Whernside > Ingleborough, only this time the regular Ingleborough ascent was closed. We were diverted and had to complete the most horrendous climb and scramble that I have ever done. I will never forget that for as long as I live (see mile 19 in the Strava data below). Quite where we both summoned up the determination, patience and sheer bull-headed stubbornness to not be beaten by it is beyond me, but we did it nonetheless. Despite the extra distance and my hobbling the final five miles on my poor, blistered feet, we beat the twelve hour time target quite comfortably, and fortunately my Garmin Vivoactive HR watch had just enough battery to record the whole thing.

Data from Strava

Map

Summary

Pace, Heart Rate and Cadence

Splits

Mile Times

A Couple of Lovely Photographs

I guess I need a new challenge!

Pushing for Endurance

Is it possible – or indeed advisable – to run hard in the morning and then hike a mountain in the afternoon? Well, it is definitely possible because I did it today. Whether or not it is a good idea remains to be seen, but I do know that it stretches endurance limits and it definitely felt good to do it.

Running

This morning I broke through the six mile barrier.

This felt pretty good and I was well worn out but not as much as previously. Presumably my body is adapting well to endurance sports. Every time I add a mile or half mile extra it is that last segment in which I find myself longing for the run to be over so mentally I seem to be strengthening also.

After a couple of hours rest I then dragged the kids over Pen Y Ghent in the Yorkshire Dales.

Hiking

This is the opener to the Yorkshire Three Peaks and it is also an absolute sod of a climb, very steep, and you gain altitude very quickly over short distances. There is also a ton of scrambling to do through the protruding limestone which takes a lot of patience, effort and strength.

I have said it before: if you want to work your whole body and get strong quickly then fell and mountain hiking cannot be beaten, particularly if you wish to build stamina too. There is not a single muscle in my body that is not aching and glowing from usage. The beauty of it is that when you climb like this, or scramble, or similar then you not only use your whole body, you also move and rotate your body, joints and muscles on all three axes. I really cannot think of another sport like it. The first few times you do it you will be exhausted because there is nowhere for your muscles to hide from effort. What is remarkable is how quickly the exhaustion recedes and you get used to the exertion. Eventually energy levels slowly improve, as does stamina, and suddenly you realise that you want to do all three of the Peaks in twelve hours, which is the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

Keep pushing, and keep improving.

Lockdown Progress is Still Progress

Last week I pushed up to five miles running, did plenty of (slow) cycling with the kids on the tourer and on Saturday I did a red hot, scorching hike over Whernside.

Yesterday I cycled in the evening with my boy and I have been amazed to see how quickly he is becoming powerful, fast and strong. He will be better than me hopefully! Captured the gorgeous sunset too. Check out the glitter path below.

I also fond a lovely outdoor location to explore, Rivington Pike near Bolton.

I remain on a 16/8 fasting diet which is working hard for me right now. I have literally stopped all refined sugar intake and I recently discovered that barley has a glycemic index of 25 – ridiculously low – so I am using that as a base for my cooking. That along with quinoa and a few other whole grains like buckwheat. I am already, in two weeks, 3.5 pounds lighter. The best part of this is that I do not think I have ever felt so stuffed in my life! I have only ever counted calories once and it was a waste of time. This way I am tracking my weight with a weekly weigh in and just eating good food, and boy is it working. Plus, barley is 55p a bag so my bank balance likes it too.

In my 43 years on Earth I think I might have weighed myself four or five times so I am hardly obsessive, but now that the kids are old enough that I do not have to spend every single minute refereeing their skirmishes or just keeping them alive, I have time to focus on my health much more. This is bringing great results. Having spent over a decade doing whatever exercise I could and eating what I can as best as I could I now relish this second innings of living. Any parent knows that the first ten years of child rearing are nonstop sacrifice, impossible to plan or work around and you spend most of your time exhausted. Now I get to take them out with me and they can be exhausted!

I am very much enjoying trail running. I have never been a fast runner really so I have nothing to prove on that front, but I can endure quite a lot so right now I am focused on off road activities and working out the best planning for nutrition. It seems that fasting of some kind works brilliantly – I even climbed Whernside in a fasted state – and thinking more about food is working. I have been a vegan for years and years but to get the best from myself means that my enemy is sugar. I really cannot believe the magnitude of difference that it makes to my physique if I stop eating it completely. All of the reading I am doing says this, and it all advocates fasting regularly and also straining the body, meaning to push hard in terms of endurance.

I guess that this week the results will prove me right or wrong.

Elterwater, Skelwith Force and Colwith Force: Conquered. Bonus: Lambs Oot!

This was a stunningly beautiful hike today. It was surprisingly strenuous exercise at times considering there are no peaks, fells or mountains on the trail. The scenery was breathtaking in parts, particularly the views of the Langdale Pikes and the two waterfalls along the route. For anyone wanting to wear out young children whilst also having plenty of opportunities to paddle, skim stones or indulge themselves in plain water fights then this is what we Lancastrians would refer to as a bobby dazzler. There are two cool stretches of forest, Elterwater itself, the aforementioned waterfalls and a few pretty bridges that all make for picturesque scenery. Of course, the beauty of the landscape makes for plenty of photographs, so they are below, along with the data from Strava. Click here for the GPX file and/or map for WikiLoc.

Photography

Langdale Tarn
Langdale Tarn
Lambs Oot!
Lambs Oot!
Dried Out Tree
Dried Out Tree
Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes
Skelwith Force
Skelwith Force
Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes
Langdale Tarn
Langdale Tarn

Lingmoor Fell, Right

Park Farm, Panorama
Park Farm, Panorama
Distant Lingmoor Fell
Distant Lingmoor Fell
Elterwater
Elterwater
Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes
Distant Langdale Pikes

Strava Map

Elevation, Cadence, Pace and Heart Rate

Split Times

Beauty of Malham

Yesterday’s ‘hike to tire out the kids during lockdown’ features Malham, one of the most picturesque and beautiful parts of the Yorkshire Dales. Especially the cove and the limestone pavement above:

Malham Cove:

The cove always attracts the dreaded sunny day amateur walkers, with their kids all dressed in white (whose parents give you the death stare when your dog cheerfully trots up to them, says hello and gets mud on their whites, which is obviously going to happen in the Dales), portable barbecues and six packs of lager, and who are just generally loud and mildly irritating. Lockdown clearly caused this to be amplified somewhat. It is still well worth the trip though.

It was a slight disappointment in that the two waterfalls there, Gorsdale Scar and Janet’s Foss were running at a trickle, but hey, we had a mild winter and thus far a gorgeous spring. One must not grumble. Here is a previous shot of Janet’s Foss:

I did get a lovely shot of a heron, however:

I wonder if it is the same one that I saw here. They do look very similar…

Strava

The data from this hike is a complete map but incomplete metrics as I lost 1-1.5 miles by forgetting to unpause my watch recording after stopping. For some reason the auto pause is hit and miss at the moment so I have to do it manually.

Summary

Map

Pace, Elevation, Heart Rate and Cadence

Not that it matters too much to have completely recorded the hike or not, but it is probably the best other of six miles. The map is still complete, I am never going to set any speed records, especially with children in tow, and I take a very dim view of the sort of hiker who bounces over ten fells a day with the spandex and sticks, never once stopping to take a look around. If I climb hard enough to earn the view you can bet I am going to take the time to stare.

Lockdown Lifestyle

So, here we are, a family in a semi rural town with time on our hands. Of course I have been hiking and cycling.

Climbing Ingleborough

Strava Data

Map and Splits

Pace, Heart Rate and Cadence

This was a hard slog for whatever reason, but ultimately rewarding. I am definitely not 100% healthy, my immunity is low and I feel a background malaise but still it was great to get out hiking. Isolation from the rest of the world is the thing I love about hiking the most so it is obviously fine in respect to social distancing. I think we saw perhaps three other people, two at the summit and one on his mountain bike ascending after us.

Cycling

As I previously posted, I bought myself a folding bicycle so naturally the thing to do is buy another bike also, which I did – a tourer hybrid. This means that I can now go cycling off road. It’s no good for mountains or whatever but for towpaths and dirt tracks it’s just fine. The Leeds-Liverpool canal is like an artery running through my town, linking it to almost all of the North West of England so it’s useful to be able to access it, not only for my convenience but also because it is much safer for taking the kids cycling. My daughters love it. The oldest is the cautious, cerebral one and we cycle more or less together. All the while her younger sister – the absolute little shitbag – slams the pedals hard and flies off into the distance. I love her bravery and fearlessness as much as I love her sister’s gentle, caring nature. It’s fascinating how different they can be. Anyway, below are data for a couple of rides. I have done more - you can visit my Strava if you really want to see the lot.

May 12th 2020

Bolton Map

This ride was very strange. Firstly I was testing out my tourer over distance. It’s not only a slow ride compared to what I would have done on my racer, but also because the last eight miles were me cycling slowly, hopelessly lost. For some reason, once I arrived near to my destination my Garmin Edge 1000 took me on an eight mile track which was basically an orbit of my actual intended destination. It was the most bizarre navigation error I have ever experienced.

In terms of features the Edge 1000 is streets ahead of the Edge 800 it replaced, but the navigation performance has been very iffy. The 800 was genuinely a fantastic addition to my gear. Every single destination I used to to reach was in there and I arrived literally at the front door every time. The 1000 has taken me on some exceptionally unusual routes. For example, when I was working in Todmorden it took me over an unbelievably difficult and hilly ride because it was around .25 miles shorter than the much flatter, faster alternative. Obviously the hills added a lot of time to the journey, and I can’t believe that the Garmin algorithm did that. Now it has taken me eight miles around my destination for no reason, and when I was plotting the route originally it struggled to find the address. The 800 always accepted the postcode and took me there. For me the jury is out right now on the 1000. I got it because the 800 has no Bluetooth or WiFi and I used to have to boot my computer and plug it in just to upload routes which drove me batty in the wireless era of technology. Right now I would happily go back rather than have the current issues I am facing. I hope that things improve quickly.

Week in Review & Pushing Forward

Sports

Last week I couldn’t hike as the weather stank. I ran and swam, and when running I hit that feeling when you suddenly start enjoying it. It happened during my previous run that was spuriously recorded as 3.99 miles when it was actually closer to 1.5. This is not the first time my Garmin Vivoactive has done this and my tweeting Garmin about it was ignored. I have remedied the situation, however, by upgrading to a Garmin Vivoactive HR. It arrived in the mail today so hopefully that will be a step forward that solves this. It’s an obviously better watch with or without the heart rate monitor, but more data can only be a good thing so I look forward to seeing my readings on that front.

Swimming

I am pushing this hard as I enjoy swimming enormously. My latest progress is below, including times, interval splits and frankly more data than I am ever going to need, but here it is anyway.

Summary

Interval Splits and More

Pace, Strokes & Swolf

Cycling

Holding at just over 12mph average. That will change with the weather

Running

Positive growth but I am not going to post spurious GPS data. That would be pointless. Suffice to say my new watch should do better.

Nature and Mental Health

Being outside is great for your mental health. The evidence is growing, despite the fact that, to me at least, it seems intuitively so. Some of the best times of my life came. when I was most at peace were in Sweden, and specifically during the winter in Abisko National Park.

Mountains in Abisko. The blue hue was a beautiful optical effect

Natural beauty seems to have a profoundly restorative effect on the mental health and wellness of human beings. To commit to spending a good portion of one’s life outdoors is a transformative habit in which to engage oneself.

Frozen Lake in Abisko
Frozen Lake in Abisko

The whole world has stunning locations that are cheap and easy to reach. Below is Pirin Mountain, Bulgaria, where I hiked up to meet my friend snowboarding from the top. This trip cost me less than £200.

The Forest on Pirin Mountain
The Forest on Pirin Mountain
The Forest on Pirin Mountain

The beauty of the natural world is that it is everywhere, however. There is no need to travel far. One the the great things about living in England is how well preserved our countryside has been down the years.

Janet’s Foss in Malham, Yorkshire
Janet’s Foss in Malham, Yorkshire

In Lancashire where I live natural surroundings are a fifteen minute walk in any direction, the Yorkshire Dales a 45 minute drive away, and Cumbria around 90 minutes. It’s everywhere, all you have to do is look for it.

Double Rainbow by Pen Y Ghent
Double Rainbow by Pen Y Ghent

Hiking is free you know! It is also access to priceless sights and experiences.

Hawdraw Force

The most satisfying part of the hiking experience for me is when I arrive home and the kids and the dog fall asleep almost immediately and then do not stir all night! The last hiking season we did we used to take our hound and she would literally not move for two days after expeditions – such a great feeling. Obviously the whole day spent outdoors is fantastic and the feel good factor of having walked miles or climbed a mountain is great, as is the endorphin hit. It also feels like a day well spent and I can tell you now that no workout in the world that you will ever do can compare to the resistance exercise obtained climbing and scrambling over rocky fells and mountains. God that is seriously hard work, and your muscles will thank you for years.

The View from the Ascent of Ingleborough
The View from the Ascent of Ingleborough
The View from the Descent of Ingleborough
The View from the Descent of Ingleborough
The View From Pen Y Ghent
The View From Pen Y Ghent
The Whernside Viaduct
The Whernside Viaduct

So get outside and see the true beauty of the natural world.