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.

Whernside: Confessions of a Grumpy Nine Year Old

I love the Yorkshire Three Peaks and I try to climb them individually each year, with the added bonus of one day hoping to do the Three peaks Challenge again, this time as an adult with my own children, when they are old enough. Right now there is one major spanner in the works: my youngest daughter. She is an absolute fireball of a child. She has inherited the redhead temperament from me which means that I love her attitude, sass and drive, but good god she can be a real little shitbag.

This last week I climbed Whernside and it was the toughest hike that I can recall ever having done. Aside from the fact that it is the hardest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks, it was scorching hot and my little girl decided that she was going to strop ALL THE WAY. I would not change her for a nanosecond – that fire in her belly is going to serve her well in life as she kicks ass, but I really would rather have just hiked and not had to drag her every step of the climb. Still, we did it and that was great. Details and photos below.

Strava

Lovely Photos

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.

A Dumbass Went Over Ingleborough…

Today’s hike was over Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales and I managed to pause my Apple Watch and forget to restart when we stopped for lunch, so god knows what these figures and the map means. You can safely double the elevation gain, likely the calories too as I missed recording the hardest, most technical part of the mountain to climb, and I think I would probably add around two miles or so.

It was a grand day out nonetheless.

Incidentally, Apple Watch in its current iteration is a quantum leap ahead of the turd I bought in the form of the first generation model. Superb battery life and excellent functionality. I got home after recording this hike and the battery had depleted to 68%. My previous watch used to last three hours recording workouts. This is a huge improvement.