On Saturday 14th July a team from Gepp Solicitors undertook the Yorkshire 3-Peaks Challenge to raise money for Columbus School and College in Chelmsford, Essex. They help children and young people aged from 3-19 with profound and multiple learning difficulties, many with extreme physical disabilities. The Yorkshire 3-Peaks route is 24.5 miles (38.6km), and includes 1585m (5200ft) of ascent and the target is to complete it in less than 12 hours.
The weather was hot (about 24°C in the windless valleys) and the sun beat down relentlessly throughout the day. We started the walk at 7:30 AM and it was already t-shirt weather as we left the village of Horton in Ribblesdale. Our first hill was Ingleborough (723m) which had a long slow ascent for much of the climb followed by a really quite demanding final ascent. This took its toll on our novice walkers and the relentless sun started doing its worst; we were drinking water at a greater than normal rate just to keep up with the amount we were sweating. But we all made it to the top and then looked across the valley to the next hill, Whernside (736m). There was a checkpoint at the bottom of the valley where we could replenish our water and anyone who felt unwell or were injured were able to jump on a minibus and return to the start. Sadly, one of our team retired due to illness and the rest set off to tackle the highest hill in the challenge. Part of the way up the pace that we needed to set in order to get around the course in 12 hours became too much for a second team member who retired and returned to the minibus.
The second peak was a long climb with the middle section being really very steep before a gradual final climb to the top of the hill. The views from there were amazing; below us to the South East was the Ribblehead Viaduct which has appeared in countless films, and around us stretched miles of sun scorched moorland as far as the eye could see. This hill took its toll on a third member of the team who suffered from heatstroke, who made the wise decision to retire at the second checkpoint in the valley just past the viaduct.
The final section of the challenge saw a very long approach 7 km march in the sheltered Ribble Valley followed by the ascent of Pen-y-Ghent (694m). The long walk, in what turned out to be the hottest time of the day, was energy sapping and saw the consumption of water and energy bars shoot higher still. Thankfully the remaining 4 members of the team all made it to the top (albeit in 2 different paced groups) and they then made it back down to the challenge start point within the 12 hours. Three of the team made it in 11 hours 30 and the last made it in 11 hours 55!
We all met up later that evening in the pub, tired but pleased with what we had all achieved. Everyone learned a bit more about what they can do when asked to step-up to a challenge, overcoming illness, exhaustion and the weather to participate in a really demanding endeavour.
So far we have raised £700.00 + £115.00 Gift Aid and the Partners of the firm have kindly agreed to match our initial target of £300 so we have raised over £1,000.00 for Columbus School. We celebrated on Saturday evening with a drink or two - obviously just to rehydrate! Thank you to everyone that has sponsored us - we felt like we pushed ourselves for a really worthwhile cause. Roll -on next year.