The new route would see walkers ascend Ingleborough via Crina Bottom. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The new route would see walkers ascend Ingleborough via Crina Bottom. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A group of businesses in the Yorkshire Dales is appealing to walkers to adopt a different route for the area’s Three Peaks Challenge.

The group wants walkers to consider starting and ending their venture in the village of Ingleton, which is not on the current route.

Most participants in the circular walk, which involves summiting Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, begin and finish at Horton in Ribblesdale, which has led to complaints from residents that the village is being overwhelmed by the number of challenge walkers, particularly during summer weekends.

The new route from Ingleton would add about 9km (6 miles) to the traditional Three Peaks Challenge course, and would also involve about 140m of extra ascent. It would take in Ingleborough first before heading through Horton, with Pen-y-ghent and Whernside tackled subsequently.

The current route involves about 38km (24 miles) of walking and about 1,500m of ascent with a target of completing the walk in 12 hours or less. The Cave Rescue Organisation, the team in whose area the Three Peaks lie, is regularly called out to bring to safety walkers who get lost when they run out of daylight attempting the challenge.

Ingleton Area Business Group said: “The Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge originally began and ended at Chapel-le-Dale.

“The start and end moved to Horton in Ribblesdale in 1968 when savvy cafe owners offered a clocking-in and out service. Over recent years due to an increase in the number of walkers Horton in Ribblesdale has become inundated and is struggling to cope with the number of visitors.

“Over the last 18 months Ingleton’s Overground Underground Festival has entered into talks with Horton Parish Council, residents, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Ingleton Parish Council, Ingleton Area Business Group and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust to find a way around the problem.

“It was decided to launch Ingleton’s Three Peaks and promote Ingleton as the place to start and finish the challenge. This has been part-funded through Stories in Stone, a four-year programme of community and heritage projects developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, which is led by Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

Debbie Boswell, YDMT’s Discover Ingleborough officer said: “It’s a great idea to promote an alternative start and finish to the very popular Three Peaks route.

“Stories in Stone aims to improve the Ingleborough area for residents and visitors, and hopefully this initiative will do just that.”

The business group said Ingleton is the perfect place to support individuals and small groups wanting to complete the Three Peaks Challenge. It pointed out the village has plenty of accommodation and parking and the village has a good range of shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
There are also outdoor and indoor attractions nearby, it added.

 Horton in Ribblesdale, in the shadow of Pen-y-ghent. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Horton in Ribblesdale, in the shadow of Pen-y-ghent. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

A group spokesperson said: “We really hope people will consider planning their route from here to alleviate the enormous pressure on Horton in Ribblesdale and reduce the amount of traffic on the roads as people travel to and from Horton.

“We are also working on promoting one- and two-peak walks from the village for those who need either Three Peaks training opportunities or simply for those who wish to enjoy the Three Peaks in a more leisurely way.”

Allan Shutt landlord of the Station Inn at Ribblehead, which is on the Three Peaks route, has touted moving the start to the area. He said a disused quarry could be used for parking and urged the national park authority to build a toilet block at the site.

The national park authority said it will discuss the problems caused by Three Peaks walkers next month.

The authority’s chairman Carl Lis said: “We are working closely with the local community in and around Horton to help address concerns about the behaviour of some people undertaking the Three Peaks route.
“We have drafted a new simple code of conduct, aimed at individuals, that can be given out by event organisers and car park owners in Horton.

“The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority will be debating the issues and options from a visitor-management perspective at its next meeting in December.

“Clearly alternative starts will be part of that discussion. Ingleton has been suggested, and we know that some people already choose to start the walk from Ribblehead or Chapel-le-Dale.

“I think it is important to keep this all in perspective. We know there are about 20 Saturdays a year when there are large organised charity events, but there have been fewer such events this year than last year.

“We do not want to put people off walking the Three Peaks. Three Peaks visitors bring income into the local economy with people staying overnight before and after their walk. The community also benefits directly through the revenue generated by opening up fields for parking.

“We want people to enjoy the National Park, but to do so responsibly.”

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