The Yorkshire Three Peaks involves 24 miles of walking. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Yorkshire Three Peaks involves 24 miles of walking. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

National park bosses in the Yorkshire Dales have produced a code of conduct for walkers tackling the Three Peaks Challenge.

The national park authority will also set up an online notification scheme for would-be challenge walkers to register their interest in undertaking the strenuous 24-mile route.

The Yorkshire Dales authority said it could then communicate with potential walkers to encourage them to act responsibly.

The move follows disquiet among some residents, particularly in the village of Horton in Ribblesdale, about the amount of disturbance and inconvenience caused by large numbers of walkers descending on the area at weekends to take part in challenge walks.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge involves attempting to summit Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in 12 hours or less, in a 39km circular walking route.

The new code of conduct asks participants to car-share and keep vehicle numbers to a minimum, and avoid leaving vehicles where they cause obstructions. It also urges walkers to be quiet, keeping noise to a minimum until participants are clear of villages.

Although a 12-hour finish is a target, many walkers do not manage to complete the route in this time, the authority said, and so arrive at their finishing point late in the evening. It asks organisers not to use bells and klaxons to ‘ring home’ walkers.

The code also has advice on avoiding litter, including organic matter such as banana skins and orange peel, and on toilet matters while on the route.

It says participants should be well prepared, fit for the challenge and suitably equipped. Each group should have at least one person who can navigate competently. It adds: “Local mountain rescue teams are all volunteers and should only be called out in an emergency.”

The authority is also urging Three Peaks participants to put something back into the community by using local facilities and services, and considering donating £1 per walker to its Three Peaks fund.

The measures were agreed at an authority meeting on Tuesday.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s member champion for recreation management Nick Cotton said: “People all over Yorkshire, and all over the country, have a special affection for the Three Peaks of Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent.

“Many, many people have been introduced to the pleasures of the Yorkshire Dales landscape through taking on the challenge of walking all three fells in a day.

“The Three Peaks were attracting walkers before the Yorkshire Dales national park was designated, and as an authority we do not actively promote the walk route, yet I think we can regard the enduring popularity of the walk as something of a success for the national park.

“The walk is good for people’s health; good for the charities which walkers often raise money for; and good for the local economy of the area with pubs and cafes selling refreshments, people staying overnight before and after the walk, and the community benefitting by charging for parking on land near the traditional starting point in Horton.

“But with success, and high numbers of people, come some challenges, not least noise and antisocial behaviour. There has been conflict between some visitors and some parts of the community.

“We have worked diligently to ensure the path network is kept to an excellent standard, and we have worked closely with national charities and the local community to help to manage the impact of large scale events.

“Today the authority agreed fresh actions, in particular to create an online notification scheme, to reach out to Three Peaks visitors whatever their group size so that they know what is expected of them in terms of behaviour and help them plan their visit.

“To individuals we are saying that it is unacceptable to disturb the rest of the people of Horton and other villages by making a racket early in a morning or late in the evening. To event organisers we are strongly advising them to plan their event carefully in advance and, if their group size is more than 100 people, to register their event with us, so that we can help avoid clashes.

“The Three Peaks walk is a 24-mile route with at least four potential start points: Horton, Ribblehead, Chapel-le-Dale and Ingleton. The best and most effective type of ‘policing’ of behaviour is peer to peer. So if everyone undertaking the Three Peaks knows that antisocial behaviour isn’t acceptable before they come, it can only be a good thing.

“The Three Peaks walk is often people’s first experience of the national park and we want them to enjoy it.”

The report to authority members by director of park services Kathryn Beardmore said using a suggested disused quarry near Ribblehead for car parking wasn’t feasible and another suggestion, using Ingleton as a start and finish point, would add 9km to the walk and was unlikely to be as popular as the original route.

The full report and code of conduct can be seen on the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority website.

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