I climbed three bloody massive hills this weekend.
In a day.
With my friends.
In reflection; it was amazing, it was exhausting, it was emotional, it was hilarious, it was incredibly long.
I hated it, I loved it; if my friends asked me to do it again – I would probably do so in a heartbeat.
(Once I can walk without the John Wayne Swagger that is….)
We started the Yorkshire Three Peaks at 5.51am in the morning, the sun was already up, and crowds were flocking to the foot of Pen-y-ghent. My sides already ached from giggling in the car park as we strapped on back packs, ensured we had enough food to survive for days in the wild and we all took sanctuary in the last toilet for 26 miles.
For one of us, that toilet stop was not enough and she managed to relieve herself some 10 minutes later in the call of the wild…..
Pen-y-ghent is a disguising mistress. Slowly and steadily we walked, I caught up with friends who I don’t see on a daily basis, circling around the pack, chatting and checking if they had any kit I may need later.
I quickly discounted the poundland she-wee; preferring my mountain drop and squat routine. I had my eye on the Party Rings….
By 7am we had already established the language for the day would be colourful as I heard a…
…float down the mountain side from one of my crew above me.
Pen-y-ghent was an easy climb, then suddenly cruised into being a callous cow as her final ascent was scrambling, clutching at rocks, steep amd harsh. The mist sheltered her top, restricting us from her views. We shivered at the top, but as I glanced at my watch and saw it read, 7.30am, I thought – “pah, we will smash this…”
How bloody wrong I was.
It was to be another 11 miles and a fair few hours before we would stand upon another peak, and by then my spirit would not be as light nor as confident.
We walked, for what felt like forever.
But in that time we talked.
Do you know what women talk about over hours hiking?
Divorce, depression, death, drinking (well – hopes to), drugs, and diabetes.
It doesn’t sound cheery, but I laughed until I needed to find a rock to pee behind.
Turns out, when you get walking with another single parent and start chatting about your ex-husbands, your average pace per mile speeds up to almost rocket speed. Nothing like pent up frustration to get you through a couple of miles of undulating ground.
We saw peak two – Whernside – and realised she was a seriously long ascent, and to be honest our spirits dampened. One of us had to be
forced motivated up to the top with an image of her son at the top. At the same point we all agreed it would take more than half a million quid to get us to do the walk again the next day. We discovered Kendal Mint Cake has some form of rocket fuel inside it, and can power you on the same way a Jagerbomb can at midnight after six pints. We also discovered that if someone handed you a packet of tablets, you would probably take anything in time to alleviate the pain in your feet.
Whernside was my toughest peak.
The long ascent gave me time in my own head as I walked alone for a while by choice. I climbed concrete step after concrete step, feeling a burn in my knee and a rub on my foot. The wind started to howl in my ears and the thought that I had at least six more hours walking on sore feet made me want to throw in the towel.
It was then I had my mountain moment.
I thought of the reason I was doing the walk, I thought of my daughter who manages a chronic condition without complaint. I thought of all the other Type 1 kids who inject daily, try to act as their own pancreas when other kids are playing with fidget spinners. I felt my eyes fill with tears as I realised my girl would always be better than me. I thought of her brother and sister who live in a family that at time can be ruled by Type 1. I walked faster, harder, and ignored the pain in my feet and the rapid rise and fall of my chest as I climbed higher.
I cracked on and got it done – for Molly. (You can still donate on this link.)
Then moment over, I caught up with a friend and discussed the various ways you can use salt and insulin…
And I laughed some more, and the moment was gone – but it was important that it had happened.
The descent from Whernside was steep and sharp, clearly we were like mountain goats, and nimbly worked our way through the rocks until we got to stile where we could empty our bladders in relative privacy behind a wall, with a mountain plant stuck up our arse.
Lunch and bacon rolls were consumed by anyone not on a shred as we walked. For those of us on a shred – they endured countless jibes all day, and took it in their ripped, slightly faster stride.
Peak 3 loomed ahead, fecking miles away it seemed, but before long we were stood on the vertical side of Ingleborough, trying to keep our wits about us as we struggled with uneven footing, large crowds and a mist that suggested rain would be keeping us company on our final descent.
We did it! we only bloody did it!
3 Peaks – conquered!
I found a rare moment of signal and posted a photo so the kids would see their Mum had managed it, I saw instant notifications of well done from friends.
I figured it was pretty much over barr the descent.
Which couldn’t be hard…
Again – utterly wrong.
The rain started to scream around us, the rocks became like ice underfoot, the wind kicked in and misery set upon us, weighing us down like an old overcoat. My boots made my ankles throb and I recall telling my friend that it would be an impossible decision if I was offered the option of either keeping them on forever or having my legs amputated below my knees…..
Six miles of never-ending path…
We asked everyone we saw how far it was to the end and swore at their answer. We whimpered when our joints began to ache and give in under the pressure of not really training for this event. We started to laugh in a manic fashion when we turned a corner and saw yet another field filled with bastard rocks ahead of us.
It was wet, it was tough, but suddenly – it was over.
We finally turned a corner and the end was in sight, if I could have physically done so, I would have jumped for joy.
We celebrated by having a sit down wee on a real loo – one of us was more vocal than the rest about how much that hurt (she will share this blog and her friends will know it was her…)
The cries of…
Facking ell, I can’t sit down, my facking thighs, fack me, jesus this hurts…
…will echo around North Yorkshire for months…
Finally, some twelve and a half hours later we were done.
Hugging, cheering, shivering, fed up to the back teeth and ecstatic to the point of post orgasmic for finishing!
We headed back to the hostel, feasted on guilt free fish and chips and Prosecco. Discussed more uses for insulin and salt, discussed our individual moments, and swore we would never do it again.
This morning we all literally fell out of bed as our limbs refused to obey our mind.
I’d advise training if you are going to do the Yorkshire 3 peaks.
We are all sore successors.
In our day-to-day life, we are mums, we are wives, we are ex-wives, we are teachers, we are dieting, we may be depressed at a times, we may find it hard, we run out of time, we get it wrong, we do our best.
But we are strong, we will climb mountains for our children, we will do it when a friend asks us to do it with her for her child.
To my friends who said yes when I asked you to join me on the walk – I cannot thank you enough, for the laughs, for the wine, for the conversation, for simply going out and buying some boots and putting them on. For walking with a knackered knee, for doing it on your period, for driving 5 hours, for coming when your life has been hell for the last 5 days, for doing it for the third time when you really didn’t want to, for eating a fry up on a shred, for eating chips when you don’t eat that, for walking up another facking mountain, for sleeping in a hostel, for keeping me as a friend on Facebook, for giving it your best shot – no matter how far you walked.
I love you all – and cannot wait to see you next time…..