Everything You Need to Know About the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge

The rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales are the perfect place for a peaceful stroll, quiet contemplation, and taking in the stunning beauty that nature has to offer, but what if you fancy pushing your limits?

For experienced hikers and walking hobbyists alike, the Yorkshire Three Peaks presents a challenging (but fun and rewarding) day out. If you’re looking to go hiking in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Three Peaks is as good as it gets! Are you ready for the challenge?

What is the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge?

Second only to the National Three Peaks challenge that covers Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike, and Snowdon, the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge is one of the UK’s most popular hiking excursions. In some cases, adventurers will complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks in training for the National Three Peaks challenge, but it’s also a great day out if you enjoy walking, fresh air, and want to spend a full day in the lovely Yorkshire Dales.

But what does the challenge involve? Well, the clue is in the name! To complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, hikers must successfully summit all three peaks within 12 hours. A popular starting point is at the Pen-y-ghent Café in Horton-in-Ribblesdale to which participants aim to return within 12 hours time and, if successful, receive a badge to proudly show off their achievement!

It’s common to tackle the peaks in the following order, although there’s nothing to stop you from starting at Ingleborough and working backwards:


Pen-y-ghentIf Yorkshire walks had a hall of fame, Pen-y-ghent would be an icon. For Yorkshire locals, novice hikers, or families simply looking for a good walk, Pen-y-ghent is the perfect peak. There’s a good reason why many people choose Pen-y-ghent as their very first peak, and why it comes first in the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.

With a 694m summit, Pen-y-ghent is a gentle first peak that isn’t too steep, offering panoramic views of the luscious Yorkshire Dales.


Whernside hike

Where Pen-y-ghent eases hikers gently into the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, Whernside is a little more

hardcore. Reaching a height of 736m, Whernside is officially the highest peak in Yorkshire. That being said, Whernside is possibly one of the less considered options for hiking in Yorkshire.

Whereas many walkers and families will visit Pen-y-ghent and Ingleborough as standalone walks, Whernside has a reputation as the peak less travelled. The route to the summit is long and includes many, many steps, but the views of the impressive Whernside viaduct are certainly worth it!


IngleboroughAt 723m high, Ingleborough is the second-highest of the Yorkshire Three Peaks but perhaps the most distinctive, with its famous ‘flat top’. Many challengers consider Ingleborough to be the most difficult peak to complete, regardless of whether it is a starting point or your final peak.

Like Pen-y-ghent, Ingleborough is a steep mountain and there are a few different routes to the summit, including the High Lot which has become renowned as a challenging scramble.

How difficult is the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge?

When considering the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge, it is not only the peaks themselves that present difficulty. In 12 hours or less, walkers must cover a circular route totaling a distance of 24.5 miles.

For the most part, the Yorkshire Three Peaks can be walked, requiring little scrambling and no professional hiking equipment. Even if you have little hiking experience, it is still possible to complete if you are relatively fit. However, it is not to be underestimated. This is still a tough walking challenge that will certainly test your endurance, so you must ensure you are physically prepared, and mentally know what to expect!

What to wear for hiking in Yorkshire

Part of the fun of Yorkshire walks is that you can never predict the weather. Where there may be glorious sunshine in the valley, you can experience all four seasons by the time you reach the top! The key to comfort is layers, layers, layers! Come prepared for all eventualities, and don’t forget a sturdy pair of walking boots! Some essentials to bring in your kit include:

  • Waterproof, lightweight trousers
  • Lightweight raincoat
  • Hat and gloves – it can be pretty chilly at the summit!
  • Mobile phone and battery pack
  • Torch or headlight – (just in case the sun sets ahead of your return journey)
  • Water and an isotonic sports drink
  • Plenty of high-protein, high-energy snacks to keep you going!

Final thoughts

If you’re looking for a new Yorkshire walk, the Three Peaks challenge is a rewarding day out with plenty of beautiful sights along the way.

What’s more, it’s also popular with fundraisers and charity walkers – so why not get a group of your nearest and dearest together to achieve an exciting new feat? You certainly won’t regret the time spent hiking in the Yorkshire Dales with friends and family, ticking off three peaks in one single day!