On Saturday, in glorious summer sunshine, I was trekking around the 39 kilometre classic Yorkshire Three Peaks circuit with a charity group (Tiny Tickers) of 22 walkers. I’ve never done the “Y3P” as a single expedition before. Although clearly I’ve wandered around all of the segments of this route previously either on shorter walks, climbing, mountain biking, or most likely searching for a pothole entrance. 😉
The circuit is undeniably amazing for the views of the Yorkshire Dales and beyond, but the most striking thing for me was the incomprehensible crowds! At one point, from the bridge over the Ribblehead railway all the way to the summit of Whernside I could see an unbroken chain of people. Now that’s around about 3km of the route, so this means that there may have been as many as a thousand walkers on this section alone! It’s impossible to really convey just how busy it was. At times descending the steeper sections where the made-path was only one person wide it was like following crowds down a busy London tube station staircase. Take one step down, wait for the person in front to take their next step, take your step, wait, repeat.
Other things I noted were the massive investment the Yorkshire Dales national park authority has made in ensuring the path around the circuit is up to the task of withstanding such massive crowds. Almost all of the route is made from super thick slabs of quarried rock. You can see the quality (is that the right term to use for a path across such a wonderful landscape?) in the photo below.
And lastly, regarding the littering! I’ve commented on littering during these sorts of events before, specifically about litter on Scafell during national three peak challenge (Ben Nevis, Scafell, and Snowdon) events. Yet here I was helping a challenge group out! Doh. My answer to this apparent contradiction was simple… These challenges are going to happen; uneducated city dwelling walkers are going to come and take on the challenges; and littering appears to be unstoppable (there were national park authority volunteer wardens at Ribblehead, a popular lunch stop, collecting litter). Therefore my contribution to helping deal with the problem was devilishly simple – as I went round the route I picked up every piece of litter I could! 😉 I emptied my rucksack twice, at the two road crossings. As an indication, at Ribblehead I off-loaded nine empty plastic drinks bottles and several handfuls of chocolate bar wrappers etc. I had picked these items up from quite literally lying on or next to the stone flagstone path described above.
At the very least I think all responsible walkers on the trail should do two things: pick up what litter they can, and try to educate as many people as they can.