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Three Peaks, Ten Tors - a Cicerone guidebook to UK Challenge Walks - Sample Route

Cover of Three Peaks, Ten Tors
3 Jun 2010
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.9cm
1st Published
14 Feb 2007
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Three Peaks, Ten Tors

And other challenging walks in the UK

by Ronald Turnbull
Book published by Cicerone Press

A guidebook to the best UK challenge walks. The 15 routes include the 3 peaks (National, Yorkshire & Lancashire), Dartmoor Ten Tors, the Lyke Wake Walk, Across Wales Walk, the Lairig Ghru, the Exmoor Hundred, the Welsh 3000s, Lakes 3000s and the Cairngorm 4000s. With notes on planning, schedules, how to choose the challenge and much more.

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A look both serious and humorous at what it takes to do a long-distance or challenge walk – the mental toughness, experience, the slight madness – plus notes on planning and undertaking the best such routes.

Ronald Turnbull, veteran of many a long-distance and challenge walk, intersperses sound advice with wry recollections of his experience of the 3 Peaks Challenge and other such routes throughout the British Isles.

Suitable for aspiring or novice long-distance walkers, the guidebook provides tips on how to minimise the suffering, to stay safe, to raise money for charity perhaps, and to find a surprising amount of enjoyment along the way. Old hands will enjoy comparing their experiences with the author’s reminiscences of the highs and lows of long-distance routes.

Includes route outlines and schedules, tips on minimizing the environmental impact of challenge routes and suggestions for new ‘3 peaks’ and other long-distance routes.

Includes sections on the following routes:

•  National Three Peaks
•  Yorkshire Three Peaks
•  Lancashire Three Peaks
•  Three Peaks of Somerset
•  Ten Tors (Dartmoor)
•  Lyke Wake Walk
•  Derwent Watershed
•  Across Wales Walk
•  Lairig Ghru
•  Fifty from your Front Door (do-it-yourself)
•  Welsh 3000s
•  Lakes 3000s
•  Cumbria’s Old Country Tops
•  Cairngorm 4000s
•  Mourne’s Seven Sevens
•  Tranters’ Walk (Lochaber)

  • Seasons
    Throughout the year. Winter walking in remote areas is only for those with the necessary skills and experience.
  • Centres
  • Difficulty
    Walks from 25km (15.5 miles) to 80km (50 miles), and from 7 hrs to 34hrs. Some remote and mountainous areas. Good fitness and navigational skills (including night navigation) required.
  • Must See
    The group experience; the shared suffering; the sense of achievement. Crossing the finish line. Planning your next route. Wondering why you are doing it...
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Key to Route Maps   
Map: Location of the Walks



1 Introducing the Three Big Hills   
    Ben Nevis   
    Scafell Pike   

2 The National Three Peaks Challenge:
Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon within 24 hours   
    The route: Ben Nevis   
    The route: Scafell Pike   
    The route: Snowdon   

3 The National Three Peaks Challenge by Public Transport   
    The good, the bad, and the mystery socks   
    Challenges and the imagination   
    The Three Peaks by bus   


4 The Yorkshire Three Peaks: Pen-y-ghent, Whernside, Ingleborough   
    Route and schedule   
    Adventures of the invisible worm – a winter’s night on the Yorkshire Three Peaks   
    Up Ingleborough underground   

5 The Lancashire Three Peaks: Longridge Fell, Easington Fell, Pendle   
    Pen-y-ghent – or Pendle?   
    Route and schedule   

6 Everywhere has Three Peaks in it   
    Peaks in threes   
    The Three Peaks of Somerset: Dunkery Beacon, Periton Hill, Selworthy Beacon   
    The Marilyns: 1554 hills you probably haven’t heard of


7 A Weakness for Bleakness  

8 The Dartmoor Ten Tors: 50 Miles of Moorland over Two Days   
    History and geography   
    Ten Tors for grown-ups   

9 Mastery of Misery: The Lyke Wake Walk   
    The easiest walk in England?   
    Route and schedule   

10 The Derwent Watershed: 39 Miles in the Dark Peak
    For Peat’s sake   
    Route and schedule   

11 The Across Wales Walk: From the English Border to the Sea over Plynlimon   
    Walking across Wales   
    Brief route and schedule 

12 The Lairig Ghru: The Great Through-route of the Cairngorms 
    Through the Ghru   
    Route and schedule  


13 Time and Space: The Fundamentals   

14 Fifty from your Front Door: A Southern Upland Story

15 A Hundred Miles at Once: Two Days and Nights over Exmoor   

    The Exmoor Hundred   
    Survival skills: Sore legs and feeling sick  


16 The Welsh 3000s: 15 Peaks in One Day  
    Brief route and schedule   
    Foel-fras to Snowdon with extra fun   

17 The Lakes at Length: Lakes 3000s and Old County Tops  
    Stuffing the daffodils   
    Lakes 3000s brief route and schedule   
    Old County Tops brief route and schedule   

18 The Cairngorm 4000s: Five Granite Giants in a Day   
    Brief route and schedule   
    Getting the wind up   

19 The Mourne Seven Sevens: All Northern Ireland’s 700m Peaks   
    Brief route and schedule   
    Mourne is never less   

20 Tranter’s Walk: 18 Munros around Glen Nevis  
    The freedom to fall   
    Brief route and schedule   

21 Start/Finish   

Appendix 1 Information and Internet 

Appendix 2 Walks Summary   


Sample Route

View Sample Route Map



Driving from Borrowdale to Pen-y-Pass

Return through Keswick, following signs ‘Carlisle’ as far as the roundabout on the A66. Turn right to regain the M6, and head south. About 1.5hrs later the crossing of the high bridge over the Manchester Ship Canal indicates it’s time to take out the map. At the next junction, take the M56 towards Chester, and at its end the A550 coast road towards Llandudno and Bangor. At tourist times the road past Colwyn Bay gets congested, and it may be better to short-cut on the slower A548 directly to Llanrwst.

At Betwys-y-Coed turn right on A5 to Capel Curig and Pen-y-Pass. The distance has been 230 miles.

Pen-y-Pass and Llanberis

Parking: Pen-y-Pass car park is expensive and sometimes full. Having dropped off walkers, it’s best to descend to the large car parks of Llanberis.

Food and sleep: Gorphwysfa Café is at Pen-y-Pass, opposite the Pen-y-Pass youth hostel. Capel Curig has two pleasant cafés, and Joe Brown’s gear shop. Llanberis has Pete’s Eats, nationally famous for its climber-sized portion control; another branch of Joe Brown; and plenty of places to eat and sleep. In Nant Peris and the Llanberis Pass are three farm-field campsites, inexpensive and atmospheric but low on facilities. (You’ll be asleep – you won’t need facilities.)

Recce of Snowdon

Snowdon is the most straightforward of the three mountains. The Pig Track is clear all the way, though it is possible to get lost under Crib y Ddysgl when coming down it in the dark. The descent to Llanberis is even clearer as it follows the railway.

If you do decide to recce Snowdon, then you may like to try, for the ascent, the spectacular Crib Goch ridge – one of the UK’s classic scrambles, not difficult in dry windless conditions but with big drops under it. Given 30 minutes in hand, good conditions, and a crowd-free mountain, you might even like to cross the pinnacles as the climax of your Three Peaks Attempt day (see Variants below).

Route up Snowdon from Pen-y-Pass

From Pen-y-Pass car park, head to the right behind the café, on a tarred path with waymark ‘PyG Track’. It passes a helipad, then after a wall gap becomes stony underfoot with gravel. Views ahead are down Llanberis Pass, with the path rising to a slight downhill section between boulders. Then it turns more steeply up left, to pass through Bwlch y Moch, the ‘Pig Pass’, to a wonderful view of Snowdon’s central hollow and the lower of its lakes, Llyn Llydaw.

Just beyond the pass, after some fencing, is a waymark post, where those aiming for Crib Goch would turn up right. The main Pig Track contours along the valley side above Llyn Llydaw, and then above the upper lake, Glaslyn – a lovely 2km of mountain walking.
Soon the steep Miners’ Path joins from below, and the combined path zigzags up to the right. Serious path restoration here is sometimes overwhelmed by scree kicked down by unhelpful people short-cutting the zigzags. After a steep, tough climb, the path arrives suddenly at the col between Snowdon, on the left, and Carnedd Ugain (Garnedd Ugain, or Crib y Ddysgl – the name varies). A tall stone obelisk (the Pigtop Pillar) marks the col; just ahead and down is the Snowdon Mountain Railway.

Turn up left, with the railway on your right and big drops to Glaslyn on the left. A wide path leads to the summit of Snowdon.

Now all that remains is to jog back down the steep and stony path. Your feet are sore, your legs ache? Jog fast enough, and the pain will be over in only 90 minutes…

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