You might have heard of the three NATIONAL peaks but that's a bit of stretch in my opinion for a first time hiking challenge. Instead, we opted for some marginally smaller hills to climb on one (luckily) warm, cloudy day this year.

This adventure spans almost 40km across three mountains in Yorkshire and is definitely something I've wanted to tick off my bucket list. I'm writing this three days after the trek and I'm not going to lie to you, my legs and feet are still a little delicate. 

The trail includes a round trip from your starting point across Pen-Y-Ghent (694m), Whernside (736m) and Ingleborough (723m) - with some long stretches of path and climbing in between.

I took a look at this website here for inspiration on what the walk would entail, what to take with me and what I should expect. I'd highly recommend doing some research on where you want to start and if you have a time limit you'd like to complete the route in, before heading out on the day.

Here's an insight into my own preparation and how I found each leg of the journey. If you have any specific questions about the route that I don't cover here, feel free to give me a shout on Twitter or Instagram!

The Prep

What to wear

Having checked the weather forecast only the day before (would not recommend in case you're not as lucky as we were!) I was content in taking only a few layers and a very thin 'pac-a-mac' style raincoat.

I've linked the individual layers below but they are bits I already had in my gym wear and general wardrobe. I did need to borrow some walking boots however, so would advise if you are seriously going to get into walking on a regular basis get some good quality boots of your own.

Specific items: Power Union Jack Leggings, Athlete Vest (both Sweaty Betty) Coral Ladies Fleece (Regatta) Black Classic Hoodie - similar (Adidas) Walking Boots - similar (Quechua)

What to take with you

I took a pretty hefty rucksack full of 'just in case' things but as we were lucky with the weather, a lot of these bits (raincoat, spare clothes etc.) weren't needed. However I would say it's necessary to prep for both sunshine and rain as the weather can differ greatly in the entire day you will be out walking.

We packed a fair amount of food for each stop, including a huge box of pasta for lunch and a whole lot of snacks (e.g. Quorn Picnic Eggs, homemade flapjack, chocolate, biscuits and Goodness Knows cereal bars, bananas)

It's also vital you take plenty of water. Myself and David took approx. 2.5 litres each for the day but if it happens to be reach very warm temperatures you may need a lot more. I took lots of smaller bottles which I found much easier than a huge bottle so I could drink on the go.

This website has a great checklist of essentials (and optional items) that could come in handy.

What else you might need

One thing I would highly recommend: going with great company (and coincidentally someone already who knows where to go/how to use a map and compass!)

First leg: Car park to Pen-Y-Ghent

We decided the easiest way to start the trek was to drive to Horton-in-Ribblesdale (the preferred starting point for those doing the challenge) and set off to the first mountain; Pen-y-ghent. After arriving at approx. 7.15am we walked through the village towards the bottom of the mountain.

I've actually climbed Pen-y-ghent before on a much more casual walk, and it is by far my favourite of the three (not only because it is the smallest!) The walk up this is steady and straight, until a few scrambling spots towards the top.

The view from the trig point is incredible here and we had a quick stop for breakfast. Enjoy the landscape, snap a quick selfie and then head back down the other side.

Second leg: Pen-Y-Ghent to Whernside

The decline on the other side of the mountain is definitely the easiest in my opinion. It's a steady, sloping decline to the bottom, however, a long path follows towards the Ribblehead Viaduct.

This part felt like much, much longer than it looked on the map. There are lots of twisting lanes, some walking on the roads and when the Viaduct comes into sight it was a wonderful, glorious moment as it meant we could stop for lunch (yaaas, pasta). This is where you'll come across a refreshments van and it seems to be the general rest point for lots of other walkers.

What I will say is that this spot is the perfect instagram spot.

The climb to the top of Whernside was not easy and you feel like you're actually walking in the opposite direction to where you want to end up - which you are. Not only is this infuriating but at around 20km, it doesn't feel particularly motivational. Keep going!

I found using assistance of walking poles hugely beneficial here on the long trek to the top. When you do get there, you can look across from the trig point and see just how far you've come from the first mountain which is incredible. You can also see exactly how far you still have to go...

Third leg: Whernside to Ingleborough

I hated the decline of Whernside; absolutely despised it. It's a pretty steep and very rocky descent so this, again, is where the walking poles came in handy - particularly if your knees aren't feeling great at this point.

The walk continues across roads and fields towards the third and final mountain, by which point you'll be very relieved to be there. We reached here at around 3pm and all had our fair share of whinging and each took in turns to hit our mental wall. I can't explain how much of a difference it makes to have a positive mindset and to keep spirits up.

I guess this goes for everything in life, not just a day long trek in Yorkshire...
...having emergency Jelly Babies on hand also helped massively.

The trek to the top of Ingleborough was very tricky, there are an awful lot of steps and it's very steep on the way up. If you plan on walking just Ingleborough on a venture one day, there's actually a much easier ascent on the other side of the mountain so bear this in mind unless you fancy challenging yourself.

When we got to the top, we walked right across to the opposite site to the trig point and cue that momentous 'WE DID IT' feeling. Safe to say, we were all VERY relieved to be there. We sat down for our third snack break of the day, had a few arguments with some territorial sheep and prepped ourselves for the final descent.

Final leg: Ingleborough back to car park

This for me was the most difficult part. It isn't particularly hard to walk and there's little elevation change but it FEELS LIKE FOREVER. You've completed all three mountains and just want to get home, and there's 5 miles until you return back to the village.

However, on the plus side, this is the home straight.

You'll come back out beside the train station so if you're doing the challenge by train, your journey is complete. We walked a further fifteen minutes or so back to the car park and boy, were we pleased to sit down and take those walking boots off.

Overall, I'm really glad I had the chance to do this and it feels like a huge achievement

- even if my legs haven't stopped aching since!

If you like to be active and fancy doing something different in Yorkshire then I would definitely recommend getting a small group together and tackling the challenge. This time round, having done no training for it and not knowing what to expect we took our time and the ultimate goal was the finish the route. I would 100% do this again but hopefully complete it in one of the official 12 hour time limits.

If you're thinking about doing this hike or even the challenge to complete it in 8/10/12 hours - check out Think Adventure which goes into the route in much more detail. There are pictures of every part of the journey which could come in very useful if you get lost along the way!