It was the best of climbs, it was the worst of climbs: A Tale of Three Peaks

10th October 2018 15:27

DJS Research Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge

By James Hinde, Research Director, email:

DJS walk the Yorkshire Three Peaks to raise money for the Thomas Theyer foundation...

September was a pretty monumental month for a dedicated group of DJS staff who embarked upon a challenge of epic proportions to raise funds for our new Charity of the Year - The Thomas Theyer Foundation. The dream team included Managing Director, Danny Sims, Research Director, James Hinde, Operations Director Matt Coulling, Associate Director David Marchant, Research Manager Kelly Neild, Assistant Operations Manager Steven Searle and Senior Research Executive Faye Jasmine Waterhouse, who had all been training ahead of the big day in and around the (not-so) mighty peaks of Strines...

Here is the story of their Yorkshire Three Peaks adventure...

It was the best of climbs, it was the worst of climbs. A tale of three peaks


It was early in the morning and it had been quite a wild night in Ingleton.  Danny, our MD, arrived at our cottage last and was gifted the rickety sofa bed, despite his bad back and shrill protestations.  Steve rolled in in the early hours after watching the boxing.  Matt, our Operations Director snored all night, but slept well.  Kelly, our organiser, had not slept a wink.  Faye, the youngest and fittest of the group, looked concerned about the day ahead. 

David, navigator and role model, arrived at 6am having driven up that morning to be greeted by the chaos of us busying ourselves, anxiously adding and removing layers and packing our bags with Scotch Eggs and other tasty snacks.  The forecast had been for rain all week, perhaps a storm.  Steve had brought swimming shorts for the walk (!), the rest of the men opting for zip offs (recommended).  We drove to the start of our walk in grim silence.


The Thomas Theyer Foundation 

Every year DJS Research nominate a charity, for whom we do all we can to support.  After a vote from employees this year we nominated the Thomas Theyer Foundation as our charity of the year. 

Thomas Theyer, whilst just a young man, died whilst doing what he loved, running in the hills and his family had set up the foundation in his memory.  This is a fantastic, small, local charity that offers support for young people who face severe challenges in their life.  We were excited to work with a charity so close to home and to walk in Thomas’ name.

We had opted for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge as a way to raise money for the charity.  The challenge is to walk all three peaks of Ingleborough, Pen-Y-Ghent and Whernside, taking in 25 miles and 1,500 metre of ascent in 12 hours or less.



Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge - DJS Research

From where we parked, the sheer face of Ingleborough and its table top summit rose above us and cast us in shadow.  But, we were not be cowered. 

Daylight was starting to come out now, our spirits lifted and we almost bounded over the fields laughing and joking in a wild mix of early enthusiasm and hysteria in the pale light of early morning.  We seemed to be walking up for quite a long time and I kept looking up to see how we would climb this peak as the direction we were walking in seemed to take us to a sheer rock face. 

Surely, we’d have to go round.

The climb up the face was perilously steep and because Kelly was in a bad mood (having not slept), we were all driven to do it at quite some pace.  It was tough, but the views from the top as the sun rose were spectacular and we felt like we were on top of the world, whilst everyone else would just be waking up.  We got to the peak by 8am, a good half an hour before planned, drew our grand DJS flag out and got a team picture, and we started to talk about whether we could do this in under 10 hours, let alone just 12.  We bound down a long hill, on to the next peak.  Kelly looked much happier now.

DJS Research  Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge



We stopped briefly at Horton-in-Ribblesdale at the only toilet on the whole route.  We had snacks and some of the men ceremoniously zipped off to their shorts as the sun was well and truly out now.  Danny wouldn’t let us rest for long.

Up we went to Pen-y-Ghent, relentlessly in a long chain for what seemed an age.  Faye leading the way and me trying to match her step for step, the others not far behind.  At the top, we could see the entire Yorkshire Dales from every direction and it blew us away.  God’s own country laid out in all its splendour.  We had clear blue skies now everywhere we looked, although it was chilly at the top of the peak.  We descended and on to Whernside.



We had bagged two peaks now, covered about half the distance, no map reading errors and no injuries.  So, I hope you’ll excuse us if we were feeling a bit smug and thoughts of record times entered our heads.  We walked on a little and decided to have lunch in a charming little hollow by a stream out of the wind, like happy Hobbits on second breakfast.  Scotch Eggs were eaten and later regretted.  We fuelled up and rested and got back up ready to go.

Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge - DJS Research

All I will say now is that Whernside is a needlessly long way from Pen-Y-Ghent.  Energy started to drain away from us now, the laughter grew fainter, the chat lighter and heads went down.  We picked ourselves up a bit, but tiredness had set in.  Kelly insisted on a break by a stream with a food van and we sat by the stream in the sun with the dark bulk of Whernside looming over our shoulder whilst we munched on snacks and dreaming of removing our boots.

We carried on and walked past the glorious Ribblehead Viaduct, laying shadows and light across us like Gods descending from heaven.  We were summoning all our will for the final climb ahead and there was no turning back now. 



The climb up to Whernside goes around the mountain, so is long and relentless.  We started to divide into groups now as some were struggling.  David and Steve paired up and got themselves into a rhythm, alternating between cries of “My knees hurt” and “My calves hurt” in perfect timing.  Matt forged on ahead like some wild man of the mountain, possessed by the climb. 

At the top we gathered again and whilst taking our picture, a local told us that a true Yorkshire man should aim to do the 3 peaks in 9 hours.  But, we weren’t thinking of record times now, we just wanted a seat somewhere nice and to stop walking. The worst was to come. 

Each took the long descent in the best way they could.  David’s knee had gone now so was sidestepping tentatively, wincing with awful pain.  I decided to try and slide down, which worked in a fashion, except when my bum hit a rock. 

Steve had lost the use of his legs and had to move from his back and bottom only, moving spasmodically in his swimming shorts, like some deranged, twerking robot hiker

When we finally arrived on flat ground it was like walking over the clouds of Heaven itself.  We collapsed into the car and asked to be delivered at the nearest pub.

The end. 

Our vital statistics...

We made it in 11 hours and 28 minutes, well under the target of 12 hours.  We sat in a pub in Ingleton in celebration and were recognised as 'three-peakers' (and heroes!) by our awkward walking style.  We feasted on Belly Buster Burgers and alcohol.

It had indeed been the best of climbs and the worst of climbs, but we had felt so alive, together as a team and had seen some of the most beautiful sights the Yorkshire Dales have to offer.  The fresh air and exercise filled our souls, as our bodies sighed with relief. 

We could understand now why young Thomas Theyer had spent so much time out in the hills and why it was so important to him.  It was an honour for us to have raised over £1,200 so far so that young people with additional needs can discover their passion for the outdoors. 

If you'd like to offer a donation to help support the Foundation too, just pop over to our DJS Research Just Giving page here.

Thank you so much. 



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