“A Three Peaks Up and Under” by Stephen Oldfield
I was really pleased to get this book for my birthday, recently. It’s a sort of outdoorsers’ travel guide to Lupine’s backyard, in the Three Peaks area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. It’s a place we often find ourselves privileged to inhabit in our work and play.
It’s mainly written in two “books”. First comes the Up, explorations above ground, and then the Under, ventures below ground into some of the district’s more accessible caves. The premise is that, while the area draws its crowds to the summits of Ingleborough (the author’s particular favourite), Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent, there is much delight to be had in venturing off the beaten track to discover its lesser known places.
Before getting to the main events however, the author underpins the text by explaining the geological processes that have formed this limestone region. I found it gave a really good “potted history”. Just enough to support the text, reinforce the understandings I already had and add a little detail without being dry or overly technical. Indeed, the book is dotted with personal observations and anecdotes which communicate an enthusiasm (verging on obsession) which I found really engaging. The hand of the primary headteacher and exuberant dad is strongly evident. Occasionally the text seems a little “folksy”. The summits in one chapter are characterised as contestants in a beauty pageant – Penny, Ingle and Whernie. I guess some, perhaps younger, readers might enjoy this playful conceit (it didn’t bother me) and it’s an entirely accessible book for an adventurous and literate teenager.
Both the Up and Under sections are presented as a number of Adventures with practical details, grid references and directions supplied, such that it is possible (with the aid of a map and a little planning) to follow these itineraries for oneself. The advice on equipment is sound and useful, especially for novice hillwalkers and those considering venturing underground for the first time.
The Adventures provide quite a thorough exploration of the area uncovering some gems of landscape and natural and social history along the way. Some really stunning locations are included. A Three Peaks Up and Under would be useful to any questing soul planning to make repeated visits to the area or advising others where to go “off the beaten track”. With this in mind I’ll be using it to inform my Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and other expedition work in the area and sharing the routes and stories with my own kids.
•A Three Peaks Up and Under is available, direct from Scratching Shed Publishing, via our Kit and Bookshop page.
• The author maintains an informative and entertaining blog at – www.oldfieldslimestone.blogspot.co.uk
If you would like to take part in a Yorkshire 3 peaks challenge event in a group or on your own, please take a look at our Yorkshire 3 peaks pages
If you’re interested in guided walks or other adventures in the Yorkshire Dales, please get in touch.