Walkers taking on Yorkshire Dales’ Three Peaks told to cut anti-social behaviour

Pen-y-ghent. Photo: Peer Lawther.

Walkers taking on the Three Peaks Challenge have been told to cut out the anti-social behaviour, including playing ‘We are the Champions’ at loud volume.

Members of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority have approved a new code of conduct aimed at individuals and a revamped code targeted at large groups on the Three Peaks Challenge, which attracts an average of 60,000 visitors every year.

They also agreed to consider establishing a web-based notification scheme aimed at small groups as well as large-scale charity events, in which people are provided information to plan events where the code of conduct would be promoted.

The moves follow mounting tensions between residents who live near the 24-mile route encompassing Whernside, Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough, and in particular those near the start and finish in Horton in Ribblesdale.

Some residents of the village say such have been the disturbances and abuse over summer weekends that they have felt forced to leave their homes.

Resident Bryan Bowman said he was hoping the Three Peaks Challenge became unfashionable.

He said: “It is a difficult 24 miles, but most will only do it once so don’t care how much they disturb residents.”

Member and North Yorkshire County councillor for Ribblesdale Richard Welch told a meeting of the park authority the revamped code of conduct was a welcome measure, but warned: “It’s not going to cure anything overnight”.

He said: “When you get large numbers of people there are always a few rotten apples in the barrel.”

Mr Welch said a section of the village suffered from noise because hikers began celebrating when the pub at the end of the walk was in sight.

He said: “They’ll have the ghettoblaster on at 11 o’clock at night playing We Are The Champions and various songs that seem crop up with a 12-hour walk on the peaks.”

Nick Cotton, the authority’s recreation management champion, said the authority had to recognise the limit to what it could do on public right of way or to tackle antisocial behaviour, which was a police responsibility if a criminal offence had been committed.

He said: “We are not in a position to be stopping people from walking this route and we ought to be celebrating all the benefits that it brings.”

Mr Cotton said in the early 1980s the area had the “dubious distinction of having the worst eroded path network in the UK”, before millions of pounds were pumped into conserving the route.

He said: “It is a nice problem to have that lots of people want to come to the Dales to walk the Three Peaks. In a way you could say this is an enormous success story.

“It draws lots of young people, which is good for their health and wellbeing, it’s good for the charities for which they raise money and it’s good for the economy with a lot of people spending the night here before and after they have done the walk. There’s a very good chance once they have been here for the first time they will come back to explore the Dales further.”