RICHARD Sykes, from Skipton, set himself the challenge of completing the Yorkshire Three Peaks an impressive 100 times while still in his 60s. He completed the ton with time to spare, in early July - just before he turned 70.

Here, he shares what he has learnt - and the sobering experience of being passed by a walker several years older than him. 


Why? When most locals won't consider the challenge even once, this is an obvious and reasonable question. 
Well, once upon a time at school in my early teens, I was widely considered to be rather sporting. On retiring at 60 years old, I became gripped by the notion of reclaiming as much as possible of that form in order to better look old age in the eye. 
The first necessary step consisted of losing excessive poundage. Here, the BBC's Dr Michael Mosley helped greatly, facilitating the loss of three stone in four months with the aid of his 'intermittent fasting'.         
After Dr Mosley, further help availed itself in the form of my late father's example. 
From the West End of Halifax, he had been sporting, serious, strict and seldom communicative. I can recall only two written communications from him; the first passing to me the two-thirds of the terraced house in which I lived and in which he had 'invested'; the second, after he had retired at 60, an OS map extract on which he had highlighted the three peaks route and signed "Completed 25th September '80 . . . D. Sykes 60.9 yrs approx". 
So the venture commenced with my endeavouring 'to walk in my father's footsteps'.      
When? After my father passed away in November 2003, I returned to the UK from Germany, my mother having admitted to suffering a mini-stroke. Subsequently, after mother's passing in 2009, I continued to work as a consulting engineer, retiring in early 2014. 
What to do next? Wanting to walk in father's Three Peaks footsteps, I started preparations by walking one peak at a time, then pairs, 'Whernside and Ingleborough' first, then 'Penyghent and Whernside'. 
During the second pairing, however, on reaching the foot of Whernside it dawned on me that to return to Horton it might be no more arduous over Ingleborough than around the foot of Park Fell. 
So, on May 2, 2014, I unintentionally clocked up my own first Yorkshire Three Peaks.
By that time, the media were increasingly reporting on the forthcoming WWI 100-year anniversaries, and I imagined I might mark each centenary year by walking the three peaks 11 times: 1914 to 1918 inclusive making five years, the venture thus expanded to walking the peaks 55 times by November 11 2018.
The target was in fact reached in August 2018, so the question had already and again arisen - What to do next?
Here assistance came from a good neighbour who earlier in the year, on hearing I had completed my half-ton, suggested going on to do a full ton would be really special. That's it then. I was set on 'doing a ton'.    
How? Researching the subject is all very well - learning the route, choosing appropriate clothing and boots, closely scrutinising Met Office forecasts to avoid excessive wind and rain . . . and sunshine, selecting the necessary provisions (water, rehydration salts, etc.).
These are all common sense. Also, sensibly estimating the time required is essential to establish a safe time of departure. 
For example, this year, wanting to get the remaining rounds of 'the ton' under my belt as soon as possible, I started out in mid-February, two months earlier than usual. The end result? The last 90 minutes descending Ingleborough to complete the year's first round was done in complete darkness, with just a few faint head-mounted LEDs to keep me 'on track' - never again! 
But that said, I do suggest that 'learning-by-doing' is the ultimate instructor, adopting the step-by-step approach already mentioned to avoid 'going over the top'.   
Many may think that the Yorkshire Three Peaks is above all a matter of physical prowess. 
These days I incline to attach about as much importance to 'state of mind' as to physical fitness. Tiredness may easily lead to low spirits, a lack of concentration, poor judgement and depression. All dangerous. 
The importance of knowing and respecting your limits is difficult to overestimate. When over-tired and feeling down, take a break, get your breath back and get your pulse down - feel refreshed, be adequately alert. And don't get overawed and worried about your performance; divide the walk into stages and focus on completing each stage.     
Something else that may sap the spirit is injury due to skin wear-and-tear or sunburn. So, at the outset, besides bandaging toes, my motto is 'grease all parts'! Knees and just above, (if they're allowed a mention) private parts front and back, nipples, and exposed ears, cheeks and nose. Keep chafing and exposure down, stay comfortable!      
Safety? To the elderly, and especially the women whom nature does not favour quite so much: take care, take your time, do not over-extend yourselves. 
Your bones are that much more brittle than those of the young, and in a few locations - despite the best efforts of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority - the paths may prove uneven, the steps uncomfortably percussive. All that said, earlier this year starting out on Penyghent, I was taken by surprise when suddenly a female voice from behind said, "You're setting a good pace!" 
I looked round and there was a woman whom I estimated to be slightly older than myself, 70 plus, I'd say. And on and on she went, and I never saw her again. Sobering. Sobering. Really sobering!