Every year, intrepid walkers from across the Diocese of Leeds organise the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge: a sponsored walk to raise funds for St Patrick’s Mission in Bradford. This year, on 22 August, it will be both more and less of a challenge: more, because the walkers have set themselves a sponsorship target of £10,000; but less, because owing to the current restrictions the walk has become the Yorkshire ONE Peak Challenge!
This year only Whernside will be climbed, and by only thirty walkers. The two groups of 15 will observe physical distancing, arriving separately at Ribblehead Viaduct and setting off up the mountain to the trig. point, then back down to the Ribblehead Viaduct. To respect any local concerns, they will trek the eight and a half miles, scaling a height of 2415 feet, without any of their usual refreshment breaks at the pub or café – and to keep the ‘spirit’ of the usual ‘Three Peaks’ alive, certain walkers – including the Diocese’s own ‘Celebrity Pilgrim’, Chief Operating Officer Ian Burrell – are already asking if the guidelines will allow them to walk the new route THREE times!
St Patrick’s Church in Bradford was completely renovated and refurbished with a generous grant from the Albert Gubay Foundation in 2018-19 and is now open to the public (subject to Covid-19 legislation). The Mission is run by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal from the former St Patrick’s Presbytery and Convent – now St Pio’s Friary. The Friars, with their Soup Kitchen and Clothing Bank for Bradford’s homeless and vulnerable people, are well known from the BBC One prime-time documentary, Bronx to Bradford: Friars on a Mission which aired during Holy Week, 2017 – and they are grateful for the generosity of local volunteers and businesses.