It was certainly a memorable day, with the Lakeland weather at its very best – perfect for following in the footsteps of the renowned Joss Naylor.
With great trepidation, I stood on Pooley Bridge at 3am on the morning of Saturday May 14th 2016. Within an hour and a half of a frosty early morning start through a sleeping campsite, the sun came up to reveal mountains bathed in sunshine, which remained with me throughout the day.
To have Steve Cliff leading the way over the High Street and up to Thornthwaite Beacon in the peace and tranquillity, was the best possible way to settle my nerves and focus on the challenge ahead! Dropping down to Kirkstone 20 mins ahead of schedule, legs feeling good and porridge waiting in Wynn’s campervan – could it get any better?
I was handed over into the capable hands of Duncan Elliott and Richard Davies who took over the supporting role for leg 2. After the steep ascent of Red Screes, the long pull to Fairfield and taking in Seat Sandal, we made the descent to Dunmail, comfortably on schedule. This leg passed quickly, helped by jelly babies and friendly banter between the support team.
Quick refreshment stop, change of socks and Leigh Warburton and Andy Crook were my Sherpas for leg 3! Climbing up Steel Fell was a testing start, and an indication of the rougher terrain which was to follow. Excellent navigation guided me over High Raise and Rossett Pike. The tougher climb up Bowfell went according to schedule, and Andy’s cheese butties ensured I had the fuel to reach Great End, before dropping down to Sty Head within my allocated time.
Here the size of my team swelled to seven. The formidable gang of Bill Williamson, Martin Walsh, Chris Reade, Nick & Jen Hewitt and Ian Roberts took me up Great Gable on the first ascent of the fourth leg. Stunning scenery along the way, particularly around Steeple, towards Ennerdale and the coast, put a spring in my step as I neared home. Just as we began the climb up Seatallan, we were met by Yiannis Tridimas , who joined us for the last two climbs. The atmosphere was jovial with Bill’s stunning photography and Martin never far from my side ensuring I was not going to have any mishaps in the closing stages!
|by Bill Williamson|
With breathtaking views of Wasdale in our sight, the descent to Greendale from Middle Fell signalled the end of my challenge, a respectable 17 hours 12 mins, comfortably within my schedule.
|Descending Haycock (by Bill Williamson)|
A welcome party on the bridge led by Joss cheered me to the finish. I was privileged to have an amazing team, not just support runners, but also the road support including Wynn Cliff, Andy Farmer and my family Mary, Lyndsey & Mick.
|With Joss on Greendale Bridge (photo: Mick Hayes)|
48 miles, 16,000 feet of climbing, 30 mountain tops – DONE!