Introduction

The Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge route leaves Pooley Bridge to traverse 30 summits over a distance of 48 miles and climbs 17,000 feet (77km, 5182m).

The inaugural run from Pooley Bridge to Wasdale was made by Joss Naylor in 1990, at the age of 54; in very bad weather with heavy rain and a strong SW wind Joss completed the run to Greendale Bridge in 11 hours and 30 minutes.

Chris Brasher offered engraved pewter tankards to the first 20 runners to do so with the proviso that they raised at least £100 for a charity of their own choice. In January 1997, with 17 tankards already awarded, Chris extended his sponsorship. In 2001, with 33 tankards awarded, Joss secured on-going sponsorship for the tankards.

The challenge is offered to fell runners over the age of 50 to complete the run in set times according to their age group. The challenge is intended to be a "supported run" for individuals - each contender is to be accompanied on every leg for safety reasons and unaccompanied attempts will not be recognised. There is more information on the Challenge Details page below.

If you are interested, please have a look at the Challenge Details, download a schedule or contact me using the "Email Ian Charters" form below.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Ian Cookson (M65) - 14 May 2016



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!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Elise Milnes (W55) – 05 September 2015



5am September 5th at Pooley Bridge on a quite cold and clear morning.  I’m meeting my navigator Geoff Cox for the first time.  The rest of my support team are Carol Morgan, Simon Franklin and Paul Calderbank.

Not only were the weather Gods smiling on us, but on the drive over we had seen a badger in the road, a live one which was a first for me, we took this as a good omen – I was going to survive the day!

The sunrise was beautiful with just the odd cloud kissing a summit, my favourite time of the day in my favourite place.

Leg 1 went to schedule.  Carol and Paul made sure I ate and drank plenty which set me up for the whole day.  The navigation was perfect and we started to gain a few minutes.  For me the Leg felt relaxed and organised and the chat made time fly by.

We descended into Kirkstone to some very loud cheering from my road support, mainly Issy.  My husband Graham and Clare Harris fed and watered everyone.  There were lots of hugs and we were off, up Red Screes on Leg 2 with a new team, Tom Phillips navigating, Linda Murgatroyd and Steve Foster as timekeeper and pacer.  Also joining us was Louise Stunell, a total newbie to these mountains and the Lake District and what a day to show it off, blue sky, warm sunshine and views that take your breath away – or maybe that was the march up Red Screes!

This Leg also flew by, gaining time on nearly every summit, Tom knows the best lines!  At Seat Sandal Nick Harris joined us and the descent into Dunmail was deafening, thanks again to Issy.  I was worried, this was not Lake District behaviour, we could be barred!  It was very up lifting and I felt the smile over take my face.

Same crew for Leg 3 minus Louise and (sorry if this is getting boring) text book perfect, gaining more time as we were going, I was well looked after and ate well.  Much to Tom’s bewilderment, Linda and I never stopped talking, only to eat!  Great Gable crept into the conversation, it was too far away, I didn’t want to know, so it was pointed out even more!  From High Raise, the second one, we could see that something was on top of it which looked like a giant sheep, it was a helicopter, shame I liked the idea of a giant sheep!

At Great End we were met by Phil and Jackie Scarf and got to Sty Head in good time where Graham and Clare were waiting, quiet here, no Issy!  My final team, Peter McNulty and Mick Bull navigating and pacers Sheila McNulty, Jackie and Phil Scarf.  The plan was to finish in daylight, we pressed on, I still felt strong.  But Seatallan was looming, it’s a monstrous climb that seemed to take longer than the whole round, my legs said No!  I did think I should have a word with Joss about this hill, so near the end, it’s cruelty!  I made it to the summit and on to Middle Fell to be met by Graham and Clare with the news that Joss was waiting on the bridge.  There was still life in my legs and I descended at full pace – it seemed fast to me!!  15 hours and 14 minutes and in daylight!


It was truly a magical, enjoyable day which I will cherish forever and made possible by my fantastic supporters – thank you.  

A special thanks to Clare Harris who suggested I had a go at the JNC and organised everything.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Paul Cornforth (M50) – 27 June 2015

 

My life has been quite busy over the last year with work commitments and family illness so when you spot a window of opportunity you have to seize it. It was Thursday night when I spotted this one and so quickly formulated a plan, the Joss Naylor Challenge. But it was only a half plan because I didn’t know if I was fit enough to do a really long run. After Scoffer and Chris Hope agreed to help I just needed a couple more runners. Thankfully fell running legends, Gavin Bland and Morgan Donnelly called me on Friday morning to offer their support so it was game on.

I was completely unorganised and getting the right nutrition before and during the run is crucial. Unfortunately throughout the day on Friday I was ill and never off the toilet so my energy reserves were not going to be where they should have been and I seriously thought of cancelling the whole thing, but as I had pacers organised I decided to go ahead.

I stayed in my van at Pooley Bridge on Friday night and set my alarm for 5.30. I awoke to a beautiful clear morning looking down on Ullswater and set about getting prepared for the day. Morgz rang me at about 6.15 to let me know he had slept in and might be late so I packed a bag of essential supplies for him to carry. As it was Morgz turned up at 6.40 so everything was fine and we set off as planned at 7am from Pooley Bridge. I was really conscious of not going too fast on this leg, I’d done it a couple of times in training and keeping to the schedule seemed quite hard. I was prepared to lose some time off the schedule and try to make it up later on, as it was we arrived at Kirkstone bang on 9.30 and sure enough there was Gavin waiting.

My stomach still felt a bit delicate from the day before so the only food I’d had on leg 1 was a nibble on some Mountain Fuel pancakes and some energy drink and as we climbed Red Screes I could feel cramp like twinges in both calves and knew I needed to get some more food down my neck. I had a banana and immediately felt the benefit. Leg 2 is pretty similar to the 3rd leg of the Ian Hodgson Relay and running down the tussocky grass off the back of Red Screes I mused at the difference in my speed today compared to the break neck speed you descend in the relay. But still we were moving pretty well and there was a long way to go.

On the climb to Fairfield Gavin produced a white finger roll with a mixture of Philadelphia cheese and jam, “This is one of Joss’s favourite sarnies”, said Gav, “Only he has his with a bit of tomato to moisten it up a bit, it’s not too dry is it?”

“No its fine thanks”, I replied. I still had half the sandwich stuffed in my cheek climbing Seat Sandel!

My wife Kerry met me on the top and we jogged down to Dunmail together. I felt in pretty high spirits and as Dunmail came into view I saw that it was looking very busy with cars and people, surely they haven’t all turned out to see me I thought. No they hadn’t, there seemed to be a series of events all crossing at this point and it all seemed pretty chaotic. I didn’t hang around; I had two spoonful of rice pudding and cracked on up Steel fell with a banana in one hand and another one of Gav’s speciality sandwiches in the other. Scoffer took over the support at this point and Dave Nuttall who happened to be at Dunmail and was going out for a run joined us too.

Things went a little bit pear shaped after Steel Fell, I felt hungry, empty and sick all at the same time and we got the line slightly wrong climbing up onto High Raise. I was tripping up in bogs and felt dizzy, disorientated and weak. I needed something to give me a boost but it materialised that we didn’t have too much food and all of the Mountain Fuel flapjack, pancakes and energy sachets for drinks had been left at Dunmail. Scoffer had some jelly beans but said that he didn’t really want to give me them as they were expensive and he wanted them for himself. Dave produced a gel and although it tasted disgusting it perked me up enough to keep me going and we were soon standing on Rossett Pike. From here to Styhead is all a bit of a blur and I was definitely just surviving on my reserves. Scoffer had reluctantly submitted to giving me some jelly beans, but apart from that we were pretty much out of food. We just hoped that Chris had brought plenty to Sty Head. I needn’t have worried as soon as I got there he handed me a drink of Lucozade that tasted like nectar and a ham sandwich. We did a quick calculation on time and progress and it was announced that I probably wouldn’t be breaking any records today but we should be ok for the 12 hour schedule. At that point I would be just pleased to complete the round so I was happy that we were still on schedule. About 10 minutes later there was another announcement,

“No I’ve got that wrong, we’ve got another hour, bloody hell you CAN still break the record, come on let’s get going.”

From this point Chris Hope, a veteran of many adventure races and long distance challenges and knowing the importance of nutrition, kept plying me with regular nibbles of chocolaty, oaty bars and fluids and I started to feel much stronger.

Each hill we summited we shaved time off the schedule and from Bowfell to Pillar we were 43 minutes faster. Scoffer starting shouting encouragement at me more often and part of me started to believe that I could do it. Scoffer waited on Scoat fell whilst Chris and I dipped in and out of Steeple and in the swirling mist I could hear Scoffer shouting,

“Get your finger out Corny, don’t you want this record?”.

It seemed a long way down and out to Haycock, the mist had completely descended now and the skies had darkened. From Haycock it was compasses out and a bearing down to the Pots of Ashness where we picked up the reverse route of the Wasdale Fell race line to Seatallan. The climb up Seatallan seemed to go on for ages. I calculated that if I could be at the summit in 10 minutes, descend to Greendale Tarn in 10 minutes and then climb Middlefell in 10 minutes I should be ok for the record, but in the mist it would be very easy to go wrong and that would be it. Perfect navigation from Chris and Scoffer took us to the tarn then it was just a case of digging in for one final climb of the day. I had never been up Middlefell before and it seemed bigger than I expected but even so we were on the summit at 5.19pm, a quick quad killer to finish the day on the descent to Greendale is just what was required after 47 miles and 17,000m feet and we arrived at Greendale Bridge at 5.35pm feeling very pleased. I then did something that I have never done before and probably never will again; I put my arm around Scoffer!

So in total I did 10.35 for the challenge, the record was 10.47. In an amazing coincidence as Chris was waiting at Sty Head for me, a guy came over to ask what he was doing.

“Just waiting for Corny, he’s having a crack at breaking the record for the Joss Naylor Challenge”, said Chris.

The guy was Leigh Warburton, the record holder…

A big thanks to my support runners, Morgan Donnelly, Gavin Bland, Andrew Scoffer Schofield, Dave Nuttall, Chris Hope and of course my lovely wife Kerry.

 

At Dunmail Raise

20150627_001_MS_JNC-76Kerry & Paul

 

20150627_002_MS_JNC-79Paul Leaving for Sty Head

 

 

20150627_003_MS_JNC-82Support and Scoffer Following

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Karen Parker (W50) – 29 August 2015

 

When your brother is Steve Birkinshaw, the record holder for the Wainrights Round (six and a half days), you can’t really expect your family to be that impressed by an attempt at the Joss Naylor Challenge taking a mere 14 hours. However they rallied to the cause brilliantly and I did the whole thing with just family help. Road support was provided my Mum, my sister Hilary and her partner Shaun, and hill support by husband Dan and Steve. I was raising money for the Sampson Centre, an MS Therapy centre Hilary attends and gets huge benefit from.

I left Pooley Bridge at 6:00 accompanied by Dan who was somewhat weighed down by a heavy rucsac. We made a steady start and by the time we reached Arthurs Peak I’d managed to get over my nerves and start to appreciate the serenity of the early morning hills. This is an area of the Lakes that we know very well as we live only about three miles east of Loadpot Hill and it was a real pleasure being there at a time of day we don’t normally see it. Maybe I was enjoying it too much as I was falling quite a long way behind my schedule (which had already been slowed down from the standard one on this section as it seemed so fast) or maybe I can blame the very strong southerly headwind and soggy underfoot conditions. As we ran towards Thornthwaite Beacon the clouds descended both literally and metaphorically as doubts about my chances of success were creeping in. Then somewhat unexpectedly, by Stony Cove Pike I was back on schedule. And despite a minor hiccup locating Pike How requiring us to get our the map we continued to gain time and arrived at Kirkstone five minutes up on schedule to an enthusiastic welcome from Mum, Hilary and Shaun.

It felt somewhat selfish to leave them after only five minutes, but it had to be done. The climb up Red Screes seemed easier than expected and it was probably the only time I’ve been up there without seeing anyone. As we approached Hart Crag, huge dark clouds appeared over Fairfield and heavy rain drops started falling. We rapidly put on cagoules but it was a false alarm and within minutes the rain had stopped. By Dunmail I was still within my schedule but definitely getting tired and not looking forward to the climb up Steel Fell at all.

Steve joined us at Dunmail, but had warned us that he was definitely not at his best, having felt very tired and a bit feverish all week, and that he might need to miss some of the tops. The original plan had been that he would be able to carry almost everything from now on, leaving Dan able to continue for as long as he wanted without being too weighed down, but now Dan was going to have a much harder time of it. We set off up the steep hill and thanks to lengthy discussion about injuries (probably a staple subject of most over 50 year olds) it passed more easily than expected. At the top it really did start raining. I assumed it was one of the forecast showers but in fact I didn’t take my cagoule off for another four hours. Having read reports by other contenders, I knew that the next section to High Raise was one of the least popular. I’d never really understood why but today, with the marshy bits wetter than I’d ever known, I agreed.

I really don’t like rocky descents, so wasn’t particularly looking forward to the section from Bowfell to Steeple, and the fact that the rocks were now wet wasn’t going to help. Rather than go down the steep north side of Great End (where all our earlier attempts to find a reasonable route had ended with me getting scared or cross or both) I went almost all the way back to Esk Hause, and then took the path to Sty Head. It was nice to have a chance to run freely again for a bit.

We had arranged for Shaun to walk up to Sty Head from Wasdale to bring us extra water, food and spare shoes. Unfortunately the plan had been concocted at 11 o’clock the previous evening and not really thought through so when he wasn’t there (because we were about 20 minutes up on schedule) we didn’t know what to do, or what he would do. We were a bit short of water, but we were more concerned about the fact that he might wait for ages getting increasingly worried about what had gone wrong. We decided that Steve should wait for him and fortunately he arrived about 5 minutes after Dan and I set off up Great Gable.

Surprisingly we managed to find a nicer route off Gable than any of us had ever managed before, somehow missing most of the sections of big boulders. Maybe the mist actually helped because we couldn’t see the normal line of cairns. The descent of Kirk Fell was less successful. I’d already decided not to go down the red gully but stay on the spur as it felt safer. It wasn’t. Somehow I tripped and found myself falling forward down a small crag. Amazingly the only damage was a very bruised knee but I definitely scared Steve and a passing walker.

By the time I reached the top of Pillar it began to feel as though the end was getting close and as I was now 20 minutes up on my schedule the only major risk to completion was falling over again. This thought made me even less confident on the rocks than I had been before and it was a huge relief to reach Haycock and grass. Finally as we descended from Seatallan we got properly out of the clouds for the first time for hours to find it was a lovely sunny evening.

I really enjoyed the final descent from Middle Fell, but nevertheless was very happy to be able to cross the finish line supplied by Joss and sit down.

Many thanks to my family for their support, especially Dan who came virtually the whole way despite the heavy rucksack but who, at 53, is a bit too young for a time of 13:25 to be fast enough. Maybe next year….

 

IMG_3316Finishing

 

IMG_3309Finished

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Eric Blakie (M60) – 08 August 2015

 

My Bob Graham was 15 years ago and since Foot and Mouth sidestepped me to Triathlon I haven’t really spent a lot of time on the fells apart from supporting other attempts at BG’s or Joss’s and the odd outing at the Langdale Horseshoe. Anyway it was on the bucket list and so we are at Pooley Bridge at 2.00 am on a 17.30 hr schedule for a 60 year old—actually 61 at the time. I must also mention that I had not seen some of our gang of pacers for some time and as I mentioned I was actually doing this for them----but it did feel very strange being the centre of attention !

So first leg-----wet wet wet underfoot but good weather and a reasonably clear night. Pacers Kevin Otto and Ian Smallwood.We missed the first peak Arthurs Pike by about 200m and had to back track. That cost us a few minutes which we never really got back plus in the dark I was trying to make sure no accidents as my knees have been playing up recently—walking poles helped tremendously in the mud ! Had to make a ‘nature stop’ on High Street costing another couple minutes but caught my pacers up by taking the shorter route up the wall.We met Richard Woodrow on Stoney Cove Pike who had backtracked from Kirkstone.Kirkstone arrived 11 mins down but no panic---took a shorter break.

Second leg with Graeme Dance and Ian Smallwood-- again. Kevin was in the plan for this but decided he may slow us up on the climbs. Fantastic views from the tops ---low mist/cloud to the west and clear to the east. Found it difficult to get the few minutes back on this leg as didn’t want to go too hard. I wasn’t looking forward to the decent off Fairfield but was surprised to find the zig zag down quite easy---the summer crowds had moved the loose scree aside. The decent off Seat Sandal is a bit taxing on sore knees but we came to Dunmail only 9 mins down to be met by all the team including my wife Dot duly ready with every need.

Third leg and no way back-----with Ruth Dance and Tim Malpass setting off 6 mins down.A good climb up Steel Fell got some time back but we had decided to go to High Raise via Sergeant Man rather than my usual route straight up Birks Gill which proved a mistake---it seems easier but is longer so we lost a few more minutes.Coming down from High Raise to Rossett Tim started to lag back and was clutching his thigh however waved us on---so we left him ! Well as a pacer you accept if you get injured you are on your own( not quite as we knew that we had support meeting us at Rossett who he would meet up with !).After Rossett we were met by my brother Clive who had come up from Langdale with Kevin’s son Jonathan—more importantly with the coffee. Quick coffee stop and up Bowfell keeping to the split time. We then made up time over Esk Pike and up to Great End then deciding not to do the Band but backtrack, cut the corner down a nice grassy slope and to the main path from Esk Hause. We were met by Ian and Pete on the path–and by virtually the whole gang again at Sty Head.

Last Leg---after a short break left on schedule. Kevin and Jonathan had decided to do leg 4 for their own amusement and had already set off finding their own routes with Pete.A good climb up Gable got some time back and we met up with Pete for Kirk Fell again gaining time. Richard made a brief appearance at Black Sail Pass to encourage us on but had obviously forgotten the coffee !!By Pillar we were 15 mins up but lost some of that when I had to put some tape on one of my toes.We met a Bob Graham attempt on Steeple and he was 40 mins down but tried to encourage him as from my experience many are 40 mins down at this point and you can make it up.

Kevin and Jonathan kept popping up but proceeded to take a horrible path off Haycock whereas Ian knew the ‘easy’ way off down the grass. They then headed straight for Greendale Bridge. Seatallan seems very foreboding and miles away from Haycock but we were soon over the bog and up the climb with one to go still 7 mins up. The last hill is always very welcome and we were met by quite a party—Richard still didn’t have the coffee but had a miniature whisky for me which was duly downed as photos were taken and down we set off. Then we were met by David Powell Thompson to take us down his route(Joss had been called away for some meeting) which was very nice especially as we had watched him on TV the week before in ‘A year in the life of a mountain(Scafell)’.So to Greendale Bridge and the finish---17 hrs and 27 minutes.

After various photos and a leg dip in Joss’s stream a couple of bottles of fizz ensued before we headed back to our accommodation near Keswick and a mad 2 hr celebration party. But what a day on the fells in clear weather and with a fantastic bunch of pacers and supporters—very difficult to put into words but an experience I shall always remember –thanks guys ! Oh and as for the continuous micky taking and insults—well it keeps you going and your mind off the pain—certainly it was pay back for many !!!!!

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Bryan Staddon (M55) – 31 August 2015

 

This challenge has hung over me for several years since making an unofficial attempt on a sub 12 hour round solo in 2010 and missing the final two summits leading into Wasdale. Since then I have organised two other attempts based on sub 12 hour schedules, one was a non-starter due to a late injury and the other I abandoned at Rossett Pike as the schedule slipped away and the weather deteriorated,

So a few years pass and now at 59 years I had another 3 hours available on the schedule, time for another attempt. The problem I have always had though is the logistics of organising an attempt living in the South in Bristol. There has never been a pool of avid fell runners available in my running club – multi-terrain was the closest most got to true off-road running. Most had never even heard of the challenge, it was very much Joss who? And mention navigation and you may as well forget it! My chances of getting a group ready for a planned date and then getting good weather were pretty slim.

This year there was no detail planning, and I had not sorted anything bar a casual mention to a husband and wife team who were keen mountain marathon competitors – Bill & Claire Graham. They knew the route and they now had a caravan sited near Keswick for the season and were up there as often as possible this year. So the first hurdle of availability was sorted albeit a skeleton crew which also included my wife Hilary as road support, all I needed was to find a good weather window at short notice. We had all decided to head off to the Lakes for the August Bank Holiday and I had casually mentioned about the possibility of fitting in an attempt and had initially considered Sunday 30th August, this eventually moved to Monday 31st . The seed was sown and plans were hurriedly put in place. Bill & Claire had already agreed to do two legs each which we had considered feasible on a 15 hour schedule although I would have to carry more of my own food and drink to assist each other, the luxury of minimal weight was not possible on this attempt. The plan was:

Leg 1 – supported by Claire & return to campsite, then drive herself to Wasdale Head for Leg 3 from Sty Head

Legs 2 & 3 – supported by Bill & return to Greendale Bridge from Sty Head

Leg 4 – supported by Claire to Greendale Bridge

We had also considered for Bill to get to beneath Seatallan and give Claire the option of missing the last two summits if time allowed

Start Pooley Bridge – 7.01am

The weather was good as forecasted and the view towards High Street was clear with low winds an encouraging start. We wanted to start at 07.00 to match the timing chart however a last minute nervous loo break seen me rushing to the start and we departed at 07.01. The caravan site proved a problem to find the way out, eventually the gate to the fells materialised and we felt we were now on our way. The ground was boggy from the heavy rains earlier in the week and we started to slip behind the schedule. I felt stressed my breathing was erratic and I could not seem to settle into a steady pace. I was concerned as I had expected to be ahead on this section. By Kirkstone Pass I had however gained the time back and had now relaxed into the event. I took a full 10mins at the Pass whist the pacers sorted the kit and Hilary fed and watered me.

Bill now took over the pacing and we set off on the 1000ft climb of Red Screes, the path is much improved and it now seemed to go OK. On Fairfield I felt the wind strength increase but it was northerly and felt it was assisting me. We took what we thought was a good line off Seat Sandal aiming for the path through the bracken but ended up descending steep slopes to the path a bit earlier one day I will get this bit right.

At Dunmail I was 4 mins up on the schedule so took an extended break before the haul up Steel Fell. Bill was continuing with me on this leg to Sty Head. The section from Steel Fell to High Raise is my least favourite, I always seemed to go a different way even when recceing and I feel that I am on a poor line at the time and wallowing in bogs but I guess it’s the same all over. The climb to Bowfell was the first point where I felt a real tiredness and found the climb quite hard., despite this though I was 6 mins up at Bowfell and now back on hard stoney tracks felt a lot better and made good time to Sty Head. We took the direct route off Great End following a recce last year, however this time we struggled to find a good line, I fell over and bashed my knee and regretted this route choice. It did however prove to be faster route choice and we arrived at Sty Head now 17mins ahead with a smiling Claire to greet us at the stretcher box with fresh supplies.

Bill would now drop off to the finish and Claire would pace me the final 13 miles and 5000ft, there was 1500ft of it facing us to ascend Great gable. I only took 3mins rest at Sty Head and set off ahead of Claire whist she sorted the kit. The path was good and I made good time on my schedule getting up in 28mins. The rocky sections now started in earnest which were made worse by a developing shower which made the rocks pretty lethal to descend and several tumbles ensued. Despite this we made good time over Kirkfell and Pillar with detours to Scoat Fell and Steeple. The evening was drawing in and we wanted to get as far as possible before the darkness slowed us down. A good descent off Haycock keeping well to the right avoided all the rocks and before Seatallan we met Bill again having ascended from Greendale with head torches which we had forgotten. Claire was pleased so she could miss out the last two summits and descend direct to Greendale. We needed the head torches by the start of the climb up Middlefell, I now wished that I had got out of bed earlier! We found the good descent path from the summit in the darkness and were soon finished albeit not much after Claire who had struggled down the main path in darkness, wishing she had waited for us beneath Middlefell.

The customary photos were taken on Greendale Bridge and although it was now 9.16pm Joss came out to meet us to round off an epic day out finishing in 14hrs 16mins. It was great to discuss the route with the master, his enthusiasm has not diminished, what an inspiration he is, I will treasure those few moments spent in his company!

P1030495

All we had to do now was get back to the campsite in Thornthwaite and a beer!

Thanks to my pacers – Bill and Claire and my wife Hilary for the road support and looking after all our needs so well, a team (albeit small team) effort

Bryan Stadden

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Jim Kelly (M65) – 01 August 2015

 

Originally planned as a joint attempt but with Colin (Ardron) unfortunately side-lined with an ankle problem all the attention, and pressure, was now on me, or at least that was how it seemed at 6pm on Friday night in Pooley Bridge. Most of our supporters had stayed on board for the solo attempt but there had been some late changes to the running order and I could not be sure exactly who would be where. The nerves and adrenalin precluded clear thinking, however, and I was anxious to be off.

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Led out by Phil Cheek, five of us set off on a clear but blowy evening for the long gradual pull up to the High Street range. Beyond the first summit the views soon opened up, the mountains set in profile against the setting sun and darkening cloud formations. I had always known that this would be the best of the four sections, and so it proved, although I needed to resist the temptation to use up too much energy on the long grassy runnable slopes. The forecast was for a worsening weather picture with rain and winds on the way but it was not until the descent to Kirkstone that any rain disturbed our contentment. Despite strict marshalling by Phil we were almost half an hour up on schedule.

A quick changeover, and the donning of full waterproof cover was the prelude to the ascent of Red Screes. Guided by Julie Gardner and Johnny, a Jack Russell with more miles in his legs than any veteran runner, and supported by Hazel Winder, we made good progress to the first summit on this leg. The water pouring down the stepped path, however, was a clear indicator of what lay ahead and from this point on we were up against it. For the remainder of the section we were lashed by driving rain, strong gusts of wind seeking out weaknesses in our cover and enveloped by the pitch darkness, worsened (if that seemed possible) by swirling mists. Our route to Hart Crag and Fairfield proved to be a regular struggle to stay on course, and it was difficult to stay warm. Hazel was reminded of some of the worst mountain rescue incidents she'd encountered though thankfully she didn't tell me of them until the following day. Despite everything, Julie kept us going in the right direction but descending Seat Sandal brought the new problem of mud. The studs on my tried and trusted fell shoes became embedded with mud and I slipped numerous times. Our relief getting down to Dunmail Raise was shared by those waiting; we were behind schedule but more than ready for breakfast.

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With two wildly contrasting legs behind me, and conscious of the long and rocky sections to come, I could reasonably have felt a little down-hearted at this stage, but surprisingly I was fairly confident that we would not lose any further time. A brief glimpse of the fabled blue moon near the top of Steel Fell was a boost to tired spirits and one of the delights of the whole round proved to be the magnificent sunrise that brightened the dull and tiring trudge up to High Raise. The gradual dawning of the new day, however, and an easing of the rain helped as we maintained our course. It was a matter of staying focused and continuing to eat and drink. John

Kavanagh's stories of adventures in the wacky world of kayaking were also a helpful distraction from occasional moments of self-doubt. Pinpoint navigation from Julie and Dave Tucker got us safely to Styhead with some minutes clawed back, and wasting little time we looked Great Gable in the face and started off on this long final leg.

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Still climbing fairly well, I was more concerned about the rocky descents to come. Carefully guided down Gable and Kirk Fell by Chris Cripps, we made slow but steady progress, helped by the more settled weather serving to dry the rocks. The oft-repeated advice to ‘just put one foot in front of another’ was followed faithfully as each hill was slowly ticked off. By the time we reached Haycock, it was clear that short of major incident I would be successful in getting round. Perhaps that caused me to lose some focus for from that point on, I really felt tired and had to fight the desire to just lie down in the sunshine but, by now joined by a fair crowd of supporters, I would have been lucky to get away with it! Seatallan was a cruel climb, a seemingly endless ascent that saw me at my weakest. Never has a top been more joyfully greeted.

Happy scenes on Middle Fell as the cameras clicked incessantly but standing still seemed to invite sleep so it was better to keep moving. The steep descent into Greendale through the high ferns seemed to go on forever but we kept up a steady jog until finally, after 22 hours 55 minutes of Lakeland traverse, I was on the bridge where I was greeted by Joss Naylor and all my supporters, warm in their congratulations and happy at my success. Despite my tiredness, it seemed almost a disappointment that it was all over, a challenge that had taken up so much of my time and energy over many weeks had finally been achieved.

During my preparations, I had noted that this weekend would be exactly 27 years since my successful Bob Graham Round, probably an unusual anniversary for celebrations. The occasion is traditionally commemorated in marriage with gifts of sculpture, rather apt perhaps as I thought about the huge rocks I’d encountered during the second half of the Joss Naylor Round.

I later learned that my successful attempt had earned me the accolade of oldest Macclesfield Harrier to have completed the Round. I was unsure about this honour as nobody welcomes reminders of their passing years, but a suggestion that I could be the first from any club to have got round during the time of a blue moon felt rather more agreeable. A record that should be safe for at least the next three years?

I could not have completed the Joss Naylor Challenge without the support of all those Macclesfield Harriers, past and present who gave so freely of their time and experience. The club is renowned for its fine record of achievement when it comes to long distance fell-running, and being able to call on that expertise was a key factor in my success. I am very grateful to you all.

 

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