The JNLC is a traverse of 30 summits over a distance of 48 miles and climbing 17,000 feet from Pooley Bridge (GR NY 470 244) to Greendale Bridge (GR NY 143 056).
Joss Naylor’s inaugural run was in 1990. The challenge was created with Chris Brasher offering engraved pewter tankards to successful contenders with the rules being that the attempts are validated and signed with at least £100 being provided to a charity. After 30 odd tankards were awarded in the first 10 years Joss secured on-going sponsorship for the tankards.
I asked for and got a great team of experienced navigators, pacers and logistical support lined up. I then practiced a few legs, worked out my schedule and logged my attempt with Ian Charters the JNLC Coordinator.
On the day of the attempt I got up at dawn had breakfast and strolled down from Park Foot Campsite along Ullswater with Verna, Nigel, Jane and Steve to meet John on the new Pooley Bridge.
Leg 1 – Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass
We set off in crisp clear conditions, reaching Arthur’s Pike 8 mins under the schedule. This gave confidence as Leg 1 requires quite fast running to meet the schedule. For the first and only time we encountered cloud, on the summit of Loadpot Hill but this was gone as we raced past the derelict Lowther House. Raced, because we encountered and had to run through a rabbled cloud of crane flies that wanted to investigate our clothes, mouths and ears.
We soon reached familiar Hodgeson Mountain Relay route territory where we then detoured to Pike How and were able to miss out St Raven’s Edge getting to Kirkstone Pass.
Leg 2 – Kirkstone Pass to Dunmail Raise
Did you know that Kirkstone Pass is named after a nearby stone that has a silhouette that resembles a church steeple? Anyway the plan was to have a hobbit style second breakfast of porridge aside the 3rd highest pub in England (the others being Tan Hill in Yorkshire and the Cat and Fiddle in the Peak District.) The plan failed as the logistics crew hadn’t allowed for me being 30 minutes up on schedule. So it was off up Red Screes, where we passed Verna, Jane and Kirsty.
Alan led Steve and I on some great HMR lines to Scandale Pass and across to Hart Crag with breath-taking views coming off of Fairfield. Grisedale Tarn was a disturbingly dark black.
|Support Team on Fairfield|
I knew I was doing well as on the climb to Seat Sandal, Steve was behind me. Whereas during team events or mountain marathons Steve is invariably ahead on me seemingly strolling on climbs with hands clasped behind his back whilst I bring up the rear, often on all fours. So running into Dunmail was great and I was now almost an hour ahead of schedule.
Leg 3 – Dunmail to Styhead Pass
After a few spoonfuls of porridge I set off with Ross and Simon up Steel Fell. Andy was a few minutes late so climbed to the summit in 17 minutes to catch us up.
|Leg Three Start|
With an hour in hand all I wanted to do was keep exactly to the schedule so it was running, taking in view across the Langdale Pikes and more running until the rocky climbs up Bowfell, Esk Pike and Great End. Simon led the way brilliantly off of Great End and suggested stopping to bathe in Styhead Tarn. Instead we ran into a crowd of supporters in party atmosphere at Styhead Pass with my hour still in hand.
Leg 4 – Styhead to Greendale Bridge
|Leg Four Start|
There were some steep climbs in short order on this leg and Great Gable didn’t disappoint. The support crew strolled to Wasdale, had a picnic and a pint of cool beer at the pub before heading towards Greendale. Still we more or less met the summit schedule all the way to Scoat Fell. Simon and Andy took a rest here to fuel themselves on more rolls and jelly babies to my occasional dextrose tablet taken on the move. Ross and I nipped across the col to Steeple as crossing a drawbridge to a Tintagel like Castle, thrilling route with great views.
Alan met us at the summit of Haycock and then led us to Seatallon. This allowed Andy and me to catch Ross and Simon, not least because they had the water. This is where I missed Kevin Harding and Rick Ansell as I daydream of them pushing me up this penultimate hill.
However, the daydream turned into calculating that I had time to walk the rest of the way and still be successful, so there was an air of celebration. Celebration became real 14 hours and 22 minutes from the start as we arrived at the finish to all our supporters waving and cheering. The boys held back to let me run in alone, but I wanted none of that. It was important to me to run in together not least because for me the support is not only needed but part of the fun.
The final run in off Middle Fell, nearly there!
|Final Run In|
Joss was also waiting for us, so a quick shake of the hands, a photo on the Bridge and a sit down in the stream was the order of the day. Well that was a nice long day out in the hills!
SUPPORT TEAM – Thank you
My chosen charity is SSAFA (The Armed Forces Charity)