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.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Andy Watts (M65) – 20 June 2015

 

We set off from Pooley Bridge at 4:45 on this my second Joss Naylor traverse (the first having been in 2010, aged 60).  This was to be a ‘lightweight’ day out, with just two pacers, Joe Llewellyn taking legs 1 and 2 to Dunmail, and Ian Smallwood going through from there to the finish, with the two of them sorting out car transportation between them.  In the event we had several more helpers and at times became quite a large party.

The weather forecast was for intermittent rain and light winds, and so it turned out, except that we were in clag all day barring a couple of hours in the afternoon.  The first stage went well, and we found our way up to High Street and down to Kirkstone with no problems.  I had planned to walk straight through at Kirkstone, but we were joined by Nick and Clare Harris and a climbing friend Jonathan, and paused briefly for introductions.  Route-finding over to Hart Crag was difficult, and we ended up going North from Scandale Tarn and following the wall as a useful handrail.  Nick demonstrated the grassy route down from Fairfield, but I stuck to the zig-zags.  At this stage I was wearing Hokas – really good shoes for long distances on rock, but hopeless on wet grass!  Coming down Seat Sandal was a bit hair-raising with slidy shoes on the steep slope, but we reached Dunmail in good shape, if rather down on schedule.

 

IMG_20150620_112818At Dunmail, Andy Watts is third from the left. (photo: Mike Langrish)

It was good to be met by Mike Langrish at Dunmail, and to be joined by Geoff Cox.  After a change of shoes and socks, and a full ‘expedition foods’ serving of porridge with strawberries (800 calories and thoroughly to be recommended) we set off up Steel Fell 25 minutes down.  This was a very wet section, with light persistent rain adding to the heavy clag, but we kept up reasonable time until the descent off Great End, which seemed to take for ever.  This section deserves a thorough recce, as looking back on it from Sty Head Pass there seems to be a grassy route down on the Western flank.  We stopped at Sty Head only long enough to liberate a couple of hot-cross buns (excellent mountain food), a banana, and to top up the jelly baby pocket.  A brief window of sunshine gave superb views.

At this stage tiredness was beginning to set in, and I was losing a few minutes on each peak, particularly on the descents.  The clag returned on the way up to Scoat Fell, and we were treated to the rare sight of a perfectly circular rainbow on the mist down in the valley.  I’m reliably informed that this phenomenon is called a Brocken Spectre, and it was very impressive, if just about impossible to photograph – my poor attempt turned out looking more like a sheep in a fog.  Route finding on this leg is not too demanding, though we had to cast around after Haycock to find the runnable way down.  I was surprised to find clear trods all the way across to Seatallan, as I remember having to go just on compass bearing five years ago.  My descent of Middlefell must have been painful to behold as I was now going very slowly on the rocky path, and I lost a further 15 minutes on this section alone.  Joss came out to meet us at Greendale Bridge, and it was great to have a few minutes chatting – it was limited to no more than a few minutes partly because it was already getting dark, and also because the midges were out in force.

The final result was a successful traverse, taking 17 hours 40 minutes, approximately 3 hours more than I took in 2010 but still well within the 24 hour limit.  I think we probably lost an hour or so due to the weather, and the accumulation of minor route errors caused by the clag. An hour at least was due to taking the whole event at quite a relaxed pace, determined to enjoy it rather than go for a time.  But part of the difference must be due to the legs being 5 years older than last time!

 

AndyWattsAndy and Ian at Ore Gap – thanks to Geoff Cox for the photo.

A great day out on the hills, and thanks to Joe and Ian for pacing, and to Clare, Nick, Jonathan and Geoff for their company.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Jenny Helme (W65) – 14 June 2014


History: How did I come to find myself on Pooley Bridge, lined up with Carol, Dave and Simon,
seconds counting down to 10pm, ready for the off?

The Back Story: It started last year when Carol and I enjoyed a couple of long distance walks
and, as a result, she suggested trying the JNLC as a good follow up. “What did it entail?” I
asked. “Oh, something similar to what we’ve done ­ but to be completed in 24hrs.” I felt doubtful
but knew I’d enjoy the training and see how I got on.

In November I met the guys from the LOC, a great bunch and good company, who were already
well into their training schedule and my doubts increased. This was not going to be an amiable
amble in the fells. However it felt good to be stretched.

My training was patchy due to major family events tying me up for over 2 months but I did what I
could in the scraps of time between playing with grandchildren and cooking for crowds. By May it looked as if I was committed. Carol and I agreed we’d support each other, keep a steady and comfortable pace as we just wanted to finish and still be standing at the end.


Helpers: Leg 1: Andy, neighbour, friend and outdoor ed. instructor, paced us well and kept
conversation lively and interesting so time flew by.
Leg 2: Pete, husband and fell runner, really enjoyed photographing the dawn and had to keep
running to catch up.
Legs 3 & 4: John, my son, experienced BG pacer, encouraged us and kept a close eye on when
we were showing signs of fatigue and insisted we ate and drank.
Roady: Mhairi, daughter­ in­ law, 7 months pregnant and ultra distance runner, had prepared me
so well and had the stops well organized.

Highs ­ so many!
● The weather was really on our side but walking into the dawn over Red Screes was
magical ­ a kaleidoscope of pastel colours and drifts of mist. And then Carol then found a
hidden nest of newly hatched pipit chicks.
● Thanks to Andy’s nifty map ap. we picked up leg 1 checkpoints with ease ­ very
reassuring in the dark
● The camaraderie and support at official stops, particularly the party atmosphere at Sty
Head, Selwyn Wright meeting us at Rossett Pike, Ian Charters with his band of
meeters and greeters on Black Sail Pass was almost surreal and Mhairi meeting us on
Middle Fell, we couldn’t fail to be lifted by the tremendous good will.
● A peanut butter sandwich that restored energy on the plod up High Raise.
● Selwyn’s magic coffee. It refired all cylinders and kept me going to the end.
● The incremental gaining of time at each checkpoint
● Our preparation ­ we’d worked on finding the best routes in a few tricky sections and
were delighted that navigation went smoothly.

Lows ­ so few!
● Leg 2’s bogs and slog up the squelchy slopes of High Raise when doubts crept in as legs went leaden and energy dissipated.
● A couple of times Carol wondered if her knee was would last out ­ but it did!

By Haycock I was mechanically ticking off the ups and downs. By repeating, just put one foot in
front of the other you’ll do it ­ and they did ­ and we’d done it. Wow! As we came down the final
slope and met Joss himself, his delight at our achievement was the icing on the cake.

20140614_001_wasdale-131Carol, Joss and Jenny at Greendale Bridge

I had had no previous experience with which to compare the physical challenges of the JNLC
and had started out with no expectations other than to give it a go. To complete and still feel fine
is one of the biggest surprises of my life. Isn’t it good that, at 67, there are still new things to find
out about yourself!

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Simon Cane (M65) – 14 June 2014

 

It was in November 2013 that Dick Towler invited any aging members of the Lakeland Orienteering Club to join him in preparing for the JNC, to be done on or after his birthday in June 2014. It seemed like a good idea to join in the fortnightly training sessions, and then assess nearer the time whether it seemed feasible to complete the challenge. So I joined in a series of ever longer speed-walks in weather that always seemed to challenge the efficiency of our thermal gear and waterproofs.

By the beginning of May, having completed just over two of the JNC legs in one go and in reasonable time, I decided I could no longer avoid joining in the challenge! Leaving everything to the last minute meant a first recce of leg 4 nine days before the day, and the need to share Dave Nield’s support crew on the route. I did, however, have the masterful support of my sister, Diana, and daughter, Sarah, at the rest stops. The week before the challenge was spent resting, planning and buying the food & kit for each rest stop & wondering if it was worth trying to sleep during the day before our 10pm start. The omens were good, possibly: it was Friday the 13th, and a full moon!

The first leg went very calmly - there was little wind. The light held for about an hour before head-torches were needed, and after a couple of hours the cloud started to break up and we got memorable sights of the moon reflecting in the nearby small tarns, and shimmering in distant Windermere. We arrived at Kirkstone almost half an hour ahead of schedule, disturbing a rather sleepy support crew!

The rest stop at Kirkstone went all too quickly, but the next leg over Fairfield in the growing light went without problems. In the distance ahead, however, the clouds seemed to be clinging to the peaks around Great Gable, and the visibility was less than during the night. We were still going faster than our schedule and by Dunmail Raise were over an hour ahead.

By High Raise I was in unknown territory, as we were now exceeding the longest distance we had done in training. All went well until Bowfell, where weariness set in, and I found I was unable to take in any significant amounts of food - even a single jelly baby made me feel vaguely sick. I began to doubt my ability to finish. As we descended a less than ideal route off Great End I saw Dick Towler ahead of us, despite him having started two hours after us - he was definitely going like a train!

At Sty Head I managed to eat a little, and was revived somewhat by two cups of tea, but setting off up Great Gable I struggled to keep up with Dave and his crew. However, summiting Great Gable after a slower pace & realising I could catch up on the downhill seemed to reassure me and confidence returned. At the same time as my confidence returned the cloud descended and little was seen of the next five summits. In addition there was a short shower and more wind as we went through Scoat Fell. In the mist we took an unintended direction of descent from Haycock - but the loss of time on this section was irrelevant to us as, despite out exhaustion, we had still be making faster progress than planned - and barring accidents knew we would be within the 24 hour limit. At this point Cliff Etherden caught us up - he also had started two hours after us!

The downhill finish was a dream and I did a totally unnecessary sprint to the bridge to overtake Cliff and finish to the applause of my club mates, including a shattered Dick, who had broken the 18 hour barrier. More importantly, there was Joss himself to greet us all in - a memorable end to the challenge. An hour later Carol McNeill & Jenny Helme appeared to complete our band of six achieving sub 24-hour times.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Pat Goodall (W60) – 30 May 2015

 

What a day!

After all the planning, recceing and preparing it finally arrived. Luckily I was fine but the few days before and the day itself were not without concern particularly regarding the support crew. Two supporters were allocated to each leg, totalling eight, but just before the event I lost two to injuries and even my two reserves were either injured or having to work. So I was down to six instead of eight. However, one of the six agreed to run 2 legs and another 1 ½ legs. Then as we drove up to the Lakes there was a phone call with a further problem so another one down. I had just 5 running supporters with a road crew of 4.

Never-the-less, my partner, Jeremy, woke me with a cup of tea at 2.15 and I set off at 4.00am on a cold but clear morning from Pooley Bridge with two supporters. It was so light we didn’t even need head torches. This is a lovely runnable leg and I really enjoyed seeing the sun come up. I was well wrapped up so didn’t suffer with the cold. However, one of the guys wasn’t feeling great so wouldn’t be able to do leg 3 as planned. We arrived at Kirkstone 3 hours 12 minutes later, 24 minutes up on my time schedule. I had decided to run on the women’s 55 schedule, to try and do less than 16 hours although I was allowed 18. There I was fed porridge and coffee and went off 10 minutes later with Janet, eating a sandwich as I went.

It was still chilly on the tops although bright and clear. We walked and chatted up to Red Screes then set off running towards Hart Crag. It started to warm up a little but suddenly I realised that Janet was dropping back. She had suffered a cold for a few days but thought that she was better but now she felt weak and dizzy. She needed to sit down. She decided to ring her partner, Paul, who was at Dunmail Raise ready for the next leg and he set off up Seat Sandal to find us. It was a worrying time but it all worked out in the end. There I was met by Mike Langrish. Despite the problems I was still 25 minutes ahead of schedule. This time it was rice pudding and coffee.

Paul and I set off up Steel Fell. It’s a long drag up to High Raise, a lot of it over boggy ground – a nightmare when the clag is down but it remained clear for us. Then Rossett Pike and up Billy’s Rake to Bowfell (a daunting prospect the first time you do it). Next along to Esk Pike and Great End and then down The Band to Sty Head. What a joy to be met at Sty Head by 7 Totley AC members. Drinks of tea and more rice pudding but I drew the line at being fed it while still eating a peanut butter sandwich!

I set off 10 minutes later with two supporters and I was still 20 minutes up on my schedule. Up Great Gable then down and up Kirk Fell and down Red Gully. Steve left us as planned to make his way down Black Sail Pass. I found out later that he had developed a tight calf after leg 1 but still did those two peaks with us as my chief navigator. Just Colin and I now and I was slowing down. I had taken one painkiller for a tight muscle in the top of my right leg and I was struggling to eat but I did not get grumpy. I knew I would finish but could I break 15 ½ hours? Colin was very encouraging even as I slogged up Seatallan, the cruel penultimate peak. Then as we came down from there I spotted Jeremy’s bright yellow hat (this had been my beacon at several points throughout the day). Just Middle Fell to go and the final run down to Greendale Bridge was great to be met by 5 friends….and, of course, Joss himself along with his wife, Mary. I was very happy with my time of 15 hours 19 minutes. Huge thanks to the whole team – I couldn’t have done it without them.

I have to give special thanks to Jeremy for the time spent planning and worrying about all this, I know that he’d rather have been running down a road somewhere than being led down scree gullies or over boulder fields.

As I say, what a day! And I raised well over £1000 for the charity Reverse Rett.