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, 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 !!!!!