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, 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

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