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

1 comment:

  1. Obviously you are no relation to the Karen Birkinshaw who used to take the piss out of me for my enthusiasm for fell-running at Cambridge . . .

    ReplyDelete