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.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Simon Rippon (M50) - 08 July 2017



I spent most of the week leading up to the ‘Joss’ looking and relooking at the weather forecasts on various websites trying to convince myself that all would be well on the one variable that is impossible to manage. By the Tuesday it was a 50/50 call as to whether the high or low pressure front would move over Cumbria – I’d decided that I wouldn’t ask my support to travel if the conditions were going to be very unsettled as this would impede my chances of completion. Late Wednesday all was good on the forecasts and I got an email out to my supporters to say I was good to go.

Jude Stansfield (my partner and Glossopdale runner) and I drove up from Holmfirth on Friday and we met my brother Tim (Dark Peak) and Lins Palmer (Glossopdale) at Pooley Bridge and we camped on a very busy site (not to be repeated!) on what was a lovely sunny evening. I sorted my hill kit and went through the list of things to do at road stops and gave this to Jude. We then had a walk into the village and called at the pub – for a pre-dinner ginger beer and chips!

Up early on Saturday morning to blue skies, sunshine and a cool breeze, this gave me confidence, as I knew we’d be in for a good hill day. After cups of tea, muesli and fruit, Tim, Jude and I walked down the lane and across the fields to the bridge. I had a few minutes by myself to get my thoughts together and give myself a pep’ talk and off we went at 7.00am.

Leg 1: Support – Tim Rippon (Dark Peak)

I’d been told many times that the pace on leg 1 was ‘relentless’, ‘bloody fast’ and ‘you needed to hold on’ but undeterred I cracked on through the caravan park and up onto the open fell. I know when fit my pace is strong but wasn't sure what I’d be like at Kirkstone on a 2:42 schedule for this leg with more to follow. Regardless, I ticked off the tops and felt strong, positive and relaxed although Tim told me I wasn’t to be too hasty and needed to come off the pace a little; checking my times I was fine. All well. Time passed quickly as the views unfolded along the Roman ridge and soon to Kidsty Pike and onward to Thornthwaite where I opted to stay well right of the usual path running on grassy slopes to the bottom – there’d be time aplenty for rocky paths! Tim kept me well watered and I nibbled on flapjack. As we climbed up through Stoney Cove I backed off the pace and took in the views out to Leg 2 and beyond and perhaps this was why I missed my line onto Pike How – Tim shouted me back and I had to retrace my line to top the summit, that cost me too much time and saw me slightly off my arrival time into Kirkstone. I wasn’t worried about being ‘down on schedule’ at this point – there was plenty to do yet! I had a quick stop, didn’t feel I needed anything apart from a cup of tea, some water and fruit cake. I was ready for the climb up to Red Screes where I was to meet Ian Charlesworth (Penistone Footpath Runners) who was tasked with support down to Dunmail.

Leg 2 Support Lins Palmer (Glossopdale) Ian Charlesworth (Penistone Footpath Runners)

Lins and I chatted about all sorts as we paced up the well worn path topping out just before the trig where Ian was waiting; a quick hand shake and I thanked him for turning out for me and we were off. We took my preferred trod and began to pick our descent down toward Scandale. The time went well, we admired the open views and commented on the cool breeze as we went. I’d seen a good line when watching the Ian Hodgson Relays last year where Dark Peak men’s team had sliced off the corner of the climb and having recce’d it took that and was pleased that we topped up with ground saved. Heading to Hart Crag we met Steve Sanders (Penistone Footpath Runners) who’d come over via Dunmail, he ran with us a while but said he found the pace a bit too hectic and we met him again later. Good lines made for good running out to Fairfield. I wasn’t watching the clock and for some reason lost a few minutes to Seat Sandal – maybe a bit too much social chit chat going on! I felt relaxed heading off the steep grassy line from Seat Sandal and could see Jude and others waiting at the stile. I was down on schedule by around 15 minutes a culmination of Leg 1 error and too much social on Leg 2 maybe. It was good to chat with Willy Kitchen (Dark Peak) as I gathered fresh gear, sun cream and food to go.

Leg 3 Support Mike Bourne and Sarah Broadhurst (Dark Peak)

As with the BG, looking up the climb to Steel Fell is always daunting and I knew that this leg was to be the big challenge – heading into Borrowdale where the climbs come more often, the terrain is a challenge and physically tiring. I was ready for this.

We top out on Steel Fell, Mike was joking and making banter and it felt a good distraction. I reminded myself of the lines out to High Raise opting to run out toward Greenup Edge and not taking the usual BG lines. It made for better running although the rain earlier in the week made the ground very boggy in places, which was strength sapping. Hitting the top edge path we ran an angle to the trig and we were greeted by “well done” “good running” from walkers basking in the sun. The line down was great toward Rossett, I really opened my stride and felt confident in my running and energy level – then I hit a wet grassy shoot and ended up on my back flying down hill, in snowy conditions it would’ve warranted an ice axe arrest technique! I was wet through and Mike was laughing, Sarah was more supportive asking if I was OK!

As we reached Langdale Coombe I said I wanted to take a lower line off the Rossett Edge area then do a short climb up to the Pike. As we made our way I was sure I’d made a wrong choice as it seemed convoluted; as we contoured Rossett Pike came into view and we went to the cairn, job done and now for Bow Fell.

Sarah did a great job leading the lines round and up the rake, which is heavily cairned these days. There wasn’t much chat just the occasional joke about the hell that is climbing fells when tired, Sarah offered Mike and I a lemon sherbet (if we were good!!) and joked that we had to keep it whole in our mouth for as long as possible - a good fell running game.

Bow Fell was busy, Sarah and I didn’t hang about and made our way out to Esk Pike chatting about France, sunshine, living simply and outdoor swimming – passing the time and perhaps distracting me from the miles to go. We met Mike at Esk Pike, he decided he’d see us at Sty Head and trotted off as Sarah and I jogged up toward the climb to Great End. We cheered on the Wasdale race folk as they came by.

At this stage I knew I was heading for my rubicon, Styhead and then Great Gable. I’d said to myself many times leading up to the run ‘if I can get to the stretcher box in good nick there’s all to play for’. I was in good nick, focused, had energy and enjoying the hills and the company.

Leg 4

Willy Kitchen (Dark Peak) was at Sty Head where I grabbed some food and said thanks and good bye to Mike. Sarah and I strode on to the flagged path of Gable. Willy followed but said he couldn’t manage the pace (fair play given he’d just supported a BG long night leg) and soon left us to make his way back to Wasdale.

Gable done and now I was really fired up as Sarah had mentioned that Tim was to be at Blacksail Pass for me. Right, let’s crack on. Eat, drink and trot was my mantra. Sarah was easy company, chatting, offering me bits to eat and encouraging me on. Kirkfell came and we made the red gully line perfectly and looking ahead I could see the remaining hills to come. We hit Blacksail and there was Tim with Jude and our Bedlington Terrior - Milo - terrific. After a brief greeting we were off, Sarah dropped down with Jude and I thanked them both. Job well done Sarah.

The trot out to Pillar felt a bloody age. Tim was pushing me, “come on Bro’ I don’t want any backing off now….I need a bit more from you”. Schedule wise I had clawed back most of my lost time and as we hit the next few tops I was correcting my losses. Tim was thankfully giving me no choices food wise – “get this gel down you”, “eat this sandwich…” as we marched up toward Scoat Fell and Steeple. I knew I could finish this job but had lost sight of where I was schedule wise, all I could see was the real time on my watch; I said to Tim “Bro, I need to know the total times for topping out the last 3 hills…” he told me, I checked my watch, right it’s looking good.

The line out to Haycock looked to go on forever, more gels and a fast run down the grassy reaches then fast paced walk to the summit. I’d run with Nicky Spinks here on her Joss and knew the grass ramp line to the far left away from the boulders. We hit it well and were then heading across some wet ground to climb the last big top – the nemesis that is Seatallon. Late afternoon sun, tired legs, a determined mind and we hit the trig and switched back to the trod to descend to the valley bottom and the gentle slopes of Middle Fell. Almost home. Tim was running ahead and shouting me to “give him some more…..” running along the top of Middle Fell to the far cairn I did slow to savour the day for a moment. I knew apart from a bad mishap I’d be at Greendale in no time. Tim and I stopped at the cairn, he recorded the time, I put my arm over his shoulder to thank him for all he’d done and for sharing the day. “Right, lets get off…” he said and away we went on the twisting descent. I could see the bracken had become waist high so any quick lines were limited but I did manage to find a cut through and passed Tim. We headed to the flat grassy ramps along the beck and Tim was out in front. I could hear clapping and cheering and words of encouragement and saw my support on the bridge. It suddenly dawned on me that Tim would be there first so I thought hang on! I accelerated and was past him and turned onto the lane to touch the stone of the bridge warmed by the day's sun. I completed in 11:40 bang on schedule.

Joss was there smiling and my days support too, it was a terrific moment which I savoured. I thanked Joss for putting the route and challenge down, we both agreed it was a bloody good day on the hill and tougher as it went on.

I need to thank all those that turned out to help me, a big thanks to Jude for her support during the months of training and recce’ing and being at the road side too. My hill support was sparse but it was the right people on the day – people I trust on the hill, who respect these kind of endeavours and are bloody good company!

Simon Rippon.
(Dark Peak Fell Runners).


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