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, 3 April 2018

George Critchley (M60) - 29 July 2017

My Joss Naylor Challenge started last November when Carole asked what I wanted to do for my 60th birthday and I had no idea. After looking on the calendar and seeing that the 29th July was on a Saturday I just came out with it and said I fancy doing the Joss.

I had this vision on the Friday night driving up to Pooley Bridge for the 4am departure that I would see the sunrise in the east as we were going to reach Arthur's Pike at about 4:50. Haha some chance.

I set off bang on time with 3 Holcombe Harrier club mates. Matt Driver navigating along with Tim Boland and John Appleby doing the food and water duties.

Pooley Bridge


It was when we were on our way up to the first trig that Tim and John told me how they had been stopped on the M6 for 30 minutes. The police had shut the motorway to catch someone driving the wrong way down the carriageway. They must have put Lewis Hamilton to shame after the police removed the cordon to get to the bridge on time.

We reached Arthurs Pike 4 minutes up on schedule but there was not going to be a sunrise to see today. We had set off in light drizzle but you could see ahead that it was going to deteriorate very rapidly. We reached Loadpot hill still ahead of schedule then the weather started to turn nasty. We kept knocking off the tops and when we got to Kidsty Pike we were 10 minutes up. I had a quick glance over Haweswater then turned around to see High Street to my left shrouded in clag and thought this is going to be an interesting day.

High Street was the first of the big hills ticked off.  We set off to Thornthwaite Beacon and I took it very gingerly. It was on that path I had my fall in May and ended up at the hospital having 7 stitches in my Knee. We got to the beacon and the rain and visibility was getting very bad now. Matt took us to the grass trod to the side of the main pathway for our descent.  On the way down Tim and John decided that rather than do separate falls they would do a synchronised one painfully planting their derrières solidly on to the rocks.

I missed the chance to recce this end section of leg 1 due to my fall in May and lack of time. I had forgot about the steepness of the climb up through the rocks to Stoney Cove Pike. My long legs certainly came in handy clambering up the rocks. We stayed on the main path from there down to the Kirkstone Inn and across to the car park as the visibility was now down to about 15 metres.  Here amongst the support JNC greeter Rainer Burchett said hello and commented on the poor conditions.

Kirkstone Pass


My Wife Carole was waiting there with hot drinks and bacon butties for everyone and they were needed as the weather was still pretty nasty. I decided it was wise to change my shorts and get my waterproof bottoms on and they stayed on for the rest of the day.

For leg 2 Steve White from Holcombe navigated along with 4 friends from Rochdale Harriers, Mark Walker, Jenny Brown, John Armstrong and Gareth Hunt who took on the food and water duties. As we were heading up to Red Screes Mark asked how many miles and climb I had done this year. When I told him it was 900 miles and 135,000 ft. he said you've no problem today as long as you can stay upright. I felt I was breathing a bit heavily on the climb then when I got to the trig I found out why.  I had made up 6 minutes on the schedule. As we left the trig the weather got even worse. I am not sure if my mind was playing tricks on me but I don't remember being out of the clouds till we were  running down to Dunmail Raise about  2 hours later. We had done an out and back recce of this leg 3 weeks prior to the day in our shorts and tee shirts. No chance of that today. We found a trod on the recce that we had planned on using from Red Screes to cut the corner but with visibility being so poor we stayed on the path and followed the wall line. We made our way up towards Hart Crag then on to Fairfield. The rain was now almost horizontal and I kept thinking that it must start to improve soon as it surely couldn't get any worse.

When we got to the top of Seat Sandal and I touched the trig point the support started singing happy birthday to me. I had promised myself I wasn't going to cry today but it was close. The run in through the bracken path was hilarious. I think everyone of us slipped on our backsides at least once and me at least twice. It was that wet I could have used skis to get down. We got in to the check point 20 minutes up so I was still making time despite the atrocious weather.

When I climbed over the steps and saw how many people had turned out to greet me it gave me a massive lift.

Approaching Dunmail Raise


Carole was there again with more hot drinks for everyone. I decided to have rice pudding and a big tub of sliced peaches this time as they slide down easily. I changed my jacket and shirt and tried to dry off as much as I could and get warm for the big boy mountains waiting ahead of me.

Peter McNulty from Radcliffe AC took over the navigation duties for the last two legs  and Matt Dunn my club mate from Holcombe took over the food and water side of it.

I waved goodbye to the marvellous and very wet wet wet Leg 2 support and climbed over the ladders to head off up Steel Fell.

I found it tough going up there and took plenty of water in. It turned out to be a repeat of the climb up Red Screes as I made up 7 minutes on my schedule. We left Steel Fell and started the tough wet trudge over to High Raise then on to Rossett Pike. We could see David Ward a great friend who had made his way up from Wasdale to the top of Rossett Pike to meet us. He was going to be with me the rest of the way to Wasdale.


Approaching Rossett Pike (photo: P McNulty)


The rain had thankfully stopped by now and the strong wind was quickly drying the rocks on the tough mountains that were coming in to play for the next few hours. We ticked off Bowfell and Esk Pike then the fun really started trying to get down off Great End. I just stood at the top looking down the gulley and thinking to myself again that this will be interesting. I had complete faith in Peter finding the right line down so just followed him like a puppy dog. It was a very hard descent in the wet conditions and I lost all the 10 minutes I had previously made up on the leg but we all got down safely and still 20 minutes up on schedule.

As I ran up to the stretcher box at Styhead I could see a big crowd waiting to cheer me in and another rendition of happy birthday rang out from them. Steve White had driven over  with his wife Carol to join the advance party that was already at Wasdale.

Sty Head (photo: M Fuller)




Matt Dunn dropped off at this junction and ran back down to Langdale to meet his family to start their holidays

I knew I needed to get some proper food in me for the final leg so I had some  noodles,  rice pudding and other bits washed down with a cup of strong  tea. The weather was improving by the minute but I decided I was keeping my waterproof gear on as the last thing I wanted was to start feeling the cold.

Bez Jones took over from Matt for the final section ahead. We set off up towards Great Gable and passed my mate John Kirkham and his wife Brenda on the way up. They had set off ahead of us at Styhead to give us support on the hill. It was a tough climb up to the top but I again took 8 minutes of my scheduled pace. Peter then found us the right line down off Gable. We then climbed up to Kirkfell. It was about this point I felt a twinge of cramp. Bez came in to his own then by giving me salt tablets to sort myself out. They definitely did something for me as it kept the cramp at bay. The descent off Kirkfell was just like Great End I put my complete faith in Peter to find the right line which he duly delivered.

We started the long climb up towards Pillar and you could see the clag hiding the top. I believe with it being hidden it worked in my favour as I just kept moving and didn't know how far I had to go. This was the one I needed in the bag as I knew I had cracked it as long as I could keep upright to the finish. It was about this time when my stomach started grumbling to me. I have never been good at refuelling during long events. I used gels and caramel peanut bars on the legs and was lucky to get so far without any trouble. We finally got to the summit of Pillar and a smile broke out. Just 5 more hills to go. We made our way to Scoat Fell still in the clag.  David cracked me up when he turned round to me as I was dragging myself up the path and said what are you doing on your 61st birthday. Is it the Paddy Buckley and my polite reply was no I am taking up golf and cribbage after today.

As we left Scoat fell and headed out to Steeple Peter stayed behind to see if he could get the picture of us at the top. Amazingly the clag cleared on cue and he got a great picture.

Steeple (photo: P McNulty)


I found the run down to Haycock really tough as my stomach was in turmoil and it was to stay that way till the end. I looked at my watch and knew I could walk the rest of the way but getting under 17 hours was the target.

I stayed at the rear with Bez taking it easy on the way to Seatallon and let David and Peter shoot off in front.  I did the Seatallon climb in May while I was fresh and it was tough enough then. I think Peter sussed out I was really struggling  so he sent Bez out in front and he dropped behind me to give me support. When we got to the top Sheila McNulty and Alan Sumner had walked up to greet us to give me moral support. Just Middlefell left now. As I approached the summit  Michelle Fuller was there to steer me in as well.

The run down to the bridge from the fell with quite a posse in tow was a magical experience and running over the bridge to actually meet Joss and shake the shepherd's hand was an amazing experience. I completed the challenge in 16 hours 56 minutes.

Greendale Bridge (photo: S McNulty)

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