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.

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Julian Lailey (M70) - 15 August 19

LEG 1 Set off from Pooley Bridge an hour before midnight in decent weather and good visibility. Even the full moon made a brief appearance above Loadpot. But that changed dramatically by Raven Howe and for the rest of the leg the rain, wind and clag slowed the pace. But excellent navigation and support from Dick and Dave meant I was only 21 minutes down on my schedule by Kirkstone.

LEG 2 The rain and wind never let up on this leg and my headtorch packing in just after Red Screes didn’t help. Decided not to stop to replace as dawn wasn’t far away and keeping just one step behind Chris meant we didn’t drop our rhythm A couple of minor navigational errors and the tough conditions meant we arrived at Dunmail only 30 minutes down on schedule. In the circumstances, very promising as the forecast was for better weather to come and my 20 hour schedule meant I still had a 3 ½ hour buffer.
LEG 3 Relief as the rain began to ease as we climbed up Steel Fell and by the ascent to High Raise it had stopped. We had our first glimpse blue sky and conditions improved by the minute. From the top of High Raise to Greendale conditions became nigh perfect, with only a hairy moment on Rossett Pike, when a sudden gale nearly blew us away, and a difficult traverse on wet rocks over to Bowfell to slow us down. We rapidly ate into the time deficit and by Sty Head we were only 8 minutes of schedule. Now we could relax, confident of a successful finish.

LEG 4 Spirits high, fortified by a feast brought up from Wasdale Head by our supporters, we bounced up Great Gable in glorious sunshine. This leg was a dream and the clear views across Lakeland we magical. The contrast to legs 1 and 2 couldn’t have been more dramatic and we picked up time on each summit. We even had time to take a break on Haycock, admiring the sight of the Isle of Man basking in bright sunshine. Climbing up Seatallan was always going to be tough but that came and went quickly enough and we could enjoy the run through Middle Fell and down to Greendale Bridge. The finishing time was 18 hrs 55 mins, over an hour ahead of schedule and over 5 hours ahead of the time allowance.

My heartfelt thanks go to the most wonderful and accomplished team of navigators and supporters anyone could wish for: Mike, Dick, Dave, Chris, Iain, Mark, Andy, Mary, Gavin, Philip, Jonny, Serena and Kezi – my successful completion was as much their triumph as mine. A big thank you to my sponsors, whose generosity will be greatly appreciated not only by me but especially by the Macmillan Cancer Nurses and the Orienteering Foundation. And, of course, a big thanks to the great man Joss, who despite recovering from pneumonia was there at the finish.
Julian Lailey (M70)

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Mary Ockenden (W60) & Gavin Smith (M60) - 05 August 19

Mary Ockenden

In the fell running and orienteering community, everyone knows exactly how old you are, so an approaching milestone birthday cannot be quietly ignored. So, after being inspired by supporting Nick Hewitt with his 4th (!) JNLC success in October 2018, I considered the possibility of making my own attempt to mark my 60th birthday. Hence, after months of preparation, including some trail racing in France and plenty more time out on the fells, I decided to go for it. As my husband, Gavin Smith, had come with me on all the route checking and training he decided he would also like to make his own attempt. He proposed that we do it together. Although initially I had reservations, I did finally agree, based on our very similar times on races up to 6 hours long or days on the fells up to 12 hours. But neither of us knew how we would be after nearly 18 hours. We chose the date: Monday 5th August 2019 – a weekday, which made organising a support team more restrictive, but the only date when all three of our children (also keen runners and orienteers) would be available to support.

The birthday came and then before we knew it we were standing on Pooley Bridge in the dark at 4am with Chris Roberts.
Gavin, Chris and Mary on Pooley Bridge (photo: John Ockenden)

It wasn't actually raining when we set out but it wasn't far off and within an hour we were all back in rain jackets and into the cloud. After a weekend of thunderstorms and very heavy downpours, the ground was very soggy. I was very grateful for waterproof socks, which definitely kept out the worst of the bogs but did not stop the rain running down from the top! We squished our way steadily up the ridge, trying to eat and drink little and often. According to Chris there was a tent near the top of High Street, but I didn't see anything in the cloud and rain.

Descending from High Street in the cloud (photo: Gavin Smith)

Somewhere on the way down to Kirkstone Pass it stopped raining, but we didn't drop out of the cloud until we got right to the pass. That didn't give the support team much warning of our arrival, but fortunately they were brilliantly prepared with hot tea and porridge. I didn't really know what I would feel like eating at the end of each leg, but I found the warm food and drink very easy on the stomach. Thanks John, Tom, Helen, Julian and Nick for your welcome at Kirkstone.

After a short break and a restock of water and food to munch on, we were off again, this time with Julian Lailey. As we climbed Red Screes, the cloud began to break up a bit and we got a few clear patches down to the pass where we could still see the support vehicles. The weather steadily improved during this leg, and although the tops were still in cloud, we had some wonderful views down the valleys, with a bank of threatening cloud above. The support team at Dunmail Raise could see us on the skyline, and once again they had tea brewing. Smoothie, tea, cheesy bean slice, rice pudding and tinned peaches this time. In retrospect, maybe this was too much, as my stomach was a bit uncomfortable on the following leg. Thanks, John, Helen, Annie, Abi, Ian and Mike for food, drink and chairs at Dunmail!

Still on our schedule, we started the pull up Steel Fell, led by our daughter Helen and with Mike Johnson accompanying to take over on Leg 4. We still hadn't seen a single person apart from the support team. With the weather still brightening, we had our first glimpses of the sun, and a beautiful view up to High Raise. The first people we met were at the top of Far Easedale, at about midday. The climb up Birks Gill and the tussocks near the top of High Raise felt harder than usual, as legs were beginning to feel the effort. With a slightly uncomfortable stomach I found it more difficult to eat, but managed to nibble on Hula Hoops, nuts and dried apricots. I love the climb up Bow Fell, especially when you get the line just right and pop out on the plateau just below the summit.

Nearing the summit of Bow Fell (photo: Mike Johnson)

The tops were all in cloud again by this time, but views below the cloud base were beautiful. With some trepidation I knew we were approaching the steep and rocky descent off Great End, my least favourite section of the whole route. Luckily, the rock was almost dry and after the most rocky steep part in the cloud, we were met with a fantastic view all the way down to Sty Head Pass, where we could see our son John, daughter Annie and her friend Abi already waiting for us. For them, watching, it must have seemed like a slow descent (it was, but I had allowed for that in the schedule). Hot, sweet coffee with more peaches and rice pudding set me up for Leg 4. Thanks John, Annie and Abi for carrying an assortment of goodies up to Sty Head (and then carrying all the things we didn't want back down again!). It was great to have a choice, because I found that some foods, that had been great during previous runs, I couldn't face on the day and some things that I hadn't asked for but they had brought anyway were just right!

Mike led us ably on Leg 4. Helen was having such a nice time she decided to carry on with us too, which was particularly useful in case Gavin and I were moving at different speeds (but in fact we were still very similar). John joined us for Great Gable and Kirk Fell before descending to move the car to Greendale. After Sty Head we were back into the cloud again, and didn't see any more clear summits. Fortunately, the forecast possible thunderstorms did not materialise. Our schedule allowed for slow and cautious descents off Great Gable and Kirk Fell, including the impressive red gully.

Descending from Kirk Fell (photo: Mike Johnson)

The SW wind was quite strong on Pillar, but perhaps meant that Steeple was not as windy as it can be. After Steeple, and the end of the rocky terrain, I began to believe that we could actually complete the route in time. Middle Fell has always been one of my favourite fells: not too big for horrible weather days, generally quiet and great views in good weather. As a child. growing up in Gosforth, I often climbed it with my parents. Subsequently, Gavin and I introduced our own children to it when they were younger. But I have never been as happy to reach the summit as I was on this challenge! It was great to be met near the summit by Abi. John also ran half way up to meet us and then skipped back down to get the tea brewing! We made it to Greendale Bridge in 17 hours 33. Unfortunately Joss was ill, so it was down to Ian Roberts to perform the 'meet and greet'. A brilliant surprise was that my sister Jane and her husband David Hewitson (who live locally) had turned up at Greendale on a whim, not knowing anything about our progress other than our scheduled arrival time, but obviously more confident than me that we would finish!

What a fantastic day! My overwhelming memory is the fantastic support and enthusiasm of all those involved. What can be better than a day in the hills surrounded by family and friends. Thank you to all of you. Thanks also to all who have donated to my chosen charity, The Alzheimer's Society, for which I have raised more than £400 so far.

Driving: John Ockenden
Leg 1: Chris Roberts, Gavin Smith
Leg 2: Julian Lailey, Gavin Smith
Leg 3: Helen Ockenden, Mike Johnson, Gavin Smith
Leg 4: Mike Johnson, Helen Ockenden, John Ockenden (to Black Sail Pass), Gavin Smith
Food supplies, welcomes and enthusiasm: Annie Ockenden, Abi Plowman, Tom Matthew, Nick Hewitt, Ian Roberts

Gavin Smith

My wife Mary Ockenden and I attempted the JNLC on 5 August 2019. We had run or walked each leg multiple times in the preceding weeks and we devised a bespoke schedule of 17h30 based on our recces. We felt fit and confident that (given reasonable weather) we could complete the whole route, but we were unsure of how much we might slow down towards the end.

We set off from Pooley Bridge with Chris in the dark at 04:02. It soon started raining and then we were in fog and cloud all the way until we dropped into Kirkstone Pass. We were a few minutes behind our schedule here. The support team was ready with hot drinks, lots of food and great encouragement. Julian then led us briskly through Leg 2 and by shaving a few minutes from the two breaks at the road crossings we were back on schedule leaving Dunmail Raise.

Leg 3 was the nicest part of the day, with views forward to Bow Fell, Esk Pike and the waiting Leg 4 peaks, all with their tops in cloud. Helen led us brilliantly through this leg keeping us unerringly close to our schedule. Mike joined us for the whole of this leg too. We had been the only people out on our route all morning, and we saw the first others about noon at the top of Far Easedale.

Climbing Esk Pike (photo Mike Johnson)

The descent from Great End to Sty Head was where I felt most tired, but more food and drink at Sty Head revitalised me.

During our recces we had tried out various types of food to eat on the move and decided on our favourites. However on the day I found most of it unpalatable and so drank well but ate little while moving. I compensated with lots of food at the stops. Good for me and easy to consume were tea and doughnuts, rice pudding, tinned peaches, and Asda smoothies. The support team did a fantastic job having everything ready and in the right places at the right time.

Helen, Abi, Annie, Mike, Mary and Gavin (photo John Ockenden)

For Leg 4, Mike led the way. Helen stayed with us to the end, and John managed to fit in Great Gable and Kirk Fell before dropping down from Black Sail to meet Annie and Abi and take his car to Greendale. All the Leg 4 tops were in the cloud but we continued to make good progress and it was great to reach Middle Fell with 62 minutes in hand for our final descent. We finished in 17h33, remarkably close to our schedule.

We saw the fabulous views during our recces rather than the run itself, but that’s what we’re used to on the fells. It was hard, but it wouldn’t be a worthwhile challenge if it wasn’t hard.

My thanks to all our pacers and supporters for making possible a great day out on the fells, to Joss for inventing the challenge, and to Mary for first proposing that we attempt it. My chosen charity is Wasdale Mountain Rescue.


Leg 1 – Chris Roberts (Black Combe/SROC)
Leg 2 – Julian Lailey (SROC)
Leg 3 – Helen Ockenden (SROC/CUOC) & Mike
Leg 4 – Mike Johnson (Bowland/SROC) & Helen
Head of Logistics – John Ockenden (Bowland/SROC/Drongo)

Support team – Annie Ockenden, Abi Plowman, Nick Hewitt, Tom Matthew, Ian Roberts

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Nick Combes (M60) - 29 June 19

2 a.m. and a beautiful start on Pooley Bridge. A mild night and, despite the lack of sleep that evening courtesy of some over-enthusiastic camping neighbours at Park Foot, we were ready to go. John Bamford & Nick Coombes (both M60) were supported in their attempts by Nikki Carr and Steve Baldwin, all members of Scarborough Athletic Club. Nerves jangled at the off and it was good to get going.
The steady pull up to Arthur’s Pike saw us arrive not just on time, but a minute to the good. Excellent! Then off we trotted confidently, in the darkness, on a path too far to the right. A few minutes later we realised the mistake as it fell away off the hill and already a twinge of panic kicked in. We plodded left up the hill and across tussocky awkward slopes to find the correct trail, but time had already slipped. Loadpot - 8 minutes adrift. The pairings gradually split up – by prior agreement we’d said each to their own pace – and Nick and Steve pulled ahead of John & Nikki. An unexpected headwind made us work a bit harder but as the sun came up it eventually eased.
Gradually the deficit was eroded, by a couple of minutes each leg, and by Stony Cove Pike Nick and Steve were back on track, with John & Nikki moving well but still a little down. The hurried scoot down from Stony Cove via Pike Howe saw us arrive at Kirkstone with a few minutes in the bank – a really good feeling.
Our plan had been to follow the 18hr schedule from the website, but only take 10 minutes at each checkpoint, to give us a little leeway. As leg 2 unfolded it was pleasing to see the gain increase bit by bit. The weather was more than kind: sunny with cloud to keep it that little bit cooler, winds dropped to a gentle breeze, perfect visibility and dry underfoot. We arrived at Dunmail 17 minutes up and feeling hopeful. Steve passed the pack onto Danny Walls for legs 3 & 4. By this point John and Nikki were still going well but a bit behind schedule overall. Nikki handed over the support role to Ricky Parrish, a last-minute stand-in following illness on the Scarborough team. He’d just been doing a support leg on the BG!
Dumail Raise - Nick in yellow

Nick never saw Steel Fell – he stared at his toes the whole way up, Danny calling the shots on pace. Amazingly, and with constant feeding and encouragement from Danny, the hills kept getting climbed and we continued to gain on the clock. Styhead – 37 minutes up! Danny felt confident; Nick still wasn’t sure. Not a single chicken was counted. 3 more SAC team members joined us for Leg 4 – Jane Hamp, Julie Clayton (freshly arrived from Cyprus!) and Alan Whelan. John made the decision to call it a day on arrival at Styhead, and he and Ricky headed off with the rest of the support crew (Chris Wood & Dave Eatherington) down to Wasdale for a well-deserved rest and a pint or two.
Great Gable, Kirk Fell & Pillar came and went and the clock showed a 47 minute lead on the schedule. Finally it was time to start believing! Seatallan provided a sting in the tail but time was securely on our side. Getting to the top of Middle Fell at 18.35 was such a brilliant feeling of relief! We enjoyed the luxury of a walk down off the fell. Looking for figures on the bridge we could see no-one, and I prepared for arriving without the thrill of meeting Joss. Down through the ferns we ran in the last few hundred metres, and as we rounded the cottages to reach Greendale Bridge an unmistakable figure stood before us. Joss was there after all – we just hadn’t been able to see him. What a treat; what a brilliant end to a magnificent day. 17 hours and 12 minutes. Sore feet and battered legs – who cared. Great friends and memories to treasure, and some funds raised for Mountain Rescue. A grand day – aye – as someone might say.

Greendale Bridge

Monday, 30 December 2019

Paul Tynan (M55) - 15 June 19

Joss Naylor has been a hero, inspiration, and motivator for me since my teenage years. I still have an image in my mind of this chap turning up at a fell race in a well used brown Shepherd's coat (similar to the (grey) ones ironmonger storemen used to wear ). All the other runners in show off gear. But my hero winning the event.

Ever since then his achievements episodically have popped into my awareness frame. There are too many to mention here but doing all the Wainwrights in 7 days (record stood for 28 years!) and the Pennine way in 3 days are up there.
Having had a good crack at Triathlons over the years my interests turned back to the fells more recently. Further inspiration from Feet in the cloud (Richard Askwith ) made his namesake challenge a must "try".

For those not aware the Joss Naylor Challenge is a route crossing the Lake district from NE (Pooley Bridge ) to SW ( Wasdale) and Greendale Bridge (home of "the Shepherd") and encompassing 5182 m of ascent, 77Km distance, 30 summits and only 2 road crossings. All to be done in a prescribed time according to age and gender. At 58 years my allocation was 15 hours. Joss himself at the age of 54 in very bad weather conditions completed in 11 hours and 30 mins. Challengers can start when they like but must be accompanied - for safety reasons. Oh and there is a chance that Joss will meet you at Greendale.
Having really enjoyed preparing and completing a Bob Graham in 2017 I started my specific training with a passion around January 2019. As time goes by i am increasingly of the opinion that you race to train not the other way around. For the first time in my life i took some advice from a specific trainer as to the best way to train. Previously i had thought i would save beating up my joints by getting much of the endurance work done on the bike. Well that idea was put in the bin - instead lots of running in zone 2 (level at which could talk in sentences) and virtually never going harder - even up hills. Sounds lovely doesn't it - better still it worked. Combining this with plenty of time in the fells ( I live in Lancaster) and quite a bit of weight training and strength and conditioning exercises i felt i was ready for an attempt on June 15th. Lonsdale Fellrunners were in full support along with friends and family.

As many of you will be aware its a major logistic exercise sorting out support runners, road teams, food, clothing and safety actuals and potentials for the crossing. Many thanks to my wife Jan for help and acting as a sounding board.

So it was that at 4am Ken collected me from my house and we drove to Pooley Bridge to meet Ronald Hummerlink (my other support runner for leg1). I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised to arrive at the bridge to see another "challenger" taking photos at 0530 for this is high season for ultras.

Pooley Bridge

It kind of felt good to start at 0532 - 2 mins leeway right from the start. The weather was good - clear sky - no head torches needed and only a slight headwind. Good progress was made up High street and there were no delays at the roadworks!

Roadworks on Raven Howe

As predicted the weather gradually went off and we entered the cloud around Raven Howe and the headwind picked up a bit. Navigation went well. My recce's were paying off. Gradually we crept ahead of schedule but remained mindful not to overcook it on leg 1. Many Thanks to Ken and Ronald for a calm leg with no "excitements" and delivering me to Kirkstone Pass 10 mins ahead of schedule.

Kirkstone Pass

Son Sam, his wife Alys and my brother Andrew had the situation covered at the Pass and the next crew ( Dave Sykes, Martyn Price and Mark Parsonage Kear ) were ready for the off. My strategy was to spend minimum time at crossings - fuelling little and often rather than large dollops

It wasn’t long before we were in the clag going up Red Screes, but another minute gained. and then the rain began and wind picked up. No matter this is what mountain challenges are about :good gear, keep warm and we had the Nav sorted. Food and fluid going in regularly - and steadily we ticked off the summits. Briefly below the cloud at Grisedale Hause and then back in it as we scaled Seat Sandel. Had a little fall adjustment half way up and leg went into cramp! This is where the psychology comes in I thought. Cramp due to the trip not because of leg tiredness - move on ignore it - and yes it didn't return. It was a welcoming and slightly strange sight to come out of the cloud and peer down to what must have been at least 30 "vans" at Dunmail Raise.

Dunmail Raise

This clearly was a day for BG's and JNC's ( 3 successful on my day). I was now 14 mins up on my 14 hr 20 min schedule.- things were going well and according to plan. My wife Jan was in charge of this change over. Again all in place and a fairly quick pitstop ( almost felt i wanted to stay longer to show appreciation for their efforts) but Steel Fell was waiting.
My crew were now Jules Coleman, Rob Webb, and Mary Hodgson. One of my favourite bits is from Steel fell to and just before the trudge up the never ending slopes of High Raise. The trudge today done in the clag which might have been a blessing. Managed to get the right line on the last bit up Rossett pike ( bit hit and miss this on Recces). I always enjoy popping out near the top of Bow Fell after the ramps on the Buttress. Gradually the weather was improving ( as forecast).Soon we were contemplating the route north off Great End - an act of faith indeed that there is going to be a way - but it slowly revealed itself as we descended - and suddenly Sty Head was in view. 19 mins up and feeling not too bad.

Sty Head

Thanks to Andy and Annette Paton for bringing supplies up to the stretcher box.

The possibility for a successful challenge were beginning to look favourable and this gave me a boost as Great Gable was tackled. Even the sun had put a show in (occasionally). The team was now James Edwards, Thomas Mon- Mon and Grace Leedham. As before the scree off Gable felt horrible until suddenly I realised that I was surrounded by fantastic post rain clear views and that things were going well - time to relax a bit and pose for a photo or 2.


It was a beautiful leg with fantastic scenery . Not a leg to be taken lightly as still quite a bit of climbing but I had over an hour leeway (from the 15 hrs) so just had to make no mistakes or tumbles. The scree off Haycock was a delight.

Sree on Haycock

The last 3 summits are very different in character to the earlier part of the leg. Greendale Bridge was drawing ever closer.

Middle Fell

Time for Photos on Middle fell before descending for the last time.
Amazing to embrace my wife and shake the Shepherd's hand on that fabled bridge. Thank you to all the team that made it possible. 

Greendale Bridge

Thank you to Joss Naylor for being an inspiration for so many decades.
PS finished in 13 hrs 51

Saturday, 28 December 2019

John Tollitt (M55) - 15 June 19

My original plan to attempt the Joss Naylor Challenge in May had to be abandoned due to the combination of a sprained ankle and a bad back. 

The alternative date of June 15th always looked a bit touch and go but injuries recovered and pacers were found and I was ready to go with Bertie Goffe my pacer for Leg 1. Weather conditions were ideal as we set off at 05.30 and remained good throughout the day. Leg 1 passed off uneventfully with small gains being made on target times at each summit.
As I dropped down to Kirkstone Pass, I could see the white roof of our VW camper where Vicki was waiting with drinks and pasta to fuel me on my way. 

My new pacing crew of Cees, Stu and Dexter took over from Bertie, and despite thick cloud on Fairfield, saw me safely down to Dunmail Raise still ahead of schedule and in good shape. Paul and John accompanied me on leg 3 with Stu putting in a 2nd shift. The boggy drag up to High Raise seemed to go on forever but I just concentrated on keeping
moving and letting my pacers worry about route finding and pace. The weather deteriorated for a while with a brief hailstorm thrown into the mix! 

The route off Great End was a bit improvised but still saw us 30 mins ahead of schedule at Sty Head Pass. I was well looked after by Susan and Harry at the Sty Head stretcher box before setting off on my final leg in the capable hands of Roger and Geoff.
Leg 4 was a delight, the cloud had cleared, the sun was out and I was feeling confident, with time in hand. I was just trying to concentrate on not doing anything daft like turning an ankle on the tricky descents off Great Gable and Kirk Fell. We managed to find the scree chute off Haycock and after the slightly up Seatallan, it was plain sailing over Middle Fell. As Greendale Bridge came into view I can see a cluster of vehicles and bodies which I headed for.

Joss was there at the finish to greet me and provide words of support and wisdom and Vicki was there to transport me to the pub for some well earned recovery.

Many thanks to Bertie Goffe, David Armstrong, Cees Van Der Land, Stuart Scott, Paul Appleby, John Duff, Roger Sillito, Harry Ransome, Susan Davis, Kim Taylor and
Vicki Deritis for support on the day

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Dick Towler (M70) - 09 June 19

My friend, and fellow member of Lakeland OC, Derek Fryer, told me last autumn that he was thinking of attempting the Joss this year. Having done it myself back in 2014, in 16hrs 44mins, when I was 65, I thought it would be a good idea to repeat it with him, to celebrate my 70th year and to raise some money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Unfortunately, my initial training was badly affected by illness, a chest infection, that lasted all of January and half of February, so, when I did start to do some serious walks with Derek, I found myself badly unfit. But I struggled on, always saying I’d decide if I was going to make a 2nd attempt after I’d done Legs 2 and 3 together, in late May.

Pooley Bridge with Iain and John

That last training walk went well, so 2 weeks later, shortly before midnight on Saturday 8th June, I found myself at Pooley Bridge, with Iain Smith Ward and John Armstrong supporting. We’d meant to start 24hrs earlier, but had postponed because of heavy rain. Derek had started at 11pm.

We made good, steady progress, though not quite as fast as 5 years earlier, until we approached Red Crag, when we walked up into the cloud and it started to rain. By High Raise it was pouring down and blowing strongly from the SW. Navigation was never that difficult, though visibility became a problem in places, for instance when descending from Thornthwaite Beacon. Fortunately, it was beginning to get light as we climbed Stoney Cove Pike. By the time we dropped down to Kirkstone, the rain had stopped, but we had lost quite a bit of time.

My original support team were unable to come on the Sunday, so Iain carried on with me on Leg 2 to Dunmail. The weather continued to improve, with glimpses of sun and blue sky and some stunning views. Fairfield was still in cloud, but Seat Sandal was clear, as were most of the hills ahead. Unfortunately, it was already obvious to me that any chance of my making a 2nd attempt in less than 18hrs had gone. I could relax, carry on and enjoy it.

For Leg 3 I had my son-in-law, Geoff Clarke, and my friend from South Ribble Orienteers, Julian Lailey. We made short work of Steel Fell and enjoyed the walk across to High Raise, in the improving weather. I was getting tired, though, and began to struggle a bit on the long downhill section from High Raise. I was also beginning to have difficulty swallowing food. At Rossett Pike, we met up with Carol McNeill, who had generously walked up from Old Dungeon Ghyll to give us tea, rice pudding and custard, before we set off up Bowfell. We decided to head back towards Esk Hause from the top of Great End, instead of carrying on straight down to Styhead. My split for that bit shows that that wasn’t a good decision.

It was cold and windy at Styhead, so we didn’t stay long. Julian, who had headed back to Old Dungeon Ghyll from Esk Hause, was replaced on Leg 4 by my son, Simon, Geoff carrying on. Many thanks to Simon Cane, who supported at Styhead. By this point, I was having real difficulty eating. I’d brought macaroni bolognaise, but couldn’t get it down. Geoff kept feeding me Jelly Babies and energy gels. Luckily, I discovered I could swallow the pasta if I added water and made it into a soup.

Middle Fell with Geoff and Simon

We made good progress over Gable and on to Kirk Fell, but I felt faint on the way off the latter and had to take great care going down the ridge. The long pull up to Pillar seemed to go on for ever. Again, I was very careful going out to Steeple. Seatallon wasn’t as bad as I remembered, and by this point I knew I was going to make it. In the end, I finished in 19hrs 49mins, which has a certain poignancy. Derek finished a bit later, after having had a power nap on Pillar.

To date I’ve raised over £1500, plus gift aid, for the Alzheimer’s Society. You can see my Just Giving page at

Greendale Bridge with Joss