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, 28 January 2015

Caryl Hartwright (W65) - 21st June 2014

I decided to go for it on Saturday June 21st to maximise daylight and after my final recce decided to go for a 21-hour schedule.  

I hated the taper.  Not enough to do.  Too much time to worry - was I getting a cold?  Had I forgotten anything?  Would it rain? I needed to be well rested but couldn't sleep.  I made lists and fretted.

Saturday 21 June:  after very little sleep, up at 2am, breakfast etc then at Pooley Bridge by 3am with runners Steve D & son James wearing our head torches.  Waved off by the long-suffering Archie, Steve T & Barbara.

We ran steadily, didn't push the pace and chatted up the first few hills to Arthur's Pike.  We were able to turn off our torches less than an hour later and it was clear that the weather would be good.  James kept a log of times and kept telling me that we were getting ahead of schedule.  We stopped for me to put more vaseline on my feet at High Raise and set off again at a nice pace over Kidsty Pike, High Street, Thornthwaite Beacon and several others, continuing to make good time until we got to checkpoint 1 at Kirkstone Pass 49 minutes ahead of schedule.  There were worries that we had gone off too fast and I would pay for it later.  Also there was a bit of a panic as one of my pacers for Leg 2 hadn't arrived and my cup of tea wasn't yet brewed and my bacon sandwich was still in the bottom of a plastic bag somewhere. 

I spent longer than planned at the checkpoint then set off with Jeremy & James hoping that Janet would arrive soon and catch us up.  She did - and after legging it up Red Screes she arrived smiling and joined us for the rest of it, going over Hart Crag, Fairfield, Seat Sandal and so on down to Dunmail Raise and checkpoint 2.  We were now 1hr 16 mins ahead!  But all the team were there, including Lucy and my youngest supporter - the very cute baby Molly.  With too much chatting and faffing, again I was longer than planned at the checkpoint but not worried as we were now so far ahead.

So, up Steel Fell next with Paul, Pat & Andy Mac.  Again we did a nice steady pace, chatted a lot and enjoyed the fine weather and great views.  We found our way over High Raise (yes, there are two of them) over to Rossett Pike and then for the first time straight up Bow Fell on a good line known as Billy's Rake after the great Billy Bland.  There are some big hills on Leg 3 but we continued to make good time, I was reminded to eat and drink a lot and I think we all had a good time.  Pat took over the notebook duty and we continued to get further and further ahead.  Surely this couldn't last?  Surely I would hit a wall (or at least a very big hard rock) and run out of energy after 30-odd miles after a week with not enough sleep?

We got to Checkpoint 3 at Sty Head an unbelievable 2hrs 29mins ahead of schedule and I now realised that this really messed up the plans.  There is virtually no mobile signal in Wasdale but Archie had managed to get word to people that I was about an hour and a half ahead - but not two and a half!  Neither of my Leg 4 pacers were at Sty Head.  Jeremy had arrived to meet Pat & he had some food & water for me.  James had also legged it up and he had clothes, food (and the emergency tent in case of cold wet weather!!) so I was able to eat, drink, change my shoes and socks again, slap on some more vaseline, but after all that there were still no Leg 4 pacers and I was stiffening up.  Arch & Steve T arrived - the dicky ticker team - and Andy Mac said he would start off up Great Gable with me and we hoped that others would catch up.  Steve D did soon after and then Colin too legged it up to join us and Andy was able to return to Lucy & Molly who were due to arrive shortly.

I found Great Gable hard, particularly on the way down when I started to get wobbly legs and we went slightly wrong (my fault!).  However, maybe the food kicked in and I began to feel better again going up Kirk Fell.  I then realised that if I could just keep going steadily I would definitely make my time limit with lots to spare and I might even do it all in daylight.  This encouraged me to keep at it.  Steve D was a big help talking me step by step down the tricky top part of Red Gulley and over the big rock wedged half way down.  Then the long slog up Pillar just came and went and some sort of weird elation came over me - the classic runner’s high I guess -  and I started not only enjoying it even more but I caught myself actually grinning like a maniac as I plodded and ran on out and back to the lovely Steeple, then after another bacon sandwich and some flat Coke, on up to Haycock, a trudge up Seatallan and finally the final absolutely final peak of Middle Fell before dropping down to Greendale Bridge, where a bunch of the support team and the wonderful Joss Naylor were standing on the bridge to meet me.  I was just over the moon, hugging everyone, laughing and crying and just loving every minute of it.  Steve T took lots of photos (including ones of me sitting on the river) and produced some bubbly.  Without a doubt it was the best running experience of my life.

Massive thanks to the team - my pacers and recce helpers were fantastic - Steve D, James, Colin, Pat, Jeremy, Janet, Paul & Andy Mac who not only ran with me but carried all my stuff whilst on the move.   My road support had a tough job with tricky logistics and timing but they were also just wonderful - Steve T, Barbara, not forgetting Lucy & Molly and a special big thank you to Archie who has put up with a lot all year.  What a team! 

A hug from Joss for Caryl

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Don Talbot (M60) - 6th September 1991

Don Talbot was the first to take up the challenge although this wasn't his intention. When Joss announced the details Don was a couple of months short of his 60th birthday and didn't fancy his chances of completing it within 12 hours, (In those days there wasn't a category for 55 year olds) so he decided to wait until the extra time would be available, after his birthday.

This delay caused Don some anxiety and he confessed to his wife Marjorie that he was concerned and that, "If I am not careful I could miss out on getting a tankard." This turned out not to be a groundless worry as Don was the only contender in 1991.

In his own words, Don recalls his day thus - 

A sprained ankle had delayed my attempt from 28th August until Friday 6th September and having decided on a 05:00 start from Pooley Bridge, it became neccessary to camp overnight near the start. Fellow club member Phil Taylor came to the rescue by providing his caravan and the loan of his son Jonathon as pacer/navigator. Len Farnsworth was also on hand to provide assistance on the early leg. He dropped Jonathan and I at the start and after the customary photo-call we daeparted on the dot.

A clear, starlit morning augured well for the rest of the day. As we climbed Barton Fell the sun began to break through and I found it neccessary to stop occassionally and view the landscape to the North, East and West; it would have been sacrilege to have ignored such an ideal morning.

Arthur's Pike was reached 13 minutes ahead of schedule and the deer were out to greet us on Loadpot Hill. Inken Blunk, a Rucksack Club lady, met us at Kirkstone with a very welcome brew, which was an unexpected pleasure as she wasn't due to join me until Dunmail. Jonathon cut back to Pooley Bridge at Fairfield as we pushed on. At Dunmail, after another brew, Len moved over Inken and then he took the car round to Wasdale. Where would we be without such stalwart helpers? Len had remarked earlier about the lack of people out on the fells on such a fine day; this pattern continued throughout the rest of day. The afternoon passed pleasantly, with an ever changing scene and, as Gable came nearer I reflected on how, in the early morning it had looked miles away. Peter Cockshott, another Rucksacker, was waiting at Beck Head with fruit, rice pudding, cake and drinks, wonderful sustenance to see me to the end of the route. Peter stayed with me to the end, occasionally plying me with drinks and flapjack.

Atop Haycock it was especially satisfying to sit awhile and reflect on the day; a most invigorating trip in wonderful country with marvelous friends. This was living, with a capital 'L'.

Len was waiting at Greendale Bridge and Joss had come along to welcome us in. It really was such a wonderful day. Thanks to all.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Joss Naylor M50 1990


Arriving at the workshop at BNFL one back shop, Peter Todhunter was there poring his map, saying that he had one of the most spectacular runs in the Lake District for me to do. On inspection, I had to agree with his view and said I'd look it over. There was no real time to train - with 2,000 sheep to shear and a job outside farming it's difficult to fit everything in. I agreed on two training runs and a day on which we could do the whole run.

We went after a first shift, with Peter as driver and collected Colin Dulson on the way to Pooley Bridge. It was overcast, but the fells were clear along High Street and I decided to include Kidsty Pike. It gave great views of Haweswater and Riggindale and is well worth the extra five minutes. Running with Colin is always a battle; we have to test each other. It was great!

At Kirkstone, Colin needed sweet tea, so goes to the Inn. He came out with two tine plastic cups and had had to make it himself, at a huge price. Not a happy man! The rest of the run goes well to Dunmail and Peter reckoned about 5 hours in all.

The next free night, I arrange with Ken Ledward to collect me at Dunmail, after I had started at Bowderdale via Lad Crag under Haycock and then reversed the route to Dunmail. It was a long pull out of Sty Head to Great End, but then (it) went well to Dunmail - 5 hours.

On the day of he run from Pooley Bridge, Colin Dulson would do all of the pacing and his brother Peter, from Australia, would start off with us. It was a cold, damp, windy start and I used Colin as a wind shield - size is handy sometimes - but is was still very hard work abd we really had to dig in to keep the pace. Dropping off Thornthwaite Beacon we lost the wind in our faces and felt much happier.

Ken and Chris were camped out on Stoney Cove Pike and Bill O'Conner had driven through the night from the KIMM to take pictures; we had a welcome cup of Bovril. Here we dropped Peter, who had been suffering with the pace and he enjoyed going to Pooley Bridge with Chris, Ken and Bill for a full English breakfast - it made his day!

The run goes much better now and I feel good at Kirkstone. Quick refreshment and away on the nice, easy section to Dunmail for a quick coffee and a bun. Colin struggles up Steel Fell, but soon picks up and away we go. We made good time to Raise and then the heavens opened, with gale force winds; it was a nightmare. Thank heaven for Ken Ledward's hooded cags. They were down to our knees and a bit on the heavy side, but we were dry and warm. We could never have survived without them. A nice climb on to Bowfell, at least in shelter. Leaving Bowfell I mention to Colin that John James and Peter Todhunter are to meet us around Esk Pike, and yes, there they were, behind the cairn. I was quite pleased to see them. The first thing they ask is "Have you any sweets?", so I dish out the sweets. Then we make for Great End in thick mist. We didn't get a good route off. Having turned off too soon amongst big, greasy stones, slabs come out of the mist.. We head for the top of Skew Gill and now we are OK, arriving at the stretcher box. The weather worsens, if possible, rain spraying off the stones and Peter and John decide to carry on with us. After a few hundred feet Peter drops off the pace and goes down to Wasdale Head.

The top of Gable was a nightmare; we were holding on to stones with water cascading off them. I decide to bear left to miss the stones and take the fast run down the scree beds. I was looking forward to tea and buns at Beck Head, but feared that Chris and Ken had got stuck into the ale in the Scafell pub in Borrowdale. In fact we had been too fast and they missed us. John James was feeling the pace and I sent him round the back of Kirkfell, just Colin and I taking the Wasdale Head side of the crag for shelter up on Kirkfell. We were just pleased to get off the top OK.

We catch John James at Black sail and, finding him becoming hypothermic, send him down into Wasdale Head. I give Colin my last sweets and begin to wonder if he will make it, but he climbs well over Pillar. The mist turns day into night as we leave High Crags and it worsens as we come down onto the Scoat. Colin is losing body heat so he dons another cag. Even the sheep didn't run away, they stayed glued to the wall. Colin said very little; he needed all his energy to keep going. It was a fight to reach the top of Haycock, even with the wall breaking the gale. Leaving the top, the wind forced us to go left, down the scree. Soon we were out of the mist, which was nice and we had a clear run to Seatallan. We had to keep to the back side and below the ridge until the very last moment, to make any headway into the wind before climbing to the cairn. We could now see Middle Fell and the wind appeared to moderate as we climbed to its summit, the last top. We shook hands and jogged gently to Greendale Bridge. I lay in the river for 5 minutes - the water felt really warm - and then it felt good putting on clean, dry clothes. Mary had brought plenty of nice food, including a trifle and bottles of Guinness; it was great!

Why were all the visitors to Lakeland not on the fells today? We had seen very few on this trip.

Thanks to everyone who turned out to help. It was a day I shall never forget.