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, 25 March 2015

Mike Hobson (M65) – 22 June 2014


11.30pm on Saturday 21st June. Two JNLC contenders, Roger Smith and I, both of Lakeland Orienteering Club (LOC) and our respective supporters, Pete Kidd and Iain Smith, sat on the bridge at Pooley Bridge waiting for midnight.  Roger and I were nervous, not only for what lay ahead, but also with the knowledge that the previous weekend, six fellow members of LOC completed the round comfortably within the 24hour schedule. Neither of us needed to say that the weight of expectancy was sitting heavily on our shoulders!

Midnight and we were on our way. And what a magnificent night it was!  All went like clockwork and at Kirkstone Iain handed me over to Tony and Pauline Richardson, fellow members of LOC and great friends. Roger kept his stop brief and set off well ahead of me. (In fact I wasn’t to see him again all day).  Kirkstone to Dunmail saw, for me, three ‘bad’ bits of the round dealt with – the descent off Fairfield, the ascent onto Seat Sandal and the descent down to Dunmail.

At Dunmail, Sheila was waiting for us with welcoming coffee and tea along with my leg 3 pacer Pete, my long time walking, climbing, running friend who did the JNLC in 17 hours aged 64.  Mike Langrish, acting for Ian Charters was also there to ‘meet and greet’ that day’s JNLC contenders.

Tony and Pauline were continuing to the head of Stake and then heading down to be collected from the ODG.  Steel Fell felt very comfortable, but the stretch to High Raise seemed interminable and was my only low point of the day, but a short rest there helped. And at the head of Stake, I said goodbye to Tony and Pauline, and hello to Selwyn Wright and Richard Lecky Thomson who were joining Pete and me for the rest of the leg to Sty Head. The climb up to Bowfell gave a problem when Pete unexpectedly announced he wasn’t feeling well. He went back down, met us at Esk Hause but then elected to miss Great End and went directly to Sty Head.  It was a shame, but he left me in good hands and great company. (Subsequently he felt that he had had too much sun).

At Sty Head I was delighted to see my supporters Julie (my son Andrew’s partner) and Dave and Helen Neild, and also Dick who had supported Roger.  Selwyn and Lecky returned to the ODG and Pete headed down to Wasdale with Julie. Andrew joined me here and we were to meet Sheila at Black Sail to make the last leg a family affair. My daughter Helen isn’t a fell walker, but she had done sterling work helping with transport, and was to be at Greendale for the finish.

The ascent of Gable was easy, but leaving the summit, I was too anxious to ensure we kept far enough right to avoid the screes. We became embroiled with the end rocks of Gable Crag and were forced to indulge in some exposed clambering to get back on route.  Sheila was at Black Sail with the news that Roger had passed some time ago ‘going like a train’. We had lots of time in hand and good visibility, although due to our lost time on Gable, against a schedule of just under 20 hours, we were now looking at a finish of just over 20 hours.  Sheila pushed us on, but in truth I didn’t mind.  I had wanted the day to be good, and to be memorable, not just for me but for all my supporters and I felt that had been achieved.  I had hired a tracker, which added an extra dimension to the day for my sponsors, many of whom were fascinated to follow my progress online. 

There was another good moment when we unexpectedly found Dave Neild waiting near the top of Middle Fell.  He kept us company on the final descent and then all that remained was to thank everyone waiting at Greendale and to shake hands with and chat to the great man himself.  A fitting end to a wonderful day!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

David Neild (M65) – 13 June 2014


It was only thanks to my training group that I survived the six months of preparation. But the Joss Naylor Challenge more than repaid those arduous walks through fells covered by winter snows or lashed by wind and rain. Like scrambling up Red Screes in darkness to a stunning sunrise view over misted fells. Like the great camaraderie among everyone who joined me on the four legs. And like the wonderful atmosphere at the changeovers, where friends and family fed me, watered me and sent me off with lifted spirits.

I embarked on my challenge at 10pm on June 13th – one of eight pensioners to attempt it that weekend or the next. I was using the 23-hour schedule as my guide, but planning for a 22-hour finish. As most of the work was in the last two legs I wanted to be an hour up by the second changeover at Dunmail. Simon Cane and Carol McNeill were setting off at the same time as me, so there was a good turnout at the start. There was always the concern of falling behind on the first leg, but I was fairly confident about gaining time. And so, with smiling faces and good wishes from supporters, we set off into the hills.

On the first leg I was accompanied by Bryan Hardaker and Paul Williams. Bryan, Simon and I had scouted the route one night the previous week, which gave us a helpful feel for the terrain in darkness. I’ve done some testing walks with Bryan over the past 25 years and his navigation has always been impeccable. That night was no exception and with Paul keeping me fed and watered, we arrived at Kirkstone more than 30 minutes up. The weather had been kind with the full moon breaking out of the clouds to provide memorable views.

We were greeted by my dream team of Denise, Laura, and Clare, who provided five-star roadside support and catering to everyone involved in my challenge. Also there, thankfully, were my neighbours Adrian Swift and George Nicholson. The team looked after my every need and off we went.

We were still in darkness until after Red Screes, but when the sun rose, the scene was incredible. To see the Lake District laid out beneath us in perfect dawn light is something words can't describe. It has to be experienced. Since George, Adrian and I had walked the route the previous week, we were confident of our route and ploughed on. I was fed and watered throughout, and George paced it perfectly. I was now more than an hour up on the schedule.

At Dunmail there was a moment of drama. My son Paul was there, but I was told the other supporters for the next leg hadn’t arrived. Then two cars pulled up and Rosie Law, Simon Filmore and Andrew Smith jumped out, ready to go.

Leg three was the one I was least looking forward to, in particular the stretch from Steel Fell to High Raise and on to Rossett Pike. I needn't have worried. Thanks to the great company of my support I really enjoyed it. Paul led the way while Rosie, Simon and Andrew took care of me. (I've never drunk so much and still been standing, thanks Rosie!)

At Sty Head it was party time. Dick Towler had made up two hours to overtake us coming off Great End, so his team and supporters were there, as were my wife Helen and Judy Filmore, who had brought food, water, dry socks and shoes. Also there were daughter Denise and son Barry to join me and youngest son Paul on the last leg. My spirits were raised by the great atmosphere and the realisation I was two hours up and was going to complete the challenge.

The climb and descent of Great Gable went well. Then the weather deteriorated, cloud descended and we broke out the waterproofs. Despite poor visibility, we kept our pace and knocked almost another hour from the schedule. The “children” looked after the “old man” and had there been a shop on Haycock I would have bought them ice cream. Ten minutes were lost on a wrong line coming off Haycock in the mist, but we had time in hand. However, as we descended Seatallan – overtaken by Cliff and his support going well having started two hours after me -- intense pain in my left knee had me struggling. Denise dosed me with ibuprofen and half way down Middle Fell the pain eased sufficiently for me to jog into the finish in just under 20 hours, to the applause of my supporters and friends.

I was delighted with my time and -- the icing on the cake -- the great man himself was there to greet me. I had never met Joss before and what a privilege it was. He’s such a nice, unassuming man. I really did have a great day out.

So, thanks to all my supporters who made the day something very special, I certainly couldn't have done it without them. And congratulations to Dick, Jenny, Carol, Cliff, Simon for their success on the same day. Also to Roger and Mike the following week.