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, 24 June 2015

Susan Davis (W55) – 23 May 2015



Leg 1- ‘Cuckoos, Larks and Deer’ (Pooley Bridge to Kirkstone Pass)

I’m off at 5.30am on a beautiful morning accompanied by four fell friends including Paul Hainsworth, a sub 12 hour ‘Joss’ man, and the sound of cuckoos calling. The pace was brisk due to a combination of nerves and excitement as I just could not wait to be on the fells. The morning and the weather were wonderful; bright sun and a cool but gentle breeze. We ran on with lark song ringing out over the fells, the heavy dew on the grass glistened and sparkled like diamonds and we could see for miles as the tops came and went with relative ease. A herd of deer scampered off High Street as we approached and it just felt great to be alive with my heart full of joy. I knew there would be tough times during the day ahead but I was ‘in the moment’ and feeling good. In what seemed like no time at all we were speeding down to Kirkstone Pass to be greeted by a large group of my support crew with beaming smiles, arriving 27 minutes up on schedule!


Leg 2 – ‘Buoyant Banter’ (Kirkstone Pass to Dunmail Raise)

And so for leg 2, or day 2 as it was for me because, as part of my mental copping strategy, I was treating each leg as a new day! With five friends for company the sun was still bright and I don’t usually react very well to the heat so thankfully, the breeze was still cool. There are only four summits on this leg and three were ticked off without incident. Suddenly, as I started ascending Seat Sandal, cramp took hold of my right hamstring. I hit the deck clutching my leg and cursing as I am rarely troubled with cramp. Kevin Bray, my navigator, came to the rescue and, as I lay on my back, he stretched my leg and the cramp was soon gone. On reaching Dunmail unscathed, I was again greeted by my amazing and happy support team who were joined by Monica Shone and Mike Langrish as the JNLC ‘meet and greet’ representatives. I arrived 34 minutes ahead of schedule. I was pleased to be in the shade at this stop -provided by Mike Hughes holding an umbrella!


Leg 3 – ‘The Leg of Gentlemen’ (Dunmail Raise to Sty Head)

I had not enjoyed my recces of this section as it involves a stiff climb up Steel Fell and a long march to the next two summits. No time for negative thoughts though as this was ‘a new day’ and I was still feeling strong. A steady pace was set by my all male pacing crew led by John Telfer and I needed to keep the momentum going to the top of Steel Fell. My team told me I had done fine on the climb and so we pushed on to High Raise and Rossett Pike. On arrival at the latter I checked that I still had time on my side and stopped briefly to eat. I felt very humble as we started the ascent of Bowfell. From the start of the day I had been surrounded by so much love and affection I realised just how lucky I am to have such wonderful family and friends. After suffering a touch of nausea ascending Great End I soon recovered and got to Sty Head in one piece. I had a slightly smaller support team here but they were no less enthusiastic.


Leg 4 – ‘The Final Push’ (Styhead to Greendale Bridge)

For the final leg I was joined by my husband Geoff and Peter Moralee (both sub 15 hour ‘Joss’ men) plus four other pacers including Kevin on his third leg of the day and Paul Evans on his second! Geoff was probably more nervous than me on this leg as he knew just how much completing the challenge in less than 16 hours would mean to me. The weather was still fabulous with views to die for as we pushed ever onwards. However, the nausea returned while ascending Kirk Fell but Steph Scott assured me that I was going faster than I thought and so I plodded on. I asked for a time check at the top of Pillar and, still well ahead of schedule, I decided a short stop would do me some good. Feeling refreshed by this the next two tops, Scoat Fell and Steeple, went over quite easily. Things got harder on Haycock and on starting the ascent of Seatallan I hadn’t gone very far when I realised all was not well and that I was suffering from heat stroke. According to Kevin, even my freckles went white at this point! Recalling my late father’s words “slow but sure gets there in the end” was sufficient encouragement to see me onto Seatallan and over Middle Fell where my brother was a welcome sight. A brief pause to enjoy a fabulous view of Wastwater Screes was followed by a slowish plod to Greendale Bridge and a fantastic welcome from my supporters and Joss himself, who had left a sixtieth birthday party in order to offer me his congratulations, so it was a perfect end to a perfect day finishing in 15 hours 32 minutes.

Susan Davis (Northumberland Fell Runners / Elvet Striders)

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Tom Phillips (M50) – 16 May 2015


2015-05-16 07.55.11

Pooley Bridge

Pooley Bridge - 7.50 am.

The forecast strong winds and heavy rain overnight had not materialised into anything too bad, and the views towards High Street suggested that things may improve as cloud levels seemed to be rising. The time splits on the first three legs for the V50-54 age group are punishingly fast, and there is no room for any errors in route choice or delays of any kind. I had a really enthusiastic team with me on the first two sections. Andy Gibbons had supported a JNC run before, Rachel Hill was chomping at the bit to get a long run in, and young Joshua, only 18 had come with my on my recce of this section (in somewhat warmer weather) a few weeks earlier. Also along was Brian Melia, a really experienced ultra runner and willing to have a go at the full route.

Along the first section to High Street we had great views across Ullswater and over to Striding Edge and Swirral Edge which were in sharp focus in the early morning night. One advantage of the recent cool wet weather was the the perfect visibility. The early cloud was clearing and the weather was improving. I dropped a couple of minutes behind schedule, but I wasn't overly concerned as I new there would be chances to gain this back later in the day. Arriving at Kirkstone Pass I had already regained some time and was a couple of minutes up, my recent recce of the descent from Pike Howe had paid of! Joss's envoy was there to meet us and as I felt good I only stopped for just over a minute before starting the stiff climb of over 1,000 feet to Red Screes summit. I was met by some friends on the top and we ran along the busy paths to Fairfield in good weather but with strong winds from the West at times. Brian had fallen behind a bit at Stoneycove Pike and and it was not looking like he would catch us up at the moment. Taking a fast scree descent from Fairfield another friend Jules Coleman ran along with us for a bit, but my buoyant mood and fast pace over the rough terrain meant a couple of my support runners were loosing contact.

At Dunmail I was 7 minutes up on schedule  after 4 hours 18 minutes of running and not far of a full marathon distance already completed. Now I was down to just one support runner, Steve Rhodes. The rough ground between Steel Fell and Rosset Pike is my least favourite section of the challenge, lots of grassy trackless and boggy sections and still that relentless schedule! Just keep plugging away and hang in there I kept thinking. At times I would run in the shelter of Steve to make the going easier as the strong winds weren't relenting on the exposed ground. His jacket inflated the same way you see with motorcyclist hammering down the motorway. Reading Joss's report on the first completion of this run he had done exactly the same!

Bowfell marks the return to "proper mountains" and I was 10 minutes up on schedule with the final summit of Great End looking quite close now. Positive thoughts really are a important on challenges like this, and I was looking forward to the descent down The Band from Great End. A few weeks earlier in blizzard conditions I had nearly come to grief on this descent though, tripping on my poles I had flipped head over heels off a ledge, fallen 10 feet and cracked rib (I was lucky to land on grass not rocks!). Today though the rocks and boulders were dry and although I deviated from the path towards the bottom I battled on down poor scree and boulders and reached Sty Head 16 minutes up.


My support crew (Penny, Phil and young Joshua back again) were waiting at the stretcher box and so sitting down briefly I gulped down some energy drink and eat a few bits and pieces. I got up but my team protested saying you've only been here a minute, are you going already?!


2015-05-16 15.28.30


So I sat down to have my photo taken with Penny’s Collie dog who was enjoying the adventure as well. They were going to contour around Gable and Kirkfell to meet us further along the route.


I was now lucky enough to have Dave Swift as well as Steve for support to the end. It's a big ascent of nearly 1,500 feet up to the summit of Gable, but I felt amazingly fresh and rattled it off in 27 minutes, well ahead of schedule now! The winds were dropping and the majestic line of the next section of the route lifted my spirits further. Diving down the steep gullies to the West of Gable we whooped with joy on the superb scree descent. We had beaten the support team though as we could see them on the approach path half a mile away. More time gained over Kirkfell and Pillar before the brief detours to Scoat Fell and Steeple. Steve was tiring after is superb support from Dunmail and just running with Dave now I pointed out the last three summits, Haycock, Seatallan and Middle Fell. So close now! More great scree from Haycock and the long grassy run to Seatallan allowed me to reflect on what a privilege it was to have a day in the mountains like this. Late afternoon sunshine illuminated the Wasdale Screes and the peaks of the central lakes I had traversed earlier now looked very distant.

There was some more scree to be enjoyed from Seatallan and then the last short ascent of the day made me realise I didn't have much energy left. I had judged my pace well and shook hands with Dave on the final summit before starting on the last descent to Greendale. Another friend, Simon met us on our descent and got some nice photos of the view down to Wasdale.



What I didn't know was his partner Carol had tried to meet up with us on this leg as well, but she had missed us by minutes on a couple of occasions. Something that had also happened to Joss on his first run when Chris Brasher tried and failed to intercept him.


2015-05-16 18.50.27

10 hours 48 minutes was much faster than I expected, my team had done me proud.

Thank you Joss for a great day, I will be back.