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, 25 August 2015

Geoff Cox (M60) – 04 July 2015


It was black as the Devil’s armpit at 3am on Pooley Bridge, and the first leg was plainly going to decisive in determining the success of the day. I had superstars Martyn and Helen Price navigating and pacing, so I was in safe hands there, while Ken Murphy was the first of a strong support crew from Lonsdale Fellrunners. Conditions were relatively benign in the valley, but as soon as we gained some height they deteriorated fast. It was like being in a washing machine, being thrown around in a strange combination of warm, blustery winds, torrential rain, thick clag and occasional flashes of lightning. We managed to keep moving at a decent pace through all of this and we were 20 minutes up on schedule by High Street. There was now sufficient daylight to watch the thunderstorms approaching and I was constantly monitoring escape routes should one be heading directly for us. We were almost forced off the tops by the very last storm, but this swung away at the last minute and we watched with some trepidation as lightning struck down into Red Screes - that’s where we would be standing soon!

Geoff_Cox_01Geoff Cox and Martyn Price In the ‘washing machine’ on Leg 1. Photo Ken

But first a cup of tea courtesy of John Doyle and the well-oiled LFR road support team at Kirkstone. This was an interesting experience, trying to drink the tea faster than the rain filled the cup again. Martyn, Helen and I were to be joined on Leg 2 by the massively experienced duo of Graham Holden and Paul Bates. “Oh Good” I thought, “Paul’s just off a plane from Japan so he’ll take it steady” It didn’t take long until I was huffing and puffing trying to hang onto him as he disappeared into the Red Scree mists. That was the start of a good fast leg that put us further up on schedule by the time we dropped into the circus that was Dunmail Raise. Several BG support crews and my own cavalcade of heroes lined both sides of the road and it would have been easy to get carried away in the social whirl of so many friends gathered in one place. However, Martyn and Helen were handing me into the stern hands of Tom Phillips for the rest of the day, so I had to make sure that I replayed that privilege with a business-like approach.



Mike Langrish assembled the Leg 3 team for his meet and greet photograph (thanks Mike), then it was off up Steel Fell. Tom Phillips and Penny Attwood took charge, allowing a LFR contingent of Dave Sykes, Andy Smillie and Coach Paul Modley to entertain me with a steady stream of irreverent drivel, pork pies and poor jokes. The weather was improving fast, we were well up on schedule and moving at a steady pace, largely due to Tom’s cunning lines. It had only been a couple of weeks since Tom completed his JNLC in under 11 hours so we were taking his very direct routes between checkpoints. Tom’s approach is that a straight line is a fast line, so we covered ground that I would never have had the audacity to attempt - I certainly didn’t see many of them during my recce’s! The final descent off Great End was so unlikely that, looking back up the slope, it was hard to believe that there was a way down, let alone a way down that took yet more time out of the schedule.


We entered “Styhead Central” at the height of rush-hour, and a large LFR party had an opulent buffet laid out on top of the stretcher box. More pork pies and chocolate milk kept me occupied while the very select Final Leg team got organised. I knew that we had plenty of time in hand, but I knew that there was still a decent chunk of the Lake District to traverse, so there was no room for complacency. Tom, Penny and my guardian angel, Ellie Maddocks, set off up Gable, Penny soon dropping back to hand over to LFR’s fast-charging Dutchman, Ronald Hummelink. Tom’s cunning lines down ridiculous scree chutes continued: I focused on staying upright, Ellie whooped and giggled, while Ronald muttered about he didn’t get much chance to practice on this kind of ground in the Netherlands. But Tom was saving the best until last and the scree descent off Haycock was improbable to say the least. I was getting a little weary by now and was glad of the grass trods and easy going that would take us through the rest of the run. The long drag up Seatallan warranted a few choice words but I was expecting it to be a pull so it soon came and went.

P1050937Geoff Cox, Ellie Maddocks and Ronald Hummelink descending Haycock. Photo Tom Phillips


I started to relax once Middefell summit was under my feet, and that sense of achievement was accelerated by the welcoming committee who were making their way up the finishing slopes to meet me. The crews from Dunmail and Styhead, having driven round to Wasdale, had been making a solid contribution to the local economy in the bar of the Wasdale Head. I tried to retain some dignity as I hoped that Joss might be there to meet me despite our arrival a long way up on schedule. Sure enough, he strolled down to the bridge to shake hands and offer a few words of congratulations to me, and to Tom whom he’d not been around to greet a couple of weeks earlier. A huge privilege and one that put the icing on the cake of what was pretty much a perfect day. Thanks to all who supported me in achieving such a heartfelt ambition.

1 comment:

  1. Yes ,excellent, you have described the experience perfectly. The crew who refreshed themselves at Wasdale were no doubt delighted to see you finish, as were we all.
    An excellent write up, well written, as only someone who has had a go knows, and all the better when you finish.
    Well done Joss, it is the cream on top when you come out to meet the finishers.