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, 12 August 2015

Steve Cliff (M55) – 18 July 2015


The challenge started a little earlier for me than for most people, when I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in April 2015. MND is a particularly awful degenerative disease with no cure and a poor prognosis.

Once I had, in some format, reconciled myself with this unexpected development in my life, I decided that I should at least try and make a difference to those poor unsupported souls that are given the same prognosis. The Joss Naylor Challenge has always been in my mind, now was the time to strike with a clear goal to raise money for MND research and support those diagnosed with the disease.

Three months training later and I was standing on Pooley Bridge at 5am with a crowd of twelve to cheer me off. I wanted six months to train, but didn’t have the luxury of time. With so little training under my belt, I knew I had to make the most of my strength in the early sections, and just “hang in” for the tougher second half.

SC_01Focussed at the start on Pooley Bridge

My support totalled nearly 80 and it is great to pore over the lists and to see where everyone got to! For every one that was able to disrupt their busy schedule to be there, there were another two that could not make it due to commitments. These followed the tracker instead, and managed to get fantastic messages of joy to me.

Without exception, every supporter was an absolute pleasure, inspiration and joy to be with and to see. Rob Woodall and Carwyn Phillips took me through Section one. Carwyn went on to finish the whole challenge with me …. don’t you just love this man! … He’s too young for a Joss – but such great talent. This level of support was given across the day by everyone I met – sacrifice and dedication - enough to make a grown man cry; and I did. We started section one with two and finished with three on the final stretch.

SC_02Fuel stop at Kirkstone Pass

From the off I had doubts about finishing; headwind gusts of 30mph meant that we had to work hard. The 3h 20m schedule was tough to keep, so instead we smashed it in 2h 59m! I did wonder whether it had taken too much out of me. A crowd of nineteen at Kirkstone, fuelled my spirit; and I was able to get up Red Screes in 20 minutes – a time normally left for the younger 50 to 55 year olds. Supporters started coming out of every rock on this section, and we finished with more than we started, and 35 minutes up on a 14 hour 40 minute schedule. We started with two on this section and finished with five.


SC_03Descending Seat Sandal

A crowd of twenty seven met me at Dunmail Raise, and I threw away any doubts of completing. We ran up Steel Fell with my two eldest grandchildren in tow - well done, Emma and Harry. Once we got to Bowfell, I could see that the second and most difficult part of the challenge would be in mist with an occasional view, at the bottom of each mountain. These are the mountains fell runners love – difficult, complex terrain; rocks to dance over; secret routes to pass onto the next contender. My rock dancing was limited to uphill, as I struggled moving lightly over large rocks in the windy conditions, and always protecting the muscles that MND might one day claim.

SC_04After Rossett Pike the clag descended and it became hard to move across slippy rocks in the wind


SC_05Descending Great End

We were a “push-me-pull-you” train - I was strong and leading on the uphill and the supporters were flowing over the rocky ground as we descended. We started with six supporters and ended with eleven on section three.

The mid-section support in the heart of our mountains at Sty Head (with no road access), was attended by twenty five; I was offered tea in a china cup on a tray, the napkin held down by the finest small rocks from Great Gable.

SC_06Tea in a china cup at Sty Head


The weather hardly changed through the day with strong winds blowing throughout; the only exception was during the fourth and final section, when a little extra spice of driving rain was added.


SC_07Descending Red Gully


Section four was going really well - climb strong, descend steady - when the driving rain started on Scoat Fell – I froze to the core, and felt hypothermic. Steeple, such a sweet little mountain, and one of my favourite spots proved a chore. I got the distinct impression that everyone was looking forward to the end of the run, so I put my head down for the final three tops that form the backdrop to the finish. Joss Naylor led the team down Middle Fell – no greater privilege could have been delivered to me. I would guess that twelve of us started this section and we finished with twenty nine. Either figure could have been more, neither was less; numbers were getting bigger all the time.

The twenty nine coming off the fell were greeted by another forty or more on Greendale Bridge – a glorious finish; timed at 13 hours 53 minutes. A healthy one hour seven minutes ahead of the 15 hours I was allowed.

SC_08Joss, Steve & Wynn


Steve’s original report with more photos can be downloaded from here.

Steve’s JustGiving page is here

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