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.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Peter Crompton (M60) - 10 June 2017

Turning 60! Sixty is old, right? But wait, I’m not old. I’m a fellrunner. So prove it then. But what to do in this my sixty first year?

Pooley Bridge: 05:57 a.m. all was quiet apart from a strangely clanking bridge. Three addicts went through the fell runners’ rituals of stretching, warming up, adjusting laces, checking watches, killing the minutes before the self-declared “official” starting time. My two pacers and navigators are both Winter BG graduates, so I knew I was in the best of company.

“Are you ok with this pace” said Paul, “it feels a bit quick”.

“Feels good to me” I replied, and thought privately, that’s a good sign.

However, we were still two minutes down on our “Vet 60 record” schedule at the first of our 30 peaks, Arthur’s Pike. This did not bother me as I knew from previous outings that the later peaks tended to fall below the scheduled times.

As we approached the slightly higher Loadpot Hill the weather was closing in, Mario said “and that’s it, into the cloud, it’s the last you will see for the next 12 hours”. How right he was! But it was a great adventure that still lay ahead. We were battered and “car washed” on our way to High Street. Somewhere around there I had a real face planting trip, leaving me flat out in a puddle. Mario scraped me up and, with only a broken watch and a bloody hand as damage, we were off again to Kirkstone Pass. 

After a quick cup of home-made potato soup (millions of calories and previously patented for my BG challenge) we zipped up Red Screes and onto the long misty wander to Hart Crag. Except that Paul and Mario’s brilliant navigation and shepherding kept me from wandering too far. Several times I heard booming through the mist from behind me “Peter, a bit to the left – follow Mario”. Thank goodness for skilful navigators. Fairfield appeared through the clag quite quickly. The summit is confusing, I have previously gone astray up here in mist, so we quickly scanned the dripping, mist-shrouded cairns and turned left for Seat Sandal, the wind doing its best to knock us off our feet. This was the first climb that my legs had noticed and I reminded myself that there was still a very long way to go and that mental strength and a clear focus might be needed later.

A great time saving line down Seat Sandal could be shared with prospective BG and JNC contenders on payment to CFR or my “Just Giving” WaterAid account.

/ This brought us to within earshot of welcoming car horns and happy, rainswept faces at Dunmail Raise, not to mention the calorie-dense rice pudding slurped straight from the can - looks disgusting but it’s quick. It really was good to see Kate, Rhiannon, Stu and Heather here. Heather quickly dispensing water bottles, flapjack and chocolate. After 4 minutes of taking the “combine harvester” approach to food I shouted into the rain “ready guys? We need to go”.

Hooray, it’s more steep climbing. Straight up Steel Fell in 20 minutes and off across the long wet trog to High Raise. Andy Beaty, tough rival of many races and Paul Jennings orienteer, fell runner and possessor of photographic memory for the shapes of trods and hillsides, joined me for this leg to Styhead. There is a myriad of streams and boggy bits up here but streams turn into life threatening torrents on days like this. We stopped and hesitated to judge one such flooded stream. Paul went first, slipped and was soon upended and soaked from head to toe. I honestly thought he was in danger of being swept away. I stood gawping whilst Andy hauled him out and with hardly a blink or a flip of the fins, we were on our way again. We were all soaked to the skin prior to this, so, as Paul said, his brief swim didn’t make that much difference. If you ever contemplate doing an event like this, in this kind of weather, make sure you have a good navigator, preferably one who can swim.

On the top of Bowfell we met some walkers who thought they were on Scafell Pike. I know the visibility was bad, but there are limits! Fortunately, Paul and Andy both managed to make polite offers of help, something I was not capable of by this time.

Eating was becoming more difficult, as is sometimes the case on these longer jaunts. The legs were saying “feed me” but the guts were saying “don’t you dare”. Boiled potatoes went down better than the infamous peanut butter sandwiches. Chocolate bars provided short but fast sugar fixes.

The greasy boulder areas of these three peaks, Bowfell, Esk Pike and Great End slowed us down considerably as we did our best not to crack a shin or worse, take a tumble into a bone-breaking hole. I remember down-climbing on all fours over rough ground that I would normally have skipped over. The descent off Great End was both a navigational and an agility challenge, but with mutual support and concentration we made it to the stretcher box at Styhead. Here we said goodbye and thank you to Andy as he descended to Borrowdale as planned. Beside the stretcher box we found a cold wet Bill who was waiting to “take us home” to Greendale. Only 12 miles to go. Bill knows the Wasdale fells like the back of his hand and took us along this section in thick mist and increasing winds without ever looking at a map. How do these people do it?

I had in mind that there were only the 3 big climbs of Gable, Kirk and Pillar to go before getting to the three little ones at the end. At the top of Pillar it hit me like a wet blanket, a heavy wet blanket, that there were five to go not three. The mental strength alluded to before was needed here. “focus, focus, focus” I repeated. Positive images were drawn from the depths, teeth clenched and feelings of fatigue banished. Steeple was short and fun but Seatallan was a bloody long way. 

Bill said, “Middle fell is easy”. He lied! 

But I knew we were very close now. Having not thought much about the time all day, I now began, with the record in mind, to ask Paul for “clock time” as opposed to split time – and repeated the annoying question every 5 minutes. 

At the top of Middle Fell we had 25 minutes to reach the end and hit our target.

“Can we do it in 25”? I asked Bill.

“Lets do it in 15” he said.

“Right, Go!” I replied, and we did. 

Tearing down the hillside, soft turf a blessing underfoot. A few rocks, a trod here, a fast grassy bit there, Joss’ house was soon appearing through the mist. We dodged left on the track through the last of the bracken. 

At last the wall, Joss’ house, the tarmac, the bridge. 

We had done it! Great fun. 

A hug from my wife Heather. 

A handshake from Joss. 

A handshake from David. 

Big grins all round. What a day! 

Paul, from the first half, had travelled all the way from Cockermouth to see us finish. 

I gave him a celebratory punch on the arm and said “we did it, we took over half an hour off the old record”. 

We were grinning like mad dogs. But then …

Joss said, “Aye, a lad last week, he did it in eleven hours”.


Is this a windup? I thought. 

I stared into Joss’s blue eyes in vain hope of a mocking smile, but no! 

Apparently not. Oh what the hell! 

We had had a Grand Day Out. We had smashed our own ambitious target in appalling weather and for a few seconds at least, we believed we were the new record holders. 

Isn’t fell running just wonderful?


Thursday, 14 December 2017

David Waide (M60) - 03 June 2017

Andy and I trotted away from Pooley Bridge in the clear morning light. A few campers stirred as we ran quietly through the campsite and up onto the fell. The air was fresh and I felt the warmth of the sun balance the cool breeze as we climbed the ridge leading to Arthurs Pike. Ranks of fells progressively appeared as we climbed the long ridge to High Street. The mountains looked magnificent in the sun with clouds slowly building, creating dappled shades on the surrounding hills. The pace felt good and I stayed within plus or minus a couple of minutes of schedule all the way to Kirkstone.

I had a very brief stop, grabbed a banana, and chomped my way up the start of Red Screes. Andy swapped empty energy drink bottles for full, and climbed rapidly after me. Leg 2 went very smoothly, landing spot on the planned contour round Dove Crag. I lost a couple of minutes on the Leg and arrived at Dunmail 4 hours 37 minutes after setting out, and five minutes behind my challenging schedule.

Another brief stop, banana grab and hello/goodbye to the support team, saw me climbing steadily up the pronounced trod to Steel Fell. Stewart followed a couple of minutes later having collected the spare gear from Andy. Clouds now filled most of the sky but only kissed the highest summits. Clearly little rain had fallen for some weeks and only the wettest areas were still squelchy underfoot. I still felt good but could feel the fatigue starting to build and having caught back a few minutes to High Raise I lost them again on the climb to Bowfell. The weather stayed dry all day, giving the great benefit of dry rock and helping to regain valuable minutes on each rocky descent through to Scoat Fell. The convoluted descent off Great End was exciting as I was using a five year old memory and a Rob Woodall GPX track. The combination worked well and I gained another minute arriving at Sty Head still five minutes behind schedule.

We then had four minutes of panic. Chris was not to be seen and I had almost finished the energy drink. We started down the path to Wasdale, met Rucha who had walked up to meet Stewart, raided her supplies, and set off up Great Gable stopping to collect more water. It transpired that Yvette had had a very slow road journey and had not managed to rendezvous with Chris. Chris eventually managed to get phone signal and agreed to set off with what food he had. He managed to catch us on the climb up Gable, bringing some of his own energy drink and sustenance. To complete a fantastic recovery by the support team, when Andy arrived at Wasdale Head with Yvette, he set off again, carrying more supplies. He went up Black Sail pass and arrived in time to see us ascending Pillar, heroically catching us by Scoat Fell.

My energy dropped a little more on Leg 4, though I largely compensated by pushing harder with Greendale bridge in mental sight. The conditions continued to be near perfect with only moderate wind, good visibility with the cloud drifting off each summit in turn as we arrived. Compared to 5 years earlier, I lost 4 minutes to Haycock and caught 3 back to Greendale arriving in 11 hours 8 minutes, just 10 minutes slower than in 2012.

Yvette and Rucha were waiting with Joss and we had a great chat, then finished a fabulous mountain day with a pub meal with the brilliant support team.

Enormous thanks to Andy, Stewart, Chris, Rucha and Yvette.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Nicky Spinks (W50) - 22 April 2017

My 50th Birthday Celebration -  the Joss Naylor Challenge

I first supported a Joss Naylor  in 2006 (Roy Small and Dave Holmes) while recovering from breast cancer operations. I did Dunmail to Styhead and thought the pace was incredibly fast but then I wasn't as fast as I am now. I was also struck though by how great the route was. Starting in Pooley Bridge with a distance of 50 miles and 30 tops it traverses the Lake District and finishes at Greendale where Joss lives. It is also only open to the Over 50's with different time allowances for Men and Women which increase as you get older (in 5 year increments). Since 2006 I have supported three more attempts and have always looked forward to the day that I could myself attempt.

I have always supported from Dunmail doings both Legs 3 and 4 to Wasdale. On each occassion the runner seemed to arrive at Dunmail on schedule but quite exhausted and so across to Bowfell they were in doubt of finishing. But with cajoling from their support each one rallied round and then pulled back loads of time on the schedule to finish in 11.30 hours or thereabouts. So I decided that for my attempt I would do my own schedule as the 1st two legs have always been known as fast and I personally hoped that if I could do them a bit slower I would then continue a bit fast through Legs 3 and 4.

Approaching my 50th year as soon as I looked at the 2017 diary and realised that my birthday 22nd April fell on a Saturday I knew how I wanted to spend my birthday - by doing the Joss Naylor Challenge !! So the plan was formed. I invited a few select supporters as I didn't want a busy birthday and lots of logistics and I booked a couple of caravans at my favourite Wasdale area site - Parkgate Farm with my brother and his family so in the evening we would be able to have some drinks and stay. I reccied the route concentrating on Legs 1 and 2 because on paper they look simple but on the ground they are more complicated. I also needed to get a feel for the pace and the terrain. The weather hindered reccying a lot; there was always clag and usually rain, wind and or snow but I persevered and thank everyone that came out with me in all weathers to help. Even with adding time onto Legs 1 and 2 I was terrified of all the gradual runnable sections on these legs so changed my speedwork sessions to incorporate slight uphill repetitions throughout the winter.

With reccying done, my last long race - the Calderdale Hike on 1st April finished, it's then a waiting game to see if the weather will play ball. Easter weekend was very changeable but I was pleased when Jon Whilock found the best day and went for it achieving a time of 11.20 hours. I was less pleased when he emailed me and said how tough it was. The weather for my weekend seemed settled and unchangeable early on so I was able to say I was going for it and finalise support. I had two supporters drop from Leg 3 which because I had only enough support was very stressful and a massive thanks to Kirsty Hewitson for stepping in and doing Legs 1 and 3.

With being very busy on the farm the week before I was more rushed than I liked packing and Friday night I didn't sleep at all as I was nervous I had forgotten something and hadn't checked and rechecked everything. Saturday morning dawned a lovely day. At 5am it was cold 2C with a northerly wind that was bitter at timesI had always wanted Wisp my dog to run the whole way with me but this is a big ask of her as she wouldn't know that that was her "day out" and would probably expect two legs and 8/10 hours as per a usual day out. I'd tried to take her out for long runs and was confident she could do the distance and time if her paws stood up to it too. I made her up drop bags with cheddars, sliced roast beef and pork pie in them hoping that she would wolf that down at the crossings.

Setting off with Kirsty Hewitson, Helen Elmore and Tim Rippon I tried to hold back but was desperate to see if I could stay on the schedule so ran through the campsite. I heard all the supporters puffing and asked whether I was going too fast "This is very fast" they all replied so I backed off a little. Watching Wisp bouncing round was a joy but I hoped she would be ok later. We joked that maybe she should carry the tracker! The first top done exactly on schedule and that was pleasing. Off we trotted to the next; again bang on schedule and now without running when I didn't want to. We chatted a little but I concentrated on the pace and navigation. Also I started eating hoping that if the pace became too fast I would still have energy. It was a glorious morning with slight hoar frost. The weather was great with the ground being dry too. I had to loosen my laces once but apart from that my clothes combination was working perfectly. I began to enjoy my birthday and although worried that obviously I still had a long way to go the day seemed to be trotting along nicely.

We made excellent time to Kirkstone Pass and arrived a few minutes up on my schedule so I had a nice sit down and some spicy pasta. Charmian had done a great job of laying it all out but Wisp wouldn't eat her food until I showed her where it was. Setting off with Simon Rippon and Jean Brown I was looking forward to some walking climbs at last. Red Screes was warm in the sun but the wind was back when we reached the top. Eating well I was favouring fruit salads and rice puddings. We found the direct line down but wobbled on navigation across to Hart Crag; nothing major and still making good time. From Hart Crag to Fairfield I know from the Hodgson Brothers leg 4 Relay and since the passing of Darren Holloway on Fairfield I always give him a few moments of remembrance on the summit. A careful bearing off to Seat Sandal to avoid the horrid scree I hit on my Double BG and trotting down to the col I was feeling happy. Wisp was right behind me as she doesn't like the loose rocky stuff but she soon set off up Seat Sandal in front again; I was glad to see she had bounce still. Running down to Dunmail I was 10 minutes up and very pleased with that. At the stop there was an elderly gentleman who introduced himself as the "Joss Naylor Meet and Greet Representative". He had driven all the way from Warwickshire to see me through Dunmail and gave me a badge. I promptly pinned it to my Tee-shirt which he was very pleased at.

Leaving Dunmail with Laurence Piercy, Justin Bramhall and Kirsty Hewitson Wisp was surprised and overjoyed to be allowed to come along; this was where she had stopped on the Double BG. She bounced around a little but then I think she got to thinking about the leg ahead which she knows well from Joss and BG reccies as she visibly slowed and became more conservative with her energy. I was trying to make sure she drank enough by stopping by the streams; sometimes she remembered little pools and ran ahead to dive in them and cool down. I pushed hard up High Raise trying to make the split which I thought was 40 minutes only to confirm it with Laurence and find it was actually 50; so 5 minutes made up there! We had discussions about the tops and route to Rosset Pike with Justin showing he had done his homework knowing both tops and route! With the visibility and conditions though we trotted along and I was starting to feel that sub 12 hours was definitely a possibility. I had a mini celebration at the passing of 6 hours being my halfway time point and thought "Now when can I start pushing a little? !! Off Great End to Styhead the direct way I had reccied many times but only once (two years ago) in perfect conditions. The other times me and Wisp (and various friends) had been benighted, rocknighted, snownighted and clagnighted - and usually all together!! So in fact we had started to hate the place but with great conditions and time in the bag I decided I would give it a go. It was fun and I remembered enough to weave our way down to Styhead to meet Steve Wathall but also my friends Rachael Edgar and Jon which was a lovely surprise.

Again more baked beans went down well but they had no water which was a slight problem. Never mind coke and energy drink would do. I looked at my time and decided with only 3/4 hours to go I could start to up the pace a little. However Great Gable went on and on, Wisp looked tired and I felt it; we were all glad to get to the top! Now I was 30 minutes up on my 11.59 hour schedule but the extra pace and lack of water was causing stomach pains and I hoped that Nick Whittingham had made it to Pillar with some coffee as I felt that would help. I was able to run some uphill sections of the contouring paths which was a good feeling - for me - but for my support I think less so. Approaching Pillar I saw a figure running up to the top and knew it was Nick. He had coffee ready to hand at the summit and it tasted delicious but wanting to avoid a "Honister Projectile Vomiting" moment (see BG Record film) I just drank half a cup, thanked him and carried on my way. Wisp found a pool to dive in so I stopped letting her have her last cool down as I knew across from Scoat Fell there would be little water. Now I was really enjoying it; I was able to drink coke and have gels and knew that would be enough. We flew across to Steeple with Wisp too; I did wonder what she now thought. She was getting tired as we crossed a stile to Haycock and she couldn't control her legs to jump down and so fell onto the ground rather. I hoped the soft grass would revive her over the last three hills.

I wanted to find Joss's trod off Haycock and just as we were heading off we saw Helen and Simon approaching; great stuff guys! So with everyone route finding we found the best way up Seatallon and across to Middle Fell. Seatallon was hard but now I was aiming for sub 11; not knowing anything really though. I ran a lot up Middle Fell with Laurence at my side but we agreed that sub 11 would be nice but 11.01 or 02 would be just as nice as we'd had such a great day. On Middle Fell summit there was a welcome party of Chris Cripps and his friends. Watching me descend Chris came flying passed and I hung onto him knowing that if anyone knows the good line it would be Chris. Wisp had certainly perked up too running round in her usual bouncy self; I'm sure from reccies she knew there couldn't be more hills now and that cars awaited us at the bottom! We finished by flying down to the bridge in a time of 11.02.24 hours.

I absolutely love the video of the finish; Wisp bouncing round, me sprinting (sort of), then touching the bridge and catching sight of Joss, then us hugging! You can watch it here -  Carol's video of me Finishing - You Tube

What a way to celebrate your birthday; just the best! I always maintain that these rounds are a Team Effort and without my support team my Joss Naylor wouldn't have been possible. Thank you all plus my brother Charlie, his wife Carol, my lovely niece Lottie and my husband Steve Burgess.  To top it all we went back to the caravans, ate huge amounts of curry then went to the Bower House Inn to wash it all down with real ale! Wisp was suitably tired and slept most of Saturday night.

(photo: Justin Bramhall)

(photo: Justin Bramhall)

Road Support: Charmian Heaton, Ian Fitzpatrick
Leg 1 Tim Rippon, Helen Elmore, Kirsty Hewitson
Leg 2: Simon Rippon, Jean Brown
Leg 3: Kirsty Hewitson, Justin Bramhall and Laurence Piercy
Leg 4 Steve Wathall, Laurence Piercy, Kirsty Hewitson and Nick Whittingham on Pillar, Chris Cripps off Middle Fell.