Introduction

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.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Paul Tynan (M55) - 15 June 19


Joss Naylor has been a hero, inspiration, and motivator for me since my teenage years. I still have an image in my mind of this chap turning up at a fell race in a well used brown Shepherd's coat (similar to the (grey) ones ironmonger storemen used to wear ). All the other runners in show off gear. But my hero winning the event.

Ever since then his achievements episodically have popped into my awareness frame. There are too many to mention here but doing all the Wainwrights in 7 days (record stood for 28 years!) and the Pennine way in 3 days are up there.
Having had a good crack at Triathlons over the years my interests turned back to the fells more recently. Further inspiration from Feet in the cloud (Richard Askwith ) made his namesake challenge a must "try".

For those not aware the Joss Naylor Challenge is a route crossing the Lake district from NE (Pooley Bridge ) to SW ( Wasdale) and Greendale Bridge (home of "the Shepherd") and encompassing 5182 m of ascent, 77Km distance, 30 summits and only 2 road crossings. All to be done in a prescribed time according to age and gender. At 58 years my allocation was 15 hours. Joss himself at the age of 54 in very bad weather conditions completed in 11 hours and 30 mins. Challengers can start when they like but must be accompanied - for safety reasons. Oh and there is a chance that Joss will meet you at Greendale.
Having really enjoyed preparing and completing a Bob Graham in 2017 I started my specific training with a passion around January 2019. As time goes by i am increasingly of the opinion that you race to train not the other way around. For the first time in my life i took some advice from a specific trainer as to the best way to train. Previously i had thought i would save beating up my joints by getting much of the endurance work done on the bike. Well that idea was put in the bin - instead lots of running in zone 2 (level at which could talk in sentences) and virtually never going harder - even up hills. Sounds lovely doesn't it - better still it worked. Combining this with plenty of time in the fells ( I live in Lancaster) and quite a bit of weight training and strength and conditioning exercises i felt i was ready for an attempt on June 15th. Lonsdale Fellrunners were in full support along with friends and family.

As many of you will be aware its a major logistic exercise sorting out support runners, road teams, food, clothing and safety actuals and potentials for the crossing. Many thanks to my wife Jan for help and acting as a sounding board.

So it was that at 4am Ken collected me from my house and we drove to Pooley Bridge to meet Ronald Hummerlink (my other support runner for leg1). I suppose we shouldn’t have been surprised to arrive at the bridge to see another "challenger" taking photos at 0530 for this is high season for ultras.

Pooley Bridge



It kind of felt good to start at 0532 - 2 mins leeway right from the start. The weather was good - clear sky - no head torches needed and only a slight headwind. Good progress was made up High street and there were no delays at the roadworks!

Roadworks on Raven Howe


As predicted the weather gradually went off and we entered the cloud around Raven Howe and the headwind picked up a bit. Navigation went well. My recce's were paying off. Gradually we crept ahead of schedule but remained mindful not to overcook it on leg 1. Many Thanks to Ken and Ronald for a calm leg with no "excitements" and delivering me to Kirkstone Pass 10 mins ahead of schedule.

Kirkstone Pass


Son Sam, his wife Alys and my brother Andrew had the situation covered at the Pass and the next crew ( Dave Sykes, Martyn Price and Mark Parsonage Kear ) were ready for the off. My strategy was to spend minimum time at crossings - fuelling little and often rather than large dollops

It wasn’t long before we were in the clag going up Red Screes, but another minute gained. and then the rain began and wind picked up. No matter this is what mountain challenges are about :good gear, keep warm and we had the Nav sorted. Food and fluid going in regularly - and steadily we ticked off the summits. Briefly below the cloud at Grisedale Hause and then back in it as we scaled Seat Sandel. Had a little fall adjustment half way up and leg went into cramp! This is where the psychology comes in I thought. Cramp due to the trip not because of leg tiredness - move on ignore it - and yes it didn't return. It was a welcoming and slightly strange sight to come out of the cloud and peer down to what must have been at least 30 "vans" at Dunmail Raise.


Dunmail Raise

This clearly was a day for BG's and JNC's ( 3 successful on my day). I was now 14 mins up on my 14 hr 20 min schedule.- things were going well and according to plan. My wife Jan was in charge of this change over. Again all in place and a fairly quick pitstop ( almost felt i wanted to stay longer to show appreciation for their efforts) but Steel Fell was waiting.
My crew were now Jules Coleman, Rob Webb, and Mary Hodgson. One of my favourite bits is from Steel fell to and just before the trudge up the never ending slopes of High Raise. The trudge today done in the clag which might have been a blessing. Managed to get the right line on the last bit up Rossett pike ( bit hit and miss this on Recces). I always enjoy popping out near the top of Bow Fell after the ramps on the Buttress. Gradually the weather was improving ( as forecast).Soon we were contemplating the route north off Great End - an act of faith indeed that there is going to be a way - but it slowly revealed itself as we descended - and suddenly Sty Head was in view. 19 mins up and feeling not too bad.


Sty Head

Thanks to Andy and Annette Paton for bringing supplies up to the stretcher box.

The possibility for a successful challenge were beginning to look favourable and this gave me a boost as Great Gable was tackled. Even the sun had put a show in (occasionally). The team was now James Edwards, Thomas Mon- Mon and Grace Leedham. As before the scree off Gable felt horrible until suddenly I realised that I was surrounded by fantastic post rain clear views and that things were going well - time to relax a bit and pose for a photo or 2.

Wasdale

It was a beautiful leg with fantastic scenery . Not a leg to be taken lightly as still quite a bit of climbing but I had over an hour leeway (from the 15 hrs) so just had to make no mistakes or tumbles. The scree off Haycock was a delight.

Sree on Haycock

The last 3 summits are very different in character to the earlier part of the leg. Greendale Bridge was drawing ever closer.

Middle Fell

Time for Photos on Middle fell before descending for the last time.
Amazing to embrace my wife and shake the Shepherd's hand on that fabled bridge. Thank you to all the team that made it possible. 

Greendale Bridge


Thank you to Joss Naylor for being an inspiration for so many decades.
PS finished in 13 hrs 51


Saturday, 28 December 2019

John Tollitt (M55) - 15 June 19

My original plan to attempt the Joss Naylor Challenge in May had to be abandoned due to the combination of a sprained ankle and a bad back. 

The alternative date of June 15th always looked a bit touch and go but injuries recovered and pacers were found and I was ready to go with Bertie Goffe my pacer for Leg 1. Weather conditions were ideal as we set off at 05.30 and remained good throughout the day. Leg 1 passed off uneventfully with small gains being made on target times at each summit.
As I dropped down to Kirkstone Pass, I could see the white roof of our VW camper where Vicki was waiting with drinks and pasta to fuel me on my way. 


My new pacing crew of Cees, Stu and Dexter took over from Bertie, and despite thick cloud on Fairfield, saw me safely down to Dunmail Raise still ahead of schedule and in good shape. Paul and John accompanied me on leg 3 with Stu putting in a 2nd shift. The boggy drag up to High Raise seemed to go on forever but I just concentrated on keeping
moving and letting my pacers worry about route finding and pace. The weather deteriorated for a while with a brief hailstorm thrown into the mix! 


The route off Great End was a bit improvised but still saw us 30 mins ahead of schedule at Sty Head Pass. I was well looked after by Susan and Harry at the Sty Head stretcher box before setting off on my final leg in the capable hands of Roger and Geoff.
Leg 4 was a delight, the cloud had cleared, the sun was out and I was feeling confident, with time in hand. I was just trying to concentrate on not doing anything daft like turning an ankle on the tricky descents off Great Gable and Kirk Fell. We managed to find the scree chute off Haycock and after the slightly up Seatallan, it was plain sailing over Middle Fell. As Greendale Bridge came into view I can see a cluster of vehicles and bodies which I headed for.

Joss was there at the finish to greet me and provide words of support and wisdom and Vicki was there to transport me to the pub for some well earned recovery.

Many thanks to Bertie Goffe, David Armstrong, Cees Van Der Land, Stuart Scott, Paul Appleby, John Duff, Roger Sillito, Harry Ransome, Susan Davis, Kim Taylor and
Vicki Deritis for support on the day

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Dick Towler (M70) - 09 June 19


My friend, and fellow member of Lakeland OC, Derek Fryer, told me last autumn that he was thinking of attempting the Joss this year. Having done it myself back in 2014, in 16hrs 44mins, when I was 65, I thought it would be a good idea to repeat it with him, to celebrate my 70th year and to raise some money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Unfortunately, my initial training was badly affected by illness, a chest infection, that lasted all of January and half of February, so, when I did start to do some serious walks with Derek, I found myself badly unfit. But I struggled on, always saying I’d decide if I was going to make a 2nd attempt after I’d done Legs 2 and 3 together, in late May.

Pooley Bridge with Iain and John

That last training walk went well, so 2 weeks later, shortly before midnight on Saturday 8th June, I found myself at Pooley Bridge, with Iain Smith Ward and John Armstrong supporting. We’d meant to start 24hrs earlier, but had postponed because of heavy rain. Derek had started at 11pm.

We made good, steady progress, though not quite as fast as 5 years earlier, until we approached Red Crag, when we walked up into the cloud and it started to rain. By High Raise it was pouring down and blowing strongly from the SW. Navigation was never that difficult, though visibility became a problem in places, for instance when descending from Thornthwaite Beacon. Fortunately, it was beginning to get light as we climbed Stoney Cove Pike. By the time we dropped down to Kirkstone, the rain had stopped, but we had lost quite a bit of time.

My original support team were unable to come on the Sunday, so Iain carried on with me on Leg 2 to Dunmail. The weather continued to improve, with glimpses of sun and blue sky and some stunning views. Fairfield was still in cloud, but Seat Sandal was clear, as were most of the hills ahead. Unfortunately, it was already obvious to me that any chance of my making a 2nd attempt in less than 18hrs had gone. I could relax, carry on and enjoy it.

For Leg 3 I had my son-in-law, Geoff Clarke, and my friend from South Ribble Orienteers, Julian Lailey. We made short work of Steel Fell and enjoyed the walk across to High Raise, in the improving weather. I was getting tired, though, and began to struggle a bit on the long downhill section from High Raise. I was also beginning to have difficulty swallowing food. At Rossett Pike, we met up with Carol McNeill, who had generously walked up from Old Dungeon Ghyll to give us tea, rice pudding and custard, before we set off up Bowfell. We decided to head back towards Esk Hause from the top of Great End, instead of carrying on straight down to Styhead. My split for that bit shows that that wasn’t a good decision.

It was cold and windy at Styhead, so we didn’t stay long. Julian, who had headed back to Old Dungeon Ghyll from Esk Hause, was replaced on Leg 4 by my son, Simon, Geoff carrying on. Many thanks to Simon Cane, who supported at Styhead. By this point, I was having real difficulty eating. I’d brought macaroni bolognaise, but couldn’t get it down. Geoff kept feeding me Jelly Babies and energy gels. Luckily, I discovered I could swallow the pasta if I added water and made it into a soup.

Middle Fell with Geoff and Simon


We made good progress over Gable and on to Kirk Fell, but I felt faint on the way off the latter and had to take great care going down the ridge. The long pull up to Pillar seemed to go on for ever. Again, I was very careful going out to Steeple. Seatallon wasn’t as bad as I remembered, and by this point I knew I was going to make it. In the end, I finished in 19hrs 49mins, which has a certain poignancy. Derek finished a bit later, after having had a power nap on Pillar.

To date I’ve raised over £1500, plus gift aid, for the Alzheimer’s Society. You can see my Just Giving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dicks2ndJNLC

Greendale Bridge with Joss


Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Derek Fryer (M65) - 09 June 19


A little background first - I was brought up to enjoy the fells and also joined West Cumberland OC 50 years ago (when Joss was already a member). I have happy memories of going out watching him on the Lake District Mountain Trial in the late 60s/early 70s and being very impressed. Despite that background I never came close to training enough to attempt the Bob Graham and I stuck largely to orienteering with just occasional fell races  and mountain marathons. However, the combination of retirement, imminent 65th birthday, and significant encouragement/persuasion from my Lakeland OC friends on our regular Tuesday morning runs convinced me last November that I might just stand a chance of completing the JNLC. Amongst the LOC friends were a good number that had done the JNLC themselves and who were happy to commit to joining me building up the training mileage. Not least amongst this group was Dick Towler who decided he would like to repeat the JNLC around his 70th birthday, having previously done it at 65. Their level of support made it easy to put together a fine support team and I appreciated the fact that their average age matched mine.

I’d picked Friday 7th June for the attempt before realising it was the 75th Anniversary of D Day. However, with a poor weather forecast it seemed reasonable to use the precedent of D-Day being deferred 24 hours by a bad weather forecast to do likewise. Hence the planned 11pm start on Friday became 11pm on Saturday. I’m grateful that all my support crew were able to adapt. The weather still started off unpleasant but gradually improved after the night leg down to Kirkstone.I had two people with me on each leg starting off with Andy Robinson and Richard Tiley. We were chauffeured up to Pooley Bridge by Chris Kemp, who started fellwalking and orienteering with me in the 1960s. I carried a tracker from Open Tracking which proved to be very useful for people patiently monitoring my progress – particularly my daughter Lucy who, despite being down in Essex, coordinated the team and supporters by phone throughout. After keeping clear of injury for months my knee had started hurting after the Tuesday run that week which put sufficient doubt in my mind that my sleep was affected. It really was a relief to get started, albeit with a series of painkillers, and we made good progress, considering the weather, reaching Kirkstone 8 minutes down on my 20 hour schedule. Tom Barkas and Chris were there and provided welcome shelter and sustenance. Dick had set off later than me but appeared shortly before I set off up Red Screes, with Jackie Chapman and Roger Smith jollying me along.

07:30 at Dunmail Raise
 I knew food intake was important but for whatever reason didn’t feel able to eat much and was disappointed to lose a bit more time before the welcome sight of Dunmail. Wife Sue and daughter Alison were on duty here with Tom to spoil me with food and drink. I managed a jam butty and plenty of tea and it was then up to Simon Filmore and Jerry Purkis to keep me going over the central fells – which they did admirably. I was also delighted to see Carol McNeill appear at the top of Rossett Ghyll with tea and custard. 

With Carol’s encouragement I felt I just had to keep going despite any doubts. The cool wind meant I was still wearing thermals, shirt and jacket – in fact they stayed on all the way - as did my socks and shoes which fortunately were comfortable enough to do the full route without changing. Importantly there was no more rain so Bowfell, Esk Pike and Great End came and went before meeting Sue, Alison and co at Sty Head. I was now over an hour behind schedule and feeling sorry to keep my team waiting in the cold.

14:15 at Sty Head

For leg 4 I had the benefit of being led by Dave Neild and Rosie Law, both previous JNLC completers. Dave had said to me more than once beforehand that once you get past Sty Head you know you’ll finish – it was a good thing to say and I even started to believe it. The legs were still good even if the rest of my body wasn’t feeling very normal (no comments thank you). I’d forced down some rice pud and fruit salad at Sty Head – sadly it didn’t get very far up Gable but on we went. 

Eventually my mental tiredness really started to show between Kirk Fell and Pillar and I decided that, with 3+ hours to go, I needed a power nap – in the wind shelter on Pillar summit! Dave and Rosie allowed me 20 minutes and sent a message to Lucy to explain the stationary tracker. Lucy duly shared the message and not long after I started again there was a text message from Joss to say ‘stick in there and I’ll see you at the bridge’. Suffice to say the last 5 summits were ticked off as per my original schedule. The nap may have been unconventional but it was just what I needed.

True to his word Joss was waiting with Peter Ferris and my entourage at Greendale – a wonderful moment. Dick Towler had finished quite a bit earlier but had also stayed to see me finish. It was further enhanced by the evening sun over Wasdale and daughter Alison providing some background music as I ran in – Handel’s ‘See, the Conquering Hero Comes’ – a favourite of mine since watching many a Guides Race finish at Grasmere (usually from the top of Butter Crag).


With Joss at Greendale 21:22
 It was a fantastic end to an incredible experience. Thank you to everyone who supported me in any way, including those who kindly contributed to St Mary’s Hospice in Ulverston. Most of all, thanks to Joss – a great man and inspiration.





Thursday, 12 December 2019

Simon Fox (M55) 08 June 19

Greendale Bridge


I’m guessing that you are reading this for one of three reasons.
  1. You’re bored at work (again!)
  2. You’ve done the JNC yourself and are interested to see how someone else’s experience compares to yours
Or 3. You have decided that you want to have a go at some point and so you’re obsessively reading all the accounts to glean as much knowledge as you can. I’m aiming this at the latter category (because that was me not long since) but I’ll see what I can do to entertain the rest of you.
Training.
For comparison, I’m 56. One of those skinny bald types that always populate races. On a really good day I might get in the top 1/3 of a small local fell race. So, no Ian Holmes but not Eamonn Holmes either. I was motivated to attempt the JNC mostly by the regret of not doing the Bob Graham Round when I was younger. A recent brush with mortality gave me that bit more encouragement. A 6 month plan was put into action. Not very scientific - run more. Mostly up and down hills. Ideally in the Lakes. Even more ideally actually on the route. I’m not one for high mileages but ramped it up a bit from my usual 20 odd miles a week to 30 odd with forays into 50 +. I’d build up and have 1 easy week in 3. This plus cycling to work most days seemed to work for me. I was getting fitter and avoiding injury. At the end of March/early April I did a couple of 60 mile weeks, finally an 80.5 mile week two weeks before my attempt - the most I have ever done. Long runs comprised lengthy trots across the West Pennine Moors (home turf), a recce of JNC L1 and L2, competing in the Anglezarke Amble and the Howarth Hobble in horrendous conditions (very useful training for the JNC), a recce of the Old County Tops route and an aborted Abraham’s Tea Round also in ‘the grim’. I didn’t do any more than 33 miles in one hit.
Logistics
This was harder than the training! I’m lucky knowing a lot of people from Darwen Dashers and beyond who were keen and able to help out so had cover for all legs. The hard part was arranging to get them back to their vehicles following the legs. I created a JNC WhatsApp group to make life a bit easier as they could organise lifts between themselves. I also had volunteers just to collect/deliver people to the appropriate places. I made a Word document listing who was helping on each leg and their role – Nav, timekeeper - and what I’d need for each crossing (food carried/food eaten at crossing/clothing to be ready). I had a dry bag with emergency big cag, mitts, buff and a gel to be carried by a pacer and passed on at each crossing. I weighed and measured this and posted the info on the WhatsApp group. I had seen about 90% of the route and was comfortable navving most of it but made sure that I had at least one competent navigator per leg. The night before the attempt my wife and I went to the Pooley Bridge Inn for food and a few beers then slept in their car park in my van. We had done this in the past as they were ok with it if you’d spent money with them. We booked into Church Stile campsite on Saturday night - close to both the finish at Greendale Bridge and the Screes pub. I booked a table at The Screes for all the helpers who were staying on and pre-ordered food as their kitchen closes at 9.00pm.
The attempt
I used the V55 ‘standard’ 14:40 schedule and hoped (optimistically) that I’d gain time as I went along as I was concerned about having enough time on the final leg. This meant a 5.00am start. The forecast was shit. It was right. There were suggestions about postponing for 24 hours but this wasn’t an option due to the availability of helpers. The night before I messaged everyone to say that unless it was epically terrible weather in the morning then I would start as arranged. I would assess at end of Leg 1 if I was to continue and at Leg 2 I would make the ‘big call’ if we were going to abandon. This was to have enough time to stop people making a fruitless trip up to Styhead with no signal. So, at 5.00am we set off. Russ Owen (Eyriri) and Dave Haygarth (Rossendale Harriers) covered this leg.


It had rained all previous day, all night and was still going. We were in clag before we reached Arthur’s Pike. Tip: have a look at the start. Don’t run along the shore of Ullswater. Take footpath to left and head for the road. The gate is by a large tree. Turn right on road then enter campsite on left. Straight up the road through the site before reaching a 5 bar gate onto the fell. Climb it and bearing right you will reach the main track to Arthur’s Pike. Despite God awful conditions I was quite happy. We ticked off the summits and only had a problem with Red Crag. It is not an obvious summit and in the clag it was difficult to find. In the end we used GPS to hit the grid ref.


Soon we reached the large cairn of Thornthwaite Beacon. Tip: If you don’t want to run the main zig zag descent (rocky, loose, steep and slow) you can bear right alongside the wall by the cairn and reach an easier path with some grassy sections. We got Stoney Cove done and then the clag made us pause slightly before spotting the trod to Pike Howe, then headed back to the main path towards St Ravens Edge. Tip: cross the wall by a large boulder and drop down diagonally across the field to the road rather than the slower ‘tourist path’ above the pub.

Kirkstone Pass

At the crossing I had homemade potato and leek soup and, as I’d warmed up on the run in, I decided to save time by not changing kit. I went to get a last mouthful of soup only to discover Dave polishing it off! Ah well, he’d earned it. I was very pleased to meet Ian Charters doing the JNC traditional ‘meet and greet’ here. Joining Russ and I on Leg 2 were Dashers Garth Taylor, Karl Aspin and Calvin Fergusson (his Grandad, Don Ashton, was an early completer of the Challenge).

Leaving Dunmail Raise



Straight into the climb of Red Screes. I was still buzzing with the euphoria of the occasion but Russ was struggling with his ITB and the others were into a big climb with no warm up so we climbed in silence until I said ‘Bloody hell lads, the banter’s not so good on this leg! We dropped out of clag at Kirkstone but by the summit of Red Screes we were right back in it. Summit tagged and off toward Scandale Pass. Tip: you can cut the corner rather than hand railing the wall line. There is a trod on the right part way down. It can be wet but it is still runnable and saves time. The next section was a grind, uphill into the wind. It was screaming as we crested Fairfield. Next it was down to the saddle by Grizedale tarn. Last year this was the spot I had managed to briefly run alongside Kilian Jornet on his record breaking BG. Climbing, the wind made me stagger as I neared the top of Seat Sandal. Tip: after the summit bear to the right and keep on the slight trod. You will pass one of those huge sacks they transport stone in and later a stone points to the right indicating the path down. Out of the cloud and the road crossing became visible and soon the van with my crew waiting.
I was still feeling good here. In fact I felt great! It couldn’t last of course. The decision was made to continue with the attempt. Finally I started using the walking poles that had been carried round the previous two legs. Head down and get into a rhythm, glancing up towards the top occasionally, immediately regretting it and looking back down. Steel Fell is one long, steep sucker. On this leg I had Dashers Gareth Davies (nav), Alex Buckland, Ady Humphries (timekeeper) plus Kev Smith (Red Rose) and Stanners (CLEM). The latter two hanging back with me. This leg continued to be a clag fest but the rain began to tail off. Gareth did an excellent job of the navigation and we were soon up and over High Raise and heading towards Rossett Pike. Tip: aim to cross Stakes Pass and then contour round Rossett Crag before climbing up to the summit. Bow Fell was next and I began to struggle. A tough climb over the rocks although the route is easy to follow with the cairns on the way. I hadn’t taken enough food in and the cold and wet was sapping my energy too. A big mistake that nearly cost me dearly. I struggled to the summit and started to play catch up with my nutrition but by this stage swallowing was getting harder too. Everything had to be accompanied by water. Esk Pike came and went and then the trudge up Great End. I had been shown a line off that I was happy I could find in good conditions however we had agreed that if it was bad vis then we would take the safer but slower option doubling back before heading to Styhead. It wasn’t worth the risk on the day so that’s what we did.
There was quite a group waiting at Styhead. I had a few mouthfuls of chilli from a flask and some other bits but I was conscious of needing to keep going. Gareth continued on with me to the finish but the rest stopped here. Amy Freeman (Dashers) took over nav duties, also from Dashers we had Paul Taylor plus Jonathan Stubbs (Settle). Great Gable was trudged up and then onto Kirk Fell. I was suffering but still able to run when terrain allowed it. We descended via the Red Gulley. Tip: worth a recce so that you know exactly where to get on to it and that you would be happy going down it. I was starting to get some pain and restricted movement in my left leg now so was glad of Paul Taylor directing my hand and foot holds down here. On Pillar we were joined by the ever cheery Iain Asher (aka Asher the Dasher) and he kept me fed with bits of caramel biscuit. I touched the little cairn on the wall indicating the summit of Scoat Fell and then headed towards Steeple. Only 3 to go after this.
Down the wall line and up the slope to Haycock. I’d arranged with Amy that if I had time in hand we’d go down the forgiving grass slope but if it was tight we’d use the faster scree descent. As we approached on the day she said ‘Right, we are going to use the scree descent.’ And I thought ‘Oh shit.’ As it turned out we descended on grass right next to the scree and made it down quickly. I ploughed on as fast as I could but I was worried about time. At one point I turned to Gareth and asked ‘Is it on? ‘It’s on’, he replied. Seatallan is a wall - a heartbreaker. I knew to just keep my head down, use the cut out steps and make good use of the poles. Finally the slope lessened and I could risk looking up. Waving and cheering figures on the summit materialised as Claire Davies and Lea Pea from Dashers, last seen on Styhead. Their enthusiasm and encouragement spurred me on.
My legs, particularly the left one, were in state by now. The steep Seatallan descent was always going to be hard but with a flash of inspiration I slid down the wet grass on my back, hurtling down like a toboggan! Desperate times need desperate measures! I stopped before the rocks and levered myself upright. Back into the shambolic run. Middle Fell seemed to have grown since I’d been up it previously. Stomping up using the poles, taking on mouthfuls of whatever was offered swigged down with isotonic drink. Finally the summit. A brief pause for a photo then the final descent. Amy told me I had 27 minutes to get to the bridge. My brain struggled with the mental arithmetic. I did this descent in 14 minutes on a recce on pretty fresh legs and ‘going for it’. A different proposition now. Shambolic run mode re-engaged. Get. It. Done.
Supporters were screaming at me from near the bridge ‘Come on! COME ON!!’ Iain Asher spotted a direct line through the bracken and I followed. I ran as hard as I could now. Pain blocked out. Along the beck and hard right onto the bridge. DONE! I had a brief head in arms collapse onto the wall of the bridge and then I was back in the room. A big grin on my face with everyone cheering and there he was – Joss Naylor – standing next to me extending his hand. I gripped it firmly and we shook. I looked him in the eyes and took in as much as I could of the moment that I dreamt of and worked so hard towards for months. Tip: it’s worth it.
Finished in 14:57:57. 123 seconds inside the 15 hours.

Job Done



Huge thanks to everyone who supported me in achieving this. You can’t do something like this without a good team and I had the best. Thanks also to everyone who contributed to my JustGiving page and helped raise over £1800 for Prostate Cancer UK.





Monday, 9 December 2019

Graham Watson (M55) - 12 May 19


The power of friends.
Nine months ago I was profiled in the Cumberland Fell Runners newsletter (really, they'll take anyone!), and answered the question 'Any ambitions?'. Second on a list of 3 was the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge which I had down as 'doubtful' in the 55 year bracket, but 'maybe' once I became 60. So I'd had the Challenge in mind for a few years, realising that a 12 hour crossing at 50 was well beyond me, and wondering how long I should wait. Also mentioned in that CFR profile was my first foray into the Bob Graham, pacing Nicky Lavery-Hoffe on her winter round in 1999. Chatting away to Barry Johnson on that day it didn't occur to me I could manage a BG but as Barry pointed out, how would you know? I didn't, I tried, I did a BG. So it seems very fitting that my dithering about the Challenge was kicked into action when I was pacing Mick Hoffe with Nicky in October 2018 on his successful completion. After all Mick was 66, and he did it in less than 14 hours, and the pace on that last leg was so slow! If Mick could do it so could I! Funny how I ignored all the logic - when Mick races he's a good 20% quicker than me; that last leg is at about 23 hour BG pace, so the preceding 3 legs must have been considerably quicker; compare my race times to others in my age class and I'd be well over my 15 hour limit.
Of course a BG or Joss is a different beast to a race, and you really don't know until you try. I'd decided early on that the key for me would be to do lots of ascent, so off the back of pacing Mick, and a summer holiday in the Pyrenees I focused on doing 3000m+ of ascent per week, and more or less managed that from August through to February. Cross country skiing in March put a stop to that but at least had me on my feet for several hours each day for a long week. And then suddenly the date started looming up really fast. A few recces gave me confidence I could make the times, and some shuffling of the schedule gave me a five minute lead instead of a deficit on the first leg. A fantastic team of pacers came on board, with some top class last minute additions.
The day dawned a perfect blue sky day! Les and Steve Birkinshaw took me from Pooley Bridge at 5am to Kirkstone. I was very relieved to find my tinkering with the schedule put me very slightly ahead of time. Food went down OK, plenty of drinking - Les and Steve did a great job of making sure I was well looked after. Into Kirkstone, watching the Fred Whitton cyclists fly by, and 5 minutes for some rice pudding and tea. It was great to be greeted by Rainer Burchett (completer no.56 in 2005; and 31 London Marathons!), and then Mick Hoffe and Dave Appleyard of Helm Hill took me on the direct way up Red Screes - a bit of a shock after the easy slopes of leg 1, but nice to then be greeted by another friend Paul Hughes at the top. Everything kept going to plan, food was going in slowly, and I kept wondering how long it could last! Lots of chatter helped (don't often catch up with Mick) and we came into Dunmail bang on time.
Dunmail Raise

From Dunmail I knew I might not keep time to Rossett Pike and despite John Slater and Paul Jennings getting me on the best line, and doing a great job of trying to feed me (not going down so well now!) a few minutes went astray. I asked John or Paul how time was going, the answer being 'well, if you could just up the pace...'. However I was hopeful that I would get some time back, so the reply was 'let's see how I'm doing at Bowfell'. And so it proved, a couple of minutes back on each top and down to Sty Head bang on time again. 
Sty Head

At Sty Head, despite 4h40 still to go I really thought I might make it. Seeing Steve Breeze, Mario Yeomans, Kate Charles and Barry Johnson all there was a boost. 5 minutes for tea and rice pudding and off we go again. Up Gable seemed a long time, down went really well. 
Joss on Kirk Fell
We bumped into Joss and party on the way up Kirk Fell - brilliant to see him on the hill. The views were amazing, still blue sky and cool breeze. Kate offered me a drink seemingly every minute so there was going to be no excuse for grinding to a halt through not drinking. Food was a different matter and Hula Hoops were about the only thing I ate on this last leg. Seatallen felt so steep and went on for ages, and eventually I ground to a halt on the way up Middlefell and needed a gel to get me going again but by that time the pressure was off, and there was time for a pause at the last top. I couldn't quite believe I done it at Greendale Bridge, 14hrs 43mins, but sure enough Joss was there. 'Well done lad', and a handshake to end a brilliant day.

Leaving Pillar

Off Seatallan

Greendale Bridge

Friends eh. They put you up to it, then they get you through it better than you ever thought possible. You really don't know until you try.
I was also delighted to raise in excess of £900 for the John Muir Trust.
Thanks so much everyone!
Graham Watson, M55. Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge 12 May 2019. 14 hours 43 minutes.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Rob Gittins (M55) - 27 April 19


At 55 years of age I had the ‘luxury’ of 15 hours but I based my attempt on the Women’s 50, 13hrs 40 schedule which would give me the cushion of an extra hour if necessary (and it turned out that I needed it)
We had a comfortable and very warm night at Patterdale YHA. Outside the rain was beating down ominously – Storm Hannah as predicted? Still a lot could change in a few hours.
Up at 5am for a brew, cheese sandwich and last minute kit check, and then off down the shore of Ullswater to Pooley Bridge. The weather was strangely calm, overcast but no wind or rain – had MWIS got it wrong?
Guy and Paul were waiting on the bridge and we set off bang on 6am, safely navigating the campsite and straight up Arthur’s Pike. Too much chatting and a lack of concentration resulted in an unorthodox route up Loadpot Hill and an early loss of 8 minutes, but great nav through the clag and some fast downhills meant we arrived at Kirkstone on schedule.
Still no weather on Leg 1 and even a couple of brief views when the clouds opened up – we were being spoilt.
Fed and fuelled by tea we (Graham, Steve and Mark continuing on) set off up Red Screes, an acceptable 3 minutes down on schedule. My legs felt tired on the ascents but I was running well on the flats and downhills. Cloud free tops to Fairfield and views that merited getting the camera out.
Still no actual weather, tempting fate we commented on Hannah’s existence.
14 minutes down when we left Dunmail with Paul Swindles (in shorts), his dog Joss, Tom and Steve carrying on for some additional fun. Quick enough up Steel Fell but we lost a chunk of time on what seemed like a good route to High Raise. It could have been the weather, the rain had started and the temperature had dropped noticeably, Hannah was finally putting in an appearance. Paul seemed happy in his shorts but now, incongruously, put on a pair of winter mittens – top half winter mountaineer, bottom half beach party. (I have a similar pair in a drawer at home – not much use there!)
Steve left us and dropped down into Langdale for a lift back to Kirkstone from the ODG. Unfortunately his lift was waiting at the NDG
Good time up Rosset and Bowfell despite the slippery conditions underfoot then across to Esk Pike in increasingly Arctic conditions. Paul and Tom became concerned when I started slurring my words, worrying that I was hypothermic. So, down jacket and over-trousers on, cold hands up sleeves and some actual running across to Great End to raise the temperature.
The clag cleared briefly on Great End revealing the cairn marking the way off the end. We made it to Sty Head an hour down on the original schedule and apologised for being late. Gillian and Graham had walked up from Wasdale with tea and coffee and we were joined by Carl and Chris, Debs and John from Wasdale Mountain Rescue and an extra dog – a perfect team for the final leg (Tom and Paul, both carried on). All I had to do now was keep to schedule. I knew now that Joss would be on the bridge in Greendale so I had an added incentive to get there in time.
A lull in the weather up Gable and Kirk Fell and some great lines down allowed us to recoup a few minutes. The exfoliating hail returned with a vengeance between Pillar and Scoat Fell and the winds made the out and back to Steeple interesting. Off Haycock in the clag and across the almost tranquil Pots of Ashness.
On schedule! Just Seatallan, what could go wrong? To add to the ‘sting in the tail ‘we encountered the most intense and sustained wind I have ever experienced. Hannah was playing with us, the dogs went to ground, I was blown over and Debs literally took off. Carl acted as a human windshield and we battled to the top.
The same wind that had hindered our ascent now propelled us across the summit and down towards Greendale Tarn. Just Middle Fell now, which we summited with 30 minutes to spare. Then a relaxed run down to the bridge, where Joss was waiting.
Beers and food in The Screes to finish – a perfect end to a great day out.







I wouldn’t have made it round without the help of all those involved both on the road and on the fells
Road Support: Gillian and Jonathan Lindsey, Angela Drakeford
Leg 1: Guy Illingworth, Mark Burley
Leg 2: Mark Burley, Steve Swallow and Graham Brown
Leg 3: Steve Swallow, Tom Whittington and Paul Swindles
Leg 4: Chris and Deb Cripps, John, Tom Whittington and Paul Swindles
Rob Gittins

Monday, 25 February 2019

Mick Hoffe (M65) - 06 October 18



In September I returned from the Dolomites in Italy having completed the Alta Via 2, a 12 day trek in the mountains, feeling fit and healthy. So decided the time was right, now or never, to have a go at the Joss Naylor Challenge. I decided to raise money for the North West Air Ambulance and to encourage my pacers to help me out, go for what I thought was a reasonably ambitious target of 15hrs. Wendy thought over ambitious. So a date was set, Sat Oct 6th, and pacers were contacted. A 4am start was planned so hopefully finish in daylight at 18.40pm.

At 3.55am David and I were ready to go, maps in hand, head torches on, at Pooley Bridge. Suddenly nature called and we had to dash in the opposite direction to the public toilets. So after our quick detour we finally left at 4.02am. Conditions were good, dry with a gentle northerly wind. All went pretty smoothly on this 16m section to Kirkstone Pass. We had a slight problem on High Street when I was ahead and David had to replace the batteries in his head torch so for about 10 minutes we lost touch in the dark. Fortunately after a bit of shouting and wondering around we reconnected and carried on over Thornthwaite Beacon and Stoney Cove Pike. The only other incident was when I tripped on a couple of occasions and crashed to the ground. Very concerned, each time David suggested we walk for a bit, I think he thought I’d had a mild heart attack. However, each time we decided it was safe to continue.

At Kirkstone the new pacers, Colin and Chris were sitting comfortably in the van enjoying a cup of tea and a chat. They looked a bit surprised that we had arrived on schedule and it was time to head off up Red Screes. The north wind had now increased in strength and it was quite chilly on the tops. We made good progress with Chris leading the way and Colin protecting me from the wind and generally making comments (not complementary) about my lean physique possibly to take my mind away from task in hand. Still in shorts, with the northerly wind increasing in strength, it was observed my legs were vibrating unproductively, so for the descent off Seat Sandal we stopped to don some over trousers.

Warm once again after the descent to Dunmail, and now 21 minutes ahead of schedule we met up with the support team, Nicky, and Wendy, my next pacer. Eating was proving difficult but the rice pudding and cup of tea went down well. We set off up Steel Fell with Wendy leading the way and worrying that I’d blown my chances after the last, faster than planned, section. The weather was still dry with some sunshine, but the wind still quite cold. The section from Steel Fell to Rossett Pike felt like hard work with gradual climbs and boggy, energy sapping conditions. Wendy chatted most of the way and I responded with probably about five words during the 4 hour section, two of which were “knackered and sick”, and the other three were, “yes still here”. Nevertheless in spite of my protestations and dragging my feet, Wendy picked some great lines from Rossett Pike all the way to Great End and then down the ridge to Styhead so that we arrived, again about 25 minutes ahead of schedule. She also proved very good at cadging drinks from walkers along the way, mainly, I think, because she found them more responsive than her running partner.

On arrival at Styhead the next pacers, Nicky and Graham, had not arrived, totally underestimating Wendy’s ability to drive her reluctant partner faster than schedule. After cadging a coffee off another walker she legged it off into Wasdale to find our next pacers. I sat back in the sun at the rescue box, enjoying the coffee and grateful for a bit of respite and a slightly longer stop. They arrived after 12 minutes and after some more rice pudding set off up Gable. Graham leading the way, Nicky feeding and pushing the old fella ahead. Again some great lines down Gable and off Kirk Fell down Joss's Gully. The traverse round Black Crag and on up to Pillar. After Scoat Fell and Steeple it felt home was in site. Haycock and Seatallan quickly followed and then it was just Middle Fell to go. A fast descent down here through the dying bracken and a final stagger to Greendale Bridge and the marvellous welcome from Joss himself. I turned down his suggestion that I should lie down in the beck to recover, preferring to lie in the van with a cup of tea. Again we made great time on this section and shaved another 17 minutes off the schedule. It was a brilliant end to a glorious day, running with friends, chatting to Joss, Wasdale, all peaceful and quiet in the setting sun.

We finished the run in 13hrs 49mins a great time thanks to the encouragement and support from my very talented pacers and supporters. With gift aid we also managed to raise £615 for my chosen charity, the NW Air Ambulance, so a big thank you to all the people who sent in donations.

And a final thank you to Joss Naylor who set up this traverse in the Lakeland Fells and created the opportunity to do something challenging in the company of really special friends. A grand day out!

Pacers:

Leg 1 – David Appleyard
Leg 2 – Colin Dulson and Chris Lumb
Leg 3 – Wendy Dodds
Leg 4 – Nicky Lavery and Graham Watson

Support crew – Nicky Lavery


Friday, 22 February 2019

Scoffer (M50) - 22 September 18


7.45am and I arrive in Pooley Bridge. ‘Right, shoes on, shoes! 

Where’s my shoes?’ ‘Mmmmmmm at home on the door step!’ Fortunately, I have a spare pair, unfortunately, they are the ones that hurt my feet! 8am and we are off, 8am and 10 seconds and we have gone down the wrong path!

The next 4½ hrs to Dunmail go ok but it is very cold (cag, balaclava, gloves tights cold!) and there is an annoying rather than debilitating head wind but fortunately the forecast is for it to ease in the afternoon. At some point around Rampsgill Head, I looked to the west and can see Great Gable. It looks a long way away!!

At Dunmail, I am reunited with my comfy shoes but my feet are already sore. The next bit to Rossett Pike is horrible, with lots of flat running and boggy ground which I don’t really like. Going up Bowfell, I have my first wobble but a peanut bagel and a bottle of coke and I am ok. Esk Pike, Great End, Gable and Kirkfell come and go but I do have a bit of a slip going down Great End resulting in a sore arse bone. Going up Pillar, my second wobble and my first admittance that I am tired, but a sit down for a minute and more coke and I am off again. My legs are sort of ok but my feet are pretty sore by now which is making me quite slow on the descents.

Up to the end of the wall on Scoat, en route to Steeple, I am glad that is the optimum route as even though it was on my timing card I sort of forgot Scoat was one of them (like on a BG) but I am sure James would have kept me right had we missed it. Up onto Haycock, then it’s all downhill from here apart from the bugger that is Seatallen (I am sure it only takes a minute to come off there in the Wasdale!!) Middle Fell and then it really is all downhill to Greendale where I am met by Joss which was great, I hadn’t told him I was doing it, he must have seen it on Instagram or Twitter!!!!!

I then promptly spewed up approximately 2 litres of coke narrowly missing Joss’s brand new adidas pumps. To be honest, I was hoping to go under 10 hours and am sure 9.45 is possible given the right conditions with maybe a nice Easterly, a bit better route choice in places and above all someone who is a bit better than me.


Greendale Bridge


Many thanks to Jim, Phil, Andrew, James, John and Sharon

Scoff

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Rob Green (M55) - 15 September 18


Where do I start? It’s been a long road back from injury and a subsequent operation to be able to be here at 5.00am on Pooley Bridge.
Back in April 2015 I went to see my knee specialist Mr George McLauchlan at Chorley Hospital, about my left knee, he said “he had done as much as he could, with clean outs “. I now needed a Tibial Osteotomy. He would only guarantee that I would be able to walk pain free, never mind even contemplating running again! Not what I wanted to hear, there was still something I needed to do,
“The Joss Naylor Challenge”, having completed my BGR in 1995 I’ve been waiting a long time!
Having helped my father in law Leo Pollard complete his in 1999 it has been one of my lifetime goals.


My Left Leg Tibial Osteotomy

Operation done October 2015, rehabilitation started, fast forward 2017 slowly getting fitter not running just spinning and swimming and a few long club walks. Helping my son to complete his Bob Graham Round in June 2017, becoming the 3rd generation of our Family to complete it with his Grandfather Leo Pollard being the first then myself. A unique achievement in the BGR club.
Unfortunately, Leo passed away on the 18th January 2018, luckily, he was able to witness his grandson receiving his BGR certificate at the dinner last year. I would have liked him to be here to witness my JNC attempt but “tide and time waits for no man!”, not even fell runners.
As part of my training I walked the BGR in July 2017 with my wife Diane, her sister and brother-law, it took us 6 days stopping overnight at our climbing clubs in Langdale and Wasdale. This gave me confidence that I could do the distance but was a JNC 15 hrs schedule 2 bridges too far?
I knew I could only run on average 4-5 miles per week, so cycling and swimming would have to do, was 3 Spinning classes, 1 swim session a week at our local leisure centre, plus a few long recce runs on the route the basis of a successful attempt?
Saturday September 15th 2018 was chosen for my attempt, not ideal being later in the year but a few things needed to be done before it, such as moving house and my daughter’s wedding, ideal training not!
Here we were on Pooley Bridge, Myself, my son Robert (BGR), Tony Marlow (JNC 12hr,BGR) and Mike Ernill both members of Lostock AC for whom Leo had also a club member of. The night was very still, clear and dark, no moon to assist us, we reached Arthurs Pike on time, a good start. This leg was always going to be the most runnable so the most difficult for me. It came light on Red Crag even witnessing a few deer beyond Kidsty Pike. Eating and drinking was just a discipline to do,so i eat and drink little and often even when I felt full and sickly. We arrived at High Street 7 mins down, not to panic! but I wanted to be a least on time at Kirkstone, more psychological than anything. So i ran across to Thornthwaite then down to Kirkstone which was rocky this is what I prefer and arrived Kirkstone 7 mins up.
Bacon barms and tea from support team Diane and Sean Makin from Achille Ratti. JNC greeters were in attendance with Pauline and Ian Charters giving me encouragement.

Enjoying himself at Dunmail Raise
(photo: Ian Charters)


Rob Green carried onto Leg 2 with Dave Makin (JNC 12hr,BGR) and Josie Greenhalgh (BGR.)
Short but enjoyable leg, eating gels every ¾ hr with sandwiches, bars in between, again clear and cool, plenty of entertainment even seeing Lakeland Hounds following trail down from Fairfield.
Plenty of rock climbing now and descending arriving at Dunmail 10 mins up on schedule. Soup , Rice pudding and cake with tea. Having a bit of time I used it changed my base layer.
Again, I had plenty of well-wishers here to see me through even the current chairman of the FRA Charmian Heaton. Who was also here to support another attempt who had set off after us on a ladies 14hr JNC attempt 30 mins after me.
This was the last time I would see Diane until Greendale Bridge if I was successful.
Feeling refreshed we set off up Steel Fell 17 mins up on schedule Tash Fellows (JNC 14hr, BGR) , Andy Poole and Jennie Boocock from Achille Ratti . Steel Fell reached easily now very warm but could see a few rain clouds in the distance. Running over towards Rossett proved to be the worst part of the day, Jogging and walking through heavy ground and tussocks I seemed to be slowing but my pacers said I was doing fine .
We reached Rossett Pike where we had arranged the Achille Ratti Climbing Club junior members to meet us with a tin of peaches and tea. This was well needed as it was now raining and blowing. They then carried on their walk and made their way back to the Langdales to the New Dungeon Ghyll pub for a well-deserved drink.
We set off for Bowfell 15 mins up, the rocks were very greasy and slow I needed to put on a big cag and over trousers. We progressed across to Esk Pike and Great End in very wet conditions. On the decent down to Sty Head my legs became sore and stiff, I was going beyond my previous training limit so to keep eating and drinking was essential.
Sty Head reached still 19 mins up, out of the clouds and luckily the rain had stopped.
More soup, rice pudding and tea all brought up from Wasdale by Tony Shanley (BGR) from Achille Ratti with the help of other members.
Off again the last leg, Oz Kershaw, Chris Lloyd and Dave Reynolds all BGR’s and Achille Ratti.
Climbing was easy and steady keeping the 20 mins up on schedule, Great Gable reached straight off down very greasy and rough terrain but quickly off and up to Kirkfell, good lines meant the pace was kept up. Pillar seemed longer to reach than usual but we were now 33 mins up,this made the pain in the legs bearable, yes I could at last be confident of hopefully finishing in the time.


Scoat Fell, Steeple and down to Haycock feeling every painful step by now, up Haycock and off down a brilliant scree run easing some of the pain.
Seatallan was a long climb but steady still drinking and eating, so apart from the pain I could carry on and on.
Only Middle Fell left to climb, no rain and still good light so we could see down to Greendale Bridge.
Stopping at the top of Middle Fell to remove some layers as I warmed up.
Running down and along the last bit of grass by the river to the bridge I could see a large welcome party assembled. I touched the bridge after 14hrs 17mins, Joss was there, what a great privilege it was to shake “The Shepherd’s Hand“ after the long road I have taken to be here.
A big thanks to all who have helped because it’s not just on the day, it is the rekey runs, training events and encouragement needed during the training needed to successfully complete it. We all retired to Little Ground House, Achille Ratti Climbing Club, only ½ mile from Greendale Bridge, for food and drinks in celebration with Joss and Charmian Heaton as our guests.
Just a word about training, I think I may have cheated! I haven’t spent hours and hours running or recce'ing the route. I have relied on cycling and swimming with bit of running in between and a great support group and club.
So to all who think just because you can’t run long distances week in week out or you have an injury that won’t allow you to, you can still plan for one big day and then recover at leisure I am living proof!

Greendale Bridge
Achille Ratti Climbing Club, AD ALTIORA (to even higher)


Ps Don’t tell Mr McLauchlan what I’ve just done.

I have dedicate my achievement to Leo Pollard for his inspiration and dedication to long distance fell running, so I have donated £120 to British Heart Foundation
I would also like to put something back to the Lake District so I have donated £100 to Crossthwaite Parish Church, Keswick roof fund. This where my daughter was married.