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.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Bryan Stadden (M60) & Lynette Porter (W50) - 04 August 18

Having completed the round in 2015 as a M55 and attended the dinner which was memorable I thought it was time to have another go in the M60 category. I had initially attempted a M50 round but failed to meet the schedule so now with 18 hrs available and recovery from persistent injuries it was game on for another attempt.
My club is Bitton Road Runners in Bristol so obviously I was on the wrong surface but there are a few in the club who like their trail runs but even fewer who run in the mountains – we are not a fell club! One such member though who I have convinced it’s the best running to be had is Lynette Porter with whom I have formed an off-road running partnership, and over the years and have got to understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses and characters in adverse conditions. Lynette was really keen to have a go however, as a F50 it meant a sub 14 hour schedule and a target time of 13hrs 40mins was used.
Being based in Bristol, and also a road running club it is not easy to get supporters and more importantly those who would know the route. After explaining this to Ian Charters it was agreed that we could have an official attempt supporting each other, although he did add that history was not on our side as pairs often are incompatible and the attempt usually falls apart. Anyway for us it meant game on and the date was agreed in roughly 3 weeks’ time. There was no time for any recce’s or specific training it was simply a matter of turn up and see how it goes, - ‘better get on it’ – Lynette would say.
My ever supportive wife – Hilary would be the road support and we fortunately had two friends on holiday in the area who could meet us at Sty Head for a re-supply only, so that was the team a real skeleton crew. It meant having to carry all your kit inc. food and fluids not the best plan for your fastest crossing attempt but if that is the only way to have a go then so be it and thanks to Ian for agreeing to this!
The summer of 2018 will be remembered for a prolonged dry and very hot spell and as we neared our planned date we were hoping for cooler conditions, and hopefully a bit of cloud cover. Well sometimes you get what you wish and the weather gods turned up trumps.
Pooley Bridge

We set off at 6.00am from Pooley Bridge and having got through Park Foot campsite successfully – always worth a recce having got lost in there before – we emerged on to the fell in thick mist. As we neared Arthur’s Pike we broke through the cloud into a fantastic inversion. This lifted the spirits I just wish I had time to take a photo but I knew the schedule would be touch and go so stops would only be the necessary ones. This is often said to be the easiest section of the route an combined with fresh legs it can apparently be too easy to get way ahead of your schedule and so say have time in the bank. Not for us though we seemed to be chasing the schedule all along this section and were often losing time. This was dispiriting at this stage as it already instilled doubts about getting around in time. I have had this before and even on recces so I questioned my schedule and think I would amend it for future attempts – yes there will be other goes as we move through the age category’s. We arrived at Kirkstone Pass 10mins down and we realised that this was going to be a relentless day if we were to claw back this time or was it going to gradually slip away to make it sub 14hrs, I was Ok though with 18hrs to complete but I so wanted Lynette to achieve her target time.
Kirkstone Pass

Hilary was there with all the goodies laid out and also a meet & greet in the form of Rainer Burchett which was a surprise and especially for my wife, someone to chat with. It felt really unsociable as we hurried through in 5mins trying to keep focused on what we needed – drinks, food, fresh map and timings, dump the rubbish we had enough weight to carry. It’s really easy to lose too much time at the control, time we certainly did not have! Lynette being a triathlete reminded me that my transitions were a bit slow!
We tried to limit the amount of fluids we would carry, I stuck with one 500mil bottle and Lynette would fill her bladder from a bottle as it’s too easy to carry too much in one of those. There still seemed to be streams flowing despite the hot weather, maybe they had more rain than down south so refills were possible en-route. Once over Seat Sandal I managed to find the path off the summit for the first time having usually dropped into the gill, we managed to claw back 2mins so we were now 8mins down on the schedule but things were going he right way at least.
Hilary topped up the supplies in our sacks – fluids and energy bars etc and this time the full fat coke cola came out and cheese rolls – a burst of energy and some slow release carbs. We bade farewell for a while now as we would not now see her until the finish and set off up the steepest climb of the day – Steel Fell. These days with the popularity of the Bob Graham and countless recces there is a good track to follow. It took me the whole climb to get the cheese roll down, I seemed to be chewing it all the way up but being a steady plod it was the best time to be doing it.
Dunmail Raise

Once over the top the track was fortunately quite dry, still boggy in places but nothing compared to what it can be like! High Raise was the usual pathless tussock haul which makes you think that you are losing time, but the schedule was working out ok, we lost a bit but then gained on the climb to Bowfell. Reaching this point is significant for me the whole nature of the route changes to much rockier terrain and steeper climbs. In the back of my mind I was thinking what route we should take off Great End as I didn’t want to go backwards towards Esk Hause to drop onto the path. Lynette is not too quick down steep terrain and you really need to be to make up time on this section. We could also possibly lose time if we picked a poor line down having not been here since my 2015 crossing. We agreed to go straight over and see what happens, we managed to pick up the cairns for a while, until I bailed out and headed for the path so a composite route down to Sty Head was made, was it faster I don’t know, when we arrived we were still 9mins down which is not a lot and we had a 20min cushion but it was the wrong way and we didn’t like that
Two friends were waiting with supplies together with a bunch of Mountain Rescue bods who were marshalling the Borrowdale Fell Race. There was now a lot of encouragement to help us on our ascent of Great Gable. In the seemingly frenzy of the moment we both forgot to top up our fluids, I think it was the pleasure of firing cans of coke down that we lost focus. Not having support this is typical of things that can go wrong once the power of rational thinking goes.
The cloud had dropped onto the summits and I thought we were in for rain at which point I realized that I had left my waterproof jacket back at Dunmail Raise, so hopefully the rain would not come now especially when we were the most tired. We were now totally out of water and managed to get a refill from some still pond, not the best but with a zero tablet it seemed to taste alright, it was a lifesaver in reality. We felt buoyant as we were pulling time back however I seemed to lose the schedule and map on the descent off Great Gable so we were effectively running blind and now only had the finish time to focus on which was not helpful.
Pillar is another significant point on the route, the final major climb done but where were we on the schedule? We could only keep pushing and hope that we were still on the target time. We got the right descent off Haycock over to the right from the summit to miss the boulder field and onto the Pots of Ashness which were nice and dry and runnable all the way to Seatallen – the sting in the tail. Once on the descent Lynette could see Middlefell and her heart sank as it seemed such a long way with the time remaining but I explained that its deceptive and after a short climb it’s a long flat ridge to the final summit. It was now going to be continual encouragement to have a chance of beating the 14hr deadline, and to miss it by a few minutes after such a continuous day of effort was not going to happen. Once on the summit I mentioned that she would have to cut loose on the run down and risk falling over, all or nothing. When we eventually saw Greendale Bridge she thought it still looked too far to make it in time but it’s a great run in and I knew we were on for it by a reasonable margin, I didn’t let her know though as I wanted to keep her pushing hard right to the end. Round the right side of the house this time straight to the bridge and when Lynette realised she was going to make it she got quite emotional and who can blame her especially with Joss Naylor waiting on the bridge to welcome us in.

Greendale Bridge

It was a perfect ending to a memorable day, our few friends – Hilary my wife and Bill and Claire Graham were there and finishing with 11 mins to spare in 13hrs 49mins, smashed it as far as we were concerned!.
Joss was generous with his praise, what a star and he also pointed out that from the crest where you first become visible there is another track – ‘see that track he said, ‘takes minute and half off your time that’. What great advice for the next time!

Bryan Stadden
Lynette Porter

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