Tuesday, 30 June 2009

55at55 - The Future

This blog was always intended to be a “single issue” blog like my previous  Bob Graham Round one  although along the way it included a number of other “issues” – surviving the High Peak Marathon which I would be happy to have attempt again, a disappointing Fellsman which we will both do again next year, Ed Swift’s “Joss” in May and, of course, my own “Joss” on that perfect day in April. There were other things too and the blog may have been too much of a training diary although I am not entirely sure. The discipline of a weekly update, as long as I wasn’t injured, was never a problem except that it more or less precludes anything else and there seemed little time for reflection or more considered pieces. I hadn’t seen this as a problem until I started to follow Rhiannon George’s blog and realised what else might be possible.

I don’t know if I can combine frequent updates interspersed with more considered pieces but I am going to try to and also to reduce, a little, the “training diary” approach. Over the last few months, in particular, the question “Why do I run?” has kept appearing. Each time, I tried to answer it and, despite the changing circumstances, the reasons remained pretty consistent. The fundamental reason hasn’t changed and as Pauline said when we started; it is all about greed – you can visit more hills in a day if you run. So I don’t train to race and, indeed, I race very little. I do train to enjoy long days in the hills and so I started another blog “Just Us and a Few Friends” to remind us where we were and what we were doing. Please have a look and if you like it, please become a Follower.

Thanks for reading and following this blog because it is with no little sadness that I write the last paragraph of the final post. This has been a longer journey than I anticipated when I set out but it has been a richer, more rewarding one, despite the failure, than I could have imagined. Just Us and a Few Friends may show a change in emphasis and our friends may be more than just a few now but our love of the fells remains undiminished and I look forward to sharing it.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

55at55 – Reflections

Disappointed and frustrated; third failure and yet another winter’s training wasted on an incomplete round – I think that is how I expected to feel when I recovered from the exhaustion of Saturday. I do feel disappointed and frustrated that this seems to be beyond me because I can’t seem to get my food and drink right. After last year’s attempts I went back to basics, made changes to avoid particular food/drink combinations and I thought it was sorted but Saturday proved otherwise.

During Monday I began to realise, or remember, the result isn’t everything and as with each previous year I have been able to enjoy long days in the hills with a wonderful group of people. Days in snow on Helvellyn and Kentmere. Glen Etive in sunshine and, of course, the perfect day in April for my “Joss” when Pauline was able to leave the road support and join me for the last leg. The three legs on Saturday should be included because although the weather was a bit mixed the company wasn’t – it was first class, as usual.

It is very humbling when so many people put themselves out to provide support on a day like Saturday and when they go on to say what a pleasure it was to be involved in and contribute to the adventure I am simply overwhelmed. I am privileged to have met and spent time with all of you and to have shared the unique camaraderie forged on the fells from the High Peak Marathon in February to last Saturday – I offer my most sincere thanks to all of you for Saturday, for all the Saturday and Sunday outings that went before and for all the encouragement, support and enthusiasm from the very beginning.

Monday, 15 June 2009

55at55 – The Photos

About ready with Iain Kelly & John Fleetwood


Nothing easy about getting out of Newlands Hause 

Halfway up

Final words of encouragement

Rhiannon (just obscured above) took the photos below between Wasdale and Great End during the best part of the day.


IMG_5766 IMG_5770 (2)

Sunday, 14 June 2009

55at55 – Retired at Dunmail

After a promising start and arriving at Wasdale only 15 minutes behind schedule I suffered from a prolonged spell of nausea between Scafell and Bowfell when I was able to eat very little. After Bowfell I felt better and although I started eating again I still couldn’t touch my carb drinks and continued to lose time -  73 minutes down at Rossett Pike and 110 at Sergeant Man. By then, it was apparent I wasn’t eating and drinking my way out of the problem. I had hoped to be able to contain the deficit after Rossett Pike and reach Dunmail, perhaps 90 down, then eat well and rest ready for Leg 4 and when this wasn’t happening I concluded there was no real point in carrying on.

Thanks to all of you who got me as far as Dunmail, John & Iain on leg 1, Kath & Karl on Leg 2, Colin, Ali, Rhiannon and Duncan on Leg 3.

Thanks also to Rae, Steve and Andy who were ready for legs 4 and 5. Paul I am pleased we were able to contact you before you left home.

Special thanks to Pauline & Nicole who bore the brunt of the road support and thanks to Ed & Ray who helped them.

This was the last roll of this particular dice and all that remains is to wish Iain & Karl every success with their BG attempts on June 27th and to wish Duncan exactly the same for his 50at50 on July 10th.

Thanks again


Thursday, 11 June 2009

55 at 55 attempt is on

Earlier in the week I decided to wait until Thursday before making a final decision having already reconciled myself to the possibility of very poor weather, so poor that cancellation would be the only serious option. The forecasts are not perfect and it looks as though, while ground might not be too soft, the rocks aren’t going to be dry. Sitting here looking out at near perfect conditions I am contemplating the very low temperatures forecast for Saturday night wondering if snow on Helvellyn on two consecutive June Saturday nights is possible.

I have had a very easy week running only once and fewer than 5 miles then, on Tuesday morning. My cold has forced a more sever taper than I planned but now I think I will benefit from the extra rest.

Richard Scott’s bad knee was fine at the LAMM last weekend but, ironically, he injured his good one and so he is unable to join us. Iain Kelly had an outbreak of common sense and decided one leg would be sufficient a fortnight before his own BG attempt – he did pick a longish one, though. Apart from that, as I write, the support teams are as shown below.

There is plenty to do between now and 08:00 on Saturday and although I am looking forward to the day, these last few days are amongst the most difficult. On Monday I felt fairly fraught about it all but then relaxed on Tuesday and yesterday. Now the decision is taken I can feel the tension mounting again but I just need to remember the hard work is all done. I am fit enough to enjoy rather than endure the day and that is what I plan to do.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

55 at 55 – Schedule

No Fell Name Miles Feet Time of Day Splits
0 Moot Hall, Keswick 0.0 0 08:00
1 Causey Pike 4.7 1,950 09:05 01:05:00
2 Scar Crags 5.5 2,220 09:15 00:10:00
3 Sail 6.2 2,720 09:29 00:14:00
4 Crag Hill 6.6 3,040 09:38 00:09:00
5 Grasmoor 7.8 3,490 10:00 00:22:00
6 Wandope 8.9 3,660 10:18 00:18:00
7 Whiteless Pike 10.0 3,790 10:28 00:10:00
8 Robinson 12.8 5,490 11:19 00:51:00
9 Hindscarth 14.3 5,990 11:37 00:18:00
10 Dale Head 15.5 6,320 11:53 00:16:00
0 Honister - Arr 16.7 6,320 12:04 00:11:00
0 Honister - Dep 16.7 6,320 12:10 00:06:00
11 Grey Knotts 17.6 7,440 12:35 00:25:00
12 Brandreth 18.2 7,550 12:42 00:07:00
13 Green Gable 18.9 8,030 13:00 00:18:00
14 Great Gable 19.5 8,520 13:12 00:12:00
15 Kirk Fell 20.9 9,180 13:47 00:35:00
16 Looking Stead 22.2 9,460 14:05 00:18:00
17 Pillar 23.5 10,400 14:39 00:34:00
18 Scoat Fell 24.6 10,740 14:59 00:20:00
19 Steeple 24.9 10,810 15:04 00:05:00
21 Red Pike (Wasdale) 25.9 11,130 15:21 00:17:00
20 Yewbarrow 27.8 11,730 15:53 00:32:00
0 Wasdale - Arr 28.8 11,730 16:14 00:21:00
0 Wasdale - Dep 28.8 11,730 16:20 00:06:00
22 Scafell 31.1 14,680 17:33 01:13:00
23 Scafell Pike 32.0 15,200 18:15 00:42:00
24 Broad Crag 32.4 15,350 18:25 00:10:00
25 Ill Crag 32.8 15,520 18:33 00:08:00
26 Great End 33.6 15,670 18:46 00:13:00
27 Allen Crags 34.6 15,870 19:01 00:15:00
28 Esk Pike 35.5 16,400 19:21 00:20:00
29 Bowfell 36.6 16,820 19:41 00:20:00
30 Rossett Pike 37.8 16,950 20:01 00:20:00
31 Pike O'Stickle 40.2 17,940 20:51 00:50:00
32 Loft Crag 40.5 18,040 20:56 00:05:00
33 Harrison Stickle 40.9 18,410 21:06 00:10:00
34 Pavey Ark 41.6 18,510 21:21 00:15:00
35 Thunacar Knott 41.8 18,620 21:28 00:07:00
36 Sargeant Man 42.8 18,820 21:40 00:12:00
37 High Raise (Central Fells) 43.4 18,960 21:52 00:12:00
38 Calf Crag 44.9 19,120 22:13 00:21:00
39 Steel Fell 46.4 19,470 22:35 00:22:00
0 Dunmail Raise - Arr 47.1 19,470 22:47 00:12:00
0 Dunmail Raise - Dep 47.1 19,470 22:53 00:06:00
40 Seat Sandal 48.4 21,140 23:31 00:38:00
41 Fairfield 49.5 22,090 00:02 00:31:00
42 Dollywagon Pike 51.0 23,140 00:46 00:44:00
43 Nethermost Pike 51.9 23,410 01:04 00:18:00
44 Helvellyn 52.6 23,690 01:14 00:10:00
45 Helvellyn Lower Man 53.1 23,750 01:20 00:06:00
46 White Side 54.0 23,970 01:33 00:13:00
47 Raise 54.7 24,220 01:43 00:10:00
48 Stybarrow Dodd 55.9 24,540 02:00 00:17:00
49 Watsons Dodd 56.6 24,590 02:08 00:08:00
50 Great Dodd 57.5 24,840 02:22 00:14:00
51 Clough Head 59.4 25,140 02:49 00:27:00
0 Threkeld - Arr 62.0 25,140 03:26 00:37:00
0 Threkeld - Dep 62.0 25,140 03:32 00:06:00
52 Blencathra 63.5 27,570 04:32 01:00:00
53 Great Calva 67.1 28,630 05:39 01:07:00
54 Skiddaw 69.8 30,180 06:49 01:10:00
55 Skiddaw Little Man 70.9 30,370 07:04 00:15:00
0 Moot Hall, Keswick 74.8 30,370 07:49 00:45:00

55 at 55 – Support Teams

Good support is a vital part of the day and without it I couldn’t contemplate setting out. Thank you to everyone shown below and also to all the rest of you who were unable to make it but suggested alternatives and wished us all well.


  1. Pauline
  2. Nicole Kirkham
  3. Ray Stafford
  4. Ed Swift

Leg 1 Keswick - Honister @ 09:00

  1. Richard Scott
  2. John Fleetwood
  3. Iain Kelly

Leg 2 Honister - Wasdale @ 12:04

  1. Iain Kelly
  2. Kath Brierley
  3. Karl Taylor

Leg 3 Wasdale - Dunmail @ 16:14

  1. Colin Jones
  2. Ali Murray
  3. Duncan Richards
  4. Rhiannon George

Leg 4 Dunmail - Threlkeld @ 22:53

  1. Rae Pritchard
  2. Phil Dewhurst
  3. Steve Angus

Leg 5 Threlkeld to Keswick @ 03:26

  1. Paul Murray
  2. Andy Howie
  3. Steve Angus (may continue from Leg 4)

As always there have been a number of late changes and a couple of others may still take place while some injuries are still being assessed.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Week 1 Taper – Ben Starav

Last Week: 23 miles; 6700 feet; 10:01:03 (13 miles walked)

Last Saturday was our last day in Scotland and we might have made this a run but our legs had about had enough we so we accepted the inevitable and enjoyed a walk over some big hills in the sunshine. My legs were still tired on Tuesday morning and better on Wednesday but I am sure I don’t “need the miles” now and so decided that was enough for the week.

The time spent not running has been split between trying to get the garden back in some sort of order and finalising support of the 13th. I think the latter is about done while the former is simply an aspiration. I have had a blocked nose most of the week brought on, I hope, by some very dusty work in the garden rather than by a cold.

Next week I’ll have short outings in between fretting about the weather for the 13th. Worryingly it doesn’t look good. This period of sunshine is about to finish – the first rain could arrive tonight – and the worst forecasts I have seen suggest rain all next week and through the weekend until the 15th or 16th. At this stage, these are only forecasts and will change between now and next Friday but there has been a certain consistency about them all this week.

I need very good, near perfect, conditions to have a chance of completing this in close to 24 hours and these is little point is going out in poor conditions and having to bail out part way round – I haven’t forgotten last August or John Fleetwood’s Marilyn attempt this summer. I will make a provisional decision based on Sunday’s forecasts and a final one on Thursday. In some respects, the decision may have been made by then because if it rains all week the ground is going to be soft and the rocks wet and slippery even if it is dry on Saturday but we shall see.

The mention of Ben Starav at the beginning was just an excuse to publish a few more pictures from last Saturday.

Ben Starav Glen Etive and Glen Coe Munros







Beinn nan Aighenen

Ben Starav







above Glen Kinglass

Just Us on Glas Beinn Mhor

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Rain in Glen Coe – Sunshine in Glen Etive

Last Week: 85.2 miles; 34,200 feet; 40:24:28

After Ed’s “Joss” we drove north to Glen Coe after a kit buying frenzy in Ambleside and lunch with my Dad in Glasgow. The forecast suggested the poor weather in the Lakes was set to continue in Scotland and so it proved. Monday was so bad we did the complete traverse of Fort William, including the supermarket and managed a only couple of hours looking at the approach to a Munro we would attempt later in the week. Tuesday saw strong winds drive hail and snow showers across the summits of Beinn a Bheithir as we were crossing them but also, between the showers, allowed some fine views of Glen Coe.

Ballachullish Down Glen Coe from Sgorr Dhearg







Wednesday improved to merely showers in the low clouds that were thick enough to cause some route finding problems. On our way to Sgor na h-Ulaidh we needed to cross Stob an Fhuarain which we did, 4 times in all. Thursday produced very heavy rain for our visit to Buachaille Etive Beag – it relented long enough for us to visit the two Munros but denied us the spectacular views of Glen Etive we should have enjoyed.

Our original plan involved driving south on Friday when the skies we due to clear to provide “wall to wall” sunshine so we decided to stay on until Sunday and see some of the hills we had climbed. The weather lived up to the promise of the forecast and we were blessed with two summer days before coming home on Sunday.

Glen Etive Glen Etive







Mamores Ben Nevis







  Ben Starav

Glen Etive







So spectacular – who would go anywhere else when the weather is like that?

Ed’s “Joss” – Job Done

23 May at four o’clock in the morning at Pooley Bridge with Ed Swift, brother John, Karl Taylor, Julie Laverock and, true to form, everyone is ready except Ed. An extra 7 minutes are needed to complete preparations, take photos and decide we won’t actually need head torches after all.  Ed's Blog contains photos and contributions from many of the people there on the day and gives a pretty good idea of what the day was like. It was a hard old day – I stayed with Ed from beginning to end and I know just how hard it was. Joss came out to meet us for the last leg and, with Pete Ferris, ensured Ed reached Greendale Bridge within his allowed 18 hours.

Ready for the Off (Ed is 2nd from left) Last Leg disappears into the clouds

With Ed, John and Karl ready to leave Pooley Bridge and many hours later, on Great End, looking at the last leg disappearing into the clouds. The end of the third leg and the start of the fourth leg enjoyed a very brief window of good weather – glimpses of blue sky between the low clouds – but it didn’t last and for much of the last leg the wind and rain accompanied us.

Job Done 


Ed's Joss   Glen Coe 01 005

Friday, 22 May 2009

Preparation for Ed’s “Joss”

Last Week: 51.2 miles; 8700 feet; 11:20:54

John Fleetwood’s day out gave us a second consecutive Saturday “all nighter” – not Wigan Pier or a Soul Night at King George’s Hall in Blackburn when we want a late night out! The rest of this week was a bit of a struggle and while I might normally have heaped on the COR (carry on regardless) I need to be reasonably rested for Saturday and Ed Swift’s “Joss”. I think the mileage on top of a second Saturday night, particularly with insufficient food and drink, just caught up with me. First time all winter this has happened so I decided 50 miles would be enough and I would settle for the climbing done at the weekend. My right achilles has been bothering me since the Fellsman and Saturday didn’t help it but it recovering. I need to select shoes with particular care and hope it is right by the 13th. all week it has been tight in the morning until stretched. By Thursday morning I felt good again and enjoyed the early morning miles.

Ed has an 18 hour allowance and a 17 hour schedule heavily weighted towards the last section so that he could arrive at the start of the last leg with the scheduled time plus two hours ‘in hand’. Even Ed thinks this is unlikely but it does mean losing time during the previous legs shouldn’t be a problem. Creating a good schedule is an art in itself, it needs to take account of the terrain, climbing, exhaustion and have an “allowance'” for bad weather and other contingencies. You also want it to be “your friend” rather than “your enemy” – you want to to provide reassurance and encouragement that progress is not too fast but fast enough and you don’t want it to be nagging you about lost minutes every time you reach another summit. These “lost minutes” are corrosive, eating into resolve and enthusiasm and it takes a strong mind to dismiss the effects. Often, to avoid this additional stress, the contender isn’t told whether he or she is behind or ahead. Personally, not knowing is worse but not everyone is the same. Ed really has two schedules only one of which is published, the other is in head and as long as we get to the start of the last leg one hour down he’ll be happy, I think. One to two hours down won’t be bad, not quite as good obviously, but not bad. Two hours down and it could be a very big ask. Part of the problem with this challenge is that the early going is very runnable and there is a danger of starting too fast and blowing up so, at the start, you need a schedule to hold you back then you need it to encourage you through the middle and final to provide reassurance on the rough rocky terrain of the last leg.

I hope, when we get back from Scotland next weekend we will have a photo to match the one below of Ed’s brother John in 2008 on the final summit with plenty of time left to descend to the finish at Greendale Bridge.

John Swift & Joss on Middle Fell, May 2008

John Fleetwood’s 24 Marilyn Attempt

Marilyns are ‘relatively high’ hills – they are hills with a drop of at least 500 feet all round, irrespective of their height, although they must be, by definition, at least 500 feet high. A route over 24 in the Lakes has been complete once, by Chris Upson, within 24 hours from leaving the road to reaching the 24th summit. John was attempting to repeat the challenge, within the same rules but on a different route. To ensure a “family day out” Pauline is providing road support while I run with John over the middle secJohn arriviing at Patterdaletion after meeting him at Patterdale. Changeable weather meant John was undecided about starting until Friday night would not commit to attempting the whole think until after setting off so we were at home waiting on the 14:00 phone to say whether it was “on” or not. The call came and we set off – the weather had been poor and given John and his first pacer, Garry Murray, a fairly difficult morning. By Patterdale things didn’t seem too bad and in a last minute change John decided he wanted company over St Sunday Crag and Helvellyn. Fell shoes on and off we go carrying my sandwiches to eat on the first climb. Forecast suggested the weather could close in and John didn’t want to be high in bad weather on his own.

The wind which should have been behind us was being funnelled down the valley towards us and at times we struggled to make any headway. Not only was it cold and we were losing time the wind was just sucking the strength out of us. Once on top the wind was less fierce, still cold but not carrying the rain we feared. Over Seat Sandal and then the slog to Helvellyn now with the wind behind us. The clouds were still high and we began to wonder about getting over Helvellyn before the rain and we did. Down the other side to The Swirls were Pauline was waiting with a cup of tea for John. This leg took almost three and half hours and included just under five and half thousand feet of climbing. The next road crossing is more difficult to find so I had lift with Pauline while John ran on over High Rigg on his own.

Evening sun in St John’s in the Vale Evening sun in St John’s in the Vale

Evening sun in St John’s in the Vale

The next section from the other side of High Rigg goes through Keswick to Portinscale where Bill Williamson and the rain met us. We picked up torches, extra clothing, food and more water and set off for Swinside (not the Inn) where Bill would met us and lead us off the summit. Never having been on Swinside before I didn’t know what to expect but the map didn’t offer the merest hint of a path, a trod or anything in the direction we were going and Bill had been out looking at or looking for a route the day before. The climb wasn’t bad and the descent was awful, down through an old established wood and when Bill then said “It gets really poor now” he wasn’t wrong. It doesn’t last long and then we have the '”joys” of some tarmac miles to the foot of Lord’s Seat, our next one. The rain is on for good now and John is struggling to eat on the move to stop for a bite before the climb. Much of this ground isn’t great either and, to begin with, it is a steep, slow, muddy slog up through the trees. Out on the open fell the gradient has eased and it is almost enjoyable. A long comfortable run down forestry tracks takes to the road where Bill and Pauline are waiting. I unload John’s gear here and Pauline and I wave them off into the dark as we prepare to meet them at Newlands Hause, the next road crossing.

The battering from the weather earlier in the day is taking its toll on John and they loose a lot of time on this section. John is still struggling to eat and although he doesn’t say anything, he must be concerned because you can only go so far “on empty” and it is rarely far enough. By Honister Pass they have been able to maintain the schedule’s pace but there isn’t enough time left to reach the 24th summit within 24 hours. The possibility of 24 hours from first to last summit remains so we wave a final farewell and set off for home in sunshine at about 06:30.

John finally conceded on Great Gable with only Kirk Fell and Pillar remaining.

Morning light on Helvellyn Morning light on Helvellyn

Helvellyn ridge and the Dodds in the fresh morning light

Friday, 15 May 2009

The Fellsman

Last Week: 101.2 miles; 12800 feet; 29:00:16

62 miles with 11000 feet of climbing in a race of two halves, it might be said. A steady start because there is a long way to go and a great deal of climbing to be done. I think we can manage a sub 20 hour time and I have a 22 hour schedule in my watch so that we measure our progress throughout. The weather in the middle of the day could be rough but the wind is forecast to drop after that. The ‘big three’ pass quite quickly and it is good to have the wind behind us on the way to Great Coum and Dent. The bad weather is late in arriving and we are at Dent when it does so we wait in the tent until it passes – the rain/hail on the tent is so loud it is almost impossible to speak and nobody was going out in it.

After the weather clears through bright skies and sunshine provide some cheer for the long drag to Blea Moor and having rested at Dent we are feeling pretty good. Since Gragarteth we have been passing people, pretty steadily and picking up time so that by Dodd Fell Hill we are looking at a 19.5 hour finish. We have also just caught a group who appear to be moving fairly quickly and I think they might be OK for the night section. We get “grouped” at Fleet Moss and although we get across before dark we have three novices, never done it and never reeced any of it. After nightfall the pace drops dramatically and we lose hours over the next two big hills and while two of the novices know they can’t navigate the third thinks he can. He helped in a couple of places – getting things slightly wrong but I am glad not to have to do it all myself – and for the last descent he gets a compass bearing wrong by almost 90 degrees. We are in clag and can’t see far enough to realise how wrong we are until it is way too late and although Pauline spotted the footprints we should have been following ‘the compass never lies’ so we went wrong again coming off Great Whernside. This adds over an hour to our time and so while the three novices are pleased to get round in under 24 hours we are pretty disappointed with our 23:33:16, not least because we walked it quicker the last time!

It was a good long day out and with so much climbing already done I don’t need any more for the week. This means I can just grind out the miles aiming for 100 for the first time since 2006. By Thursday night when I finish my legs are tired but with only two more hard weeks left I guess that is is how they should be.

2009-05-09_The_Fellsman_ 004  2009-05-09_The_Fellsman_ 006 

In the Start Field and Ingleborough on the skyline is visible most of the day

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Empty Hills going on forever and eventually some late evening sunshine

Friday, 8 May 2009

Classic day in the Lakes

Last week: 51 miles; 6950 feet; 10:40:12

With Colin & Albert on Saturday for brilliant route from Colin over Scafell Pike to Upper Eskdale and back to the Three Shires Stone. Cold Pike, Crinkles, Bowfell, Esk Pike, Great End, Scafell Pike and straight down in Upper Eskdale before returning over Little Stand to the TSS. A great collection of fell race routes and apart from Scafell Pike a quiet route even on a bank holiday weekend – one to do again. The rest of the week was pretty easy, no more big climbs and no more long sessions – almost a taper in preparation for The Fellsman tomorrow.

I now have 5 weeks left and plan three hard weeks culminating in another “Joss” (on a slower schedule),  a week in Scotland and then Duddon before a two week taper as the final preparation for the 13th June which is the same date that Bob Graham did his round.

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Scafell Pike from Bowfell and then from Esk Pike

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Great Gable, Green Gable & Sty Head Tarn (left) and (right) Lingmell and Wasdale Head

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With Albert above Upper Eskdale and Scafell & Scafell Pike

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Couple of locals

Friday, 1 May 2009

Back to Winter Hill

Last week: 74.8 miles; 8409 feet; 12:38:10

After last week’s Lakeland adventures it is back to the West Pennine Moors and Winter Hill. I knew I would need a few more days to get the climbing out of my legs and I hoped I would be able to lift my mileage without too much trouble. Saturday’s 21 miles and 4000 feet weren’t too bad but I would have struggled in the Lakes with more sustained climbing. On Sunday I just had a run up Winter Hill from the house and met Ed Swift at the Two Lads. Ed is approaching the end of his “Joss” training with an attempt scheduled for the end of May and we will both be out helping him. Normal Monday to Thursday including a hill session last night that took everything I had left in my legs.

2009-04-26_Rivington_ 004 2009-04-26_Rivington_ 003

From the Two Lads looking South West and North West respectively

On Sunday, although bright and sunny it wasn’t as clear as I had hoped – looking south west it is possible to see ships on the Mersey and the mountains of Snowdonia and to the north west it should be possible to pick out individual Lakeland fells but not today.

Next Week: Lakes on Saturday with Colin & Albert so it will be hard day. I am less sure about the rest of the week. Pauline and I are doing The Fellsman the following weekend and I ought to have a relatively easy week in preparation. I think I have recovered from my “Joss” and tomorrow will tell, for real.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Joss Naylor Recovery

Last Week: 71 miles; 18350 feet; 18:23:43 (6 miles; 17:18 on bike trainer)

The bike trainer was an unsuccessful attempt at loosening my legs on Sunday 19th. It warmed up my legs but did little help them. A Sports Massage, a gentle Sports Massage, on Monday helped quite a lot and I managed out for an early run on Tuesday. Managed a bit more on Wednesday and Thursday and was very glad of a rest day on Friday. Previous experience suggests it will be the climbing that needs recovering from the most. By Friday morning only my right calf hadn’t recovered – it is still a little tight, not painful but I am aware of it.

Next Week: Less climbing but keep the miles at 70+. Back to Winter Hill on Saturday and then something fairly easy – flattish 10 miles on Sunday followed by a normal week.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Sty Head at 15:32 18th April 2009

Running in I recognise John Fleetwood whom I was expecting still to be in Scotland. A pleasant surprise, and then I can see Bill Williamson and Rachel Metcalfe who will take me to Greendale Bridge. John Coope, Nicole Kirkham and Joss are also here but it takes me a while to realise Pauline isn’t. Keith Foster is and he will come with us over the tops to Greendale Bridge. Cake and encouragement from Joss and it is time to worry about the big climbs. Karl and Duncan drop down to Wasdale Head while Rhiannon stays with us for the next two summits before joining Karl and Duncan.There are about 13 miles and 5000 feet of climbing left to do over the roughest ground on the route. Unlike many, I have spent all day looking forward to this, the most spectacular section of all.

The next two hours are spent gaining almost 3500 feet in less then 5 miles on three climbs crossing Great Gable, Kirk Fell and Pillar. Setting off up Great Gable I finally realise I haven’t seen Pauline and when I enquire I find there has been a car problem and she and Ed Swift are somewhere between Wasdale & Dunmail sorting it out. On the way up Gable I ask Rachel to tell the the time on each of the summits because I need to know that I am still climbing fast enough. My recovery from the problems encountered around High Raise seems complete as I pick up time on the 14 hour schedule going up both Great Gable and Kirk Fell. Pillar is ‘just a slog’ as all fell runners who have done the Ennerdale fell race know and by know I am pretty happy that, barring accident or injury, I’ll reach Greendale Bridge within 15 hours. Part way up the steepest part of the climb there is time for a seat in the sunshine, a bar, a long cool drink and the chance to savour the views across Wasdale.

The final pull up on to Pillar contains a wonderful surprise as I recognise Pauline running down to meet us. Ed Swift is on the summit and brother John has just set off for Scoat Fell. Pillar is the last of the big climbs and John Fleetwood heads back to Great Langdale after a handshake and the reassurance that “I know you have done it”. Bill takes us off Pillar on a route, new to me, to miss the worst of teh rocky ground and we head off to Scoat Fell and Steeple and more runnable ground. We are comfortably ahead of the schedule and it is time to ease off a little and really enjoy the day. Seatallen provides the ‘sting in the tail’ but on top are John Coope, Nicole and David Powell-Thompson. From there, only Middlefell, where Julie Laverock is waiting, and the final descent to Greendale Bridge remain. After the ‘evening sun’ photo shoot it is all downhill to Greendale Bridge where Joss and his dogs are waiting. 14 hours and 14 minutes after leaving Pooley Bridge I stand on Greendale Bridge happy, and relieved, to have completed the “Joss Naylor Challenge” and happy to have enjoyed such a perfect day. I don’t think it is possible to adequately express appreciation to those who helped on the day, those without whom it wouldn’t have happened. I am so glad Pauline and the others who provided the road support were able to join me during the last leg. Thanks too to Joss for coming up to Sty Head and for meeting us at the end.

Place 14hr 15 hr Actual 14 hrs 15 hrs Actual
Sty Head - depart 09:32 10:12 09:58 14:32 15:12 14:58
Great Gable 10:07 10:47 10:29 15:07 15:47 15:29
Kirkfell 10:52 11:32 11:02 15:52 16:32 16:02
Pillar 11:52 12:32 12:00 16:52 17:32 17:00
Scoat Fell 12:17 12:57 12:24 17:17 17:57 17:24
Steeple 12:22 13:02 12:30 17:22 18:02 17:30
Haycock 12:42 13:22 12:51 17:42 18:22 17:51
Seatallon 13:15 13:55 13:29 18:15 18:55 18:29
Middlefell 13:40 14:20 13:54 18:40 19:20 18:54
Greendale Bridge - arrive 14:00 14:40 14:14 19:00 19:40 19:14



The slideshow contains photos taken by Pauline, Rhiannon, Duncan and John Coope – thank you all.


Iain Kelly’s early morning photos are here -


Iain’s blog is here - http://42tops.blogspot.com/

Friday, 24 April 2009

Dunmail Raise – 10:26 18th April

After the cramp induced ‘rests’ I am no longer ahead of the 14 hour schedule but this really isn’t a concern. The 15 hour schedule has 20 minutes to spare and I am still happy with progress, even if concerned about the lingering cramp. Phil is going to turn round and run back to his, having only just realised he wasn’t paying any attention to the route. Dave has finished his leg but Karl will stay with me again. Duncan Richards and Rhiannon George join us here for the leg to Sty Head. After a change of shoes and socks and more rice pudding with banana I strap on my bottle carrier ready for the climb to Steel Fell. There is nothing pleasant about this except perhaps the final wave from the top to the road team as the prepare to move to Wasdale.

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Rhiannon, Duncan, Karl & Monica (behind)         Nearing the top (by Duncan Richards)

The top of the climb is followed by some gentle slopes leading to the summit where it is, just about, possible for your legs to recover. Although it is still early the sun is beginning to feel warm and the gentle breeze is more than welcome. With six hours done I still feel pretty good apart from the cramp which is still bothering me a bit. The ground here is pretty uneven which means the pace isn’t constant for long and this is helping. We settle on the slightly longer but gentler climb to High Raise and as soon as we reach the sheltered gully we find out just how warm the sun is and it isn’t good. The pace slows and most of the chat stops as we all slog up the gully in the stifling heat. I am starting to feel nauseous and begin to struggle to eat and drink. Before we reach the top of the gully I am wondering about reaching Sty Head with enough energy for the last leg and unless I can eat and drink enough I am going to have real problems. Karl’s observation that we have done 24 miles before lunch only serves to remind there are another 24 to go (glass half empty, for sure).

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Nearing the top of the gully and, finally, nearing High Raise and a cool breeze (both by Rhiannon)

The descent allowed me to begin to recover but it is nearly another hour to the  next summit and it takes about half of that before I feel able to start eating and drinking again. Concerned about time lost, I start to push on to avoid losing any more. Duncan & Rhiannon decide to go round the next couple of summits to ensure they don’t slow us up. After reassuring Karl that I do know the way up Bowfell I miss the route half way up but we exit in the right re-entrant and lose only a minute or so on the climb. Now 28 minutes behind the 14 hour schedule I am still happy with my progress but I need now to not lose more time. I am now feeling better and start to pick up time on the next two summits and feel really good, absolutely elated, in fact, running into Sty Head knowing I am strong enough for the 5000 feet of climbing on the last leg.


Place 14hr 15 hr Actual 14 hrs 15 hrs Actual
Dunmail Raise - depart 05:34 05:57 05:42 10:34 10:57 10:42
Steel Fell 05:57 06:22 06:06 10:57 11:22 11:06
High Raise 06:48 07:17 07:08 11:48 12:17 12:08
Rossett Pike 07:35 08:07 08:00 12:35 13:07 13:00
Bowfell 08:08 08:42 08:36 13:08 13:42 13:36
Esk Pike 08:36 09:12 09:00 13:36 14:12 14:00
Great End 08:59 09:37 09:23 13:59 14:37 14:23
Sty Head - arrive 09:27 10:07 09:50 14:27 15:07 14:50