On Thursday 26th August at 8am Durham Fell Runners began an attempt at a continuous relay of the 214 Wainwright fells. Our aim was to run, in pairs, non-stop, following the route pioneered by Steve Birkinshaw in 2014.
We successfully completed the relay on Monday 30th August at 2:50 pm in a time of 4 days 6 hours 50 minutes 15 seconds.
Despite the battery on the tracker failing during a few of the later legs you can still see the route taken and Wainwrights visited on the opentracking page: https://live.opentracking.co.uk/dfrw21/
(Note: We’re not the first. Eden Valley Mountaineering Club completed the challenge in 1993 with a team of 8 runners completing in a time of around 4 1/2 days. See this extract from their 1993 newsletter and press clipping for more information.)
Leg 1: Max and Paul
- Start: Moot Hall – Thu, August 26, 2021, 8:00: am
- Finish: Borrowdale School – Thu, August 26, 2021, 2:31: pm
- Wainwrights: Latrigg, High Rigg, Walla Crag, Bleaberry Fell, High Seat, Raven Crag, High Tove, Armboth Fell, Great Crag, Grange Fell, Castle Crag
The first leg of an excellent adventure, in the pipeline since before the virus, with many moving parts. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if we ballsed it up right at the start?
Paul and I arrive at the Moot Hall at 07:45, dressed in our stripy club vests like a pair of escaped convicts. There’s loads of time before our scheduled 08:00 start. We can’t get near the Hall, it’s covered in scaffolding and surrounded by market stalls. It feels like the building has finally developed a defence mechanism after years of attention from fell runners – enough already! We have a few minutes before the start and we each choose to mark this special occasion in our own personal way – Paul heads off to the loo (a reassuring expensive experience at 40p, if you don’t choose to jump the turnstile) while I grab a vegan sausage roll from Greggs. We check the tracker is warmed up and see the minutes count down on the watch. Then set off bang on 08:00.
Now I appreciate you are a busy person and there’s reports from other legs to read, plus I want to eat my tea, so I’ll keep this brief. I can sum leg 1 up as follows: Weather – warm, light breeze, excellent visibility. Latrigg – the first of many, found the top, confidence is restored. High Rigg – easy top with a bit of bushwacking through the bracken on the descent to A591. Walla Crag – A mini plateau by the lake. Bleaberry – it does look a bit like that. High Seat – quite comfortable. Raven Crag – there were no ravens. High Tove – a bit of a slog, no idea what a tove is (will google later). Ambroth – kinda just sitting there like it got stuck in the bog. Great Crag – quite craggy and moderately great (at least when viewed from the east). A nice complex of tops. Grange fell – some nice folding in the bedrock at the summit. Another bracken descent. Castle Crag – there was no castle, a quarry instead and a nice little climb. The one way race to the top sounds fun. Borrowdale school changeover – we hand over to Martin & Duncan a whole 15 seconds early on our 6h30m schedule. 1 down, 23 to go!
Leg 2: Duncan Archer, Martin W/Andrew Stimpson
- Start: Borrowdale School – Thu, August 26, 2021, 2:31: pm
- Finish: Loweswater Village Hall – Thu, August 26, 2021, 10:08: pm
- Wainwrights: Rosthwaite Fell, Glaramara, Allen Crags, Seathwaite Fell, Base Brown, Green Gable, Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Brandreth, Grey Knotts, Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks, High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike (Buttermere), Starling Dodd, Great Bourne, Hen Comb, Mellbreak
What a glorious day to be out on the hills! The tourists were getting in the way on the roads, and I was mildly nervous leg 1 might have a blinder and get to the changeover before us. Needn’t have worried – Max and Paul’s timing was exactly as estimated! Away Martin and I went after a very slick changeover of the tracker. Long drag up to Bessyboot – it was clear it was going to be warm out on the hills. Found a nice line on the vague trods over to Glaramara, and managed not to lose the path to Allan Crags. Sprinkling Tarn looked very inviting for a dip, but no time to stop as we trotted on to Seathwaite Fell: never been here before and great views down Borrowdale. A big down and up to Base Brown, then up to the Gables. What a rare treat to have the summit of Great Gable to ourselves – in fact we didn’t see anyone else on any of the summits. Down the hideous screes off Gable, dodging rocks raining down on me from a following Martin. An annoying out and back to Kirk Fell, then just Brandreth and Grey Knotts. No-one knows which summit counts so we bagged both on Grey Knotts, then down to a patiently waiting Andrew above Honister, ready to carry to baton on to leg 2 part 2…
Martin W and Duncan have a great run over the first part of Leg 2 before Duncan subbed out and passed over to Andrew S. Will they finish the leg before dark?
Leg 3: Rory Woods and Dan Hoyle
- Start: Loweswater Village Hall – Thu, August 26, 2021, 10:08: pm
- Finish: Ennerdale Water car park – Fri, August 27, 2021, 12:53: am
- Wainwrights: Low Fell, Fellbarrow, Burbank Fell, Blake Fell, Gavel Fell
Rory: Couldn’t have asked for a better night for running! Stars and moon out, and dry under foot. It was all going well until I commented how much being able to see all the street lights helped to keep your bearings and then missed the path in the dark and convinced myself we needed to head completely the wrong way to correct the mistake. Sorry for dragging you through all the bracken and bog and head high thistles Dan! The rest of the leg was uneventful and we managed to get down in time for me to get a bit of sleep and Dan to drive back home to go to work in the morning! I’m not sure how much I’m looking forward to going again tonight!
Dan: I was a late addition to the relay challenge so had little time to study the route in any detail. With that in mind I was very glad that Rory, knew the way round well.
As we waited for the handover by Loweswater Village Hall, the stars were out and everything was in place for a great nighttime run. After setting off at 22:08 we head to our first summits of Low Fell and Fellbarrow, north of Loweswater. We made a little navigational error on the way down, but it didn’t hold us back for long. We circled back and headed towards our next three fells and our handover at Ennerdale Water.
After negotiating an area of complex paths through some farmland, we finished our leg at 00:53, with a fast run alongside Ennerdale Water.
Leg 4: Andy and Adam Bridges
- Start: Ennerdale Water car park – Fri, August 27, 2021, 12:53: am
- Finish: Wasdale Rare Goats Farm Yard – Fri, August 27, 2021, 7:57: am
- Wainwrights: Grike, Crag Fell, Lank Rigg, Caw Fell, Haycock, Steeple, Scoat Fell, Pillar, Red Pike (Wasdale), Yewbarrow, Seatallan, Middle Fell, Buckbarrow
Leg 4 started at the rather antisocial time of 1am, as we stood shivering in the car park wearing jackets Rory and Dan ran in sweating ; clearly we were overdressed.
The first climb of Grike has little to recommend it other than it gains plenty of height which we weren’t to lose until the descent of Yewbarrow near the end of the leg.
The next section is mostly on familiar ground being the reverse of the Ennerdale race route, however it being night and running it backwards meant a careful eye was kept on navigation by Adam for the first part and Andy for the second part being the bits we had recced.
One minor nav error was spotted by Adam in the return from Pillar as Andy was engrossed in explaining the origins of the many universe theory, perhaps in another universe we didn’t miss the trod and all was well! Error quickly recovered and the climb and then losing descent of Red pike went without incident (is this the top? No, how about this one? No? Maybe the next…)
The final section was always going to be the crux, BG trod to Yewbarrow, followed by an unreasonably steep gully descent, then the climb of Knot End (not a Wainwright but right in the way), the descent of Knot End is on unreasonably rocky and bracken infested ground followed by the unreasonably steep climb of Seatallen, soon after the unreasonably steep descent of Seatallen followed by Middle fell with its unreasonably steep descent. We were both suffering at this point and were ready to be done.
Buckbarrow is in comparison to the previous hills perfectly reasonable, we descended to meet James, Graham and Martyn at the road crossing.
The weather was perfect throughout, moon and star light lit the way, barely a breath of wind and a fine warm dawn.
I hadn’t run with Adam before but we were well matched for pace, Andy learned a lot about David Bowie’s back catalogue and Adam learnt that Andy gets distracted when talking about physics.
Leg 5: James and Graham
- Start: Wasdale Rare Goats Farm Yard – Fri, August 27, 2021, 7:57: am
- Finish: Hardknott Pass – Fri, August 27, 2021, 4:04: pm
- Wainwrights: Whin Rigg, Illgill Head, Slight Side, Scafell, Lingmell, Scafell Pike, Great End, Esk Pike, Rosett Pike, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, Pike o’ Blisco, Cold Pike, Hard Knott
Big day out in cloudless skies. Ticked off some big mountains including scafell, scafell pike, great end and bowfell. We had a great day moving well over tough terrain. Managed to stay on route finding some nice little trods around the minor prominences that wainwright felt unworthy of including in his list! Great fun.
Leg 6: Meghan and Martin F
- Start: Hardknott Pass – Fri, August 27, 2021, 4:04: pm
- Finish: Duddon Road above stepping stones – Fri, August 27, 2021, 5:31: pm
- Wainwrights: Harter Fell (Eskdale), Green Crag
Left from Hardknott pass, Martyn setting a strong pace up Harter Fell. I caught up a bit as the climb steepened and we hit the top with no bother. Down off the other side, a boggy splodge and up the gentle climb to Green Crag. Another top ticked and then we trundled down off the fell, catching the sneaky hidden footpath down to the stepping stones. Then Martyn smelt the finished line and put in a burst to the finish, whilst I huffed and puffed up the last little climb to the road. Changeover made, we waved Dougie and Alan off into what turned out to be a fabulous sunset.
Leg 7: Alan and Dougie
- Start: Duddon Road above stepping stones – Fri, August 27, 2021, 5:31: pm
- Finish: Tilberthwaite quarry car park – Fri, August 27, 2021, 9:47: pm
- Wainwrights: Dow Crag, Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Grey Friar, Great Carrs, Swirl How, Wetherlam
A slightly chaotic start as leg 6 appeared from nowhere while I was still drinking my hot chocolate. Rory could make 20 cuppas in the time it takes my kettle to make 1.
A hasty departure then the long hot climb up Dow Crag. We took a good line, got the psychological lift of ticking our first Wainwright, then settled down for the remainder. Some nice steady ridge running on gorgeous evening sunshine with the occasional wisp of cloud and the alarming strains of Alan singing something about mists and swirls over Grey Friar to the tune of Mull of Kintyre.
Wetherlam was further than it looked then night fell, and a fiddly slow descent at first, before heading south and much faster brakes-off running, with a pause for Alan to perform a Bafta winning fall (6/10), before the welcome sight of the lights waiting for us and the beginning of the night shift.
A bitter-sweet night – sorry for Mark Bevan that he couldn’t make it – but for me to be here as a late sub and get perfect light, perfect conditions, amazing sunset and good company. I lucked in.
Leg 8: Dan R and Patrick
- Start: Tilberthwaite quarry car park – Fri, August 27, 2021, 9:47: pm
- Finish: New Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale – Sat, August 28, 2021, 12:57: am
- Wainwrights: Holme Fell, Black Fell, Lingmoor Fell
Holme Fell gave us the only people we saw on the leg, a slightly surprised couple camping on the summit who weren’t expecting any visitors at 10.30 pm. A good route down to the road then the bit we’d both been dreading: bashing through head high bracken to hit the path leading round to Black Fell, but we lucked out with a good line. Fabulous being on the top with a pretty full moon above us. Then some careful route finding back down to the road and over towards the last hill on the leg. The climb up Lingmoor Fell always seems go on and on so a relief to get to the small summit cairn on a rocky top. Then a careful run along the top followed by a ‘brakes off’ run off the top down to New Dungeon Ghyll to handover to Tom & Rory. Fabulous conditions, great company; felt like a privilege to be on the hill tonight.
Leg 9: Tom Carter and Rory
- Start: New Dungeon Ghyll, Langdale – Sat, August 28, 2021, 12:57: am
- Finish: Rydall Church – Sat, August 28, 2021, 8:16: am
- Wainwrights: Loft Crag, Pike of Stickle, Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark, Thunacar Knott, Sergeant Man, High Raise (Lamgdale), Sergeant’s Crag, Eagle Crag, Ullscarf, Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag, Tarn Crag, Blea Rigg, Silver How, Loughrigg Fell
I found this pretty tough! It was just about as far as I’ve ever run and not easy going in the dark. Really good effort from Tom who only joined the club a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure he expected to be signed up for a 7 hour leg starting at 1am! He also twisted his ankle pretty badly on the ridge out to Helm Crag but pushed on, clearly in a bit of pain, being careful on the lumpy bits but then speeding up the climbs.
It was a run of 3 halfs, starting with a nice sensible 1st half over the Langdale Pikes but then dropping down towards Borrowdale, back up Ullscarf and then straight off the other side down into The Bog at Wythburn. Ullscarf is not my favourite Wainwright and I will definitely not be repeating that route in a hurry. The Third half got much better, getting light just as we were climbing up the summit block on Helm Crag, and stunning views from then on with the sun coming up and mist in the valleys. With a few less miles in our legs the final ridge down towards Loughrigg would have been very pleasant running but it felt like it would never end and I think Tom’s ankle was complaining. Putting the climb up Loughrigg at the very end was a bit mean but we managed to scrape together enough energy for a final sprint into Rydal.
Leg 10: Fran and Dawn
- Start: Rydall Church – Sat, August 28, 2021, 8:16: am
- Finish: Kirkstone pass – Sat, August 28, 2021, 3:44: pm
- Wainwrights: Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Seat Sandal, Fairfield, Hart Crag, Hartstop above How, Dove Crag, High Pike (Scandale), Low Pike, Little Hart Crag, High Hartstop Dodd, Middle Dodd, Red Screes
Dawn and I had recced this leg several times together. As we sat in her car in Rydal watching Rory and Tom make their way to the handover point we knew exactly what was coming! We could also see it was going to be another scorching day. As we made our final preparations I tried to savour the feeling of being cold as I tried to apply suncream to legs covered in goosebumps! Soon enough we were on our way. The hills around Great Rigg, Fairfield and Seat Sandal were busy with runners taking part in the Lakeland 3 Day mountain marathon. On the first part of the climb of Seat Sandal a group of three guys flew past us. We recognised Ricky Lightfoot but had no idea this was Finley Wild on his BGR record attempt! We’d probably have tried harder to get out of the way we’d known. The rest of the route went pretty smoothly. The climb back up from Low Pike was as brutal as ever, probably more so in the heat. As was the final rocky, rising contour to Middle Dodd. I think we’d probably been on track to be on time but this and the final climb up Red Screes did for me and we lost about ten minutes I think. A final run down the steep descent to Kirkstone, dodging the many tourists, took us to the end of our leg.
Leg 11: Duncan and Martin W
- Start: Kirkstone pass – Sat, August 28, 2021, 3:44: pm
- Finish: Troutbeck – Sat, August 28, 2021, 7:00: pm
- Wainwrights: Stony Cove, Pike Hartstop Dodd, Gray Crag, Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick, Ill Bell, Yoke, Troutbeck Tongue, Wansfell (Baystones)
Words from Duncan ‘I never need to run the legs from Yoke to Troutbeck Tongue to Baystones ever again. Bracken long grass steep hills high walls bogs. Thanks for meeting us on Baystones though Steve!’
Leg 12: Tom and Andrew Foster
- Start: Troutbeck – Sat, August 28, 2021, 7:00: pm
- Finish: Kentmere (high lane) – Sat, August 28, 2021, 8:10: pm
- Wainwrights: Sour Howes, Sallows
Short but very sweet leg! Belting night to be out in the fells in late summer evening sun!
Leg 13: Max and Paul
- Start: Kentmere (high lane) – Sat, August 28, 2021, 8:10: pm
- Finish: Martindale Church – Sun, August 29, 2021, 2:54: am
- Wainwrights: Shipman Knotts, Kentmere Pike, Tarn Crag, Grey Crag, Selside Pike, Branstree, Harter Fell (Mardale), Mardale Ill Bell, High Street, The Knott, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike, High Rise (High Street), Wether Hill, Loadpot Hill, Arthur’s Pike, Bonscale Fell
Leg 13, unlucky for some. Thankfully not us as we continued to enjoy the dry settled weather that has been a part of this adventure since Thursday. Although we only got to enjoy the sun for a short while, the daylight finally retreating as we tagged our first top, Shipman Knotts. Again, very little drama to speak of. The mist rolled in along the High Street ridge, making the less prominent tops more difficult to find, but this didn’t last long. The final descent from Bonscale Pike to Howtown tested the tired legs, but we soon were able to pass the ‘baton’ on to Meghan and Martyn for leg 14.
Leg 14: Meghan and Martyn
- Start: Martindale Church – Sun, August 29, 2021, 2:54: am
- Finish: Patterdale White Lion – Sun 29 Aug 7:11 am
- Wainwrights: Hallin Fell, Steel Knotts, Beda Fell, The Nab, Rest Dodd, Brock Crags, Angletarn Pikes, Place Fell
Quick out up Hallin Fell and back through the handover point in Martindale car park to test the legs. Steady climb up to Steel Crags, and headed down a direct line east for our first taste of bracken bashing and up Beda Fell. Down to the farmland at the base of Nab, mist limited visibility but I was feeling euphoric about finding the wall line up to Nab without issue. A slog up the wallside, thick bracken and no discernible trod made this really hard going. I made the mistake of following the wall for far too long and this cost us time. The sun was starting to rise at the summit of Rest Dodd and great early morning inversion views as we travelled to Brock Crags and Angletarn Pike without issue. My legs were feeling the slog up Nab and I got some pitying looks from early morning hikers as I winced my way up to Place Fell. Lovely runnable decent all the way into Patterdale and the welcome faces of Stan and Max.
Leg 15: Stan and Max
- Start: Patterdale White Lion – Sun 29 Aug 7:11 am
- Finish: Glenridding Greenside mine road – Sun, August 29, 2021, 11:10: am
- Wainwrights: Arnison Crag, Birks, St Sunday Crag, Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn, Catstye Cam, Birkhouse Moor
A sociable start for leg 15, at least for Stan, as Max had come fresh off leg 13, with zero sleep in-between. We took over from Meghan and Martyn, setting off at 07:13 on Sunday, for a steady climb up to Arnison Crag at which we hit in 21 minutes, visibility was clear under the low cloud and no wind to speak of. We set off up the trod to reach Birks in 48 minutes, now in the cloud. On up to St Sunday Crag, passing some wild campers and looking back to be treated by the rising sun and a lovely cloud inversion, the sheep weren’t too impressed. Steady decent off St Sunday Crag toward Cofa Pike, but turning off the north side to zig zag down towards Grisedale Tarn. We took a minute at the tarn to ram some fuel in, before the climb to Dollywagon. We opted to follow the stone path, rather than driving straight up, topping Dollywagon 2:16 in. We then followed the elevation up to Nethermost Pike (2:44 in) , taking 10 for a micro-nap and to put more fuel in just past High Crag. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was around this point the tracker died. Straight shot from Nethermost onto Helvellyn (2:57 in) , poor views from the top on account of the cloud cover that rolled in. Taking the right just past Helvellyn to descend down Swirral Edge and up to Catstycam (3:19 in), then straight down the grass to Red Tarn and pulling back onto the path up to Birkhouse Moor (3:39 in). From there it was rapid decent past some bemused and some startled walkers, to the Gillside Caravan Park, where we were welcomed and handed over the baton to Steve and Patrick, wrapping up the leg in 3:54:26.
Leg 16: Steve L and Patrick
- Start: Glenridding Greenside mine road – Sun, August 29, 2021, 11:10: am
- Finish: Dockray (Royal Hotel) – Sun, August 29, 2021, 3:05: pm
- Wainwrights: Glenridding Dodd, Sheffield Pike, Hart Side, Raise, White Side, Stybarrow Dodd, Watson’s Dodd, Great Dodd, Clough Head
11.05 and Max and Stan come barrelling into the changeover bang on schedule, Max coming to the well deserved end of two legs with only four hours sleep between them, an awesome contribution.
Off we go, straight up Glenridding Dodd with Steve finding some good trods through the bracken and scree. A photo at each Wainwright hones our selfie taking skills and we make steady progress: Sheffield Pike, Hart Side (with a slight delay to help some misplaced walkers), the out and back taking in Raise and White Side. A good Bob Graham short cut takes us to Stybarrow Dodd by which time the sun has properly come out and so on to Watson’s Dodd, Great Dodd and then the last summit, Clough Head where some impromptu yodelling takes place.
The route back to Dockray along the Old Coach Road seems to last for far too long but we are into Dockray soon enough with the dogs leading from the front for the handover to Adam and James. Hills, sunshine, running. What’s not to like?
Leg 17: Adam Br and James
- Start: Dockray (Royal Hotel) – Sun, August 29, 2021, 3:05: pm
- Finish: Old A66 near Troutbeck – Sun, August 29, 2021, 4:45: pm
- Wainwrights: Gowbarrow Fell, Little Mell Fell, Great Mell Fell
James and I decided to use the one car and park near Troutbeck on the A66 with James declaring “It’s only an easy 5k to the start.”
4.5 miles of undulating road later, I was starting to wonder if this was a good idea. Nevertheless we got to the Royal Hotel in Dockray in one piece and with plenty of time to spare. Exactly how much time was a mystery as we had no signal to receive updates and the tracker had ran out of batteries. We didn’t have to worry about this for long though as Steve and Patrick came flying round the corner soon after, dogs in tow.
James sorted out getting the tracker on charge and we were off at speed.
Gowbarrow Fell was dispatched with quickly and after making James climb back up for a photo because the first didn’t save, we were off again.
Little Mell Fell flew by and it wasn’t long before we were up and over it. I can’t say it is the most interesting of Fells but we weren’t there to sight see.
Getting to Greater Mell Fell was a bit more awkward. We were never really sure if we were on public footpaths or not. The climb up was pretty much the same as the last and the descent was steep with James sliding on his backside a few times.
There was nothing more to do now but get to the end…..quickly! James insisting that we go full belt on the final road section.
It was great to see Fran and Dawn waiting for us and to learn that despite James carrying a heavy charger, the tracker still wasn’t working. Never mind, time for a well deserved beer and snacks.
Leg 18: Fran and Dawn
- Start: Old A66 near Troutbeck – Sun, August 29, 2021, 4:45: pm
- Finish: Mosedale Road end – Sun, August 29, 2021, 8:01: pm
- Wainwrights: Souther Fell, Blencathra, Mungrisdale Common, Bannerdale Crags, Bowscale Fell
Having negotiated a herd of excitable young cows Dawn and I arrived at the ascent of Souther Fell. The bracken was as heinous as we’d expected! We bashed on through it and eventually reached grass and then our first summit of the leg. Then a lovely run along to the col before the longer climb up Blencathra which was unusually quiet. Just one tent near the summit. Dawn called the young man out of his cosy sleeping bag to come and take a picture of us! Then we had the lovely descent down to Mungrisdale Common. It was such a joy to be on the grass after yesterday steep and rocky ground. The rest of the leg was pretty straight forward with good going and a few short climbs. Before we knew it we had reached the summit of Bowscale Fell, our final Wainwright of the leg. Then it was another fabulous grassy descent down to the road to hand over to Graham and Tom D.
Leg 19: Tom and Graham
- Start: Mosedale Road end – Sun, August 29, 2021, 8:01: pm
- Finish: Dodd Wood car park – Mon, August 30, 2021, 2:50: am
- Wainwrights: Carrock Fell, High Pike (Caldbeck,) Knott, Great Sca Fell, Brae Fell, Longlands Fell, Meal Fell, Great Cockup, Great Calva, Bakestall, Skiddaw, Lonscale Fell, Little Man, Carl Side, Long Side, Ullock Pike, Dodd
Leg 20: Ros and Andrew F
- Start: Dodd Wood car park – Mon, August 30, 2021, 2:50: am
- Finish: Pheasant inn – Mon, August 30, 2021, 4:35: am
- Wainwrights: Binsey
Leg 21: Chris B and Jon
- Start: Pheasant inn – Mon, August 30, 2021, 4:35: am
- Finish: Whinlatter Hobcarton Car park – Mon, August 30, 2021, 7:18: am
- Wainwrights: Sale Fell, Ling Fell, Graystones, Broom Fell, Lord’s Seat, Barf, Whinlatter
Leg 22: Meghan and Dougie
- Start: Whinlatter Hobcarton Car park – Mon, August 30, 2021, 7:18: am
- Finish: Rannerdale Car Park – Mon, August 30, 2021, 9:18: am
- Wainwrights: Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head, Whiteside
The excitement as the previous relay leg run in is palpable and infectious and we were quickly up and off. Headtorches not required. Our recce the previous weekend had been damp and cautious, but the dress rehearsal was over and today it was the real deal. I don’t think it was just us; there was a sense of wanting to get round in the best time we were capable of.
Meghan set off at a strong pace and I struggled to keep up. I pulled on the reins once or twice but on the whole I was happy with it being hard. I knew if I could hang on until we were in the clouds and it levelled off I would find it a lot easier, so I gritted my teeth and was happy that Meghan was happy to chat away, barely out of breath.
Once in the clouds we met our first photographer. As I notice was becoming the norm, no words were spoken. The walker stood up and took the phone, took the photos, and we were on our way.
A great ridge run in the clouds, and a faster descent than previously on today’s dry rocks, then a skelped along the road section where Andy and Rory were waiting.
Leg 23: Rory and Andy
- Start: Rannerdale Car Park – Mon, August 30, 2021, 9:18: am
- Finish: Newlands Hause – Mon, August 30, 2021, 12:08: pm
- Wainwrights: Rannerdale Knotts, Whiteless Pike, Wandope, Grasmoor, Crag Hill (Eel crag), Sail, Scar Crags, Causey Pike, Barrow, Outerside, Ard Crags, Knott Rigg
‘Don’t run the legs off each other on the first climb!’ Was the instruction ringing in our ears as we left the carpark below Rannerdale Knots on a calm and sunny Monday morning, to depart on leg 23 out of 24. Myself and Rory wouldn’t claim to specialist in the ‘long stuff’, and we both enjoy a short blast. This leg at around 20km, was somewhere between a short blast and the long stuff so we had to be careful how we went.
We had both recced the leg well and knew every grassy ramp and trod, discussing each junction before we approached and always taking the right course. On the first climb we discussed the pacing, held ourselves back as instructed and planned to give it everything if we still had anything for the last hour or so. The leg is almost all on good runnable paths except the really steep and fun descent from Causey Pike directly towards Barrow, which 50% of our party enjoyed.
The last hour approached, and some quick calculations showed we were on to finish in under 3 hours, our best estimate had been 3:20, we didn’t know if the tracker was working due to poor mobile coverage, so were concerned leg 24 might not be ready for us. Rory fired off a WhatApp message on the last descent “down in 5”, which got through to the waiting team a minute or so before us, leading to a somewhat rushed changeover.
Throughout the leg Rory was faster on the runnable sections and I was faster on the steep stuff, meaning at all points we each had someone to chase – the pace was brilliantly furious. Not what everyone would enjoy, but 24 hours later and i’m still smiling about it. One of the best mornings out I’ve ever had on the fells.
Leg 24: Stan (SMark) and Steve L
- Start: Newlands Hause – Mon, August 30, 2021, 12:08: pm
- Finish: Moot Hall – Mon, August 30, 2021, 2:50: pm
- Wainwrights: Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head, High Spy, Maiden Moor, Cat Bells
A leisurely start for the final leg. Stan and Steve waiting at Newlands Hause with 2 dogs who couldn’t work out why we had driven there and were just standing around and were not running. The absence of a signal meant we had no idea of what time to expect Rory and Andy then sudden panic as they appear off the summit of Knott Rigg 30 mins early. Just enough time to get final preparations ready, strap on the tracker and off up the very steep climb to the side of Moss Force.
The small sheep trod that leads directly to the summit of Robinson was found and a steady climb saw us at summit number 209 in just over 20 minutes. From there it was great running to Hindsgarth and Dale Head. We found a good direct line down to Dalehead tarn and then the lovely descent fom High Spy. It was quiet until we hit Catbells, summit number 214, where we met the hoards and dodged through them until we reached the road.
Followed the Cumbria Way to Portinscale where we were met by a large contingent of DFR members and family with pushchairs and even cowbells which was a great boost to morale and put a bit of a spring back into tired legs.
The cowbells proved very effective in clearing a route along the narrow path into Keswick, helpful on a bank holiday Monday and the Moot Hall was reached at 1450. 4 days, 6 hours, 50 mins and 15 seconds, 214 summits, 27 runners and 2 dogs. Fantastic weekend. Chapeau Fran and Andy.