After just nine months, the record for the 23 Before Tea fell running challenge has fallen again.
Richard Bolton completed the 23-summit circuit, starting and ending here at Elterwater Hostel, in 12 hours and 18 minutes, beating Paul Wilson’s October 2021 effort by 23 minutes.
The circuit, taking in 23 Wainwright peaks in a continuous loop, climbing nearly 17,000 feet, from Elterwater, was originally conceived by the owners of Elterwater Hostel as a shorter, possibly more achievable, homage to Paul Tierney’s record-breaking Wainwright round in 2019. They used the map of Paul’s Wainwrights’ route (devised by Steve Birkinshaw, the previous record holder), placing the hostel at the centre, to find a circular route which could be done in a day, and be back in time for tea.
The first to complete the round was Little Dave Cummins, in a time of 14 hours and 50 minutes, before Paul Wilson (chairman of the Bob Graham Club) took a whopping 2 hours and 9 minutes off the time last year.
Richard, based in Warrington and a member of Pennine Fell Runners, had intended to do a Paddy Buckley Round, Snowdonia’s fell-running challenge, on the double Bank Holiday weekend. But a series of niggling injuries led to cancellation of those plans. “But I was still keen to do a good challenging round. I’d seen the 23 Before Tea article in The Fellrunner magazine the previous year and knew that Paul Wilson – whom I’d met a few years ago on Bob Graham support duties – had completed it last year.”
The weather looked favourable, so he set off just after 5am on the Saturday, on a still clear morning that promised to turn into a hot day. Richard says: “It’s a really fantastic route that kicks off with the minor tops of Black Fell and Holme Fell, both of which I’d visited only once before while mopping-up remaining Wainwrights a while back. From there, the pull-ups get bigger onto the well-trodden Coniston, Langdale and Fairfield ranges.
“There’s lots of climbing! The direct, and very steep, route up to Loft Crag from behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll, was new to me, as was the brilliant descent off Silver Howe into Grasmere.
“Although I’d stashed some supplies at Langdale and Grasmere, I was running on empty by Fairfield and pretty much melting in the late afternoon sun by the time I dropped down into Rydal.
“I really recommend the route, another great addition to the mid-distance Lakeland routes, a great fitness test ahead of one of the big rounds, and a great day out in the fells.”
Elterwater Hostel have offered a free two-night stay to anyone who can break the record, and Christine Thomas, one of the hostel owners, said: “We are delighted that runners are now taking on this challenge, and absolutely thrilled that Richard has set a new record. We’re looking forward to hosting Richard when he takes up his free nights with us – he’s definitely earned them!
“If anyone else wants to have a go let us know and we’ll have a cup of tea, or a pint, ready when you finish.”
For more information call 015394 37245 or see https://www.elterwaterhostel.co.uk/
Richard’s split times:
|Pike o Blisco||04:04|
|Pike o Stickle||06:24|