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Twenty three before tea: can it be done?

11th September 2019

Twenty three before tea? Well, we were certainly fortified by a hostel breakfast before we set off on this challenge, inspired by Paul Tierney’s record-breaking run around all the Wainwrights.

Place Elterwater at the middle of the map, take a photo, and there are 23 Wainwright tops in the rectangle. And when some fellrunners on social media wondered if they could be linked to form a challenge route, we decided to give it a go.

However, when a friend and I tried it recently, a combined bad ankle and a lack of proper training scuppered us right from the first peak.  So although we had near perfect conditions, we only managed 14 peaks (42km). We could probably have done more – but not the full 23, and it would have taken longer and it’s highly unlikely that we would have made it back in time for tea!

The real challenge is the amount of up and down. To do the 23 (even with the adjustments we made) requires doing valley-floor to top-of-Wainwright at least four times. We did three of these (not counting Wrynose pass between Great Carrs and Cold Pike) and still covered over 3000m of climbing.  Looking at Paul Tierney’s route, he covered these on very different sections of the run and maximised staying high in a way we couldn’t on this run.

We certainly weren’t at full fitness, but I do think it’s a big stretch to do those 23 in a day. More doable, perhaps, would be to allow people to pick their own 23 – I’ve eyed up a route that goes further including Crinkle Crags and Bowfell, for example, and wouldn’t necessitate the drop-downs and back-ups into Great Langdale, or the Grasmere valley.

So it’s over to someone else to find a good list of 23 that can feasibly be linked together in a day. Or a 23-mile route (or 23k) that doesn’t necessarily include lots of summits?

Meanwhile it might also be good to have something that “mortals” can achieve, or have a good crack at. Maybe “how many can you do in 12 hours from the gate”, or “Nine Before You Dine”? For less extreme walkers, there are wonderful potential challenges from here. A waterfalls walk, perhaps..

Let us know when you come to stay…we can have a leaderboard here on the wall, as well as a record on our Instagram pages.


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