James’ Bob Graham 24th June 2023

Flaming June transitioned into just right June over the last week and we are back in the lakes for another Bob Graham support. I’m back on leg 3 with the twist that this time it is anti-clockwise. James has been training hard for six months and should have a good chance of completing the round in his target time of 22 hours 30 minutes. After all of the incidental fun a fortnight ago supporting Aaron there is no overnight stay and motorhome adventure this time.


For the road support a 90 minute drive to Wasdale isn’t appealing. For the runners it is a nice rest ahead of the leg until the narrow roads nearing the car park. Chris has a bit of trouble finding a parking space for the van but soon expertly maneuvers it in place. He quickly erects the table and fills it with the pasta salad, coke, water and rice pudding.

According to the tracker half an hour before arriving James is up on schedule. There is no signal in Wasdale so we can only guess current progress. Waiting is part of the Bob Graham support game. We fill our bags with James’ food and a mix of water and mountain fuel. It isn’t long before the leg 2 runners come into sight descending Yewbarrow.

James looks fresh and has had a good day out so far. He takes a bowl of pasta salad and enjoys a few minutes rest. Elaine says he wants a can of coke on Rossett so I slip it in my side pocket with a waterproof. My bag is just about full with two pockets of edibles and a few soft flasks of fluids. A pot of rice pudding later James is ready to go. I’m in good company Tricia recently did the Paddy Buckley in Wales and I’ve done a Bob Graham support leg with Tim a couple of years ago.

A Bob Graham Clockwise leg 3 video

Bob Graham Leg 3 Underway Scafell

Our “run” starts with a 70 minute walk from Wasdale to Scafell. A climb of over 800m in just over a mile. Chris joins us for the first half of the climb before running back to the van. A couple of clockwise rounds come past us one of which obviously hasn’t researched the best line, missed the gulley and will need to use the stiles to get down into Wasdale. It gets claggy as we reach about 500m and the weather for the next 6 hours is set. Not cold but low visibility, Not bad for a round if you don’t get lost.

Tricia, Tim, James and Chris on the climb up Scafell

I always like to eat something on a climb like this. Today I enjoy an apple which takes my mind off the boring climb and how much fun I could have running down the hill instead. When we reach the stony part of Scafell the worst of it is done despite the crunchy, moveable scree it isn’t far to the top. Scafell is much less climbed than Scafell Pike which is 14 metres higher and the tallest mountain in England.

Peak no1 completed on this Bob Graham leg Scafell

Scafell Pike

Before reaching the Mickledore junction for Scafell Pike we need to negotiate the Western Wall Traverse and Lords Rake. Both are steep gullies with loose rocks and scree which slow things again. Down, across, down sounds easy but steady progress is made by not falling over and filling shoes with small stones which will rub the feet. I enjoy climbing down , the damp weather has stuck everything together and it seems like there is more grip than usual. We meet two parties of walkers climbing up the Western Wall but have no difficulties in reaching Mickeldore.

Into the gulley

From Mickeldore it is an easy but rocky climb to Scafell Pike. The claggy weather hasn’t stopped the tourists congregating on the top of the mountain. We pass through quickly and head towards Broad Crag. The tourists look like little ants scurrying about in the gloom.

A bit claggy on Great End

More Rocky Climbing In The Clag

Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End, Esk Pike and Bow Fell passed without incident. James is running well and refueling regularly. A couple sheltering at Bow Fell ask what we are doing and Tricia tries to give them Bob Graham 101 in fifteen seconds. They seem happy for us and wish James good luck. Finding the almost non existent path isn’t easy and we have a bit of a detour before seeing a familiar line.

James enjoying his day

Man With A Can

My can of Coke was about to come to the fore. I got instructions from Elaine to open the can on the descent from Bow Fell so it would be flat by the time we reach the top of Rossett. The Bob Graham path is much quicker and shorter than running back to Esk Hause. At times it disappears and there can be a few options at once but generally hug the bank and slowly work your way down is the key. I’m off the back of the pack moving slowly to protect the open can and hoping to keep most of the liquid inside.

Descent from Bow Fell

When I catch up on the climb I’ve only spilt a little bit and I’m excited how well I’ve done. For a clumsy man it is quite an achievement. At the top I’ve tried to push the can into James’ hand but Tricia beats me to it with a bottle of water and I’m left carrying the can. The next descent is easier and faster than Bow Fell and more difficult to keep the Coke in the can. I eventually complain enough that James drinks the can at the bottom of Pike of Stickle.

Man with a can photo Tim Grimwood

From Rocks To Grass

The difficult rocky terrain is over. We now move onto the more grassy second half of the leg with James about 45 minutes up on his schedule. Tricia has passed on all of the sandwiches, scotch eggs and other savory treats in her bag and I’m looking forward to shifting some of my cereal bars when James decides he can’t eat solid food any more and wants gels, baby food and other liquid stuff. It is a bad sign for the round but he should be OK having eaten well for nearly 12 hours.

Finally leaving the clag behind

Going Like Clockwork

As we continue to tick off the peaks the pace slows slightly but we are still up on the overall schedule. I’m still having fun but James looks like he’s ready for some different companions and seeing his wife at Dunmail. Behind us it is still clagged out but ahead there is some blue sky. Tim has told us for hours it was forecast to be OK in this part of the National Park and now we are starting to believe him.

James on Thunacar Knott

Not Long To Go Now

At Sergeant Man we have a little wobble as everyone wants to go in different directions. We finally agree on the right choice and head towards Calf Crag. The bogs are pretty dry and quite runnable. I’m left searching for more gels and baby food at Calf Crag to keep James topped up and need to catch up. When I do it is right next to the bog Elaine tricked Tricia and I into falling into in 2019. A good story to tell to get the chat going again but it isn’t needed as the cavalry come over the mountain to our rescue with one peak left on the leg.

On the way to Calf Crag

Steel Fell And Beyond

I can hear someone shouting and turn around thinking James has fallen in the bog or needs a drink. He’s not looking at me and I turn around to see Chris has joined us. Starting and finishing the leg. Two big climbs for Chris today on his way back from injury. Chris, Susan and Buddy the dog are just what James needs. Someone new to talk to and different encouragement. James reaches the top of Steel Fell and only has the steep descent into Dunmail left. Tricia runs on ahead with his lunch order and minutes later we are standing next to the road.

James reunited with Chris on Steel Fell

A Mars Bar, some rice pudding and new socks later James is away up Seat Sandal with Geoff, Penny and Nina, our job is done. James is still up on schedule and moving well into the two night legs. Chris is organising a swim for when James finishes but I’ll be asleep by then. We arrive back at Threlkeld in time for me to drive home in the light. There is a nice sunset which is a nice end to a cracking day on the fells.


The round was completed in 23 hours 23 minutes to join the Bob Graham Club with a sub 24 hour completion. Congratulations to James and his team of pacers on the day. Completing the round took three years longer than anticipated with Covid-19 causing disruption on the original plan. Who’s next?

By the end of the leg I’ve got a bit of a sore left hip with some rubbing noises . I’m hoping it goes away overnight but after a couple of days I have to cancel my planned trip to support Ewan’s Charlie Ramsey on July 1st. It’s the third time I’ve missed out on a Ramsey support and hopefully the last.

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