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Published by River Greta Writer
Joss Naylor – Iron Man DVD
Produced by Striding
My first encounter with Joss Naylor was
in September 1973 when he won the
inaugural fell race in Langdale.
I was with friends from my local Scout Group and
we climbed Harrison Stickle then walked over to
Pike o’Stickle; en route we were passed by some
of the runners who had started 1½ hours after us.
The runner in the lead came haring past us. In fact,
we all received somewhat of a shock – he was so
light-footed that we never heard him coming up
behind us. We descended to the Old Dungeon
Ghyll Hotel whilst the runners went on to traverse
Bowfell, Crinkle Crags and Pike o’Blisco before
descending to Langdale.
We had not been back long when the first runner
came into sight. It was The Gazelle as one of our
party termed him. I then discovered that his name
was Joss Naylor and that he was a farmer and
shepherd from Wasdale. He was thirty-nine at the
time and in his prime as a fellrunner.
Over succeeding years, I followed Joss’s progress at
various fell races I went to – the Yorkshire 3 Peaks,
the Wasdale Head Fell Race and the Ennerdale
Horseshoe Race to name but a few. He won most
of these, including the Ennerdale Horseshoe in nine
successive years from 1968 to 1976. He also won
the Lake District 30-kilometre mountain trial ten
times, including six straight wins in the early 1970s.
I also saw him during his run when he completed
the ascent of 72 Lakeland peaks in twenty-four
hours in 1975. A remarkable athlete indeed!
And then, in 1984 to celebrate his 50th birthday,
he ran all the 214 fells in AW’s seven Pictorial
Guides in seven days, one hour and twenty-five
minutes. When I asked him about tackling this he
simply replied, ‘I aimed to do one book a day.’
Not so long ago, he was listed as one of Britain’s
top 100 sporting heroes alongside George Best,
Geoffrey Boycott and Gareth Edwards.
A book about Joss’s life and achievements has
been written by Keith Richardson who won The
Lakeland Book of the Year Award for 2009 for
his book Ivver Sven: this told about the people of
Cumbria who have lived and worked the land over
the years and who cling on to their fell-farming
heritage to this day. Joss Naylor certainly falls into
this category and it was when the author was
interviewing Joss for Ivver Sven that he came up
with the idea of writing a biography.
The book takes the reader from Joss’s early
childhood at Middle Row Farm in Wasdale, through
his youth when he sustained a severe back injury,
and onto the time when he started competing in
fell races, later setting many records for endurance
running on the fells. As well as the ones mentioned
above, Joss completed the Pennine Way in 3 days,
4 hours and 36 minutes in June 1974, and the
Coast to Coast in 40 hours in June 1976.
One chapter in the book is devoted to the 3 Peaks
run in 1971 when he set off from sea level at Fort
William and 11 hours 54 minutes later put his
feet in the water at Caernarfon having run up Ben
Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in the meantime.
He ascended Ben Nevis in an hour and was
back down to the car in 31 minutes; the ascent
of Scafell Pike took him an hour from Seathwaite
and the descent to the Old Dudgeon Ghyll Hotel
was 55 minutes whilst Snowdon was ascended in
44 minutes from Llanberris and descended in 21
The final chapter of the book concerns the
challenge Joss set himself on 21 June 2008 which
is also the subject of the Iron Man DVD.
This DVD is the film of a unique physical challenge.
Joss wanted to celebrate his fifty years of competitive
fell running, so on the longest day of the year in
2008 he set off from Mungrisdale in the northern
fells to run home to Greendale in the Wasdale
valley – a run of 35 miles, with 16,000 feet of ascent
and crossing the summits of twenty of his favourite
Lakeland fells including the giants of Blencathra,
Skiddaw, Grisedale Pike, Great Gable and Pillar. And
all this at the age of 73 and a bit. Despite problems
with cramp and back spasms, he completed the
run in just over fourteen hours. The DVD contains
superb filming by Striding Edge Productions.
Joss Naylor is a unique man whose life is brilliantly
covered by Keith Richardson in the book, and it is
illustrated with superb photographs by Val Corbett
If you have any interest in fell running whatsoever,
this is definitely a book and DVD for your collection.
reviewed by John Burland - Member No. 2