33 miles 14,000 ft
This was going to be a long day. My plan was to support Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Neil Shepard on their joint BG attempts. I was going to support Ran on leg 2 (Threlkeld - Dunmail Raise). Then support Neil on leg 4 and leg 5 (Wasdale - Keswick). Luckily I had Ken and his wife Angela to kind of support me on my half B.G.
Meeting Ran for the first time was great. I had read a lot of his books and admired his sense of adventure and his inner toughness. After setting off with him for Clough Head I quickly realised that this was not his type of terrain. He was a touch on the slow side for a sub 24 hour round. After talking to him he informed us that due to an underlying heart condition he had to keep his effort within bounds, and that he wasn't too bothered with a sub 24 hour round.
The rest of the Helvellyn ridge was at a comfortable pace and the weather was a bit blustery with times of little visibility. It didn't bother me as I know knew this leg very well. I felt confident navigating and for once never made an error. We took a few photos. I couldnt resist a photo opportunity with one of the worlds great adventurers. Descending into Dunmail Raise I knew that a sub 24 hour round wasn't on for Ran but he knew that and persevered all the way to Honister before deciding that he did not want to carry on. I think it was a decision made more out of sympathy for the support, and that he could have continued but it would have took a long time. Maybe a total time of 28 hours or so.
By contrast Neil was flying. He decided to do a 45 at 45. Not one that is done very often. But in the spirit of Bobs original round. Bob did his origianal round to celebrate 42 years. I made the trip to Wasdale, from Dunmail, not as I had hoped to. Sleeping in the back of a car chauffeured by Ken was the original plan. Instead I did Ali a favour and drove his car around from Dunmail.
A quick bite to eat in the Wasdale Head Inn and not too much later Neil arrived ahead of time. We stormed through all of leg 4. I was even starting to feel jaded by Great Gable. But the weather was good and that kept the spirits up. He was so quick that Wynn and the rest of his support had not made it from Wasdale after attending to Ran. So I quickly got out our chair for Neil to rest his legs, and fed him what we had. Wynn did turn up eventually to see us off.
We set off on leg 5 like a migrating tribe. He had support all over the place. But it was a joyous victory leg, he was so far up on schedule that it was only a matter of how much time we would get to spend in a Keswick pub. It was a perfect sunset as we approached the summit of the final peak Robinson. We took some group photos. One of which ended up in an edition of the Fell runner magazine. Then ran off Robinson and down the track to stair. A quick change to road shoes and we raced off for Keswick. It was a fantastic effort by Neil, 45 peaks in 21 hours 49 mins. A few beers later Ken, Angela and a very tired I, set off for home.