Gerry Charnley Round

OMM Gerry Charnley

The Gerry Charnley Round is a 38 mile clover-leaf challenge originally devised in 1984 to celebrate the late Gerry Charnley.

The route takes the runner over some of the most demanding but beautiful terrain the area has to offer, punctuated by visits to the valley floor and some lovely Youth Hostels along the way.

It makes a great single day challenge or multiday adventure.

Here, Jonathan Whilock gives us the lowdown.

Tarn

To make it more fun, I also went for it onsight and solo.

Mountain Marathons are a rather brutish events that require untold suffering and discomfort. The big daddy and most prestigious of these was started by Gerry in 1968, this is the OMM or KIMM as it use to be known. Anyone who has completed this will know how hard it is; requiring superb endurance alongside keen navigational and mountain skills. It is easily my favourite event. Gerry died in 1982 in a mountaineering accident, so to recognise the contribution he made to outdoor pursuits his friends devised the Gerry Charnley Round.

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As bit of an OMM fan and also to remember Gerry, I thought it would be a nice to complete this challenge. To make it more fun, I also went for it on sight and solo. It does make it easier to pick the best weather this way.

The route is shaped like a clover leaf; each section can be done by itself starting at a different YHA, High Close, Eskdale and Borrowdale. The full route has 26 checkpoints that can be picked up in any order; a mix of mountain tops, bridges and footpath junctions. Iʼd decided the route suggested on the map was the best and stuck with that.

Mountain Marathons are a rather brutish events that require untold suffering and discomfort.

The forecast for Sunday May 13th was perfect so I drove up on Saturday evening and slept in my car. It rained all night, finally stopping at 5am when I got up. The easiest start point is High Close YHA, so I set off on the clearest cool morning at 6am. I had no intention of ruining a day out by going flat out and thanks to the previous night’s rain, the air was crystal clear, with just a few wisps of clouds floating between the fells.

The first section to Eskdale took me over Lingmoor, Pike of Blisco, Crinkle Crags and down the River Esk to Eskdale YHA.

Lakeland View on the Gerry Charnley Round

I had no intention of ruining a day out by going flat out…

Except for a few wild campers, I had the mountains to myself. The valley following the River Esk is stunning and always seems to be empty. From Eskdale it follows an almost direct route over Slight Side to Scafell. There are a few options to Scafell Pike, I went for Lord’s Rake. Foxes Tarn drops a lot of height and is very busy and I wasnʼt sure I could find the entry into Broad Stand; and itʼs a bit hairy and Iʼm not that brave.

At Borrowdale they sell lots of lovely stuff including ice creams, Coca-Cola and cakes.

After Esk Hause the next CP was the Gerry Charnley memorial cairn which funnily enough was the trickiest CP to find all day. I just couldnʼt see it, mixed in with all the other crags. My excuse is I only wear one contact lens so I can still read the map but it compromises my distance vision. A top up with clear water on the way to Angle Tarn then over Glaramara and a lovely run into Borrowdale YHA.

At Borrowdale they sell lots of lovely stuff including ice creams, Coca-Cola and cakes. Suitably refreshed I followed 3 different becks till I hit Stake Pass. The CP here is on a very large tarn, which you assume would be impossible to miss but as there had been so much rain the night before there was a lot of tarns and I really had to pay attention to my map and altimeter to hit it correctly. The last major hill was Thunacar Knott.

I took a really interesting route to Stickle Tarn, then over Blea Rigg and Silver Howe to the finish. Even though the run in was only a few km, it seemed to go on forever; over every bump possible.

It was nice to finish at the YHA, they even let me use the shower, I did stink a bit.

The Author Arrives victorious

A cracking day out, 12 hrs 36 mins. Although I wasnʼt aiming to be fast, Iʼd kept a good Bob Graham pace so Iʼd guess it was about 2/3 of a BG.

Even though a lot of The Lakes has been sanitised with slabbed paths etc, it did remind me how tough an area it is to run; I seemed to be on bog, boulder or scree all day.

If anyoneʼs interested I always go pretty lean and light on kit:

Pace Shorts
Trail Tee 
Aether Jacket
Phantom 12
Kamleika Mountain Pant
Emergency bag and my phone as backup
Lots of food
Water was taken from the streams or YHA

It was nice to finish at the YHA, they even let me use the shower, I did stink a bit.

Recommended Kit

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