Saturday, 27 August 2016

Tour de Helvellyn

Tour de Helvellyn 2016

Epic DRY Cold conditions

Ok, so the old NAV4 Adventure website is broken, very broken, in fact dead and we await the launch of a new one.  Therefore, this blog will host all the basic info for this year's TdH, pending the new website.

Entries are open and available via

Date - Saturday 17th December

Traditionally run for the past six years, on the Saturday before Christmas, TdH is a tough circuit around Helvellyn starting and finishing at Askham on the edge of the Lakes.  The distance is 38 miles with around 2000metres of ascent and descent. The terrain various from steady trails to tough mountain paths, climbing to a height of around 600metres. Experience of running on remote and rough mountain trails is necessary.

  • This has become a classic winter ultra, requiring good basic navigational skills and self -reliance.
  • The event is 'low key' with minimal support and all entrants will need to be suitably experienced and equipped.
  • Individual support crews or pacers are not allowed. 
  • This is not an event for novice fell runners - 'tougher than the Lakeland 50' apparently!
  • Entries are limited to 200 starters.
  • Floor space, for indoor camping, is available on Friday night prior to the early start times. 
  • Have a shower, then join us for a post run beer ...stay over on Saturday if you wish to!

Normal wet and very cold conditions


The route is unmarked but follows well established and (in good weather and visibility) obvious paths, trails and lanes on the map and ground.  There are nine self-clip checkpoints, three of which provide hot and cold drinks and some basic food including our savory 'nibbles'.

Start - Askham Community Centre (GR 512 237)
CP1 - Martindale Church (GR 435 192)
CP2 - Side Farm, Patterdale (GR 398 162)
CP3 - Swartbeck Bridge, Greenside (GR 359 179)
CP4 - Legburthwaite, footpath junction (GR 321 189)
CP5 - Swirls car park (GR 316 168)
CP6 -  Birkside Gill (GR 327 124)
CP7 - Side Farm, Patterdale (GR 398 162)
CP8 - Martindale Church (GR 435 192)
Finish - Askham Community Centre (GR 512 237)

The route is a lollipop shape; a run out to Side Farm, then a loop around Helvellyn back to Side Farm, then you retrace your route back to Askham,  Hence, you visit Side Farm and Martindale CPs twice.  There are hot and cold drinks at Side Farm and at Swirls car park, CP5.  The other CPs are not at roadsides, hence with no vehicle access. They may be unstaffed apart apart from CP3, Swartbeck which is a key safety control.  In the event of extreme bad weather the route may terminate here, or before.
The Famous NAV4 Carrot Cake

Start Times, Cut-Offs...?

We use a relaxed window start, between 7:00 - 9:00am. Strong walkers and then slower runners start first, then faster runners last. You choose your start time but be very aware that there is a Checkpoint opening time at CP2 Side Farm at 9:30am, so you must not get here before that time. CP2 also closes at 11.45am.

On the return journey CP 7, Side Farm closes at 4:30pm. There are no exceptions to this rule, and these times are well rehearsed and applied for very good reasons. Overall, participant times will generally be between six and twelve hours. Not everyone needs to be heading out of the door at 7:01am on Saturday, and a good steady walk / jog will result in a 12-13hour finish time.

Registration, Equipment, Kit Check

You can register at Askham Community Centre on Friday evening between 7-10pm, or 6-8:30 on Saturday morning.  There is a kit check for everyone, in the pre-start area just before your start time.

Only a few will 'dawn-to-dusk'

Kit Check

Good waterproof jacket - taped seams - or Paramo
Good waterproof overtrousers - taped seams
Warm hat and gloves - a buff is not a warm hat, spare gloves or over mitts are recommended
Long sleeved thermal base layer
Long sleeved mid-weight thermal layer (not another base layer)
Additional third insulating layer - primaloft type or fleece also required
Headtorch - many of you will finish in the dark
Survival BAG - not a foil blanket
Compass - silva type, non electronic
Map - your choice of paper map at an appropriate scale and weatherproofed to enable you to navigate the route.  You can use a GPS if you wish, but you must have a 'hard copy' paper map as back up. 

Remember: this is a winter event. Your summer running gear will not suffice, even if it has done longer tougher and much more heroic events than 'just a 38 miler'.  Standing in the start area wearing compression gear and a string vest and a 5litre hydration pack, saying  'But ...I did the XYZ 200k in this! doesn't cut the ice with our kit check team.  The team are all vast experienced, sensible and very realistic and aware of the dangers this event faces from the elements and it's entrants.

At the Finish ...

You'll be glad of our copious tea, coffee, cakes, infamous NAV4 'Soup+' ...and even a beer later on.
The Community Centre does have showers, but we can't promise they will be hot.

There are two pubs in Askham if you wish a meal or beer before you head home.  Alternatively, you can book floor space for Saturday night and stay over ....and have another beer or three

Naturally, there are plenty of other accommodation options available. Penrith is five miles away, and I recommend Bank House Bed and Breakfast if you want a bit of luxury.  Wayfarers independent hostel may be open for the Christmas period as well. 

Further Information, FAQ's, Counselling ...

There is a facebook event page on the NAV4 Adventure facebook page where you can post questions, find car share buddies and fret about your training and equipment woes!

Remember: 'Go Steady, Go Strong ...Go Long'