Bob Graham

The Bob Graham 24 Hour Club

The Lake District 24 Hour Fell Record

The first stated criteria for what we now know as the 24 Hour Fell Record were set down by Dr A W Wakefield in 1904. Dr Wakefield said the aim was to ascend the greatest number of peaks over 2,000 feet and return to the starting point within 24 hours.

Strangely, Bob Graham’s own round of 42 peaks contained 2 peaks (Steel Fell and Calf Crag) that didn’t meet the Wakefield criteria. As Bob Wightman has pointed out, the 42 peak round that the vast majority of successful contenders follow now is the round that Alan Heaton completed in 1960.

During the 1960s, the men’s 24 Hour Fell Record was extended by Alan Heaton, Ken Heaton and Eric Beard.

The women got in on the act first in 1977 when Jean Dawes became the first lady to complete Bob Graham's circuit of 42 peaks. Jean’s time for the 42 peak round was reduced by Anne-Marie Grindley in 1978, and then by Ros Coates in 1979. Anne-Marie then completed a 58 peak round later in 1979.

The progression of the record for men and women can be seen on the Records page.

The Men’s 24 Hour Fell Record is held by Andy Berry with 78 peaks in 23hrs 23 minutes in 2023 while the Women’s 24 Hour Fell Record is held by Fiona Pascall with 68 peaks in 23hrs 26 minutes in 2022.

With so much focus on the Record during the 1960s and 1970s (there were 2 further extensions of the men’s record by Joss Naylor in 1971 and 1972), there was a need for potential contenders to be clear about the parameters of the challenge that they faced. The committee of the Club was asked, in the informal way that things are done in the fell running community, to establish some formal criteria for the challenge.

In 1971 criteria were set down that in order to break the record, a contender must traverse on foot the same summits as the current Record holder in a faster time and/or with the addition of a separate summit or summits of 2,000 feet or over within 24 hours.

Controversy about whether certain summits over 2,000 feet were “appropriate” for Record attempts led to the criteria being refined in 1978, when the Club committee (again having been requested to bring further clarity to the issue) added an additional requirement that to qualify, a 2,000 foot peak must have a minimum of a 50 foot drop in all directions between it and any neighbouring peak.

In 1989, the criteria were amended again so that additional peaks must be over 2,000 feet requiring ascent and descent of at least 250 feet and being at least 0.25 miles from the previous peak.

To summarise, here are the current criteria. In order to break the existing 24 Hour Fell Record:

Back in early 1989, without the benefits of Memory Map, Sat Nav or other gadgets, Fred Rogerson produced a listing of the 76 peaks traversed by Mark McDermott in his 1988 Record round and noted all other Lake District peaks which qualified (in accordance with the 1989 criteria) for future Record attempts. Fred asked for his additional peaks list to be approved by the then BG Club committee, which it was.

This document Valid Peaks for the 24hr Record lists all the peaks on the basic Round of 42 and the current men's and women's records. It also indicates the valid additional peaks according to the 1989 criteria.

Start/finish location

While the standard 42 peak Round has, since the days of the early repeats, always started and finished at the Moot Hall, the various extensions and super challenges have chosen different locations. It's within the Club’s remit to record the successes on such challenges but the minutiæ of the requirements have been laid down by either the person with the original idea or by agreement between the early challengers with the aim of preserving the ethos of that challenge. Here's a quick rundown of what's required:

50@50, 55@55
Start and finish at the Moot Hall as for the standard Round.
24hr fell record
Start and finish at a place of your choosing. The men's round appears to have settled on Braithwaite.
Start and finish at the Moot Hall. If for exceptional reasons a different start point is chosen the Moot Hall must be visited.
Stephen Parr Round
Start and finish at the Moot Hall. If for exceptional reasons a different start point is chosen the Moot Hall must be visited.
Double Bob Graham Round
Start and finish at the Moot Hall. Complete one CW and one ACW round, either as whole rounds or as half rounds where you turn round part way.