Old Crown Round Fell Race, 24th July 2021

Richard Slack has just completed the Old Crown Round (OCR) Fell Race – all 23.32 miles and over 7,000 feet of climb of it in 7 hours 12 minutes and 50 seconds. An amazing effort, especially on a such a warm day. Well done! He has recovered enough to send us this report:

A race that starts and finishes at the Old Crown pub in the village of Hesket-New-Market in the Northern Lake District Fells – what could be better! Well except having to run/walk 38km with a total 2,200m height gain in the hot sunshine of July. Pretty brutal but a long-held fell running ambition fulfilled. For comparison the Chevy (loved by all) is around 31km and 1,300m ascent.

The OCR originated from the naming of Hesket-New-Market beers and now covers the beers still brewed named after four magnificent Northern Fells, Carrock Fell (662m), Blencathra (868m), Skiddaw (931m) and High Pike (658m). That’s the nice part. The hard part is that all of the fells are separated by river or stream crossings, so any height gained is then pretty much all lost as you move from one quarter of the district to the next. And as most of the route is not the “tourist” way up the respective fells, it is mostly off path with bits of the Bob (Bob Graham) route so good navigation even on a clear day is essential.

Normally in a report I might highlight the really tough bits – this is not needed in this report – it all is. When I consider the ascent of Skiddaw as my easiest section that gives some idea, I hope. However, the challenge to complete was all consuming and the drive to continue came from somewhere, happily helped by Marie who met me on High Pike (the last of the four) and provided some much-needed moral support (and thankfully more water). I literally had nowt left. Ah but the pub and a beer was now only a 3 mile downhill (although more agony on the cramping quads) run back to the village. Indeed, managing cramp from Blencathra onwards added some more excitement to the day! My target time had been around 7 hours, so an actual time of 7 hours 12 minutes was well acceptable to me. The winner covered the same in an unbelievable 3 hours 40 minutes!

Yes, the OCR is pretty hardcore, but it is fantastic and brutal at the same time – not many days can you combine Blencathra and Skiddaw in one outing. For those tempted for this next year (come on I know some are), rest assured I’ll be there – but as a marshal!


Tom Tinsley -