Wainright’s, Munros, Corbett’s. Tick lists for walkers and outdoorsy folk. Walk then, run them, camp on the summit and solidify your victory with a summit-top selfie. That’s the trend of the moment.
Most mortals prefer to steadily take their time to walk the Wainwrights, picking a few off when time gifts a free weekend. The ultimate prize? Knowing you have walked all 214 wainwrights and have a bunch of good quality mountain days and memories behind you.
But what if you had the wild idea to walk the Wainwrights in one continuous attempt? There are of course records where endurance runners have completed the challenge in an unimaginable time.
A few notable attempts are, of course, endurance legend John Kelly, who takes the FKT of 5d 12h 14m 43s supported, followed closely by Sabrina Verje who set an earlier record in 2021 of 5d 23h 49m 12s. The unsupported record goes to Christopher Gaskin with a time of 11d 10h 58m.
But it was our resident muncher of miles and shredder of shoes Mike @pack_backer who wanted to see how fast he could push himself to complete the challenge. Not for the glory of FKT, but for his own personal curiosity to explore where his comfort limit ends, and his resolve begins.
This account of journals has been taken from our community page, UK Long Distance Hiking, where Mike kindly shared his account with us between the emotional and physical pain of trying the challenge.
Day 1 - 11/214 Wainwrights
It started wet and stayed wet all day and through the night, I didn’t bag many pics as it was pretty horrendous throughout.
It was slow going through bogs and down steep gullies and ravines. Hats off to the fell runners as they are truly a different breed. My bum was twitching a fair few times going down embankments and the day of wet feet did my mood no favors.
Luckily I made it to the Borrowdale valley and stayed off the tops for the night, luckily I did because it absolutely battered it down all night. Unfortunately the next day I had to return home due to personal circumstances but have a train booked back out tomorrow, so will be back on the trail by the afternoon.
Day 2 - 15/214 Wainwrights
Short day today as I spent until around 1430 travelling to the trailhead. The weather started out brilliant, sunny with a nice breeze. That soon turned south when I was ascending into the hills and the cloud base quickly dropped with wind and rain picking up. I managed to plod onwards towards Glaramara and over the precarious-looking rocks leading to the summit.
The paths were all sodden and I spent my time with wet feet and hidden in waterproofs.
I managed to get myself turned around in the clag and almost went down a gully but a quick nav check ensured I was back on track in no time. I plan ed to spend the night at Sprinkling tarn but the wind was shocking so I thought it may be better at Styhead tarn. No luck there either as the wind seemed to be worse. I managed to find a spot as I began my ascent of base brown, it was a pretty poor choice on the side of a hill but offered some shelter from the wind. Or so I thought, it hammered the tent all night with heavy rain too.
Day 3 - 30/214 Wainwrights
Pretty big day today bagged 15 Wainwrights and tons of ascent. The day started in the slopes of Base Brown and the weather was horrendous once I made the steep ascent into the clouds.As I made my way over to Green Gable wind and rain picked up and pretty soon it must have been 40-50mph as I could barely walk and if I relaxed it would have easily knocked me down.I made my way to Great Gable which was just as bad if not worse, the rain was painful and I made quick work of clambering the boulders down and towards Kirk Fell. I made a quick ascent of Kirk fell by ditching the pack and soon found myself making my way towards Brandreth and Grey Knott’s. Once I hit Haystacks the weather chilled a little and I could see the amazing views. The wind was still present but was a backburner at this point. I made.my way over the mountainous ridge and soon found myself on the final leg of the day which was by far the hardest and the ascent/ descent of Mellbreak almost broke me. Eventually I scored food in Loweswater which was a godsend.
Day 4 - 45/214 Wainwrights
Today started well with the first couple of Wainwrights North of Loweswater coming fast. As I made my way back over and up to Burbank Fell the wind soon brought the clouds and the most horrendous rain I’ve been in, in a long time.Luckily I already had my jacket on and just had to whip my trousers on, my feet however were soaked…again.I made my way over the fells and as I was nearing Ennerdale the clouds cleared and the sun reappeared giving me a brilliant view of the sea and over the fells.I could finally see the progress I had made in days previous and was in awe of the scenery.I carried on down to Ennerdale and diverted to Ennerdale bridge for breakfast and a shower which was well needed.I soon made my way back towards the water and considered sacking it here for the day as I’d covered about 11 miles.However, my ego got the best of me and I was soon on the way up Grike which was a truly savage climb .Eventually I reached the top, dried my tent in the wind and sunshine and admired the views for a while before cruising along the fells towards the other Wainwrights on the route.I hit Haycock and knew I was in for a good day so carried on over taking in the majesty of the Scafell massif in the distance.Eventually I reached Scoat fell and chilled for a while. I had some food and felt fresh still so thought I could crack on, bag a few more and make tomorrow a nice easy day.So cruised on over Red Pike, across to Yewbarrrow and down an unholy slope where I found a decentish spot for the night.
Day 5 - 50/214 Wainwrights
Started the day in torrential rain which I was praying to stop. Eventually the rain God honoured our blood contract and eased a little.I took this time to make the steep ascent up to Seatallan and then quickly back down for the next ascent.The rain began again and the wind howled but eventually I managed the third Wainwright which was Buckbarrow.I made a quick descent and opted for some food a little off the trail at Nether Wasdale. It was beautiful and I quickly demolished a good 5k calories and a quick charge of the powerbank before heading out.I took the time to dry my tent on the green and then carried on into the woods to start climbing Whin Rigg.The wind howled up here but the views were amazing and I quickly worked my way over and down to the tarn at the foot of the indomitable Sca Fell.
Day 6 - 57/214 Wainwrights
The day started sunny and after meeting my friend who was gonna be hiking with me today we set off in good spirits up the domineering slope of Slight Side and Sca Fell.It took a while but eventually we mad our way to the top of Slight Side and then you the shortish climb to Sca Fell.The clouds were in full force up there adding to the alien feeling landscape. It was eerily quiet at the top and we had a quick bite to eat before descending into Lords Rake and down the steep scree slope.Eventually we emerged from the darkness of the Rake and quickly traversed the valley to Lingmell which was a steeper climb than I thought (maybe the climb to sca fell was still reeling in my legs).A quick summit and we were onto Scafell Pike (often referred to as Ingleborough). We didn’t stay long as there were queues forming at the Gregg’s on top.We quickly descended into the saddle between there and Borad Crag before making our way over the boulder field towards Great End and then over to Angle tarn.The weather took a turn for the worst and we decided it was best to pitch here for the night and bag Rosett pike once we were set up which didn’t take longer than 15 minutes.
Day 10 - 106/214 Wainwrights
I apologise in advance if this one isn’t as upbeat as the last but my god this has been possibly the toughest day I’ve ever done.I started the day pretty sweet and cruised along the tops after a short climb towards Loyghrigg which was a drop down and then back up to summit.My new shoes that were waiting in Rydal spurred me on for a pre 9am arrival at the hotel.I made my way up Nab scar and Heron pike with the sun already at a blistering level.I topped my bottles up on the way which put me to around 3l which I thought would be ample.My god is the Fairfield horseshoe savage though, the sun was unrelenting and the constant dropping off the peaks to grab Wainwrights along the way really smashed my morale to bits.I debated calling it quits many times today and found myself a little upset with myself at a few points along the way.I remembered what my friend John and another buddy Chris said though, which was to take it one day at a time, one peak at a time and one step at a time.This helped and I plodded along, with little in way of water at this point. I managed to find some dregs in a stream and spent a good 20 minutes filling my bottles.Eventually I plodded along the the bottom of red screes and middle dodd where I had some food and a little rest. This made me feel a bit better and gave me the much needed energy to make the ascent.Eventually I bagged Middle dodd and made my way to red screes to camp for the night.
Day 12 - 142/214 Wainwrights
I started the day/ night at about 1am quickly packing my gear away with the aim of heading through the night and chilling in the day.As you can see from the mileage this was just an outright lie to myself.I cruised in the dark along the Kentmere horseshoe bagging the outlying Wainwrights as I went.It’s eerily quiet in the dark and I soon found myself hitting some pretty decent miles. As I was dropping down into Nan Bield Pass I saw the most beautiful sight.There was a literal shooting star or asteroid breaking up in the atmosphere, it was truly a spectacle to behold. Or I may have been hallucinating, both are equally possible .I chilled on the huge stone seat like the guardian to the pass for a little while eating some cold porridge…yum.I then headed on up into the hills once more hitting Kidsty pike in no time and then onto High street and the old Roman road, which was familiar hiking territory for me and I soon hit Arthur’s like at the end within an hour and a bit. I then dropped down and up over Hallins fell and the others in the area before making the most demoralising climb I have ever faced. The Nab! This was like something out of a horror movie and was insanely steep considering its low elevation. I found myself having a tantrum near the summit and fully spat my dummy out.I then hit the Wainwrights near Angle tarn, taking a quick bath whilst I was there.I soon found myself on top of Place fell where the only thing keeping me going was the thought of some food in Patterdale which was sorely needed.
Day 13 - 150/214 Wainwrights
I started the day in a state as I’d fallen asleep against a tree and then thrown my tent up at daft o’clock in the night in a poor place. Managed a solid sleep though which was much needed.I soon hammered my way into the fells bagging the 3 Wainwrights on my way to Grizedale tarn.I dried my gear at the tarn and chilled for. A little while before deciding if I got the Hellvelyn hills done I could practically have the full weekend off.Naturally I flew up the hills and soon found myself on top of Hellvelyn with the 300 other people.I quickly escaped the mob and dropped into Swirral edge and over Catsycam before descending the embankment and onto my final Wainwright of the day Birkhouse Moor.The trip down was pretty brutal in all fairness and my knees definitely felt it, but hoards of food motivated me onwards.I restocked in Glenridding and chilled for the day and the rest of the weekend as I’m booked into the hostel tomorrow.
Day 15 - 163/214 Wainwrights
I started the day insanely early at around 0100 when the grizzly bear I was sharing the hostel with woke me up with his god awful snoring.I couldn’t get back to sleep so opted to get up and start smashing fells in for a laugh. I want particular happy as I’d paid for breakfast and would miss that and my money.Anyway, I set off towards Glenridding Dodd and not long after summiting and headed for Sheffield pike it began raining.I picked up the pace as I knew thunderstorms were coming and the peaks ain’t the place to be with lightning about.I ditched the bag near Stybarrow Dodd and ran across to bag Raise (yeah that’s right I can run occasionally, very occasionally).I made ym way back, not as fast as I was dying. Grabbed my pack and headed North to grab the other Wainwrights along the way before heading out to the Outliers of Gowbarrow and the like.It sucked big time heading out that far for such small mounds of dirt but hey ho!I soon found myself headed towards Troutbeck and Souther fell where I debated walking the A66. I opted for a quick bus ride for a few stops as it was busy.When I got to Scales I argued with myself about whether to stay at the bunkhouse or head into the hills once more.I listened to my brain for change and called it a day here, but not before ditching the pack and heading up to Souther fell for one last Wainwright of the day.
Day 16 - 184/214 Wainwrights
Today started fairly steady and I quickly climbed to Blencathra where the John Beamson Summit stone is (if your unsure what I mean Just Google John Beamson and blencathra summit stone). Anyway I headed over to Mungrisdale which was a short trip and then over to Bannersdale before heading North to bag the far Wainwrights.The trip was fairly steady although completely shrouded in cloud and rain (most of the day above 600m was spent like this).I made quick progress as it was quite miserable and I wanted to be down from there asap.I waded through the river near Carrick which went well up to my thigh where I’d chosen, luckily I was already soaked .I then hit the embankment to bag carrok fell and then west to the next peak.After this I made my way southeast to hit Knott and then North once more for the final outliers.The rain had stopped by this point but visibility was poor and it was still soaking wet.I quickly made my way to Great Calva and the prepared for the upcoming slog of going up Skiddaw from the North.Turns out it wasn’t too bad and I soon summited. Ditched my bag on the way to Little man and Lonsdale fell.I then backtracked to carlside ditching the pack again to make short work of Ullocm Pike and then dropping down into Dodd wood.I ditched the pack again the woods and headed up to Dodd and then searching for somewhere to camp.Turns out it was few and far between so I had to just keep cruising until something came up.The trail does provide…eventually .
Day 18 - 214/214 Wainwrights
I started the day really early with first light and quickly realised it was going to hurt.The long ascent up Grizedale Pike was gruelling and then to drop down after bagging a few Wainwrights to nearly ground level was truly demoralising.I headed back up listening to music to stop me from hearing the screams of my knees. Eventually heading back into the hills and bagging Grasmoor just as the weather closed in.And close in it truly did, I had a few little testbites but it was truly horrendous. The Lake District for some reason had decided to end our relationship in violence.I headed over the fells and ditched the bag to hit the Wainwrights in the outlying loop before dropping down and back up before…you know it, heading down again.The climb up to Robinson was grim and the war with the weather really opened up at this point. It was miserable and I was hurting, so the Lakes really kicked me whilst I was down.I headed on over pretty much with my head in the sound following the trial and bagging wainwrights as I went. I soon found myself at Dales Head and realised with a shock I was actually almost done.The added morale made me cruise down and up High Spy like it was a curb on the road. I soon headed over Maidens Moor and then the final push to catbells was in sight.My knees were screaming at this point but they were an afterthought to me hitting that last hill. And hit it I did, getting a super sick rainbow at the summit which was soo cool and almost felt like the Lakes had forgiven me for leaving.It’s gonna take a lot of processing over the next couple days but I’ll put an update about it soon.Happy trails and Out