Bob Wightman

Extended Bob Graham Rounds

Though many only aim to complete the basic Bob Graham round of 42 peaks, there are those for whom this is just not enough. Indeed, among the early contenders: Ken Heaton; Eric Beard and Joss Naylor not only completed the basic round but extended the number of peaks traversed - 51, 56 & 61 tops respectfully. This was at a time when the fell record and the BGR were often attempted together.

As the numbers of tops visited increased it became apparent that the basic BGR round was not the best basis for attempts and so the two sides of long distance events in the Lake District became separated. The original BG round was left alone and more efficient circuits were worked out to collect larger numbers of peaks. The absolute record for the number of tops visited in a 24hr period is currently 77 by Mark Hartell.

Once beyond the basic round, there is no specified extra set of tops that must be added, nor does there seem to be any intention to specify such a set, it is up to the individual to decide on the merit or otherwise of each top. One criterium often quoted is that the top must be over 2000ft(608m) in height though that has the problem in that two of the original 42 are below that height. The tops shown in the tables below are those that have been appended to the basic 42 by the various successful contenders. These range from the trivial that are often crossed on the standard round to much more significant tops. The extra distance over the standard round ranges from less than a half a mile(!) to around 6 miles.

Fifty at Fifty

As earlier successful contenders grew older, thoughts began to develop about extensions to the basic round. The first of these was the half century of tops and someone thought of the memorable, and symmetrical, “fifty at fifty” tag-line.

The table below shows the select few who have succeeded in completing a 50 @ 50. The first was Edward Hill in 1977, having completed a standard round just two years earlier to become member number 32. Yiannis Tridimas became the first person to gain membership (in 1995) by completing a 50 @ 50 without having earlier done the basic round. The sole lady in this select group is Wendy Dodds, who in 2002 traversed fifty three tops at the age of 51, the foot and mouth outbreak having prevented her from attempting it the previous year. Her original round came in 1979

In the following table - hover your mouse over the names of the completers or the initials of the fells for more info. As of writing I am unsure as to the tops added by a couple of those on the list - it’s a best guess and have just one completer for whom I have no information. I will update the table as and when I find out.

1 Eddy Hill 1977                                
2 Don Talbot 1982                                
3 Tom Sykes 1983                              
4 Peter Parkin 1983                                
5 Alan Barber 1987                                
6 Paul Murray 1993                                
7 Dennis Lucas 1993                                
8 Ralph Stephenson 1994                              
9 Yiannis Tridimas 1995                                
10 Lionel Howarth 1995                                
11 Peter Simpson 1998                                
12 Mike Sadula 1999                                
13 Wendy Dodds 2002                                
14 Geoff Davis 2007                                
15 David Waide 2008                                
16 Geoff Pettengell 2008                                
17 Mark Richards 2010                                
18 Dave Makin 2012                          
16 Geoff Pettengell 2008                                
19 Clare Regan 2018                                

Fifty Five at Fifty Five

Things now start to become much harder! Not in terms of extra distance or ascent - most of the extra five tops are either on or very close to the route of the standard round, but simply that there are another five years of wear on the body. With this in mind there are only three successful applicants so far for this category: Paul Murray in 1997 with a time of 23hrs 24mins, George Brass in 1998 in a time of 23hrs 44mins (he was fifty six at the time) and Dennis Lucas, also in 1998, in a time of 23hrs 36mins. Dennis had completed a standard round nine years ealier and Paul in 1978.

No Name of Top Height (m) Description
4aCalfhow Pike655The rocky knoll between Clough Head and Great Dodd
24aHanging Knotts862One of Bob Graham's original tops.
30aStirrup Crag616The northern summit of Yewbarrow.
33aBlack Fell828Between Steeple and Pillar. This is often crossed on a basic round.
34aLooking Stead627Another of Bob Graham's original round. Only a short detour.

Sixty at Sixty

This is pushing things! Not surprisingly there have been few contenders for this, at a time in life when most people are looking at retirement. Joss Naylor did a 60 peak traverse (not a round) in 36hrs to celebrate his 60th birthday. And until 2005 that was the only attempt.

2005 saw three attempts, by the same man: Yiannis Tridimas. The first was curtailed by injury, the second by extremely hot weather. The third attempt, on 6/7th August was successful. His account may be found here but words just do not begin to describe how difficult this must have been. So in this category there is just one name:

Yiannis Tridimas

No Name of Top Height (m) Description
1aLittle Calva642A boggy outlier of Great Calva.
2aGreat Sca fell651A real outlier this one.
2bKnott710The highest point "back o' Skiddaw".
2cCombe Height623A shoulder of Knott overlooking the River Caldew.
2dBowscale Fell702Perhaps the most interesting of the fells to the north of the big two.
2eBannerdale Crags683Blencathra's little neighbour.
14aHart Crag822Omitted on this round.
14bGreat Rigg Man766Omitted on this round.
34aHanging Knotts627Omitted on this round.
59Knott Rigg556The southern end of the ridge overlooking Newlands.
60Ard Crags581The northen end of the ridge overlooking Newlands.

The round was 74 miles in distance with 31,000ft of ascent and descent. It is worth noting that most of the extra tops were accounted for early in the round and the outliers of Hart Crag and Great Rigg Man omitted. The omission of Hanging Knotts is stranger to understand since most BG rounds twice pass within a hundred metres or so of it.

Credits: Thanks to Duncan Richards and Geoff Pettengell for updating some of the information.