Kirby Bank looking luxuriant under a coat of fresh bracken, the bane of the moors.
On 14 June 1932, the Daily Mail carried a somewhat brief report1“Far and near.” Daily Mail, 14 June 1932, p. 9. Daily Mail Historical Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/EE1864261316/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=d4d49b97. Accessed 14 June 2021.:
Climbed 41 Peaks in 24 Hours
Mr. Robert Graham, of Keswick, Cumberland, has created a 24-hours walking and climbing record in Lakeland by scaling 41 peaks2It was actually 42. in an actual walking time of 22 hours, during which he climbed more than 30,000 ft.
Ascending 41 district ‘tops’ within 24 hours, Mr Robert Graham, a young Keswick fruiterer, yesterday broke the Lake District fell walking record set up some years ago by Mr Eustace Thomas, of Manchester. Mr Graham started his walk, like most of his predecessors, from Keswick, but he reversed the usual sequence of peaks; he began with Skiddaw, and finished with the Newlands Fells. He left Keswick town hall at 1am on Sunday and climbed successively Skiddaw, Great Calva, and Saddleback. The Hellvelyn ridge was followed at full length, and Dunmail Raise was reached by way of Fairfield and Seat Sandal. After a short halt, Mr Graham then climbed Steel Fell, on the west side of Dunmail Raise, and polished off half a dozen or so minor ‘tops’ on the way to Bowfell. Thence he went by Esk Hause to Scafell Pike, on to Scafell by Broad Stand, and so down to Wasdale, where he stayed some 20 minutes. The last round he began by climbing Yewbarrow: thence over Red Pike, Steeple, Pillar, Kirk Fell, and Great Gable to Honister Hause, and over the Newlands Fells to Keswick. The last four and a half miles into Keswick were done in 47 minutes along the flat. Mr Graham reached Keswick town hall at 12.39am, just 23hr 39min after setting out. He finished very fit. The effect of reversing the normal route is that the easier walking is taken first, and the rougher walking later on. Mr Graham is estimated to have walked nearly 140 miles and to have climbed 30,000 feet in the day.
Keen mountain folk will notice that there were a few inaccuracies in the Guardian’s report. Again, it was actually 42 peaks, Graham had originally planned on 41 but added an extra peak, Great Calva, to coincide with his age, according to one of his pacers. The distance is generally accepted now as 72 miles with 27,000 feet of climb. And in the summer of ’32, he was running a guest house in Keswick (Barrow House, now the Derwent Independent Hostel). Graham had first begun his working life as a gardener in Carlisle5Smith, Roger. “42 Peaks – The Story of the Bob Graham Round”. Published by the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club. 1982..
Bob Graham’s record was to stand for 28 years until 1960 when Alan Heaton succeeded in beating Graham’s time by just over an hour.
Up to the end of 2020, 2,468 runners have emulated Graham’s feat, with the fastest by Kilian Jornet in 2018 in 12hrs 52 minutes6Graham, Bob. 2016. “The Bob Graham 24 Hour Club,” Bobgrahamclub.org.uk <http://www.bobgrahamclub.org.uk/index.php?page=records> [accessed 14 June 2021].
- 1“Far and near.” Daily Mail, 14 June 1932, p. 9. Daily Mail Historical Archive, link-gale-com.ezproxy.is.ed.ac.uk/apps/doc/EE1864261316/GDCS?u=ed_itw&sid=bookmark-GDCS&xid=d4d49b97. Accessed 14 June 2021.
- 2It was actually 42.
- 3‘Manchester’ was dropped from the title in 1959.
- 4“The Guardian Book of Mountains”. Edited by Richard Nelsson. Page 78. Guardian Books 2007.
- 5Smith, Roger. “42 Peaks – The Story of the Bob Graham Round”. Published by the Bob Graham 24 Hour Club. 1982.
- 6Graham, Bob. 2016. “The Bob Graham 24 Hour Club,” Bobgrahamclub.org.uk <http://www.bobgrahamclub.org.uk/index.php?page=records> [accessed 14 June 2021]