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Celebrating Joss Naylor - King of the Fells

Joss Naylor, the veteran record-breaking fell runner known as the 'King of the Fells, has died at the age of 88. Joss was an inspiration to many, both as a legendary fell runner and through his work as a supporter and a Fellow of Brathay Trust. His legacy will continue to inspire us all.

At Cicerone, we were privileged to work with Joss on Joss Naylor's Lakes, Meres and Waters of the Lake District, a book detailing Joss's experience of completing the little-known 105-mile Lakes, Meres and Waters route in a staggering 19hr 14min in 1983.

Three people were particularly instrumental in the creation of the book: Joss, of course, Joss's close friend and colleague Peter Todhunter, and award-winning Cicerone author Vivienne Crow.

Publishing Director Joe Williams described working with Joss, Peter, and Vivienne as 'exciting and inspirational'.

'As a fell runner myself, I was already a fan of Joss's before Cicerone was approached about the project. I knew him as a Lake District fell-running legend and was thrilled to hear about Joss's memory of the infamous 1983 run.'

'When Joss told us about it, you couldn't help but notice the far-away look in his eye. We realised that Joss wanted to tell people about his experience ("It's summat you couldn't really explain to anybody…It was like a dream. It was, honestly!") as a way of sharing his love for the Lake District, and for him to tell the stories of the fells in his way, in his voice.'

Peter Todhunter said, 'Back when we were re-walking the Lakes, Meres and Waters route, I and the rest of the team spent 22 amazing days out with Joss. During this time, we walked along with him, listening to many tales of his exploits on the fells, and belly laughing at some of the stories. I know that Joss also deeply valued the wonderful photography of Stephen Wilson, who documented our walk. It was amazing to watch Joss take in the surroundings. A little smile would come on his face as he remembered something from his time on the fells. “Happy day”, as he often said.’

For author Vivienne, the challenge of the project was joining the three main elements of the book: the story of Joss's historic run, the story of the Lake District through Joss's own eyes, and his personal reflections of life in the fells.

Vivienne said ‘The original idea was for me to sit down and interview Joss about the Lakes, Meres and Waters and why that day had been so important to him, but I realised that rewalking the route with him and telling the story through his memories as well as his 2020 observations would bring it to life. And it did.'

‘His deep love for the Lake District was a constant every time we met: for the fells, the wildlife, the farmed landscape, the views, the people, the weather, the ever-changing light… It didn’t matter that he’d been to some of these places dozens, possibly hundreds of times; he never tired of them. There’s something truly inspiring about that sort of deep-seated, genuine passion. He wanted to share it with other people, and that was one of his main reasons for creating the book in the first place. Working with him on it was undoubtedly the highlight of my career.’

A majority of the royalties from the book are donated to the Brathay Trust, a charity dear to Joss's heart. Joss was not only a supporter but also a Fellow of Brathay Trust. Based in his beloved Lake District, the charity offers life-changing community programmes to children, young people, and families in need.

The Cicerone team extends our heartfelt condolences to Joss's family and friends and shares in the grief of everyone touched by his indomitable spirit. For those who had the pleasure of meeting Joss, whether as a friend, through his work with the Brathay Trust, or simply through a quiet nod of recognition on the fells, we know he will be sorely missed.

Joss Naylor's Lakes, Meres and Waters of the Lake District - Front Cover

Joss Naylor's Lakes, Meres and Waters of the Lake District

Loweswater to Over Water: 105 miles in the footsteps of a legend


In 1983, the legendary Joss Naylor completed the little-known 105-mile Lakes, Meres and Waters route in a staggering 19hr 14min. This book interweaves tales of past and present as Naylor regales his 1983 epic on a re-walk 37 years later. Sure to inspire, it includes practical information for those looking to complete the route themselves.

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