I did a trial swim with the tow float full of tins of baked beans and the scene was set for my attempt a few days later. When Eel crag loomed out of the mist it looked very menacing and quite a challenge with the rock still wet and water streaming down the slabs and gullies (the previous day had seen some very heavy thunderstorms and everything was pretty sodden). Craig Dring has just completed it 2 days ago and I know another 2 that are having a go in the next few weeks. The wind on Crummock Water played a little bit of havoc and caused me to drift off course quite a bit but with a few corrections I was across (arriving 10:43) and met up with Biscuit and Billy – immediately offering Billy my birthday wishes. I managed to do a wave of some kind to those on the boat waving to me. So far so good and 55 minutes up on my anticipated schedule. A quick glance at my watch indicated that I may just get under 14 hours. It was a relief to descend towards Bassenthwaite, and at the Church by the lake I was met by Marcus, who had kindly agreed to spend the day checking on my progress and helping me in particular getting my wetsuit on (I find the zip almost impossible to do along with my slightly reduced flexibility). There’s nothing I’ll be doing differently … apart from the vital issue of food on the hill. To that end it is difficult to make the logistics and car sharing dovetail together. Without much in the way of data it was difficult to know what the schedule would be but I plumped for a pace that would be slightly slower than Bob Graham pace for the mountain bits, around 2kph for the swimming bits and 20 minutes either side of each lake for changing and eating. Marcus dashed to meet me at the other side, so he could help me wash the wetsuit to prevent transfer of any of the invasive species in Bassenthwaite to Crummock Water. I started out with Stu Edginton and Paul Maxwell at 03:00 (we were waved off by Jonathan Nicholson) and by 03:45 there was no need for the headtorches. Peter Hayes, who invented it. I had reccied this section and that definitely was a benefit, there is some rough ground to cope with and it would be easy to waste time and energy wading through bracken and heather, or worse still boulders covered in bracken and heather! The trio of islands makes an elegant journey on this final swim. The date was scheduled for Saturday 21st June, the B&B was covered in my absence and the weather forecast was great. It's a great section of running down into the Buttermere Valley, some shortcuts are possible to get onto Rannerdale Knotts, but with the bracken covering the open ground it's easier to stick to the main paths. Please note that it goes against the spirit of the Frog Graham Round to run round the edge of the lakes instead of swimming across them! carrying their own gear). A report on the Frog Graham Round - a 40 mile swim hike in the English Lake District. It was a tight squeeze, but done methodically it does fit in. I’d had a few longish days trekking in Nepal but intrinsically most of my runs had been 1 to 2 hours – and I guess that might go some way to explaining why I was now down on schedule. There were a whole bunch of folk bivvying up there and we tagged the summit at 04:17 (which is slightly ahead of Bob Graham schedule). By now I was well and truly goosed but the end was in sight and it was great to be finally running in to Keswick to get to The Moot Hall at 18:59 and be met by Jonathan (again), Effie, Grace and Max, Sara, Tim, Oliver and Isobel, Amanda, Louisa and Phoebe and Paul Turner (I am sure there were others but can’t remember). I did this swim in 6 minutes in training, today it took me a little over 7, however it was with a ... it’s quite a distance by road and you have to go through Keswick you see. You should be physically capable, have the necessary skills and mountaincraft and be properly equipped before you consider an attempt. Inspired by the Fred Whitton cycle route the Frog Whitton is a journey of 102 miles involving 96 miles of cycling over Lakeland passes with 6 miles of swimming in 4 different lakes. I was trying to be disciplined about taking on food and whilst the jelly babies and fudge were to hand in pockets on my rucksack waistbelt I made a point of stopping every so often (usually summits) to take on ‘proper food’ … which in my case wasn’t proper at all and consisted of a pack of some small savoury eggs and a plastic box of some breaded chicken things which were on the cheap at the supermarket the other day. For clarification as to what is an “accepted means of navigation”, please see the FAQs page. I felt that as the event was reasonably long, and I’d be swimming on tired legs, that a canoe alongside would be a prudent safety feature. Swim across Buttermere. My GPS kept me on the correct line though, pretty vital it was as I was unfamiliar with most of this, and there are some junctions that you would easily miss. 13:15 – Enter water. It's 60 kilometres of fell running and there is three kilometres of swimming across Bassenthwaite Lake, Crummock Water, Buttermere and Derwent Water. With the wind coming from the NW there was a little bit of choppy water on the lake, but nothing too problematic. We arrived at Bassenthwaite Lake at 04:59 and I was in the water for 05:16. You can see my Frog Graham GPX trace on Strava here, Below - my reasonably straight swim trace across Derwent Water, Thanks to Marcus Gates for keeping an eye on me on the swims and transporting me to the start and back home again (in rather a fatigued state!). Having arrived back from Everest a bit earlier than anticipated and feeling fit from all the trekking (but not debilitated because of the ultra high altitude) it was the perfect thing for me to get my teeth in to. HARVEY mapping have produced an excellent, well-detailed and easy to read waterproof map of the Frog Graham Round route which can be purchased from Pete Bland Sports, We strongly recommend its use.The information provided below is based on the average of data supplied from multiple successful FGR contenders. I slipped a couple of times on the descent from Rannerdale Knotts, bashing my elbow and jarring my back. Ama Dablam interactive 360° panorama from Camp 3 – you won’t be disappointed. Having said that I wasn’t sure what to anticipate in the first place so perhaps my initial estimates had just been a little bit too optimistic. That section is not as bad as it looks though, and on the easier ground above Eel crag I made good progress with the first sign of an improvement in the weather lifting my spirits. I would have preferred to swim all the way back to Keswick if that were possible, my legs were done for! Unlike the Bob Graham one of the things that is a bit more difficult with The Frog Graham is that some folk are arriving on one side of a lake, for you to then be met by others on the other side of the lake. Dodging the shoppers and tourists to be greeted by Marcus - 13 hours 57 minutes after my start. The route down to Bassenthwaite Lake was a steep slatey path down to Carl Side and then a fab run down to White Stones and on down through Dodd Wood. In the end I just crawled and slid, more like a slug than a frog I’m afraid! I put the brakes on a little bit because it’s all very well being up on schedule but if you are too far up too early then there’s a chance you’ll blow it later. Tempted … but not this time thanks. But with less than a week to go I was unsure about how to transport my dry gear across each lake. It just didn’t feel right so we were back and forth along the trail for a few minutes and then I realised where we were and we continued on down through Whinlatter with a red squirrel sighting to lift the spirits. Clambering out onto each island is one of the most ungainly things I have ever done. The sun was pretty bright as we left the woods and started up the Grisedale Grind but it was still early and consequently not too hot. I’m pretty chuffed to get in under 16 hours and surprisingly didn’t feel too stiff the next day. Well practised at the transitions from run to swim and back to run again I all to soon found myself on the steep flanks of Robinson, it's the last major climb of the round, which I was thankful of as my legs were begging to complain now, I was thankful of my poles on sections like this. In attempting the Frog Graham Round or Tadpole Round, all contenders must understand that they do so entirely at their own risk. The authors cannot be held in any way responsible for any errors or omissions. The result was a badly broken back and neck, broken collarbone, broken sternum, broken and cracked ribs and a fractured shoulder blade. Shortly after that I made a bit of a navigational error in the woods arriving at a track junction and turning left not realising I was a junction too early! It was a gloriously still, cool morning with wispy clouds on most summits except for Skiddaw. Once I had my neck collar removed, I knew that swimming would be the best exercise to repair all that damage; the first time in the pool I could not lift my hands out the water when trying front crawl, but things soon improved and the improvements were amazing. The Frog is a 40 mile swim-run challenge, starting and finishing in Keswick. Dalehead (16:02) is the last of the big summits but it was a bit of a struggle down to Dalehead Tarn and on up again to High Spy (16:38). There were quite a few sheep trods we picked up that vaguely went in the right direction but after a few hundred metres we invariably lost the trail and ended up bracken bashing until picking up another trod.
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