JHE LAKE DISTRICT: When the moon is full and before the days start to get shorter, this extraordinary Wasdale sheep farmer, Joss Naylor, has his sights set on trying to climb and descend no less than 65 mountains in the Lake District in 24 hours. Last year, on a long day of low cloud, heavy rain and high winds, he hit 61, breaking the long-standing record by just a narrow margin. But he is far from satisfied with this feat. A good walker might be happy with this bag of woodpeckers collected in a month’s vacation, but Joss thinks that, given the good weather, he should be able to do better.
Joss, who suffers from cramps and a knee joint that keeps popping out as he descends a slope, lives to run but has to adapt as he tends to 1,000 sheep, 70 cows and more farm animals – completely alone. Several times, after winning high mountain races several kilometers from home, he had to hurry before the awards ceremony to resume his milking. Once he was kicked in the leg by one of his cows so that he could only finish second instead of first as had been confidently predicted. Joss is unlikely to run out of mountains on his last attempt – there are 78 peaks in the Lake District over 2,500ft – but one feels he must soon approach the limit of human endurance.