Brian Melia at the summit of Helvellyn during the Lakes Mountain 42

Brian Melia at the summit of Helvellyn during the Lakes Mountain 42

A runner is planning to follow in the footsteps of renowned author Alfred Wainwright in a 247-mile challenge.

Ultrarunner Brian Melia hopes to achieve what he believes is the first unbroken completion of A Pennine Journey, a long-distance route based on Wainwright’s book of the same name.

He will begin his run early on Saturday in the North Yorkshire town of Settle, heading north on the eastern fells of the Pennines as far as Hadrian’s Wall, before returning south over the western hills of the chain, to finish back in Settle.

Melia’s target is to complete the route in 74 hours.

The 56-year-old optometrist at Hull University Teaching Hospital is an experienced ultra- and endurance runner, having taken part in the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc three times, Dragon’s Back twice, the Bob Graham Round, Fellsman, several Three Peaks Races, the Eiger Trail and several other endurance events.

His route will follow A Pennine Journey, which was devised by David and Heather Pitt, based on Wainwright’s book of the same name, detailing a walk he undertook as the clouds of war gathered over Europe.

Melia said: “In September 1938, with Adolf Hitler poised to bring war once again to Europe, Alfred Wainwright left the railway station at Settle to begin a long, solo, circular walk.

“It was a walk that took him up the eastern flanks of the Pennines to the Roman wall, west along the wall as far as Greenhead, then returning to Settle down the West of the Pennines. A route of 247 miles through some of the finest upland scenery in England, beautifully translated in 2010 to the needs of the modern walker by David and Heather Pitt in their guide A Pennine Journey.

Waymarks on the route of A Pennine Journey. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Waymarks on the route of A Pennine Journey. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Wainwright, who famously eschewed speedy excursions into the mountains, probably wouldn’t approve of Melia’s challenge. Although some major peaks are missing from the route, it does include the Yorkshire Three Peaks and a skirt round the summit of Cross Fell, and involves a total ascent of 11,260m (36,942ft).

Melia believes no-one else has previously attempted the run continuously. He plans only two sleep breaks of three hours and four hours, early on Sunday and Monday.

People will be able to track his progress online via the Open Tracking website.

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