Greg's Hut. Photo: John Bamber/Spine Race

Greg's Hut. Photo: John Bamber/Spine Race

Endurance runners have raised more than £10,000 towards the renovation of a mountain bothy on the slopes of the highest hill in the Pennine range.

Participants in the Montane Spine Race tackled sponsored runs equivalent to the race distance after the challenge was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Spine Race involves running the full 268-mile length of the Pennine Way and Greg’s Hut, on the flanks of Cross Fell, is used as a vital checkpoint when the event takes place.

The building, owned by the Mountain Bothies Association, is normally open to all outdoor enthusiasts but needs expensive repairs, estimated to cost £90,000, to keep it in use, a figure significantly more than the charity usually spends on its shelters.

Montane Spine Race organisers said: “With the winter Spine Race 2021 cancelled due to Covid-19, a virtual version of the event was held instead to fundraise for Greg’s Hut. Hordes of Spine runners took to their local trails, covering up to 268 miles each – the same distance as the Spine Race – across the month of January.

“A beautiful painting of the bothy was created by Sarah Fuller, herself a Spine Race finisher, and prints were sold to raise further funds. More still were raised by John Bamber, a long-term member of the Spine Race team who is a regular fixture in the hut cooking up spicy noodles for freezing runners during the Race.

“John produced and packaged packs of his ‘chilliwack’ noodles which were bought eagerly by the runners.”

Greg’s Hut is a small stone cottage standing near the highest point of the Pennine Way national trail. It was built in the 19th century and served as a blacksmith’s shop and housing for local lead miners before being renovated and put to new use by the Mountain Bothies Association in the late 1960s.

It has since served as a shelter to those who explore the local trails and is used by about 600 visitors a year. It is also an essential refuge and refuelling stop for runners of the Montane Spine Race and the safety teams who watch over them, sitting as it does on one of the most rugged and exposed areas of the course.

Cross Fell is the highest mountain in England outside the Lake District. Greg’s Hut is dedicated to the memory of John Gregory, a prominent member of the Mercian Mountaineering Club and an accomplished climber. He died following a fall in the Alps in 1968. Mr Gregory’s friends decided that a bothy renovation was the best way to commemorate him. The renovated bothy is cared for jointly by the Greg’s Hut Association and the MBA.

MBA chairman Simon Birch said: “The re-roofing of Greg’s Hut is to date the most expensive renovation project undertaken by the MBA. We are therefore especially grateful to The Spine Race for their fantastic effort in raising just over £10,000 towards the costs.

“The renovation work will ensure the future of the hut as a bothy and mountain refuge for anyone wishing to shelter, as a base for mountain rescue teams, and of course as a much-needed rest-stop for runners of The Spine Race.”

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