(56 miles in the glorious Peak District!)
The first full weekend in September

Starts on the first Saturday in September and is organised by the 3rd Hazel Grove Scout Group affiliated to the Long Distance Walkers' Association (LDWA) - Click to enter the Group's site


Records tumbled in the 44th edition of the infamous Bullock Smithy hike this year. Firstly, a record number of entrants, a record number of finishers and a record time for the course which has been in its present form since 2000. A perfect weather window in a less than perfect Summer gave walkers and runners superb conditions to complete the challenge and a completion rate of 80% was the second highest on record. However, it is disappointing to note that on such a perfect weekend there were still 50 'no shows' with no apologies received, especially when the event was advertised as being over-subscribed with a waiting list for the first time ever. As some people may be aware the Bullock Smithy traces its roots back to The Longmynd Hike organized by 2nd Longmynd Scout group. Founder of the Bullock Smithy, John Corfield, who hails from Church Stretton, was also a Supporter and parent with 3rd Hazel Grove Scouts during the 1970's and persuaded the Group to promote a similar event along the same lines as the Longmynd in 1976. The rest as they say is history. It was therefore very fitting that for the start of this years' event we had the current organisers of the Longmynd hike, Terry and Angela Davies on hand to strike the anvil at midday to send 295 brave souls on their way into the Peak District.
As ever there was a wonderfully diverse cross section of people taking part of all ages, abilities, shapes and sizes. Some doing the event for charity, others seeking a tough personal challenge to tick off their bucket-list, others using the event as a qualifier for the LDWA 100, or just those who find it difficult to stay away and keep coming back every year. From the whippet like runners to the two ex Para's each carrying a full pack and a decommissioned bren gun of some considerable weight for good measure it is probably this diversity that gives this and similar other LDWA events such a unique atmosphere and camaraderie between competitors and helpers alike. As the new dual carriageway road to the airport is now finally open, walkers were able to revert to the traditional start route via a new footbridge at the end of Old Mill Lane and avoid the new busy pedestrian crossing on Macclesfield Road. The new checkpoint location in Castleton in the disused garage forecourt was also a welcome improvement for walkers and checkpoint staff alike.
Unlike the previous 2 years the clear, cooler conditions during the afternoon were much more favorable for everybody and especially for those people in a rush. One man in a heck of a rush was Rory Harris, fastest round for the last two years and now on a mission to demolish the course record which he comfortably did by 36 minutes to complete the route in an astonishing 8 hours and 10 minutes. At about the same time Rory was finishing the last group of walkers and sweepers were just preparing to leave Castleton at the 20 mile checkpoint in the last flickering of daylight with 36 plus miles still ahead of them. What Rory missed was a spectacular night walk with a bright half-moon to aid navigation up until around midnight when it disappeared to leave a stunning cloudless, mist free night showing the night sky in all its glory. At times it was hard not to look up and tick off the constellations as they moved across our route through the silence of the Peak District or wave to those in the international space station as it travelled overhead at 17000 mph. For those lucky (or unlucky) enough to still be out en-route the dawn was an equally impressive affair and a beautiful warm early Autumn morning greeted the later arrivals back at the Scout Headquarters.
A record number of 236 completed the event within the allotted 24 hours with just 59 retirements and an 80% completion rate reflected this year's near perfect conditions. Sadly, the bren guns only made it to Peak Forest this year. Onto the other trophy winners now and Jayne Lawton narrowly missed out beating her own ladies course record set in 2014 by a slender 3 minutes. Nevertheless, her time of 10 hours 21 minutes was quick enough for fourth overall and to win the Chinley Trophy for a fourth time. Kevin Hoult was again in second place behind Rory for a third successive year but also put in a fantastic time of 8 hours 52 minutes the third fastest time for this course. In third place was Laurence Eccles in 9 hours 17 minutes. It was the first three home who also comprised the winning team of the 'Penny Lane Peglegs' to take the Windgather trophy in a new record aggregate time of 26 hours 19 minutes. In the scout awards category Rob Massey from the host group went 7 hours quicker than his previous best time to finish in a splendid time of 12 hours 21 minutes to take the Axe Edge trophy as fastest participant from the Scout Movement.

The fastest under 25 participant from the Scout movement was James Martin from the Ladybrook Valley Scout District in a time of 17 hours 15 minutes, slightly quicker than last year. The fastest scout under 25 from 3rd Hazel Grove was Jess Connors who went round in a splendid time of 19 hours 26 minutes to just miss out on the current record for this trophy by a slender four minutes. It would also be remiss not to mention Katie Spence in this category who came in one minute after Jess. Honorable mention also goes to 3rd Hazel Grove cub leader Jonathan Mayo who kept the sweepers company through the night but made it back before midday. Assistant Explorer Scout leader of the Bullock Smithy unit Megan Nelson who was marshalling at Walker Barn all night was on hand to present the awards and certificates to all finishers still capable of standing. Sadly, Megan who was the first female scout with 3rd Hazel Grove has recently moved to Huddersfield and has had to leave the Group. We wish her all the best for the future.

Finally .....
Many thanks to all the helpers and supporters too numerous to mention who gave their time and energy to keep this annual event going. In total not far off 100 people are required to make this happen. Special thanks also to those people and companies who have either sponsored checkpoints or made generous donations towards the running of the event. Thank you to those people who have left some lovely comments on our facebook page, it helps make all the effort worthwhile.

Entries are open for next year's 45th edition on September 5th and 6th 2020. Book early to avoid disappointment. .

Steve Holt