Black Combe Fell Race

Black Combe is tough late-winter race with some good long climbs and often quite interesting weather. The final descent is one of the best of the year and there’s always a pie and a brew in the village hall afterwards.  

Parking is in the start field if dry, but it won’t be dry so you will probably be on the main road or in the haulage yard in the village: please follow the signs and obey marshals. Please don’t park on the road through the village. It makes the locals cross.

Registration is in Silecroft village hall from 10am and the start is at 12 noon in a field nearby. Entry is £6/8 in advance or £10 on the day and includes a pie and a brew afterwards.

Kit requirements are strict and will be checked: map suitable for navigating the route, compass, whistle, full waterproof body cover, hat, gloves, food. You will need your kit and after last year you might like to have your compass out too.

Race Details

  • Date & time: Sat 9th March 2024 at 12:00
  • Country: England
  • Region: Lake District
  • Category: AM
  • Distance: 13 km / 8.1 miles
  • Climb: 1000 m / 3281 ft
  • Venue: Silecroft Village Hall, LA18 5LP
    Silecroft railway station very convenient.
  • Grid reference: SD133821
  • Skills: ER, PM, LK, NS
  • Minimum age: 18

Entry Information

  • Fee: FRA Member: £7, Non-Member: £9
  • Entry on day: Yes
  • Entry on day fee: £10
  • Pre-entry: Sientries
  • Fee includes pie and peas, cup of tea.


Full FRA kit required: waterproof jacket and bottoms with hood and taped seams, hat, gloves, map, compass, whistle.


  • Race Organiser: Will Ross
  • Telephone: 01229 869053
  • Email:


As well as the usual there is a prize for the best descender from the south summit to the finish, and a bounty on Ian Holmes’s 25-year-old course record.

Team prize goes to the club with four runners home first.

The value of prizes depends on the number of entries but generally we like to keep the race cheap and the pies edible, so they’re not huge.

This is also the first race in the Bob Grieve trophy series. The trophy is awarded each year to the man and woman with the lowest combined time for Black Combe, Caw, Dunnerdale and Kirkby Moor.


  • M : 1:05:18 Ian Holmes, 1997
  • F : 1:18:29 Victoria Wilkinson, 2016
  • MV40 : 1:07:48 Dave Neill, 1997
  • FV40 : 1:23:42 Sharon Taylor, 2020
  • MV50 : 1:14:50 Ian Holmes, 2016
  • FV50 : 1:33:40 Wendy Dodds, 2005
  • MV60 : 1:25:43 Dave Spedding, 2007
  • FV60 : 1:42:03 Wendy Dodds, 2013
  • MV70 : 1:50:27 B Fielding, 1999
  • FV70 : 2:30:59 Lesley Malarkey, 2020
  • DHM : 8:20 Nicholas Barber, 2014
  • DHF : 9:41 Lindsey Brindle, 2015
Black Combe


  • Snow and ice are quite possible and the terrain is rough in places. 
  • Beware of the crags due east of the first summit. The direct line to checkpoint three is not a good route.
  • There’s not much of the fodder rack left at checkpoint 4, but there should be a marshal there and you do have to dib. Don’t cut that corner.
  • The descent to the stream junction checkpoint is entertainingly loose and lumpy.
  • The south summit cairn, though huge, is invisible until you are very close to it. In clag it’s always further away than you think.
  • Storms come in off the sea here with very little warning. Full waterproof body cover is always required and very often worn.
  • Never assume that someone in a Black Combe vest is going the right way.
  • The race will not be cancelled for conditions on the fell unless it becomes impossible to marshal, so be ready for ice and snow. The only likely grounds for cancellation are if snow blocks the road to Silecroft, which has happened once or twice. In that case we’ll post a notice here and on facebook, and entries will roll over to next year.


There are cutoffs at two checkpoints: 60 minutes at the top of the Combe (cp 2) and 100 minutes at the stream junction (cp 5), from where you can take the low path or get a lift back to Silecroft. The cutoffs are to protect the marshals (and you) in case of bad weather.

Other Information

  • The race happens just before lambing time and there are going to be pregnant sheep on the fell. That means no dogs in the race, and please try not to spook the sheep.
  • Prizes for new records, and for fastest final ascent and descent, 1st counter for the Bob Grieve trophies, awarded to the fastest man and woman (combined time) across Black Combe, Caw, Dunnerdale and Kirkby Moor.


The first and last quarter miles beneath the gate are flagged over private land so please don’t recce that bit. You can park at Whicham Church and go up the side road to the fell gate. Anyone seen climbing a wall or fence will be disqualified.