Ethels in a Day – 10th June

We done it!

Totley AC made history in the blazing sunshine on Saturday, 10th June 2023 by summiting all the 95 tops (Ethels) in the Peak District.

Ethel Haythornwaite was a Sheffield woman who worked on conservation and access to the beautiful countryside that surrounds our city, Sheffield. In May 2021 the Countryside Charity designated 95 hill tops in the Peak District as Ethels.

Running clubs have a tradition of embarking on challengers to get more people involved in running, hiking and scrambling on the hills. Keswick Athletics Club became the first club to summit all the Wainwrights in the Lake District on one day. Carnethy Hill Running Club did a similar feat completing the Munro Round of the 282 mountains in Scotland in 2021.

The idea to complete The Peak District Ethel Round in 24 hours started as a chat at Woodbourn Road Athletics Track, Sheffield at our Wednesday night Speedwork session. Could we organise the Ethels in a day as a running club? was the question debated. That would be fun but organising Totley AC would be like herding cats. The idea blossomed into a clear vision then into a plan with intricate detail. But could we do it?

What we wanted to do was create a day that was inclusive and challenging. It had to be possible to get our children involved and encourage all our members to be part of the day. We also wanted to offer challenge that would make some of the best fell runners in the country raise an eyebrow.

Colin Osborne and Richard Bulmer, the unofficial Ethel co-ordinating partnership set about testing opinion of our members, perusing maps and interrogating the best map brains in Totley to design routes for all abilities.

The date was planned for mid-June to maximise the chances of sunshine and guarantee lots of daylight. Leading up to the event we promoted the event with club members to get over 80 volunteers to become Totley Ethellers, on the day we had over 100 people taking part.

We engaged Sheffield artist Tom Beaumont and club member to design an exclusive commemorative cloth badge. Tom Ward, from the Sheffield based Kitlocker, also a Totley runner agreed to produce these badges for free.

The day began at midnight when Colin and Richard, the organisers, were joined by men’s captain Charlie Baker to set the Ethel ball rolling. They reached the summit of Durham Edge in the dark at 12.30am on Saturday morning. The challenge had begun.

We wanted to give something back as part of the day and engaged with Edale Mountain Rescue to raise funds with the aim of buying two communication radios. They cost £462 each. Mountain Rescue are such a vital part of the lives of all of us who venture out into our beautiful countryside and are 100% reliant on donations.

We asked everyone who was doing an Ethel to send in a selfie to a WhatsApp group to prove completion. By midday we had 54 of the 95 completed. The pictures showed a baby in arms, children with smiles of achievement and runners completing rounds of up to 5 hills and over 20 miles on the fells. Our youngest Etheller was under 6 months and our oldest in their seventies.

By 4pm 94 of the Ethels had been completed and there was just Higger Tor on the outskirts of Sheffield to tick off. As a large group we headed off from the Totley Pavillion with cricketers playing on the field and the sound of willow on leather. The run from Totley to Higger Tor is 400 metres of climbing a steady 5 mile route. At just after 5pm Totley AC had completed the Ethel Round.

All that was now left to do now was fill the Totley Pavillion field with stories of the day, the smell of the obligatory BBQ and the taste of refreshing drinks.

Edale Mountain Rescue brought their landrover to say hello and thank us for our fundraising efforts. They were flocked by our excited younger Ethellers to sit in the drivers seat and imagine themselves rescuing a casualty in the Peak District.

We have so far raised just under £1700 for Edale Mountain Rescue.