Gnome aiming for Wainwrights record

John Kelly may have run them fastest, but Gnigel the Gnome is aiming to be the smallest to complete all 214 Wainwright fells in the Lake District.

Gnigel is the mascot at Rydal Lodge Country House B&B near Ambleside whose owners, Helena and Mark Tendall, are keen walkers – and enthusiastic run-supporters.

John Kelly at Rydal on his epic Wainwrights run

They were inspired after seeing Kelly, the 37 year old American, on his record-breaking run last week, when he stopped for food in the car park of the pub opposite their guest house.

Gnigel has already been off on adventures with visitors who stay at the Rydal Lodge. But now Helena and Mark are asking their guests to take the gnome with them when they set off on Wainwright-bagging walks of their own.

Gnigel: gnome with big ambitions

Many walkers set themselves a lifetime challenge of summiting every peak in Alfred Wainwright’s seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Kelly, a data scientist and father of four from Tennessee in the US, completed them all in five days, 12 hours and 14 minutes.

“Our neighbour James Gibson had an attempt on the Wainwrights record a few weeks ago, and had an amazing run in spite of terrible weather,” said Helena. “We are so close to the action here, and saw John Kelly on a brief stop at the Badger Bar. What he achieved is just awesome.”

Gnigel the gnome: making plans with maps

Gnigel is well placed to start his own Wainwright-bagging. Rydal Lodge lies at the foot of the Fairfield Horseshoe (eight Wainwrights) and in the shadow of the small but beautiful favourite, Loughrigg Fell. The 320-mile (515km) challenge, which includes England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, involves a total ascent of 36,000m (118,000ft).

“Gnigel is ready and waiting for anyone who wants to take him along – and take a photo on the summits,” said Helena. “He’s not going to take up much room in a backpack, after all.”

Rydal Lodge: welcoming walkers
  • John Kelly smashed the record set last year by Sabrina Veerjee – who supported him in this attempt – by about 11 hours. He was also assisted by Nicky Spinks, a breast-cancer survivor, who has broken numerous fell running records, Steve Chilton whose own record was beaten by Paul Tierney three years ago, and Rydal’s James Gibson. Kelly had to abort his first attempt at the challenge last July after suffering with heat and foot problems.

To stay at Rydal Lodge please visit

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