History of the Eccles Pike Fell Race
It is widely believed that this race is one of the oldest fell races in the country. Whilst this brief history is not the full story of this historic race some details are missing, for example, there is seemingly no definitive answer as to when it first was run, though we can trace its history back over 100 years.
The earliest documented evidence of a race to the top of Eccles pike is first mentioned to have taken place in 1910, though it is suggested that the race itself in some form pre-dates this, maybe even as far back as the 19th century. However we have not found any actual documented proof as such, so for the purpose of this history page we shall start from 1910. The race seems to have originally run up Eccles Pike from either Buxworth or Chinley on an annually alternating basis. A small decorated cup was at that time presented to the winner of the race.
The history becomes a little clearer in the 1920's when the race became part of a regular Summer Garden Fete held each June. Also around this time a silver cup was donated by local Chinley mill owner, a certain Major Welch. The first recipient of this cup was TP "Pat" Campbell, who was an International Steeplechase champion who ran for Salford Harriers. It was understood that this cup was only intended for "local" recipients. So there was a 3 mile limit as to who could have it. Therefore it was only awarded to the fastest local and not necessarily the winner of the race. Luckily, TP Campbell was a local guy living in Chapel-en-le-Frith and indeed managed to hold his title winning again in 1929 and 1930. The original race series ended in 1937, we are not quite sure at this time why this happened.
After a period of 32 years, in 1969, the race was revived when the Buxworth Church Social Committee reclaimed the trophy from the sideboard of a certain R Walton. The race was once again organised as an annual event held in June. There was no race in 1972 or 1973 when two few runners registered for the race. However in 1975 16 runners took part. The following year the race was won convincingly by no other than Ron Hill on the last occasion when the race started at Chinley. A decision was taken in 1977 by the committee that the race should always start from Buxworth and follow a fixed route up to the top of the pike and back. The number of participants then steadily increased from 42 in 1977 then 84 in 1979. During this period there was a separate Ladies and Junior race held on a shorter route on the samer day, now all athletes run together over tha same course.
From its beginnings the Eccles Pike race is believed to have set the format for how races are run right up to this day.
Goyt Valley Striders became the current custodians of the fell race in 1995 and have kept the ever popular mid week race in the local calendar ever since. The course has changed (last time in 2009) from earlier times but the route is still essentially the same basic format, of a race from the village of Buxworth to the top of Eccles Pike...and back. The winner is presented the same silver cup given by Major Welch in 1928. Remember the small original 1910 decorated cup, well, tradition has it that it is presented to the winner of the junior race. Currently the race is held around the second Wednesday evening in August.
If anybody has any other information regarding the history of this race. Indeed as you can see we still do have a few gaps to fill, including the date of the first race, so we would welcome anything anybody is willing to offer. Our aim is for this page to have the most comprehensive knowledge of the history of this old fell race. You can contact us via the links above, either to the secretary or webmaster. Thank you.
Watch this space:- we are still compiling information including a list of winners over the years.