What is the Frog Graham Round? Your guide to the ultimate swim-run challenge

Pier leading into a lake at dusk
How about trying a Frog Graham Round? (Image credit: Getty)

If you like your mountains, the chances are you have heard of some of the more famous 'classic' rounds. For example, there’s the Ramsay Round in Scotland and there’s also the Bob Graham Round in England. Wales has its own iconic route, the Paddy Buckley Round. And, for swim-run fans, there's  the Frog Graham Round.

Mountains reflected in lake

The Frog Graham Round includes several lake swims  (Image credit: Getty)

Swimmers in lake

Open water swimming is a popular activity in the Lake District  (Image credit: Getty)

What is the Frog Graham Round?

The Frog Graham Round has its roots in the Bob Graham Round, and is described as the UK’s ultimate swim-run challenge. It combines fell running and open water swimming in one long event. 

The Frog Graham was the brainchild of Peter Hayes, who completed the first round self-supported in 2005. It takes place in the the north-western fells of the Lake District, England. 

In total, the route extends to more than 40 miles (almost 65km) of running, and includes some 15,750ft (4800m) of ascent, in the north-western fells of the Lake District.

The challenge also includes a swim across a number of waterways, including  Bassenthwaite Lake, Crummock Water, Buttermere Lake and Derwentwater.

The Frog Graham, like its namesake, the Bob Graham Round, starts and finishes at Moot Hall in Keswick.

The Frog Graham is described as a "formidable and very tough challenge that will appeal to endurance athletes looking for something a little out of the ordinary”.

Contenders who successfully complete the Frog Graham Round are invited to submit their application to join the FGR Club. To date, only 147 people have had a successful Frog Graham ratified.

Sheep in field

A Frog Graham Round combines swimming and running (Image credit: Getty)

The Frog Graham Round route

It’s up to you to choose your Frog Graham Round route, although the website does offer a guide. The only criteria is that SwimRunners should visit all the numbered summits, islands and other features, including the water entry/exit points.

HARVEY has produced a detailed and easy-to-read map of the Frog Graham Round

The Frog Graham Round is both a physical and navigational challenge. 

Lake District landscape in autumn

The Frog Graham focuses on the English lake District  (Image credit: Getty)

Rules of the Frog Graham Round 

A wet suit is advised because the lakes can be cold even in the summer, but you could choose to swim without if you are experienced in cold water. 

You can use swim safety aids, even if they help your buoyancy, such as  pull-buoys, inflatable dry-bags, but paddles or fins are not permissible. 

You can do the Frog Graham as a supported or self-supported challenge. It's up to you. The basis of the navigation should be by map and compass but it's also fine to use other devices such as a GPS watch with a barometric altimeter .

To report your completion of the Frog Graham Round, you'll need a valid GPS trace, preferably in .gpx format, to support your application. 

Lake District landscape with hills in the background

The Frog Graham is for experienced swimmers and fell runners (Image credit: Getty)

Who is the Frog Graham Round for?

If you are a keen hill runner and handy with a map and compass – and also a fan of open water swimming, the Frog Graham Round is a great goal. Alternatively, you might be a triathlete or a keen swimmer, who likes the idea of adding some hill running to the mix.

One successful Frog Graham Round completer is Elizabeth, who moved to Cumbria a couple of years ago.

“At first I laughed when a friend suggested I try swim-running, because the one sport I liked when I was into triathlon was cycling," she said. "The swimming and running were basically the horrible bits of triathlon, which I’m not very good at. But clearly the idea of a challenge stuck with me."

When Elizabeth moved to Cumbria, she started doing more fell running. She also met a group of people who were going to try to swim through the winter for the first time. 

She says: “These friends kept me sane during the dark winter lockdown months with icy early morning swims under Skiddaw and evening fell runs.”

The Frog Graham Round appealed because it felt like a  “proper challenge” and “one the showcases the most amazing bits of West Cumbria”.

In late July 2021, with the support of her partner and friends, she became the 113th person to officially complete a Frog Graham Round. 

She says: “There is no doubt about it, the round is a massive day out. And the lake swims aren’t to be taken lightly. 

“I have a lot of respect for the fells and the lakes. I feel really proud and surprised I’ve managed to do it at all and this was an amazing way to celebrate my new home in West Cumbria.” 

View across lake

You'll need clothing that will keep you warm in water and on the hills  (Image credit: Getty)

What kit do I need for a Frog Graham Round?

For the Frog Graham Round, you'll need some essential items, such as a mobile phone, a GPS watch to track the swim and run, food and hydration. 

For the swimming:

Swimming wetsuit

Neoprene gloves and socks (optional but many people benefit form the warmth)

Swim cap

Swimming goggles

Open water swim float

Kayak or paddleboard support from friends

For the running:

Map and compass 

Running clothes (appropriate to the weather)

Waterproof jacket and trousers (in pack)

Running pack / rucksack

Hill running or trail shoes

Hat and gloves 

Emergency bivvy bag.

Why not start with a Tadpole Round?

If the Frog Graham Round seems like too much of a challenge, you could try a Tadpole Round. This extends to just under seven miles with a total elevation of 795ft.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.