The Bowderstone in Borrowdale copyright Charlie Hedley

Miles Without Stiles 35: The Bowderstone

Miles Without Stiles

An undulating short route with short steeper sections but suitable for wheelchair users - OS Explorer Map OL4

Route for all. 900m distance.


From the car-park there is a steep but short and well surfaced track that passes an old quarry, with some steep steps to reach the start of the walk - look out for groups practising abseiling. For a step-free alternative, follow the car-park access track back to the main road, turn left and careful go along the roadside for 40 metres until you get onto the surfaced roadside verge than then leads onto the start of the main path.

You are in the heart of the Jaws of Borrowdale, the narrowest part of the valley bounded by Grange Fell and Castle Crag and High Spy, on the other side of the River Derwent. The oak woodlands are beautiful all year round, but spectacular in spring with carpets of bluebells. Autumn brings its own glories when leaves turn red, yellow and orange.

The track undulates with short sections of 1:10 but the surface is consistently good. It leads to a small plateau and the impressive Bowderstone.

The 2,000-ton rock is about 30 feet high, 50 feet across and 90 feet in circumference. Resting in a state of delicate balance, it did not, like many people assume, topple down the mountainside. It was most likely carried here from Scotland by Ice Age glaciers. A popular Victorian attraction, the ladder to the top dates back to the 19th century.

Wheelchair and pushchair users should return to the car park as the onward footpath is steep and rocky.


Start point:

National Trust pay and display car park

Postcode: CA12 5XA
Grid reference: NY 253168
W3W: ///tilt.juggles.closet

Turning point:

Grid reference: NY 254164
W3W: ///swan.eliminate.order


None close to site but toilets and refreshments available in Keswick and Grange.

Getting there:

Bus: Stagecoach 79 operates a regular service along the B5289 with a bus stop right at the start of the walk. Car: B5289 Borrowdale Road to the car park, approximately 1 km beyond Grange.