The Bowderstone in Borrowdale copyright Charlie Hedley

Miles Without Stiles 35: The Bowderstone

Miles Without Stiles

An undulating short, linear route (450m each way) with short steeper sections - OS Explorer Map OL4

Route for some. 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 but be aware that this descent is approximately a 1 in 5 gradient and opens out on to the road. Turn left and carefully go along the roadside for 40 metres until you get onto the surfaced roadside verge that 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 several sections of 1:8 up to 90m in length but the surface is generally 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.

The onward footpath is steep, rocky and does not meet our Miles Without Stiles accessible route standards.

Please note that the map below has not yet been updated for this 'for some' standard route (which is due to the steep slope from the car park at the start).



Start point:

National Trust pay and display car park

Postcode: CA12 5XA
Grid reference: NY 25333 16822
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 78 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.