Written on 29/06/19 by Paul Oldham

Stepping up to the Bowder Stone

We re-visited the Bowder Stone this week. For those who've never seen it the stone is a big rock. A really big rock.

It's actually a large andesite lava boulder, that fell 200m down into Borrowdale from the Bowder Crag on Kings How between 13,500 and 10,000 years ago. It is estimated to weigh around 2,000 tonnes and is about 9m high, 15m across, and 27m in circumference.

There is a staircase allowing visitors to climb to the top, and has been since at least 1890 when Joseph Pocklington purchased the site in 1798 and fenced it off, clearing away all the smaller rocks and erecting 'Bowderstone Cottage' to house a guide and building the ladder to allow visitors to easily reach the top and admire the outstanding views.

Here's an early photochrom print of it, taken between 1890 and 1900:

Bowder Stone, Lake District, England-LCCN2002696845.jpg
Photochrom Print Collection - Library of Congress, Public Domain

There's been a wooden ladder there ever since although the one that was there until recently, although similar to the original, is clearly a replacement, and probably not the first either in the last 120 years.

We've visited it several times, not least because it features in two of our walks A Short Walk to The Bowder Stone and Lodore Falls, Watendlath, Grange Fell, and the Bowder Stone circular, but it's a while since we'd been that way.

What prompted this visit is that we'd heard on the grapevine that the ladder had been taken down by The National Trust, who own it now. They wrote about this on their Bowder Stone page which currently features a photo by John Malley of it without the ladder.

But the new ladder is now in place, and a month early too as it was meant to be "opened" in July. The Trust worked on the new ladder with the World Heritage Site partnership and metalwork designer Chris Brammall, who has worked on Claife Viewing Station and here it is when we visited:

The Bowder Stone

It's good to see it's back and that people are once again able to enjoy the climb and view. Given that it's a metal ladder it should last a good long time too.

So if you're in Borrowdale then why not visit it? Our walk A Short Walk to The Bowder Stone gives directions. It's only a short walk, half a mile each way, and only 76m of ascent so not too taxing. And it's quite a thing to see.

Tagged: news, walks

You can comment on this post in our forum.

WalkLakes recognises that hill walking, or walking in the mountains, is an activity with a danger of personal injury or death.
Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions.