Are you up for the ultimate challenge around the fells?

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Your weekend walk with Bob Clare of www.lancashirewalks.com

The churchyard of St Andrew’s, Stonethwaite is the last resting place of Bob Graham, 1889 – 1966 'holder of the Lake District climbing record 1932-1964 42 Peaks 32,000ft, 130 miles, 23hrs 39minutes. Amongst the fells he loved'. After all that you’d have to say he deserves his rest.

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Modern measurement has charted his 'round' somewhat differently and considerably shorter at 66 miles but when he set out on his mission to scale the highest fells of the Lake District in less than 24 hours Bob had little idea it would later be seen as one of the ultimate challenges for fellrunners.

In 1960 the challenge was taken up by a Lancashire man, Alan Heaton, who shaved over an hour off the record. Earlier this year Alan passed away at the age of 91. Little known outside the sport but to fellrunners he was one of its legendary figures. Since Alan’s feat in the 1960s the Bob Graham Round has attracted men and women from far and wide vying against the clock to become part of an exclusive club – The Bob Graham 24 Hour Club. As of the end of 2018 2,259 people had completed the round with Bob at number one, Alan Heaton at number two followed by some well-known names in the field of fellrunning – Josh Naylor at number five in 1971, Billy Bland at number 52 in 1976 (record holder from 1982 for 36 years with 13hrs 53m) and Helene Diamantides at number 448 in 1987. The current record holders are Kilian Jomet Burgada (number 2228) who ran the round in 12 hours 52 minutes for men, and Jasmin Paris (number 1980) 15 hours 24 minutes for women.

Their feats distract from the fact that running the round in any time is a remarkable achievement. In spring the Dotcoms were able to bathe in reflected glory when our Peter’s son in law Tom completed his round in 20 hours 36 minutes. He is now a member of a very exclusive club. The walk below visits the church where Bob Graham is buried.

Walk Facts

Start/finish: Seatoller bus terminal, Borrowdale CA12 5XN

Distance: 8 miles

Time: 4-5 hours

Grade: Moderate but with two strenuous ascents.

Maps: OS OL4 The English Lakes North Western area

Directions:

1. Turn left from the car park heading in the direction of Keswick. After ½ mile just after Burthwaite Bridge turn right onto a footpath crossing two pastures and skirting a campsite to arrive at the rear of a farm close to St Andrew’s church. Bob Graham’s resting place is behind the church slightly to the right of the path towards the rear. Having paid your respects return to the lane turn right and follow it past the primary school and into the village. As the lane bends to the right past a large barn turn left onto a bridleway that crosses Stonethwaite Beck and then turning right briefly joins the Cumbria Way. After 200 yards branch left onto a footpath that quickly climbs away from the valley bottom and beyond a stone stile enters trees. Now begins an ascent of almost 1,000ft up to Dock Tarn. After clearing the trees the way becomes less steep as a windy, rocky path charts its way between White Crag and High Crag and brings you to the shores of Dock Tarn. Keeping to its west bank the path soon commences its descent to Watendlath a little under a mile and a half to the north. After a kissing gate in a wall the route traverses rough moorland to arrive at the greener pastures surrounding this out of the way settlement.

2. There is a tearoom in Watendlath and should the weather be miserable the National Trust maintains a bothy where you can eat your butties. The next part of the route is a straightforward crossing to Rosthwaite. It involves backtracking the bridge that crosses the beck close to Watendlath Tarn and then keeping straight on the bridleway taking you alongside a plantation to Puddingstone Bank. Once over the watershed the broad track descends into Borrowdale passing the Hazel Bank Hotel and following its drive to the main road.

3. Turn left and almost immediately right into the village. After passing the community hall and the (excellent) Flock Inn Tearoom keep ahead between buildings onto a bridleway and incidentally back on the Cumbria Way. This leads to New Bridge. Cross and turn left. After a second bridge turn right on a footpath that follows briefly the lower section of Tongue Gill. As the wall on the left bends left follow it on a footpath leading across two fields to Johnny Wood. Cross a stile and turn right on a broad path that gently edges to the side of High Doat and above Scaleclose Coppice. The path dips to cross Scaleclose Gill and then in open pasture climbs alongside a wall to intercept a bridleway that links the road to Honister with Grange. Turn left. After ½ mile turn left on a path (not clearly) signposted for Seatoller.

- Walk devised out by Joe Brennand, Andy Walker and Jill Greenhalgh of the Norwest Fellwalking Club