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Bob Graham Round: 4 Wasdale to Honister

Lake District National Park

This is a fantastic circuit around the head of Wasdale on generally quiet fells, Great Gable being the obvious exception, with equally fantastic views both towards Lakeland and out across the Irish Sea.

Hiking Difficult

16 km
1.8 km
1.5 km
6-7 hrs
Low Point
65 m
High Point
894 m
Bob Graham Round: 4 Wasdale to Honister Map

The first two thirds of this route is part of the very first recorded long distance walk in the Lake District by the Reverend J.M.Elliot in 1864. This is considered the first step of the various long distance walks that eventually led to the Bob Graham Round. One December when training for the Bob Graham, four of us headed to Wasdale to recce this section. It was raining heavily as we set off and it's the only time I've started a run wearing full waterproofs. As we gained height on Yewbarrow the rain got colder and colder and at the summit wet snow lay on the ground. By the time we got to Red Pike it was dry firm snow. Getting out to Steeple was positively Alpine, or would have been if there had been anything to see rather than the white out we were experiencing. The only people we saw all day were three walkers on Pillar, there was no-one on Great Gable and by the time we got to Brandreth we'd had enough of being battered by the wind, hail and rain and cut back along Moses Trod. As we headed down to Wasdale via Gavel Neese someone piped up: "If I'd been on my own today, I wouldn't even have set off", "Neither would I" the other three of us replied. Sometimes you just have to put the effort in.


From the car park head out to the road, turn left, then go through a gate marked 'private' and exit the field by a stile in the fence next to where the beck flows down. There now follows a party political broadcast by the steep party! Just keep heading upwards, keeping to the right of the beck until the angle eases and you can head for the summit. Head along the ridge towards Stirrup Crag.

At the depression in the ridge there's a small cairn marking the start of a vague path leading down and left towards Dore Head. This avoids the rocky steps of Stirrup Crag so follow this then begin another long pull up to Red Pike the summit of which seems to sit on the edge of nothing. Skirt round Scoat Fell on grassy slopes to head out along the narrow ridge to Steeple.

From Steeple head back along the ridge and follow the edge northwards to a broad grassy area just before Black Crag. The easiest way here is to take a very vague trod on the Wasdale side which leads to Wind Gap. If you can't find it just go over the top. There's now a steep pull up to Pillar before a long descent to Black Sail Pass.

The climb up to Kirkfell is easiest if you follow the line of the old fence up the ridge though there is one tricky step at the top. Once on the plateau it's easy going until the rocky descent to Beck Head. The last big climb of this section is perhaps the roughest but once the summit of Great Gable is gained then it's (nearly) all downhill.

Head down to Windy Gap and make the short climb up to Green Gable. The ground now becomes much easier and more runnable and the climb to Brandreth is easy in comparison to what has gone before. Now follow the fence to Grey Knotts, the summit is on the rocky outcrop to the east of the fence. Rather than follow the fence down to Honister, bear left on to grass and descend easy ground until you can join a narrow ridge descending by a beck. This leads to the quarry track about 200m west of the YHA building at the top of the pass.

© Bob - UKHillwalking.com, Oct 2011



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

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