Where can you shake hands under 2,000 tonnes of rock; abseil into a quarry, including wheelchair users; take time out for a picnic by the meandering river…all within 15 minutes walk of a car park?
The big rock gives it away - the Bowder Stone is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Lakes. This 400 million year old andesite erratic is more than ten metres high, 30 metres in circumference and balanced precariously on one edge. If you are brave enough it is just possible to crawl to the middle and shake hands with someone on the other side – a bit scary with 2,000 tonnes of rock above you. There is always the walk up the wooden steps to the top of the boulder which offers great views of Borrowdale valley and surrounding fells. Alternatively, there are plenty of benches scattered about so you can simply sit back and take in the splendour of this gigantic geological phenomenon.
On the short walk up to the Bowder Stone you might also catch sight of people abseiling into the old Quayfoot quarry. The Calvert Trust uses this site - it specialises in outdoor activities for people with disabilities (see details below).
There is also access to Quayfoot quarry which is closer to the car park. Quarrying ceased many years ago and the caves themselves are closed for safety reasons, but it is still possible to walk into the site. The path is firm and on level ground. Take a few minutes and wander into this industrial heritage - birch trees and other plants have started to colonise the area as nature begins the slow process of reclaiming its own.
The Bowder Stone is very popular. If you want a quieter walk, cross the road opposite the car park and follow the path through woodland for about 150 metres down to the River Derwent. This is mixed deciduous woodland with lots of bird life, there is plenty of light and a range of spring plants and flowers are now coming through.
Routes To the Bowder Stone: From The National Trust’s Quayfoot quarry car park (1) follow the track to the access path leading to the Bowder Stone (2). The path is of compacted gravel and in generally good condition. The first 150 metres are quite steep and some wheelchair users may need a hand up this section. Follow the path upwards and then to the left. At this point you will see an abseil platform off to the left (3) which is available for use by contacting the National Trust: From here the path bears right and continues through woodland rising gently for a further 200 metres to the Bowder Stone (4).
To the caves: Go through the gate next to the path at the start of the walk (2). From here carry on along the level path for about 150 metres to the Quayfoot quarry caves (just below (3) on the map). There is no access into the caves but there is a real sense of history here among this old abandoned slate quarry. Watch out for the occasional visitor dropping in from above, for this is the base of the abseil, described earlier.
Through the woods to the river: Cross the road at (2) and head through the woodland. The path is a little muddy in places but generally firm. It slopes a little descending to the banks of the River Derwent (5). This is a quiet, tranquil place looking out across to Holmcrag Wood on the western shores of the river.
Getting there The Borrowdale Rambler is a regular service operating between Keswick and Seatoller. Also from Easter to October there is the No. 77 and 77A (Honister Rambler) which also operates from Keswick. Call Traveline – 0870-608-2608 for further information. Cars take the B5289 about 9km from Keswick and less than 1km from Grange.
l National Trust. These routes are owned and maintained by the National Trust, a charity that cares for some 25 per cent of the Lake District National Park. You can get more information by calling 015394-35599 or 0870-4584000 or visiting www.national trust.org.uk.
l The Calvert Trust is a charity which provides adventurous activities in the countryside for people with disabilities. It operates centres in the Lake District, Kielder and Exmoor.
Tel: 017687-72255. Fax: 017687-71920. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Information...
Overview: To the Bowder Stone – the route is suitable for wheelchair access and is of compacted gravel Gradient: A little steep over first 150 metres then gentler inclines to the Bowder Stone.
Distance: Less than 1km in total Time: Allow 2 hours.
Map Ref: Outdoor Leisure 4: The English Lakes – North Western Area. GR also Landranger sheet No. 89, 90. Grid Reference GR 254164.
Starting Point: At car park (1).
Parking: There is a large National Trust car park (NT members free, other users £2.50 for 2hrs, £3.50 for 4hrs, £4.50 all day).
Refreshments and toilets in Grange village, about 700 metres north along the B5289.