The Bob Graham round – Leg 1
THE BOB GRAHAM ROUND: A Classic British 24-Hour running Challenge
The Bob Graham Round is a legendary 24-hour challenge that promises a thrilling adventure in the heart of the Lake District. As we embark on this journey, you’ll witness a captivating blend of contrasts, from the bustling trails of Skiddaw to the tranquil solitude of Great Calva, from pathless stretches to daring scrambles on Hall’s Fell. Join us as we traverse quintessential Lakeland landscapes, transitioning into a terrain that evokes the rugged beauty of the Pennines. This epic adventure is often undertaken under the veil of night, a true test of endurance where timing is crucial.
The Bob Graham Round stands as the quintessential British 24-hour challenge, drawing around 200 determined fell-runners each year. Approximately one in three attempts culminates in success, making it an enticing yet formidable feat. While the route can be tackled in either direction, the prevailing tradition favours a clockwise approach, marking this as the starting leg.
Don’t let its brevity fool you; this leg includes rugged, pathless terrain that becomes even more challenging after rainfall. Beyond the iconic summits of Skiddaw and Blencathra, you’ll discover one of the Lake District’s quietest realms. Be prepared to encounter a diverse range of fellow travellers, from casual day-trippers in inappropriate footwear to solitary hikers, seasoned runners, or sometimes no one at all. As you navigate this clockwise route, you’ll experience a gentle ascent, culminating at the dramatic summit of Blencathra, where breathtaking vistas await. The journey unfolds as you descend one of Lakeland’s most exhilarating ridges, ideally timed to catch the valley’s lengthening shadows and the sun’s final rays on the summits.
Later, as you savour a pint outside the Threlkeld pub, gaze upon the north slopes of Clough Head, the gateway to the next leg of your adventure, and be grateful that you’re not bound by the strict 24-hour time limit.
Other in this series
Leg 2: Threlkeld to Dunmail
Leg 3: Dunmail to Wasdale
Leg 4: Wasdale to Honister
Leg 5: Honister to Keswick
Distance: 12.28 miles (19.76 km)
Total ascent: 1,562m
Steepest Gradient: 30% (1 in 3)
Time: 3 – 5 hours (Trail running)
Great Calva 690
Start May be started at either Keswick or Threlkeld, NY266234;
Finish Threlkeld, NY324254
From Keswick to the summit of Skiddaw is on well-surfaced tracks. The back o’ Skiddaw was pathless but there is now a prominent path leading to Great Calva, however the ground between there and Mungrisedale Common is rough and heather covered. The descent from Blencathra via Hall’s Fell can be tricky in damp conditions in which case Doddick Fell is easier if slightly longer.
The section up Skiddaw is well maintained but the lines to and from Great Calva can get very boggy after rain. The river Caldew rises quickly and can be impassible in which case gain Mungrisedale Common by Skiddaw House. Hall’s Fell can be tricky and if under snow it may be better to descend via Doddick Fell.
Weather and Hill Conditions:
. There is a bus service (X4-5-50) between Threlkeld and Keswick.
. Wainwright: Northern Fells
. For more info on the Bob Graham Round
Bob Wightman – For scheduling and planning
Bob Graham round club For records, submitting attempts and details.
bob graham round route card - leg1
Section 1: Starting at Keswick’s Moot Hall
NY2662623486 Commence your journey at Keswick’s Moot Hall and make your way towards Fitz Park on the opposite bank of the Greta River. Exit the park from its northern corner, then follow the bridleway that ascends past Latrigg until you reach a car park. From here, follow the well-defined path to reach the summit of Skiddaw.
Section 2: Scaling Skiddaw and Beyond
NY2624329725 Continue straight from the summit of Skiddaw to GR263296, then veer right and cross the fence to access a path that merges with a network of quad-bike tracks. As these tracks begin to curve leftward, cut to the right onto a prominent path leading over Hare Crag to the Skiddaw House track, marked by a small bridge at GR283303. Follow the beck on the right-hand side for approximately one hundred meters before heading directly for the summit of Great Calva. Near the summit’s apex, the path veers rightward to access the southern ridge.
Section 3: Navigating the Challenge to Great Calva
NY2903831027 From the southern end of the summit plateau, maintain a bearing of MB-147, traversing increasingly tall heather to reach a bridleway/track. Alternatively, cover a couple of hundred meters of exceedingly rugged terrain to reach the River Caldew, located around GR296297, at a prominent bend in the river. On the opposite bank, roughly 200 meters from the river (not indicated on the OS map), you’ll find a sheepfold. If the river is in spate, proceed upstream until you encounter a fence crossing the river, and utilize this as you channel your inner Indiana Jones. Ascend Mungrisedale Common, aiming for the cairn noted on the map. Initially steep, the terrain gradually levels, providing a steady ascent. Precision in navigation is crucial to locating the cairn accurately. A path leading towards Blencathra emanates from the cairn but gradually fades as the terrain inclines. Exercise caution not to veer excessively to the right; your goal is the left extremity of the summit skyline (MB-117).
Just before the terrain steepens, you’ll come across another sheepfold to the left (also not marked on the OS map), and the path gradually dissipates. Approximately 200 meters past the fold, veer right, seeking the optimal route through the screes, and continue in the same line to reach the summit of Blencathra, crowning the summit of Hall’s Fell Ridge.
Section 4: The Descent from Blencathra
NY3233727782 At this juncture, two options lay before you: either descend Hall’s Fell, commencing just a few meters from the summit cairn. Be prepared for some exposed scrambling after a couple of hundred meters. Follow the path down the broader lower slopes before turning right toward the fell gate. Alternatively, head eastward until you encounter a cairn marking the top of the path descending Doddick Fell. Descend this path, then double back westward to reach the fell gate beneath Hall’s Fell. Descend through the farm, following the farm track down to the road leading to Threlkeld and the A66.”
Embarking on the Bob Graham Round is an exhilarating endeavour, but for those seeking expert guidance and coaching in their journey, consider exploring options like:
Online Running Coach. We can provide valuable insights and training plans to help you prepare for this iconic challenge.
Guided Mountain Running in the Lake District, seasoned guides can lead you through the stunning landscapes and ensure a safe and memorable adventure.