In September, (I thought) I spotted a good weather window to hike the Bob Graham Round as a 5-day challenge. I was wrong, the weather was rather temperamental. But I still did the challenge!
I walked the route solo as a multi-day trip, carrying my own camping gear and food for 5 days, it was a brilliant but extremely tough hike. And I had plenty of extra challenges on the way. Check out my ‘Bob Graham Round’ highlights on my Instagram @beckythetraveller for the full story – smiles + a few tears!
If you’re planning on hiking the Bob Graham Round or you want to know more about what it involves keep reading. You’ll find everything you need to know to about doing a self-supported challenge right here. Plus the GPX files for the route (see below).
Included in this post is the Bob Graham Round route map starting from Keswick. Also, how I broke down the route into five stages, hiking terrain and tips, where I wild camped each night and my full camping and hiking kit list.
I’ve also included loads of other useful information that you’ll need for the challenge. I’d recommend saving this post to your bookmarks or on Pinterest so you can refer back as your trip comes together.
Ask me any other questions in the comments about the hike below.
Bob Graham Round Walk
*Becky the Traveller participates in the Amazon Services Associates Programme, as well as other affiliate programmes. If you make a purchase through these, I earn from the qualifying links. This is at no extra cost to you. Read more here.
What is the Bob Graham Round?
Before I start talking about the route and my challenge, let me explain what the Bob Graham Round is!
The Bob Graham Round is a historic fell running route in the Lake District completed by fell runners with the added challenge to complete in under 24 hours. The official fell running route is 66 miles/106 km. And before you start thinking it doesn’t sound too far, it’s not the amount of mileage that’s tough it’s the 8,230 m/27,000 ft ascent over 42 peaks on the route that makes this such a difficult challenge.
The route is named after, you guessed it, Bob Graham! In 1932, Bob broke the record for completing this tough circuit from Keswick in less than 24 hours. And now fell runners take on the challenge and aim for the sub 24 hours goal.
Bob Graham Round Records
If you’re wondering what the fastest time to complete the loop is, it’s here!
On 19th June 1982, Billy Bland set the fastest time of 13:53 hours and 36 years later Kilian Jornet set a new time of 12:52 hours.
The women’s record stands with Beth Pascall who finished the Bob Graham Round this year in 14:34 hours after taking the record from Jasmin Paris who has held the record since 2016 of 15:23 hours.
Walking not running!
Since I’m not a fell runner, running the route was not an option for me but there was an appeal for hiking it solo and wild camping along the way.
When I initially looked at the map and route (including the terrifying ascent) I thought it looked too hard and parked the idea. Several months having restricted access to the outdoors, less training and cancelled trips I decided to give it a go! I wanted to make the most of these lovely autumnal days and go on an adventure.
Fortunately, I already had all the hiking, camping gear and freeze-dried meals that I’d bought in preparation for my Snowdonia challenge that I had planned to do in May (now happening in 2021).
The only thing I was lacking was the training, having only really done day hikes so not been out much with my big backpack.
But what did I have to lose? If it all went wrong I could just try again! As always, my hike, my rules and off I went!
How many summits are there?
For those of you that love stats and peak bagging, this is for you!
Out of the 42 peaks on the Bob Graham Round, there is a total of 39 Wainwrights (Alfred Wainwright’s favourite peaks) and 37 Nuttalls (peaks over 2,000 ft).
The highest peak on the walk is Scafell Pike at 978 m (Day 4) and the lowest is Calf Crag at 538 m (Day 3).
Out of the 42 summits, 6 were between a height of 500-700 metres, 26 were between 700-900 metres and the other 10 were all over 900 metres high!
Here’s the full list of all the summits and heights in order doing in a clockwise direction –
Skiddaw 932 m, Great Calva 691 m, Blencathra 869 m, Clough Head 727 m, Great Dodd 857 m, Watson’s Dodd 789 m, Stybarrow Dodd 845 m, Raise 882 m, White Side 864 m, Helvellyn Lower Man 925 m, Helvellyn 952 m, Nethermost Pike 892 m, Dollywagon Pike 858 m, Fairfield 873 m, Seat Sandal 737 m, Steel Fell 553 m, Calf Crag 538 m, Sergeant Man 737 m, High Raise 763 m, Thunacar Knott 718 m, Harrison Stickle 733 m, Pike O’Stickle 709 m, Rossett Pike 643 m, Bowfell 903 m, Esk Pike 886 m, Great End 911 m, Ill Crag 931 m, Broad Crag 935 m, Scafell Pike 978 m, Scafell 964 m, Yewbarrow 628 m, Red Pike 826 m, Steeple 820 m, Pillar 893 m, Kirk Fell 803 m, Great Gable 900 m, Green Gable 794 m, Brandreth 715 m, Grey Knotts 698 m, Dale Head 755 m, Hindscarth 728 m, Robinson 737 m
Save to Pinterest to read to later
Bob Graham Round Walk
(aka Becky versus Bob)
Here I will include the Bob Graham Round route I hiked, including a few changes I made to the fell running route both prior and during the route due to terrain and bad weather.
I’ve also included my full kit list for this long-distance challenge, including my camping gear, hiking equipment and food!
Planning the route
In terms of the route, that was already done for me, starting in Keswick the circular 66-mile route was already well established. But unlike those people that run the route, generally, with a support team, I was planning on hiking completely solo and unsupported which meant carrying everything I needed.
I decided to split the route up doing roughly 20-25 km per day with up to 2,000 metres of ascent and also finishing each day roughly around a possible wild camping spot. The only exception was day 4 when I planned ended up at over 2,000 metres and a longer day, I ended up changing my plans on the hike.
Hiking Bob Graham Round in 5 days
When I planned the route I had hoped to camp higher on the fells to reduce the descent/ascent to the wild camp spots. But the week I picked the winds were incredibly strong every day (30-40 mph) so to ensure a better night’s sleep I opted for more sheltered spots, which also meant more mileage and ascent.
Day 1 – Keswick to Scales Tarn (near Blencathra) – 22 km
Day 2 – Scales Tarn to Grisedale Tarn (near Dollywagon Pike/Fairfield)
Day 3 – Grisedale Tarn to Angle Tarn (near Bowfell)
Day 4 – Angle Tarn to Scoat Tarn (near Red Pike)*
Day 5 – Scoat Tarn to Keswick
*Note – my original plan was to hike further this day but I ran out of daylight hours and came up with a Plan B on the hike.
Bob Graham Round Map (My version)
Below is a copy of the route map, including a few small amendments I made due to hiking instead of running the route. These were mainly due to descending to find wild camp spots and also, I made a couple of small tweaks on very technical sections that I felt were better doing slightly longer routes.
Sign up here to get a copy of both the original and my amended GPX file and also GPX files for the individual sections. The GPX file doesn’t include the extra Wainwrights that I did but does include detailed to where I finished each day and approximate wild camping spots.
5-Day Hike Itinerary
Day 1 Hike
Start: Keswick 8.45 am
Distance: 22/25 km*
Ascent: 2,000 m**
Hiking time: 7 h 54 m
Fells: 2 Bob Graham peaks (+ 3 extra Wainwrights*)
- *Latrigg 367 m
- *Lonsdale Fell 715 m
- Skiddaw 932 m
- *Bakestall 673 m
- Great Calva 691 m
*Note I added in 3 extra Wainwright summits on day 1. I also did a slightly longer route over Great Calva to avoid the river crossing as there had been a lot of rain and I wasn’t comfortable doing. Plus, I also accidentally went the wrong way at Skiddaw House by not paying attention to the route I’d plotted. It’s 22 km without extra Wainwrights.
**I’m also unsure of the ascent on this day when I plotted it was due to be around 2,000 metres, but my watch recorded it at 2,890 m. I’m unsure if this is an error or this is what I actually did that day?
Day 1 walk notes + tips
Out of all the stages I made the most tweaks to the day 1 route due to adding in a couple of extra Wainwrights and going a different route to Great Calva (details below).
Stone shelters – Skiddaw
I started heading out of Keswick, up to Latrigg (an extra Wainwright), then picking up the main path to Skiddaw, I did a short divert up to Lonscale Fell, before continuing to Skiddaw summit. The weather was pretty bad, strong winds and lots of rain but it’s a good easy path to follow, even in bad weather to the top, albeit a couple of false summits!
From Skiddaw, I walked (got blown) down via the path taking a different route from original Bob Graham towards Bakestall, another extra Wainwright but it was a fairly good path all the way down to the Cumbria Way, a wider track. I continued all the way until I veered off to Great Calva, as an out and back, leaving my backpack in some heather!
It’s a boggy route up to Great Calva and a rough path to follow, but no navigation issues, just keep going up! (Again, this route differs as the Bob Graham route descends the other side and not and out and back.) Once back down to the Cumbria Way, I enjoyed the luxury path to Skiddaw Hostel (currently closed), then heading across to the base of Mungrisedale Common. It’s a steep ascent to the plateau, then it’s a very boggy and wet hike across the top.
Then instead of doing the final ascent to Blencathra, I descending to Scales Tarn as this was my camp for night one.
Day 2 Hike
Distance: 23 km
Ascent: 1,928 m
Hiking time: 7 h 40 m
Fells: 11 Bob Graham peaks
- Blencathra 869 m
- Clough Head 727 m
- Great Dodd 857 m
- Watson’s Dodd 789 m
- Stybarrow Dodd 845 m
- Raise 882 m
- White Side 864 m
- Helvellyn Lower Man 925 m
- Helvellyn 952 m
- Nethermost Pike 892 m
- Dollywagon Pike 858 m
Day 2 walk notes + tips
This day follows exactly the same Bob Graham route, except the more gradual descent from Dollywagon Pike which I took to find a wild camp spot.
Stone shelters – Clough Head, Great Dodd + Helvellyn
The day begins with the hike up to Blencathra summit via the path next to the tarn. I found the next section challenging with my backpack as I descended Blencathra via Hall’s Fell Ridge, the path appears and disappears, but intermingled with short scramble sections.
Once you’re down it’s across the A66 road then back up the other side to Clough Head, it’s not technical, just a steep uphill section. But once you’re at the top you can start ticking the summits off as they come thick and fast! Most of them are off the main path so easy to spot. The weather was bad, I managed to miss the turning for Watson’s Dodd, only by a 150 metres so cut across to the summit.
Dollywagon Pike was a little tougher terrain and I opted to follow the path to the end (ok I went wrong haha) and leave my backpack and pop up to the summit.
Then I took the more gradual path down (instead of the steep descent on original route), stone steps all the way to Grisedale Tarn, where I was camping on night two!
Day 3 Hike
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 1,860 m
Hiking time: 7 h 56 m
Fells: 10 Bob Graham peaks
- Fairfield 873 m
- Seat Sandal 737 m
- Steel Fell 553 m
- Calf Crag 538 m
- Sergeant Man 737 m
- High Raise 763 m
- Thunacar Knott 718 m
- Harrison Stickle 733 m
- Pike O’Stickle 709 m
- Rossett Pike 643 m
Day 3 walk notes + tips
Again, I followed the exact Bob Graham route and just added a short descent to Angle Tarn where I wild camped.
Stone shelters – Fairfield + High Raise
A lovely start to the day, alongside the tarn and up to Fairfield, minus my backpack and today I had views so even more special! Back down from the summit, then up to Seat Sandal, a short scramble at the start but then you’re at the top. The descent is steep but the path winds down the hill so it’s a good descent.
Now it’s back across the A66, over a stile and up the very steep Steel Knotts, this was a proper calf killer! At the top, this section is wet and boggy all the way to Calf Crag and beyond, then you descend and ascend up to Sergeant Man and across to High Raise.
From here, it’s then on to the Langdale pikes, another three summits in quick succession, including a short scramble to Pike O’Stickle summit, where you can leave your backpack at the bottom!
The last part of the day you then have a boggy section to navigate down to where the pass intersects the Cumbria Way then it’s back up again to Rossett Pike and finally a short descent to Angle Tarn, wild camp number three!
Day 4 Hike
Distance: 22 km
Ascent: 2,067 m
Hiking time: 9 h 7 m
Fells: 9 Bob Graham peaks (+ 1 extra Wainwright*)
- Bowfell 903 m
- Esk Pike 886 m
- *Allen Crags
- Great End 911 m
- Ill Crag 931 m
- Broad Crag 935 m
- Scafell Pike 978 m
- Scafell 964 m
- Yewbarrow 628 m
- Red Pike 826 m
Day 4 walk notes + tips
Day 4 I followed most of the official Bob Graham route, I added a small extra section near Great End, choosing to stay on the main path before doing an out and back. And again there was an extra section to my wild camp spot.
Stone shelters – Scafell
Another start to the day with an uphill, gradual at first from the tarn then a steep section to the top and up to Bowfell. You can leave your backpack before the final rocky ascent to give yourself a short breather. Then it’s along the path, with a slight downhill then back up to Esk Pike. I did a short out and back to Allen Crags.
Great End is the next summit, I opted to take the path and leave my backpack again for an out and back section, why not treat yourself! Now Scafell Pike is in sight (on a clear day). You have two rocky summits to do first to Ill Crag and Broad Crag, with a short to scramble to the top of each one. I left my backpack for Ill Crag but it was easier to take it up Broad Crag and descend towards the path on the opposite side.
Now on to Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England and down the other side. It is a steep descent before you take a brilliant scramble up to Foxes Tarn (my favourite one of the hike). At the tarn, you continue up to the top, you can leave your bag near Symonds Knott and pop to Scafell before descending.
Take the gradual path down until you reach a steep descent down to Lingmell Gill, if I did the hike again, I wouldn’t do this. The descent was steep, slippy and tough with a backpack. Oh, and you had to cross the river at the bottom and get wet feet haha! Instead, I’d continue on the more gradual path down, which was only slightly longer but I probably would have walked quicker.
Into Wasdale valley and next up to Yewbarrow, this was another killer climb and tough after a long day. Then along and down another short but tough scramble section, before ascending to Red Pike and shortly after descended via a path that I couldn’t see (it was dark) to Scoat Tarn, wild camp number four!
Day 5 Hike
Distance: 32 km
Ascent: 2,047 m
Hiking time: 9 h 30 m
Fells: 7 Bob Graham peaks (+ 1 extra Wainwright*)
- Steeple 820 m
- *Scoat Fell 842 m
- Pillar 893 m
- Kirk Fell 803 m
- Great Gable 900 m
- Green Gable 794 m
- Brandreth 715 m
- Grey Knotts 698 m
The final three that I chose to leave and take the low-level route back to Keswick. (Would have added an extra 2/3 km to the day + another 500+ metres ascent). And another 3+ hours hiking to finish around 10 pm.
I totally made the right decision!
- Dale Head 755 m
- Hindscarth 728 m
- Robinson 737 m
Day 5 walk notes + tips
Day 5 I made a few changes to my route including the route up Great Gable (due to bad weather) and also the final section into Keswick.
Stone shelter – Pillar, Kirk Fell, Green Gable + Robinson
My initial plan for this day was to start further along the route, nearer Kirk Fell. However, day four took longer than I thought, mainly because it was good weather and I was enjoying the views! It meant a 6.30 am start, hiking up to Steeple, battling seriously strong winds on this exposed section and tough terrain as there were sections of rocks to hike across, more challenging on a windy day!
Next up and down Pillar then up a steep path on Kirk Fell, which was sheltered from the wind until I hit the top plateau and was almost pushed over several times. This is when I started considering an alternative for Great Gable, I began the hike up but the winds were insanely strong and I took the decision to walk the lower path around the base and up to Windy Gap.
From here, I was more sheltered from the winds so I left my backpack at the bottom and did the hike/scramble up to Great Gable. Then along to Green Gable, Brandreth and Grey Knotts, which should have been relatively easy but again those winds got stronger.
The path went down to Honister Pass, where you have the first luxury on the entire walk (a cafe at Honister Slate Mine). After considering options, I took a lower path back to Keswick from here. The route over Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson is not technical, but it was too risky in the 40-50 mph winds when I was already soaked to the skin.
Bob Graham Round Hike Kit List
I hiked the Bob Graham Round walk in early September so I planned my kit based on the weather conditions and temperature for the time of year. However, much of the gear would be very similar to what I’d take if I was hiking it again between spring and autumn, maybe tweaking my sleeping set up to reflect the temperatures.
I opted for my 65-litre Osprey Ariel backpack for this trip, which I’ve used on a long-distance hike before and find the hip support brilliant. It was a bit large for this trip, I could have managed with 50-55 litres but that would have meant buying a new backpack!
I don’t use a pack cover but instead, I keep my gear organised in various sized dry bags (from 3 to 20 litres) and have a big pack liner for everything to go in. I use these ultralight Osprey dry sacks and have had no issues with wet gear, thumbs up!
- MSR Hubba NX one-person tent
I’ve done loads of wild camps in this tent, it’s lightweight (1.3 kg), pitches quickly and also has a comfort factor as I can sit up in it! You can read my detailed review of it here.
Since I was going to be camping up high I also swapped some of the lightweight stakes which proved a good idea considering the wind I had! I had a mix of lightweight and then four of these MSR Groundhog stakes which worked brilliantly.
- Sleeping mat – Thermarest X-Therm – 450 g
- Sleeping quilt/blanket – Thermarest Corus Quilt – 560 g
- Silk sleeping bag liner – Lifeventure – 124 g
- Pillow – Thermarest Air Head – 145 g
I have three sleeping mats for different seasons (Uber-Lite, X-Lite and X-Therm) ranging from 250 – 450 grams. I opted to take the warmer Thermarest sleeping mat and pair with my 2-season quilt for extra warmth, as you often lose more heat from the ground.
I’ve been using a quilt a short time but absolutely love it, I have a more relaxed sleep as I’m not restricted in a sleeping bag. The Thermarest Corus comes in two temperature options – mine has a comfort rating of 5 degrees and a limit of 0 degrees (2/3-season).
The sleeping bag liner, I’ve had 10+ years, (similar to this one) is as an extra layer and the pillow is my luxury item. Again, I’ve not had long but I sleep so much better now that I had a comfy pillow – totally worth the weight!
Top tip – remove items from their individual bags to save weight (and faff). Keep it all in one lightweight dry bag – saves 40-50 g!
Camping gear weight = 2.6 kg
- Cooking stove – MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe – 83 g
- Cooking pot + bowl – MSR one-person cooking set – 130 g
- Windshield – 135 g
- Titanium mug – 54 g
- Titanium Spork – 21 g
- Medium-sized gas – 385 g
- Swiss army knife – 119 g
- Lighter – 10 g
- Dishcloth (cut-up)
I’ve used this cooking set up for a while now, including my E2W Challenge last year. The MSR Pocket Rocket stove is super lightweight and combined with the windshield means you can use in windy places.
I opted to take a full medium size gas canister, but I came back having only used about half the gas so next time I could take a half-used canister to save weight. The canister I bought home weighed 285 g
Cooking gear weight = 0.9 kg
Hiking/tent clothes, waterproofs + footwear
- Hiking shoes – Salomon XA Pro 3D
I wore these on my long-distance hike last year, they are not waterproof as I knew my feet wouldn’t stay dry in waterproof shoes due to bog, river crossing and rain that comes into your shoes.
Hiking shoes are lightweight and if it’s dry weather they can dry out, whereas Goretex shoes/boots would take longer and retain the water inside once it got in causing feet issues/trench foot on multi-day hikes.
- Waterproof jacket – Salomon Outline 360
- Waterproof trousers – Berghaus Paclite trousers – 185 g
The hiking trousers did a great job, not only are they lightweight but they do keep you dry, apart from the last day when the rain was insane! They are expensive for waterproof trousers but it depends on how much you use them. Berghaus has a cheaper option – the Deluge which weighs 226 g and I’ve heard good reviews.
The waterproof jacket did a good job, the only thing that wasn’t great is the hood at times since I have a small head I struggle getting a good fit! The jacket I have is no longer available on the Salomon website but it seems to be on Amazon!
I had one set of hiking clothes and one set of bed/warm clothes. It did mean that in the morning I often had to put wet clothes back on but once you get over the initial shock they warm up on your body.
- Hoodie – Salomon Outspeed wool hoodie – 188 g
- Thin jacket – Salomon lightweight zipped jacket
- Synthetic jacket – North Face jacket
- Hiking shorts – Salomon Wayfarer
- Sports bra
- Underwear x 3
- Socks x 3 (trainer socks, waterproof socks + hiking socks)
- Gloves – Sealskinz
I’d planned to wear a t-shirt but swapped last minute to the lightweight hoodie, I loved it and the hood was perfect as an extra layer for my head (since my hat got soaked on day 1 and stayed wet and in my bag for the rest of the trip).
I opted for a synthetic jacket as part of my layering system because I was worried if I got soaked a down jacket wouldn’t work – I’ve had my North Face synthetic jacket for years (similar to this one) and it worked well as an extra layer (yes, it did get wet!)
As regards to the bottom half, my legs generally don’t get cold so I wore shorts and then waterproof trousers as a second layer if it was cold. The Salomon Wayfarer shorts have three pockets, although small but it worked for me!
My sock combo – I took three pairs of different socks. I wore the trainer socks on day 1 (they got soaked). Day 2, I switched to Bridgedale waterproof socks – they did remain waterproof for some time but when they get wet they kept my feet warmer so I ended up wearing these for the remaining 4 days. And my third pair of Bridgedale hiking socks I kept for sleeping in but also would be able to use if necessary.
I took a warmer hat, it got soaked on day one and never dried – bad decision!
The gloves I took were SealSkinz all-weather waterproof – again it was impossible for them to stay dry but I suffer from cold hands and even when the gloves were wet they still kept my hands dry. I’d 100% recommend you get some here, ready for your next trip if you suffer from cold hands too!
- Merino wool top – Helly Hansen
- Merino wool bottoms – Helly Hansen
- Down jacket – Salomon
- Socks (as per above)
Merino baselayers are brilliant, they both keep you warm and don’t smell, especially if you’re not showering for days! I have a few different ones that I wear for winter hiking and wild camping – you can read more about choosing a base layer here.
Other hiking gear
- Hiking poles
- Watch + cable
- Water bottle – Water-to-Go – 176 g
- Hydration pack + tube – Platypus
- Water filter – Platypus
- Toilet kit – trowel, wipes, tissues, bag for rubbish – 277 g
- First aid kit – 239 g
- Head torch + cable – 97 g
- Lake District paper maps (minus covers) x 3 (OL 4, OL 5 + OL 7) – 338 g
- Waterproof map case – SealLine medium
- Compass – 38 g
Items that I would have included if it was forecast better weather, but with rain and strong winds I opted to leave both of these items behind.
- Insect repellant
Hiking poles were definitely an essential item, they made a massive difference for hiking with my backpack, which I’ve used before on long-distance hikes.
For my water, I filled my 2-litre hydration pack each morning (filtered water) between 1-2 litres depending on what water sources I’d come across each day. I then used my Water-to-Go bottle to fill up at streams and drink when I stopped for quick rest breaks, meaning I didn’t have to carry lots of extra water.
If you’ve not wild camped before then read my tips on where to go to the toilet outdoors here – essential reading!
- Small tripod – 76 g
- Phone + cable
- Waterproof phone case – 43 g
- Power bank x 2 (Anker 359 g + smaller one 192 g)
- Toiletries – Toothbrush, toothpaste, hanky + lip balm
I made a decision that I wanted to take two power banks, extra weight but I use my phone as a camera so I wanted to ensure I had enough power to take as many photos as I wanted! The Anker power bank was brilliant (you can see from all the reviews), I charged my phone four times and watch three times and it still had plenty of power left at the end of the trip.
I also treated myself to an Aquapac case for my phone and it’s up there with the top gear items I own for hiking and camping now! I could use both with my gloves and when the screen was wet – a big thumbs up and would definitely recommend! Check prices from Cotswold Outdoor or Amazon UK.
Food for the hike
Below is the list of food I packed for the hike and I’d eaten almost everything by the time I’d got back to Keswick. I removed a few things from this photo before the final hike.
- Porridge sachet x 8 (2 for each breakfast)
- Peppermint tea bags x 8 (1 for each evening + spare for extras!)
- Coffee sachets x 5
- Freeze-dried meals (large) x 4
- Bagels x 5 (2 with fillings!)
- Sandwich paste (for bagels)
- Apples x 2 (luxury)
- Crisps x 5 (luxury)
- Snack bars/energy bars/chocolate bars x 15 – (Clif bars x 3, Soreen x 5, Snickers x 3, Naked bars x 2, Crunchy bars x 2)
- Clif energy bloks x 3 packets
- Kendal mint cake x 3 small packets
- Dark chocolate x 5 mini size from Aldi
- Trail mix x 5 (own mix include dried fruit, nuts, sweets)
Since I took a bigger backpack I had room in my top pocket for crisps and apples in a separate dry bag so they wouldn’t get squashed. The apples got munched on day 1 and 2, delicious, I wish I’d taken more. And the crisps were lightweight but I really enjoyed them.
I feel I had a good mix of different food, which was good because day 1 I had an awful stomach ache so only fancied certain things. The trail mixes, Clif blocs and Kendal mint cake were brilliant for hiking on the go, especially when the weather was awful!
Bob Graham Round Useful Information
I used a combination of maps with a compass and also OS online maps. I have this Silva Expedition 360 compass which is the top of the range one.
Since the route covers such a large distance you need a total of three OS Explorer maps to cover the route. I opted for the paper maps with a waterproof map case but you could get the active maps which are waterproof but bigger/heavier.
Get your maps here, to help plan your hike, direct from Ordnance Survey, you can select between standard or active versions. You also get the code for the online maps too.
Alternatively, if you don’t have any of the maps this deal on all four Lake District maps is pretty good and means you have the full set including OL7 map for more adventures!
These are the maps you need for each day.
- Day 1 – OL4 + OL5
- Day 2 – OL5
- Day 3 – OL5 + OL6
- Day 4 – OL6
- Day 5 – OL6 + OL4
Each night I studied the route for the next day and folded the map to show as much of the route for the day, or in particular the areas I thought I might struggle with. I kept in my waterproof map case and put in the side pocket of my backpack. I use this medium size SealLine map case, which you can view 3 rectangles of the map at a time, plus the other side if the route works.
Where did I wild camp on the challenge?
My initial plan for my hike was to keep on the route (ie wild camping high up) as much as possible, with a few back-up options for dropping down if the weather was bad. It turned out the weather was bad every night, and the one good night the weather worsened during the night so finding a sheltered spot was the best plan.
These are the four tarns that I wild camped at, roughly dropping down to between 550-600 metres at each spot, which was enough to drop down slightly out of the crazy winds!
- Scales Tarn 600 m
- Grisedale Tarn 550 m
- Angle Tarn 570 m
- Scoat Tarn 600 m
If you’ve never wild camped then you can read my detailed guide about wild camping here.
What was the phone signal like?
As you can imagine the phone signal was a hit and miss during the challenge. As regards to my wild camp spots, I surprisingly had signal at Scales Tarn but had nothing at Grisedale Tarn or Angle Tarn and Scoat Tarn it was there one minute and gone the next!
On the rest of the route, generally, up high, the phone signal was better. I remember there being zero signal coming down into Wasdale and at the start of Yewbarrow climb and also there was nothing when I dropped down to Honister Pass.
How much water did you carry + were there good water sources?
I had a 2-litre hydration pack with tube, a Platypus water filter system and my 750 ml Water-to-Go bottle. At the start of each day, I’d fill my hydration pack with 1-1.5 litres of water and keep the Water-to-Go bottle empty.
I sipped water throughout the day and when I stopped at water sources on the way I’d dip my Water-to-Go bottle and drink using the filtered system to get extra water, without using what I’d already filtered! Then either re-filling or emptying depending on how far by next water source was.
How many river crossings are on the route?
If you keep to the traditional Bob Graham Round route, you’ll go across two river crossings. I opted to detour on the first one (River Caldwell), at the base of Great Calva, due to heavy rain and opting to do an out and back ascent without my backpack. It felt like a good decision when I saw how deep the river was higher up the path.
The second one was at the base of Scafell, across Lingmell Gill as you rejoin the main path back down to Wasdale. The route down to here was steep and I think if I did again, I’d opt for a more gradual descent instead of the path I took (I’m not great at downhills).
As well as river crossings there are plenty of boggy sections so even if the weather is dry you can expect wet feet on the section from Great Calva to Blencathra, in particular Mugrisedale Common. Another boggy part of the route was the section between Steel Knotts and Calf Crag, pretty boggy there too!
How many sections are out and backs?
The reason I’ve included this because if you’re hiking with a heavy backpack hiking up and down without your backpack can really make a difference. You can even run up and down without it on… if you want hehe!
On the official Bob Graham Round fell running route there are very few out and back sections on the route. The biggest and most notable is the Fairfield out and back from Hause Gap near Grisedale Tarn. It’s up to Fairfield summit, back down then straight up to Seat Sandal. There’s a small out and back on Great End but I extended this on the walking route.
Bowfell, Scafell and Pike O’Stickle for the final 50 metres have rocky terrain it’s certainly worth leaving your backpack for a quick scramble to the summits and back. And similar with Steeple, except it is about 250 metres to the summit.
Additional bonus out and backs!
In addition to these out and back sections, I also did Great Calva on day 1 as an out and back, for two reasons, firstly, my friend advised it was a steep and tricky descent and secondly, there was a river crossing I wanted to avoid (since there had been a lot of rain!)
Day 2, there were no options for out and backs. Oh, unless you go wrong haha, I walked past the ascent for Dollywagon so ended up staying on the path and doing a short out and back.
Day 3, was Fairfield, I loved this ascent and happily said goodbye to my backpack for the climb and Pike O’Stickle (mentioned above).
Day 4, I extended the out and back to Great End, keeping on the path for longer and then popping off to the summit, about 500 m away. I could have also left my pack next to Symonds Knott, on route to Scafell, but I forgot haha.
Day 5, the winds were awful, my initial plan was to go up and over Great End, as per the official route. But strong south-westerly winds made the ascent feel too risky and I ended up walking around Great End to Windy Gap and leaving my backpack there for an out and back summit. I’d actually recommend this as an option to switch the route if you’re planning the challenge.
What is it like hiking + wild camping solo?
I’ve had lots of questions about hiking and wild camping solo, especially as a solo female. I honestly feel very safe when I’m hiking and camping alone but I will be writing a more detailed post to talk about some of the concerns and worries that I know many of you have.
Sign up to my newsletter below to receive a notification when it’s on the website!
A few tips for solo hiking and camping:
- Tell someone your route
- Check-in regularly with someone so at least one person knows your whereabouts – I had a small WhatsApp group with friends that knew my route and I’d update them on my progress, including when I was descending to my wild camp spot as I knew I might not have a signal
- Don’t take unnecessary risks – take care of yourself!
Let me know if you have any more questions about hiking the Bob Graham Round route in the comments below.