Ward's Stone and Grit Fell Trail runningWalking

Shockingly many people have no awareness of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Induct yourself into the cognoscenti with this wild tour of the area’s highest height and its next-door neighbour Grit Fell, a worthy contender for England’s Most Northern Sounding Hill. These are wild moors with huge expanses of heather. You’ll likely be reminded of the Dark Peak, but these hills are quieter and the gritstone outcrops have a pleasing cleanliness, retaining a pale sparkle, unlike the carboniferous blacks and mossy greens that characterise much Pennine gritstone. Crossing open country in Bowland is tough going but, whatever you think of the game-shooting industry, it has bequeathed some fine Land Rover tracks for easy mile-munching. As well as their own merits, these hills have excellent views across to the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Lakeland and North Wales if you’re lucky. In theory, it is possible to see Corndon Hill in Shropshire from Ward’s Stone, at a range of 164 kilometres, or just over a hundred miles. I haven’t managed yet, but live in hope.

Summit rocks on Ward's Stone  © Norman Hadley
Summit rocks on Ward's Stone
Fetching Map

Detailed description

SD5682755361 At the start of the no-through road to the hamlet of Tarnbrook, there's a little pull-in on the right. This has been instituted to keep traffic off this little access road. Head off up the road, which is almost always quiet. As you reach the hamlet, go through the gate on your left to take the good Land Rover track heading up the fell.

SD5879555675 Pass the luncheon hut (intended for the use of shooting parties) and swing left to contour the southern flank of the fell.
Bowland: the long and winding road that leads to your moor  © Norman Hadley
Bowland: the long and winding road that leads to your moor
© Norman Hadley, Nov 2020

SD5836357856 Take the easily-missed hard right turn up the slope. This track quickly loses identity but you just carry on up the shallow gully to the skyline. Unless in exceptionally thick mist, you'll quickly see a weather station. Pass this and head for the attractive summit rocks.
Autumn Colours in Bowland  © Norman Hadley
Autumn Colours in Bowland
© Norman Hadley, Nov 2020

SD5860658533 When I say "summit", you now face a test of your seriousness as a peak-bagger. If gaining another metre of altitude is important to you, make a quick out-and-back (not shown on the map) east-north-east to point 561. However, be warned that this eastern summit has none of the visual appeal of the western top. From the western top, drop westward on peaty, rocky terrain to a broad watershed. This stretch can be damp underfoot in places.

SD5648258827 Cross the Land Rover track and make a quick westward out-and-back to the summit of Grit Fell for views into Lakeland. Once back on the track, head south, which will take you unerringly back to the road.
Sundown over Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland fells  © Norman Hadley
Sundown over Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland fells
© Norman Hadley, May 2020

SD5636755500 Turn left on tarmac and follow quiet country roads back to the start.

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