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Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk: The Complete Guide

Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk: The Complete Guide

The Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk is among the most underrated walks in the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). By doing this walk, you’ll visit Wolfhole Crag, which is the third-highest summit in the Forest of Bowland. You’ll also explore Wards Stone (AKA Ward Stone), which is the highest point of the Forest of Bowland – even higher than Pendle Hill! On top of that, this walk literally takes place in the geographical centre of the UK. And, well, that’s impressive in its own right too!

In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything about the awesome Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk. Below, you’ll find details about the walk itself, some awesome photos and practical information such as how to get there and where to park.

About Wolfhole Crag

Wolfhole Crag is one of the most remote summits in the Forest of Bowland. For this reason, you won’t find many (if any) people during this walk to the crag. Perhaps, the tranquillity of a nearly guaranteed quiet trail, makes it all the more special and enjoyable.

At Wolfhole Crag, you’ll find a number of spectacular gritstone rock formations. Not only does the magnificent gritstone attract walkers, but it attracts climbers as well. In fact, the crag is known as being the most remote gritstone outcrop to climb in the whole of the UK. This is owing to the fact that the crag is located some distance from the road. For climbers, this provides one of the longest approaches of any British gritstone crag. But, for walkers, it’s simply a marvellous walking route to a brilliantly isolated location that’s away from the crowds. For more details about climbing this crag, head to our Bonus Tips.

Read our guides about Parlick Fell and Fair Snape Fell, Longridge Fell and Beacon Fell

Beck and Dan at Wolfhole Crag before walking to Wards Stone
Wolfhole Crag

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DJI Air 2S

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About Wards Stone

When it comes to the most centrally located walk in the UK, it’s not just about Wolfhole Crag! Personally, we think Wards Stone is an equally impressive place to visit. It also features wicked gritstone formations. Additionally, Wards Stone is the highest point in the Forest of Bowland. So, from Wards Stone, you can expect some of the best views in the entire area. Honestly speaking, when it comes to vantage points in the Forest of Bowland, the views from Wards Stone are genuinely hard to beat.

Dan and Beck at Wards Stone after walking from Wolfhole Crag
Wards Stone

Where Is Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone?

Both Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone are located in a fairly central area of the Forest of Bowland AONB, which falls near the centre of the UK. To help get your bearings, please click on this link to access an interactive map of the area on Google Maps.

Below, we’ll look at some trail specs and provide a link to a GPS-guided map for the Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk.

Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk: Route Information

  • Type: Out & Backs
  • Distance: 22.4km
  • Time: 5–7 hours
  • Accumulated elevation gain: 550m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trailhead: Lee
  • Map: Wikiloc

Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk: Route Description

There are many route variations for walking to Wolfhole Crag and/or Wards Stone. In the end, we went for a unique route option (one we haven’t seen described before). Below, we’ll talk about the Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk that Beck and I did.

Wolfhole Crag

By following this route, you’ll start from a small car park in the hamlet of Lee. You’ll then follow a quiet road, beside the quaint Tarnbrook Wyre. After 2km, you’ll reach the small hamlet of Tarnbrook (where parking isn’t allowed).

You’ll then follow the shooter’s tracks, starting at the eastern end of the hamlet, to begin your ascent of Wolfhole Crag. Along the way, you’ll pass the charming Tarnbrook Wyre Waterfalls. To approach the cascades, you’ll briefly wander away from the main trail.

Tarnbrook Wyre Waterfall
Tarnbrook Wyre Waterfalls

Once you’ve explored the waterfall, and re-joined the trail, you’ll soon cross a bridge. After another 1km of gradual ascent, you’ll reach the apex of the hill, where you’ll arrive at a gate and a fence. Without crossing the gate, you’ll turn right and begin following along the fence, finding the summit and trig point for Wolfhole Crag about 2km away. Along this somewhat trodden grassy trail, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of the Three Peaks in the Yorkshire DalesPen-y-ghent, Ingleborough and Whernside (guides coming soon).

At Wolfhole Crag, you’ll find two large buttresses of gritstone. Perhaps, the initial buttress has the most fascinating and larger of the boulders. But, you’ll need to continue to the second buttress, where the trig point is located, to reach the summit of the crag. At 527 metres above sea level and also being centrally placed in the Forest of Bowland, you’ll enjoy exquisite views of the entire area.

Dan at Wolfhole Crag

Wards Stone

From Wolfhole Crag, you’ll retrace your steps, heading in a westerly direction to return to the shooter’s track. Once you rejoin the shooter’s track, you’ll then continue to retrace your steps for another 1.7km. You’ll then turn left onto another shooter’s track, which heads in a westerly direction, cutting through the hillside. It’s actually during this part of the walk, that you’ll walk below Thorn Crag, which is yet another exceptional area of gritstone.

Dan walks by Thorn Crag
Walking by Thorn Crag

After walking by Thorn Crag, you’ll cross a bridge, which takes you over Tarnskye Clough. From the bridge, you’ll walk another 1km on the shooter’s track. Keep an eye out, to your right, for a somewhat trodden trail, leading up the hill in a northeast direction.

You’ll need to follow this trail (leave the well-defined shooter’s track) to get to Wards Stone – the highest hill in the Forest of Bowland. At 561 metres above sea level, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of northwest England. Not only will you have superb views of the immediate area, but also of the Yorkshire Dales, Lake District and Morecambe Bay.

After some lunch at the trig point, Beck and I retraced our steps and re-joined the shooter’s track. From there, we retraced our steps to the bridge and then turned right to eventually reach Tarnbrook. From Tarnbrook, you’ll once again walk by the charming Tarnbrook Wyre to complete the Wolfhole Crag and Wardstone Walk.

Beck and Dan at Wards Stone during the Wolfhole Crag Walk

Whitendale Hanging Stones and Other Route Options

As mentioned, there are many route variations involved with exploring Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone. One popular route alternative is the Wolfhole Crag and Whitendale Hanging Stones Walk. This walk doesn’t visit Wards Stone (although, this could be added), but, instead, it visits the Whitendale Hanging Stones.

The Whitendale Hanging Stones is another spectacular area of gritstone rocks. From Wolfhole Crag, it’s possible to see the Whitendale Hanging Stones. Although, it’s worth mentioning that there are no shooter’s tracks or trails to follow to reach the Whitendale Hanging Stones. Especially in winter, you’ll have to contend with very boggy terrain.

Another route alternative is a circular walk of the Wards Stone shooter’s tracks. You’ll find that this route only sticks to the shooter’s tracks, so it doesn’t actually reach the summit of Wards Stone. Of course, if you wanted, you could easily add on the short out and back walk to the Wards Stone summit.

Yet another trail option is the Clougha Pike, Grit Fell and Wards Stone Walk. Starting in Quernmore, you’ll summit Clougha Pike, Grit Fell and Wards Stone. Keep in mind, for much of this walk, you won’t be following a defined trail. So, prepare for boggy terrain, especially in winter.

How to Get There and Where to Park

The simplest and quickest way to get to the Forest of Bowland to do the Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk is to drive there yourself. In terms of parking, despite what we’ve read online, you’re not allowed to park in Tarnbrook (although, this would be most convenient for the walk). You’ll find a ‘No Parking beyond this point’ sign, located at a small car park, on the side of the road that leads to Tarnbrook. Basically, we parked at this small car park, for free, to complete the walk.

The sun shines brightly in the Forest of Bowland. A 'No Parking beyond this point' sign is attached to the stone wall on a road leading to Tarnbrook.
‘No parking beyond this point’ sign, next to the road leading to Tarnbrook

If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

To find out more about renting a car with Discover Cars, read our Discover Cars review and Discover Cars Insurance review.

It’s possible to get to this part of the Forest of Bowland using public transport. You can get a train or bus to Lancaster and then a bus to Abbeystead. From there, you’re looking at an approx. 2km walk to get to Lee to start the Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk described above. Feel free to check the train times and prices here. We recommend using Trainline and Google Maps to help plan your journey.

Despite public transport being an option, we recommend driving (if that’s possible) as it’s much less time-consuming.

Booking Trains


Trainline is one of the best online platforms for booking trains. By using Trainline, you can easily find the best available prices and times for your journey. We always use Trainline to book our train journeys in the UK and in Europe.

Other Nearby Walks in the Forest of Bowland

Other than the Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk, there are many other excellent walks to do in the area. Below is a list of the best walks in the Forest of Bowland.

Beck stands next to the trig point during the Longridge Fell Walk at sunrise
Sunrise at Longridge Fell

Hiking Essentials

These are some of our hiking gear essentials for the Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk.

Osprey Skarab 30
Osprey Skarab 30

The Osprey Skarab 30 is our go-to hiking backpack for day hikes. This well-designed unisex backpack is comfortable and spacious, so you’ll have plenty of space to pack everything without feeling the strain on your upper back.

Osprey Ultralight Raincover
Osprey Ultralight Raincover

A waterproof backpack cover is an absolute must when you’re adventuring outdoors. The Osprey Ultralight Raincover Medium is a high-quality waterproof cover that’ll keep your backpack bone dry.

GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle
GRAYL Reusable Water Bottle

The GRAYL GeoPress is the best water filter bottle that allows you to purify 710mL (12 ounces) of water. This bottle will make water safe to drink wherever you’re hiking.

BUFF Original Ecostretch
BUFF Original Ecostretch

The BUFF Original Ecostretch is a great option when it comes to multifunctional headwear. We use the Ecostretch as a neck gaiter to keep the sun off our necks and it helps us keep warm in cooler climates.

Sony Cybershot RX100 VII
Sony Cybershot RX100 VII

Capture epic photos and videos with the Sony Cybershot RX100 VII. This is hands-down the best compact camera. We love using this simple point-and-shoot camera when we’re hiking as it’s lightweight and durable.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite hiking gear, travel gear and camera gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Bonus Tips

  • Climbing instead of walking: indeed, many climbers have ventured to Wolfhole Crag to climb. You’ll find details about climbs at Wolfhole Crag, here. Just note that the information about parking, in this resource, is incorrect – as mentioned, you can’t park in Tarnbrook.
  • Visit Dunsop Bridge: after doing the walk, you should visit the nearby town of Dunsop Bridge, which has been declared the most geographically central town in the UK. For more information about Dunsop Bridge, read our Forest of Bowland Visitor’s Guide.
  • Forest of Bowland weather: we don’t recommend doing this walk in winter as you’ll experience very boggy terrain around both Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone. Check out the Met Office or BBC Weather for the latest information about the weather in the Forest of Bowland.
  • Explore Rivington Pike: although not located in the Forest of Bowland, Rivington Pike is a great place to walk and explore in the nearby West Pennine Moors.
  • See other national parks in the northwest of England: don’t just explore the Forest of Bowland. Make sure to also check out the Lake District (coming soon), Peak District and Yorkshire Dales national parks.

Read our big Forest of Bowland Walking Guide and Lancashire Walking Guide.

Daniel Piggott

Dan is a travel blogger, physiotherapist, hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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