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.
Anyway, before you read this guide, feel free to watch our Forest of Bowland walking video (coming soon).
We hope you find this guide helpful. For information about other great walking routes in the Forest of Bowland, read our guides about Parlick Fell and Fair Snape Fell, Longridge Fell and Beacon Fell. Otherwise, read our big Forest of Bowland Walking Guide and Lancashire Walking Guide.
Table of Contents
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Dales – Pen-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.
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.
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.
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.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for good prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy.
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.
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.
- Pendle Hill Walk: by far, this is the most popular and famous walk in the Forest of Bowland.
- Pendle Hill Sculpture Trail: you’ll do this short sculpture trail with Pendle Hill looming large in the distance.
- Trough of Bowland Walk: experience the Trough of Bowland by doing this circular walk, starting from Dunsop Bridge.
- Stocks Reservoir Walk: located near the charming Gisburn Forest, Stocks Reservoir is a gorgeous reservoir worth walking around.
- Bowland Knotts: a superb place we recommend visiting for sunrise.
- Clougha Pike Walk: one of our favourite walks in the Forest of Bowland with great coastal views.
- Parlick Fell Circular Walk: a great walk that visits both Parlick Fell and Fair Snape Fell.
- Beacon Fell Walk: a popular fell to visit in a fantastic country park.
- Longridge Fell: hike to the most southern fell in the UK!
These are our five hiking gear essentials for the Wolfhole Crag and Wards Stone Walk.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
- 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.
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