Huge Cumbria boulder gets a new ladder so tourists can climb over it again

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A popular Victorian-era tourist attraction is back up and running.

People can once again climb over the giant Bowder Stone in Keswick, Cumbria, after the National Trust installed a new nine-metre metal ladder.
The site became a famous stop off for thrill-seekers when a wooden ladder was first installed by landowner Joseph Pocklington in 1798. National Trust curator Harvey Wilkinson said: ‘This is about restoring the excitement of a visit to one of the strangest and at one time the most famous Lake District attraction.

‘The Bowder Stone is a powerful reminder of change in the landscape, viewed through the eyes of the painters, poets and writers who portrayed it. ‘The once visible landmark is now very much a hidden treasure, part of the evolving story of this landscape.’

The Bowder Stone

The boulder is thought to have fallen from the crags above after the last ice age, coming to rest at its current awkward angle. The site was so popular at one point it was painted by renowned artist John Atkinson Grimshaw between 1863 and 1868. The boulder is now surrounded by woodland.

National Trust visitor experience and engagement manager Jessie Binns added: ‘When the Victorians stood on the top of the stone they would have been able to clearly see the high and central fells. ‘However, today’s visitor will instead find themselves surrounded by tree tops, mostly birch and oak. And depending on the time of the year they may also see and hear woodpeckers, tawny owls and large dragonflies like the spectacular golden-ringed dragonfly hunting for insects in the tree canopy.’

The National Trust bought the Bowder Stone in 1910, as part of the purchase of 310 acres of Grange Fell and Borrowdale Birches. The organisation replaced a wooden ladder that was installed in the 1980s. The Bowder Stone is approximately nine metres high and 15 metres wide and is estimated to weigh 1,253 tonnes.

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