September 2022 was a different time. Atom Packs was half the size and based out of a small retail unit in the centre of Keswick. I was new in town. One sunny Friday, we took a break from making ultralight packs to cheer on Jack Kuenzle finishing the Bob Graham Round in record-breaking time. Wow, I thought, the whole flipping town is here—this is big.

Fast forward two years, and I've just completed the Bob Graham Round myself, solo thru-hiker style. If I could leave you with one memorable statement from this article, it would be this: Do not underestimate the Bob Graham Round—it's an absolute beast. By far the most challenging route I've tackled in my life.

For those unfamiliar, The Bob Graham Round is a prestigious 24-hour fell running challenge, covering 42 Lake District peaks, 66 miles, and an insane 26,900 ft (8,200 m) of elevation gain. I'm not capable of completing something like. These days my running is limited to a maximum of 6 miles on the gentle local fells of Walla Crag and Latrigg, neither of which are prominent enough to feature on the Bob Graham Round. What I can do, however, is hike.

So, it's set then. I'm walking the round over 3 days. Sure, I won't be joining the Bob Graham 24-Hour Club, which is the goal of most fell runners. But I will get a taste of this prestigious adventure—doing it the way I know best—thru-hiker style, solo, and carrying all my own camping gear and food.

Me trying to survive mid walk!

Day 1: Keswick – Grisedale Tarn (23.71 miles, 9,659 ft elevation gain)

My first day on trail was a dream. These are my local fells! There isn’t an inch of trail I haven’t walked before. I smashed through the miles, and before I knew it, I had covered Skiddaw, Blencathra, and Helvellyn all in one day—that’s insane!

I was meticulous about reaching the very highest point of every peak and taking a very boring selfie—it was cloudy and grey. Out there I felt raw and emotional; cut open like a watermelon. It was just me and the fells. Nowhere to hide from my feelings. 

I camped at Grisedale Tarn. It was epic. Laying in my sleeping bag I check out my stats for the day on Strava, 23 miles is a solid day out in the mountains. I wonder if 9,659ft elevation gain is the most I've ever climbed in a day. Probably. I enjoyed a pretty relaxed camp—unknowing of what the following days would bring. 

My Epic Camp @ Grisedale Tarn

Day 2: Grisedale Tarn – Yewbarrow (21.59 miles, 9,652 ft elevation gain)

Climbing up Fairfield first thing, I realised my legs were absolutely destroyed from the previous day. I could hardly walk, and progress was slow. The first instances of doubt crept into my mind—can I actually do this?

The further I got from home, the less familiar I was with these trails. The unknown worried me, but thankfully, the miles through the Langdales were super chill. I started making some progress. After messing around climbing to the very top of strangely named rocky fells like Pike of Stickle, I made another decision. I wasn’t bothered about tagging the actual peaks of these lesser fells. It felt like a box-ticking exercise. Getting close-ish was enough for me on my round. No more selfies.

Skirting around Bowfell, the path I was following disintegrated into a whisper, and before I knew it, I was scaling up some pretty gnarly scree. For the first time, I felt like a slip could be highly consequential. My feet now felt equally as bad as my legs—balance, yay! 

I cracked on, one foot in front of the other, and before I knew it, I had passed the highest point in England, Scafell Pike. Holy moly, I had been walking for 13 hours! I slide down to lords rake on my bum, not trusting my legs at this point. 

On the way down from Scafell, I started thinking about how easy it would be to quit at Wasdale. Imogen, my partner, would pick me up, likely with a caring hug and a hot drink. And best of all, that meant no more hiking tomorrow. A familiar shout of ‘Dexter, Dexter’ broke me out of my fantasy...

It was my friend Alex. He had last-minute agreed to support a complete stranger on a true 24-hour Bob Graham attempt. What a hero—both of them! That’s true grit. We spoke for a few minutes; I was grumpy. But it was enough to bring things into perspective for me—this isn’t supposed to be easy.

I climbed to the top of Yewbarrow. Future me thanked me when I didn’t need to do that in the morning—a truly horrible climb on fragile limbs.

Another epic camp looking back to the Scafell range

Day 3: Yewbarrow – Keswick (20.54 miles, 6,241 ft elevation gain)

I powered through the morning fells using last-day energy. The ups and downs were relentless but fairly short compared to the bigger climbs yesterday. I had zero visibility and zero cares—tonight I'll be in my own bed. I repetitively put one foot in front of the other while listening to Alex Cameron on Spotify offline mode.  He sounds like seedy Bruce Springsteen, in a good way. Distractions are truly welcome right now, especially when I have visibility of about 20m and no views to enjoy!

Typical peak view on my final morning.

The sketchiest moment of the whole trip for me was heading up Kirk Fell—a narrow and steep climb that felt loose and un-homely. I nearly lose my water bottles scrambling to the top at an unnatural angle for a walker.

A falafel wrap and black coffee at Honister Pass meant this was no longer an unsupported hike, but who cares—hot food brings me back to life. 

The sun came out, and I actually really enjoyed the final 10 miles. The Dale Head climb felt big, but also gentle. It was green and grassy. The central fells have the best views in the whole of the Lake District, and this afternoon I can see everything. From Robinson, I used my index finger to trace my route through the mountains, every peak and trough. For a moment I feel super proud and consider telling the other hikers who are dotted around what I've accomplished. In the end I settle on saying ‘I’m just heading back to Keswick—cracking day for it though!’

The sun finally came out - and I flipping loved the views!

My Final Thoughts

The Bob Graham Round takes you through the best scenery the Lakes has to offer, but it’s an absolutely insane physical challenge. If you aren’t up to pushing your limits, maybe section hiking it in 5 sections would be more fun. Even then I'd only recommend it to someone in good shape, with plenty of mountain experience. 

Written by

Dexter from Atom Packs 

If you have any interest in my gear, ultralight hiking, or The Bob Graham round feel free to reach out to me directly -