Great Borne

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Great Borne
Great Borne from Ennerdale.jpg
Great Borne seen from near the western end of Ennerdale Water.
Range: Lake District Western Fells
Summit: 2,021 feet NY124163
54°32’4"N, 3°21’25"W

Great Borne is a fell in Cumberland, within the Lake District with a height of 2,021 feet. It is a rather secluded hill situated at the western end of the long ridge which divides the Ennerdale and Buttermere valleys.


The name Great Borne only really applies to the fells summit area and most local folk actually refer to the fell as Herdus. However Bill Birkett in his Complete Lakeland Fells gives Great Borne and Herdus the status of separate fells, with Herdus’ summit standing 500 yards west of Great Borne with an altitude 1,844 feet. The meaning of 'Great Borne' may indicate "Great Boundary" as in the 13th century the fell denoted the edge of the Loweswater forest; an alternative meaning has been put forward as "Great Stream" from the word 'burn' (or the original Old English 'burna').

Landscape and geology

Bowness Knott from Crag Fell

Great Borne's southern slopes are of some interest, they fall away precipitously towards Ennerdale Water with steep crags and scree which are composed of pink granophyre rock which give these slopes a reddish tinge. Approximately halfway between Great Borne and the part of the fell labelled Herdus on the 1:50,000 O.S. map is the boundary between the Skiddaw Group and the Ennerdale Granophyre intrusion.[1]

Bowness Knott is an outlying, lower summit at (1,093 feet) to the south, it is composed of Skiddaw Slate, it gives good views of Ennerdale Water and is an easy climb from the car park which lies at its foot. Historians have also found evidence of an old (possibly mediæval) field system on the lower southern slopes of Great Borne below the crags and scree. The northern flanks of the fell descend to the Floutern Pass, a pedestrian route between Ennerdale and Buttermere. To the east Great Borne is connected to the neighbouring fell of Starling Dodd by a ridge, while the western slopes descend quickly to the low ground of the west Cumberland plain.


Great Borne is customarily climbed from the Ennerdale side of the fell, with the car park beneath Bowness Knott being the usual starting point. The route follows Rake Beck for a short distance and skirts the Herdus crags on the eastern side to gain the summit. An ascent using the Floutern Pass is not recommended as the top of the pass is very boggy and the route rather circuitous. The route described in the Wainwright series of guidebooks is currently challenged by a nearby farmer Mr Ireland who has a strong antipathy to walkers and the National Park.


The summit of the fell has two separate tops divided by a shallow valley, the south top is slightly higher and is marked by an Ordnance Survey trig point and a considerable wind shelter while the northern top has a large cairn which is visible for miles around and gives extensive views of the Loweswater Fells. This large cairn is thought to be the boundary marker from which the fell takes its name.


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Great Borne)


  1. The Geology of the Whitehaven and Workington district. T. Eastwood et al. pub. HMSO. 1931. page 49.