Western Walks – Catbells and Derwentwater Lakeshore

Distance – Approx 3.5 miles/5.7 kms

Time – 3 hours approx plus stops

Difficulty – Moderate

Starting point – Hawes End Landing Stage

Ascent – 1,500 feet, 457 metres.

Catbells may be much maligned by the seasoned walker who prefers fell tops without the crowds but that is no reason to dismiss it as a walk.

On a weekend or a bank holiday, expect Catbells to be crowded and it’s best to attempt the summit early in the morning or out of season because it’s proximity to Keswick makes it very popular.  A short ride on the launch will place you of the foot of Catbells and this accessibility paves the way for floods of tourists.

But it’s also what makes this summit a wonderful and complete walk because Catbells rewards walkers of all ages and abilities with spectacular panoramic views.

Car parks are hard to find in Skelgill, so the best option is to leave the car in Keswick and jump on the launch.

Our walk begins from the jetty at Hawes End where we follow the path up to the road.  From the cattle grid, walk up the road 50 metres and it’s impossible to miss the path on your left as it zig-zags through the bracken.

The ascent of Catbells (spelt ‘Cat Bells’ on the OS map) makes an almost perfect short fell walk. The climb is an exciting and the views throughout are superb.  The climb starts immediately and while there are a couple of steep rocky sections where hands need to be taken out of pockets, these are easily surmounted and there are no dangers.

More of a clamber than a scramble, it’s well rewarded and with so much stretching out below it’s almost impossible to take the views in.  Keswick, Derwent Water and Borrowdale are on one side while the Newlands Valley stretches away on the other.  Catbells is surrounded by the Western Fells and some of the more famous names are Skiddaw, Blencathra and Causey Pike.

If you have the energy you can continue further on to Maiden Moor and complete the Newlands Horseshoe but our walk  drops down off Catbells to the shores of Derwent Water.

It’s an easy descent down the path which has been much improved in recent years. Reaching Hause Gate we leave the ridge path and continue to descend towards Manesty. Follow a track through Manesty Park and you’ll arrive at Myrtle Bay on the shore of Derwent Water.

Down on the lake shore there are so many options open to you it’s impossible to make a recommendation.  You can walk around the lake back to Keswick or head for any number of jetties and wait for the launch to pick you up.

The lakeshore walk is dramatically different from the earlier climb and if the summit was spectacular then the shore is magical.

Catbells and Derwent Water is a short walk but it packs a lot in.  With a boat ride, a summit and maybe a picnic down by the lake, it’s essentially the best of the Lake District in a bite sized walk.

This walk is suggested by Andrew Locking who is a keen local fell walker.  For more information on his walks visit www.andrewswalks.co.uk

 Photos by Andrew Locking


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