Route: Catbells

Area: North Western Lake District

Date of walk: 15th November 2018

Walkers: Andrew and Gilly

Distance: 5.6 miles

Ascent: 1,500 feet

Weather: Sunny with a cold wind on the tops

The ascent of Catbells (spelt ‘Cat Bells’ on the OS map) makes for an almost perfect short fell walk. The climb is an exciting one and the views throughout are superb. However these virtues, and its proximity to Keswick, bring with it a drawback – the fell is too popular for walkers who prefer to walk in relative peace and quiet. It’s therefore best to visit the fell early and/or out of season. With that in mind we were under starter’s orders by 9am, having parked in the small car park at the foot of the fell, near Hawse End.

The climb starts immediately and is a delight every step of the way. There are a couple of steep rocky sections where hands need to be taken out of pockets, the first being by the memorial tablet to Thomas Arthur Leonard, and the second being just below the top, but these are easily surmounted and there are no dangers. I’d describe it as a clamber rather than a scramble. Before long we were at the summit of Catbells enjoying the wonderful views over Derwent Water to the east and Newlands Valley to the west.

A bitingly cold wind meant that we didn’t linger long, and we set off down the easy descent path which has been much improved in recent years. On reaching Hause Gate we left the ridge path and continued to descend towards Manesty. We followed a track through Manesty Park and arrived at Myrtle Bay on the shore of Derwent Water. We’ve followed the lakeshore path many times before, although today the level of the lake was higher today than I’ve seen it. The path was flooded in places, and the landing stages for the Keswick Launch were partly underwater and inaccessible to the boats.

After passing by Otterbield Bay we left the shore of of the lake and walked past Hawse End Outdoor Centre, over the big toe of Catbells, and back to the start of a wonderful walk

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