Catbells walk from Keswick

Catbells walk from KeswickCatbells is one of the great favourite walks, suitable for all the family. Its popularity is well deserved. Its distinctive peak attracts the eye, offering a steep but simple scramble to the summit, and its position overlooking Derwentwater is superb. Moreover for stronger walkers it is the first stage on a glorious ridge walk between Borrowdale and Newlands. Its ascent from Keswick can, in the holiday season, be combined with an enjoyable boat trip on the lake. As Wainwright wrote, ‘no Keswick holiday is consummated without a visit to Catbells.’ Boats depart from the jetty at Keswick hourly between March and November. Although the crossing to Hawse End takes just ten minutes, this is a magical time to take in the ever changing view and contemplate the climb ahead. Leaving the landing stage behind, there is a pleasant walk through the Derwent Bay woodland up to the Grange to Newlands road at Hawse End, where the climb begins. A first summit is reached, Skelgill Bank, where views open up over Derwentwater with the mighty bulk of Skiddaw behind. A ridge path heading south leads to the summit, an area of barren rock. Few will disagree with Wainwright that this is, ‘one of the very best of the shorter climbs, a truly lovely walk.’ The bell-shaped, domed summit offers panoramic views in all directions. The sight of the nearby fells of Hindsgarth and Robinson, as well as the slightly more distant Causey Pike captures the eye. However it is the panoramic view of Skiddaw, Derwentwater and Borrowdale that linger in the mind for a long time. Those returning directly to Keswick, either by the ferry or following the lakeside all the way back, should continue southwards on the ridge path to the depression of Hawse Gate. Here a path leads off the ridge towards, and then along, the track above the lakeside to Hawse End. For those wishing to continue at altitude, the ridge beyond Hawse Gate leads onto High Spy. From here there is the option to return via Borrowdale, or a longer walk into the Newlands Valley and Little Town.