Looking South over Bull Crag from the summit of Cat Bells
Looking South over Bull Crag from the summit of Cat Bells

Menu:

National Parks

| 2001 walks | 2002 walks | 2003 walks | 2004 walks |
| 2005 walks | 2006 walks | 2007 walks | 2008 walks |
| 2009 walks | 2010 walks | 2011 walks | 2012 walks |
| 2013 walks | 2014 walks | 2015 walks | 2016 walks |
| 2017 walks | 1993-2000 library | Find a Route |
| A few Routes to print out | Request a Route... |

Route No. 285 - Monday 16 March 2009
Cat Bells, Derwent Water circuit - 7km
English Lake District . . .

Ordnance Survey route map on the Landranger series map base.
View the route in Google Earth

Map: Ordnance Survey Explorer OL4 The English Lakes North-western area at 1:25000


Approaching the start of the path up Cat Bells
Approaching the start of the path up Cat Bells

The walk up Cat Bells is so popular that parking near the start of the walk is a real problem at week ends and in the school holidays. There are signs all over asking walkers to park their cars with consideration for other people. If you go at a busy time it's probably a good idea to park in one of the large car parks at Keswick and take the ferry along the lake to Derwent Bay and start the walk from there. The ferry is a very pleasant way to start and finish the walk anyway. (little tip from my brother-in-law).

We have spent the weekend in a holiday cottage in Dufton near Appleby with two of my wife's sisters and their husbands. Today, after an early lunch they left to drive back home to County Durham. My wife and I decided to drive to Keswick and do a circular walk over Cat Bells and back along the lake side. We drove to a road junction at map ref. NY246214 where there is room to park a few cars without obstructing the road.

The start of the path up Cat Bells
The start of the path up Cat Bells

Climbing up to the Cat Bells ridge
Climbing up to the Cat Bells ridge

We began the climb up the steep hill side onto the ridge with the views all round getting better and better.

From our parking spot we walked along the road to the start of the path at map ref. NY246211.

Looking up the valley to the Derwent Fells
Looking up the valley to the Derwent Fells

Looking back to Blencathra (Saddleback) on the right and Skidaw range to the left
Cloud just touching the tops of Blencathra (Saddleback) on the right and Skidaw range to the left

A plaque fixed into the rock on one of the shor rock scrambles near the top of Cat Bells
A plaque fixed into the rock near the top of Cat Bells

No longer is there the broad gently sloping path along the ridge. The path begins the last steep ascent up to the summit of Cat Bells.

We followed the broad path along the ridge for about a kilometer to map ref. NY244201. Here the character of the path changes.

Looking along the valley of Newlands Beck from the Cat Bells ridge
Looking along the valley of Newlands Beck from the Cat Bells ridge

Broad path along the Cat Bells ridge
Broad path along the Cat Bells ridge

Looking back along the Cat Bells ridge
Looking back along the Cat Bells ridge

Don't believe it! From the road to the top of Cat Bells is only about 1.5km but in that distance the route climbs about 350m. That's an average gradient of over 1 in 5 (20% in modern terms) with some much steeper sections and rocky scrambles.

In places the route becomes a scramble up the rocks to the flat rocky summit with an amazing 360 degree panorama of hills and lakes. Well worth the climb. There is a rumour around that this is an easy family stroll.

Pleased to be at the top of Cat Bells
Pleased to be at the top of Cat Bells

Looking over Bull Crag and the end of Derwent Water from the top of Cat Bells
Looking over Bull Crag and the end of Derwent Water from the top of Cat Bells

The col between Cat Bells and Bull Crag
The col between Cat Bells and Bull Crag

Here we turned left to follow a well paved but steep path down the hill side towards Derwent Water.

After just gazing at the views for a long time we continued over Cat Bells to the col beyond at map ref. NY244192.

Path down from the col to the lakeside
Path down from the col to the lakeside

Path down from the col to the lakeside
Path down from the col to the lakeside
Path down from the col to the lakeside
Path down from the col to the lakeside
Path down from the col to the lakeside
Path down from the col to the lakeside

Permissive path through National Trust woodland
Permissive path through National Trust woodland

It leads down to the road at map ref. NY251187. We walked down this path through the woods and at the road we turned left to walk along the road for about 200m to map ref. NY251189.

Near the bottom we followed a path to the left to cut down to the edge of some woodland owned by the National Trust. At map ref. NY248188 there is a permissive path through this woodland.

The lakeside at Brandelhow Bay
The lakeside at Brandelhow Bay

Landing stage  near Brandelhow Bay
Landing stage near Brandelhow Bay
Sculpture of open hands by the lakeside at Victoria Bay
Sculpture of open hands by the lakeside at Victoria Bay
Here we turned right off the road onto an access road through Manesty Park woods. After about 70m the path left the access road and we followed it through the woods to the Boat Houses at Brandelhow Bay. Here we joined the Cumbria Way and we followed it along the lake side for almost 2km to the road at map ref. NY248214. From there it was only about 250m along a lane back to the car. There had been some lovely views across the lake in the evening light. We got back to the car at about 5.30pm The walk had been 7km and it had taken us just over 3 hours including many stops to gaze at the scenery. The hardened fell walkers may regard this little fell as an easy family stroll but it was enough for me this afternoon.
Looking across Derwent Water from Otterbield Bay near the end of our walk
Looking across Derwent Water from Otterbield Bay near the end of our walk