Derwent Water and Cat Bells.

Start. Keswick.

Route. Keswick - Portinscale - Nicholend - Fawepark - Silver Hill - Stub Hill - The Park - Skelgill Bank - Cat Bells - Hause Gate - Manesty - Ellers Beck - Great Bay - Lodore - Kettlewell - Barrow Bay - Ashness Gate - Calfclose Bay - Stable Hill - Strandshag Bay - Friar's Crag - Keswick.

Notes. Derwent Water and Cat Bells go together like strawberries and cream, fish and chips, bangers and mash, you know what I mean. Views across island studded Derwent Water are always dominated by Cat Bells rising sheer from the wooded western shore. A short sharp steep climb rewards the lucky walker with stunning views over mountain, valley and lake, but this walk doesn't just climb the hill itself, it comprises a wonderful lake shore ramble through some of the most delightful scenery the Lake District has to offer.

My day started at the Recreation Ground car parks, via Crosthwaite Road and High Hill I made my way to Greta Bridge, a welcome finger-post announced I'd reached the path to Portinscale. Through sheep pastures I wandered with stunning mountain scenery rising on all sides, an elegant suspension bridge conveyed me over the River Derwent into Portinscale village. Half a mile of road walking followed, south through the village passed Derwentwater Boat Club this winding ribbon of tarmac ushered me, through mixed woodland before reaching Nicholend, a well used path then ushered me through Fawepark passed Lingholm (where there's an excellent tea room), under the sylvan slopes of Silver Hill and Stub Hill, then into the open countryside of The Park. Directly in front of me rising above the forestry the pyramid like Skelgill Bank dominated the skyline, behind that Cat Balls lurked. Tiny brightly coloured dots could be seen ascending the steep slopes, I longed to be one of them, so on reaching the next finger-post I shunned the Derwent Water shore path and ascended Cat Bells.

To all you Wainwright aficionados out there your hero stretched the truth, he had his rose tinted spectacles on when he wrote the chapter on Cat Bells, it's not a climb for grandmothers and infants, it's a leg burning slog incorporating a couple of hands on scrambles, the rest of the chapter is all true, don't underestimate Cat Bells. I made my ascent passing many of the bright coloured dots I saw earlier, all misjudging the severity of the climb. No cairn adorns the summit, a small rock platform welcomed me, many small hollows filled with rain water mirrored the colour of the sky, a charming place to sit and drink in the pleasing views, a chance to look back on your achievement, I looked and all I could see was the long walk back. I descended south to Hause Gate then continued down hill a pitch path under foot, this man made trail eventually deposited me at Manesty, a scattering of farm buildings and holiday homes a stones throw from Grange.

I strolled down the tarmac lane, on reaching Ellers Beck a finger-post invited me to Lodore, I obliged, a good path then guided me across the valley, at the head of Derwent Water a board-walk path safely ushered me across marsh land, a splendid foot-bridge allowed a dry shod crossing of the River Derwent before depositing me on the main valley road near the Lodore Hotel. Alas the path to Lodore Falls was still closed forcing me and many other walkers to follow the road passed the majestic Lodore Hotel, once passed a woodland path ran parallel to the road, this hidden trod ejected me at Kettlewell where I was able to re-join the lake shore path.

Finally I was heading back to Keswick, via Barrow Bay to Ashness Gate, round Calfclose Bay before traversing Stable Hill to access Strandshag Bay, wonderful vistas over Derwent Water accompanying my every step, but the best was yet to come. Frier's Crag so eulogised by John Ruskin, this tree covered rock outcrop with staggering views was crowded as usual, I hung around to grab a few photos before being elbowed off my perch by over enthusiastic day trippers, all that remained, a short wander back through the over crowded streets of Keswick.

view route map.


En route to Portinscale looking to Cat Bells.

Wreathed in cloud. mighty Skiddaw.

In The Park, ahead is Skelgill Bank with Cat Bells looming behind, anyone for a leg burning climb?

Barrow across Newlands.

Skelgill Bank may only be a chip on the shoulder of Cat Bells but your effort is rewarded with stunning views.

Nailing the summit of Skelgill Bank, looking back to cloud capped Skiddaw.

Seen over the dark slopes of Causey Pike, Ard Crags.

Top of the bill. Cat Bells.

Looking to the ragged profile of Grange Fell across Borrowdale.

Little tree covered Swinside with Skiddaw under cloud.

Before the final leg burning climb, views across the many ridges reaching into the Newlands valley, from front to back, Knott End, Scope End with it's many mine workings and High Snab Bank leading to Robinson.

View taken along the Skelgill Bank ridge.

The summit Cat Bells.

Descending from Hause Gate looking to Walla Crag across Derwent Water.

Seen from Manesty, Castle Crag.

Manesty with Cat Bells rising behind.

Carrying a cap of cloud, Bleaberry Fell seen from the banks of Ellers Beck.

Great Bay, Derwent Water, the surface captures the spirit of the sky.

Falcon Crag backed by Walla Crag seen over Barrow Bay.

A rain washed Maiden Moor seen over Derwent Water.

On the shore at calfclose Bay viewing Maiden Moor and cat Bells.

The realy big mountains at the head of the valley may not be on show today, but you've got to admit the view from Friar's Crag is still stunning.

Ever popular Cat Bells as seen from Friar's Crag.

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