Derwent Water and Cat Bells.

Start. Keswick (Crosthwaite Road car park) .

Route. Keswick (Crosthwaite Road car park) - High Hill - Cumbria Way - Portinscale Bridge - Portinscale - Nichol End - Fawe Park - Silver Hill - The Park - Skelgill Bank - Cat Bells - Hause Gate - Manesty - Ellers Beck - Great Bay - B5289 - Lodore Hotel - Screes Copppice - Lowcrag Wood - Kettlewell - Barrow Bay - Ashness Gate - Calfclose Bay - Broom Hill Point - Stable Hill - Strandshag Bay - Friar's Crag - Lake Road - Keswick (Station Road) - Fitz Park - Crosthwaite Road car park,

Notes. At a mere 1,481ft Cat Bells is a proper little mountain, with a couple of hands on scrambles, a number of false summits and a rocky dome of a top gifting the lucky hill walker with fabulous views. In contrast island studded Derwent Water is a gem, a diamond in a mountain setting, once known as Keswick Lake, apart from one of the launches plying their trade on the lake the most popular way to enjoy it is to wander around it’s shore path. This was my plan until I stepped into The Park, the Skelgill Bank ascent of Cat Bells rose above the tree tops just begging to be climbed.

Today was forecast hot, the temperature was already rising when I stepped from the car in Crosthwaite Road car park, the hills looked to be breathing, shimmering in the morning heat, this was going to be a hot one. I left the car park, walked down Crosthwaite Road to access High Hill the main road into Keswick. A few yards further on the River Greta passes under the road, next to the bridge the Cumbria Way footpath runs down the side of some houses, this I followed.

A fenced path ushered me through fields depositing me at Portinscale Suspension Bridge, this carried me over the River Derwent into the village itself, I swung left at the first road junction then continued walking. My route passed the white washed buildings of Derwent Marina, on reaching Nichol End Marina I turned down the access road (track), this in turn guided me to a well walked footpath that carries the happy rambler right round the lake. For me it was to guide me to Hawes End and a finger-post announcing the start of the Cat Bells path.

The climbing started immediately, first along the edge of a dry stone wall beneath mature trees, then onto the well used path that ascends Skelgill Bank the northern ridge of Cat Bells. This is no walk in the park despite what old Wainwright wrote about it, "It is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together”, he must have had his rose coloured spectacles on that day, because easy doesn't come into it. After a hands on scramble to the ridge traversing Skelgill Bank I stopped for a breather, the next section looks daunting, another hands on ascent, but what awaits you is Cat Bells rocky aerie and staggering views over Derwent Water and Borrowdale and, lets be honest the final pull to the summit is a lot easier than it looks. Once on the summit I sat around chatting to other walkers, just soaking in the views and enjoying the ambiance, but most of all the cool mountain breeze, it had been a hot climb.

Refreshed and cooled I descended to Hause Gate the coll between Cat Bells and Maiden Moor, from where I descended, a good path guided me to Manesty, a scattering of converted farm buildings and typical grey slate roofed Lakeland cottages nestled on the valley floor under the steep slopes of Maiden Moor. The narrow valley road guided me passed the housing depositing me at a finger-post promising passage to Lodore, this path another popular route guided me through scrub, above the boggy ground guarding the head of Derwent Water then onto the main valley road.

This road gets busy, I wandered passed the Lodore Hotel well aware of how busy this road was and how close some of the traffic came. The road walk was short depositing me at a path cutting through mature woodland, this path a delight to walk safely guided me to Kettlewell (not marked on the map), I crossed the road to join a path running along the lake shore. Superb lake shore rambling from here on, round Barrow Bay and Calf Close Bay, through mature woodland on Broom Hill Point, passed the National Trust owned Stable Hill and on the Strandshag Bay. This well maintained but busy foot-path guided me every step of the way, I avoided Friar’s Crag, the point was packed with day trippers, the path continued passed the landing stages, boat houses and Theatre by the Lake leading me into the town of Keswick.

view route map.


From field paths between Keswick and Portinscale views to the Skelgill Bank ascent of Cat Bells.

Portinscale Suspension Bridge over the River Derwent.

Mature woodland on Stub Hill.

This was the eureka moment, Skelgill Bank and Cat Bells seen from The Park.

Mature trees and a dry stone wall guide me to the path ascending Skelgill Bank.

Heading up Skelgill Bank with views back to the Skiddaw massif.

Lit by the morning sun Newlands, with Rowling End and Causey Pike across the valley with Barrow to the right.

The summit of Skelgill Bank looking to the dramatic ridges of Hindsacrth and Robinson.

From Skelgill Bank views to the wonderful pyramidal hills of the north-western fells

Over Skelgill Bank the rocky aerie of Cat Bells.

On the summit of Cat Bells with an amazing view over Skelgill Bank to mighty Skiddaw.

Spectacular views over the ridges of Maiden Moor, Hindscarth and Robinson.

Viewing Bassenthwaite Lake from Cat Bells, just out of interest the low mound on the far horizon is Binsey the most northern of the Lakeland Fells.

Fabulous views from the summit of Cat Bells, island studied Derwent Water backed by Skiddaw and Blencathra with Clough Head to the right above shadowed Walla Crag.

On lower ground near Manesty viewing sylvan King's How.

The Jaws of Borrowdale.

Cat Bells as seen over Great Bay, Derwent Water.

Dropping in to Derwent Water the wooded slopes and cliffs of Walla Crag.

A wonderful mix of landscape confectionery, the Sylvan shores of Derwent Water and King's How, little Castle Crag and the steep slopes of Maiden Moor.

Cat Bells across Derwent Water.

Looking back along the shore line of Barrow Bay.

Causey Pike as seen from Strandshag Bay.

Skiddaw and Little Man seen over the tree tops in Fitz Park.

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