- Catbells parking: Parking area near Hawes End
- Distance: 6km
- Catbells height: 451m
- OS Grid reference: NY246211
- Grade: Easy with some light scrambling
- Time: 2.5 – 3 hrs
- When to go: Early morning or midweek to avoid the crowds
The Catbells walk from Hawes End is renowned for being one of the most fulfilling, lower-level Lake District walks. Taking in mountain vistas and incredible views of the lakes, the Catbells walking route has been enthusiastically endorsed by the great British fell walker and author, Alfred Wainwright, who describes the walk as being:
“…One of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. Its popularity is well deserved: its shapely topknott attracts the eye offering a steep but obviously simple scramble.”
Perfect for complete beginners and younger children, the Catbells from Hawes End walk couldn’t be any more inviting for those looking for an introduction to fell walking in the Lake District.
We begin our Catbells Lake District walk near Hawes End where you will find a small, yet popular, car park. Catbells parking spaces can be few and far between which is why it’s advisable to get here early or to visit at quieter times during the week. You can also park in Keswick and hop on a boat to the beginning of the walk. Look out for the signpost that declares “Catbells 1 mile”. Head straight down this narrow gravel pathway to the north ridge. You will soon be greeted by an incredible view of Derwentwater and Skiddaw.
Once you’ve navigated the jagged path that heads straight up the ridge, you’ll see a memorial stone laid in honour of the British social reformer, Thomas Arthur Leonard. Leonard was heavily involved in the founding of the Ramblers’ Association, and the Youth Hostels Association.
The Catbells walk isn’t as hard as it seems
Continue higher, past the memorial stone, and savour the views of Newlands Horseshoe and the North-Western Fells. From here the route becomes a little steeper and a trickier scramble awaits. Although this section is much easier than it appears, you can avoid climbing over the overhanging rocks by taking the path to the right of the rocks. If you choose to go straight on, make use of any hand-holds and go slowly.
Reaching the Catbells summit
You will know the summit by the trig point, and it is here you will experience the breathtaking panoramic views from Catbells. Soak up the incredible vista of Derwentwater and the imposing Newland fells, Robinson and Hindscarth.
Finishing the Catbells Lakeland walk
Continue over the summit and descend the rocky path for 600m before reaching a junction of four paths. Take the left path that guides you down the hill before it edges right down towards a bridleway. Here, turn left and be guided towards the road. Continue along a slight ascent which will lead you to the base of the north ridge. Take a left once you meet the road again, and yet another left to reach the car park once more.