A walk up Catbells – a favourite of many

A climb of Catbells, not being so high at 451 metres (1,480 ft), but blessed with incredible scenery, is something that has become a popular undertaking for many. Many thousands, from small children to the elderly have took the time to wander up the gentle ridge to the top. So many more thousands have seen it, as we have shown before across Derwentwater from Keswick, a grassy ridge leading up to the bump of a summit.

a view across derwentwater from Catbells

The route for most is the North Ridge, walking up the ‘bumps’ to the top. Within just a few minutes of getting on the path up though the views begin in earnest! Back over your left shoulder (above) you get your first big view across Derwentwater to Keswick, Blencathra standing tall behind.

Look back over your right shoulder and (below) Bassenthwaite Lake, (the only Lake called a Lake in the Lake District) appears.

view down to Bassenthwaite Lake

Even the sheep here have commanding views 🙂

A walk up Catbells – a favourite of many 1
sheep on catbells

Down to your left as you go up of course you have the ever expanding views of Derwentwater. But equally impressive are the views over to the right. Newlands Valley is a gorgeous green, even in January. Directly across it the unmistakable towering Causey Pike stands guard over western fells.

Causey Pike

Down there in the upper Newlands Valley (below) there is the small village by the name of Little Town. A young Beatrix Potter was greatly inspired by the area that a whole story grew out of it.

The Little Town of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle fame was indeed named after this real place. Lucie of the story was named after a daughter of the local vicar at Skelghyl, a friend she met on holiday here. And the hill that is the home of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in the book? Yes… Catbells.

Newlands Valley

Two of the ridge bumps down, two to go.

looking up Catbells

This is one of those walks that are a joy to do more than once, each season and weather type making it a whole different experience from view to colours. This time it was refreshing and changeable. Blue skies one way, dark clouds the other, dry then drizzle one minute and a fluttering of snow the next. An exhilarating day to be out and up.

Looking down and over to Borrowdale, behind the shadowed treelined top of Castle Crag the sun was breaking through to the valley floor whenever it could.

castle crag in distance

Last few steps, the final few bounds to see all…

near the top catbells

On the summit you have earned the right to stare at the glorious views. The wonderful giant of a panoramic for the senses that this small hill brings is one of the best of its kind.

Looking back down the ridge just ascended you get a lot of Cumbria and Lake District fame all rolled into one. Just in this one scene beyond the ridge you have – Bassenthwaite Lake, Skiddaw rising into a band of cloud, Derwentwater with Keswick at the Northern shore, plus Blencathra behind that!

view from the top
across derwentwater to Blencathra

Alas it was time to head down. Another great day had and never he last time up here.

catbells ridge


At the foot of the ridge, Hawes Head, there is literally a little inadequate car park for about 10 or so cars. This walk is way too popular for you to expect a parking space there. There is the odd one or two verges in the area that don’t have double yellow lines too. Whenever I go that way there are always cars parked lined up on the sides of the narrow roads where they shouldn’t as well. It always looks tempting but honestly, one – the local powers do tend to often make examples of illegal parking there, and two – you may think people can get past but I have seen that road blocked up many a time due to people just wanting to park as close as possible to the start.

Options. Go early (before 7 am) to get on that car park, or a tip is to try mid/late afternoon when some may have come down. Or you can even make a day of it and park in Keswick to get the launch across the water. But another tip is to start at Little Town I mentioned, gorgeous different route up the side and free, less frequented parking.

If you haven’t been yet or are looking for a stunning Lake District climb or walk that is fit for all ages.. Catbells!

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  1. Superb photogtraphy………Superb location……..Many thanks…..:)

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      Thank you so much Julie

  2. Avatar of Colette L. Coe Colette L. Coe says:

    Beautiful…where’s the book Mr. Steele or did I miss something?

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      Colette, hi.. the book? could be soon I think. Thanks

  3. Avatar of Petrea Canaan Petrea Canaan says:

    Paul Steele, olhar iluminado!!! Obrigado! 😀

  4. Avatar of Julie Brown Julie Brown says:

    Catbells has to be Heaven on Earth…..
    Where, please, are the pics’ of The Lodore Falls????

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      coming soon!! 🙂 already have some pics

  5. Avatar of Julie Brown Julie Brown says:

    Stunning and beautiful in every way…..Many thanks for posting xx

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      Thanks Julie 🙂

  6. Avatar of John McPartland John McPartland says:

    Lovely and nostalgic photos, Paul. My most memorable visit to the top of Catbells was when it was invaded by millions of flying ants. Not pleasant. Sixty seconds on the top and then a hasty retreat.

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      Hi John.. oh my yes a hasty retreat must have been in order.. great to hear you went many times 🙂

  7. Excellent “sheep photobomb”! Just kidding… 😉 Marvellous shots of an apparently magnificent spot. I especially like the one with the “light curtain” coming from the clouds. I sooo want to explore the Lake District at some point. So few days off and so much to discover here in Scotland already… *sigh*
    Paul, do you happen to know if wild camping is allowed in the Lake District!? Cheers, Oliver

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      Hi Oliver, You should pop down here sometime indeed… wild camping is ok ‘up high on the top’ without the pollution, fires etc.

  8. Avatar of Hank Martin Hank Martin says:

    Spectacular pictures and great information. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Oh Lake District is really nice! Been there ages ago . And your pics are nice, too!

    1. Avatar of Paul Steele Paul Steele says:

      Thanks very much Marc, you must come this way again

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