Borrowdale is surrounded by lots of grand peaks but perhaps the best loved is the little summit of Cat Bells – we call it a “proper little mountain”. Perched close to the western shore of Derwent Water and standing on its own at the end of a long
ridge, its friendly proﬁle instantly draws the eye.
Its small size doesn’t devalue its full-on mountain feel either, as the path includes short scrambles that will up your heart rate, and the views from its summit and ﬂanks are among the best in the Lake District. Countless generations have cut their fellwalking teeth on Cat Bells, if you’re looking for your ﬁrst mountain give it a try and see why it’s so beloved.
Cat Bells Circular Walk
Start/Finish: Hawes End Jetty
Distance: 6.6km (4.1 miles)
Time: 3 hours
Height Gain: 410 metres
Steep ridge, rocky steps, rocky and stony summit, rounded grassy ridge, broad col, packhorse track, woodland paths, minor road and lakeside paths.
Maps: OS Landranger 90, Exlorer OL4, Harvey’s Superwalker Lakeland Western (1:25 000), British Mountain Maps Lake
District (1:40 000)
The Hawes End Jetty marks the start of this walk – the best way to reach it is using the Keswick Launch as parking is VERY limited around Cat Bells. From the jetty, walk W up to the road, dog-legging R then L at metalled access track (follow ﬁngerpost for Catbells). At the road, turn L, following it SW from the hairpin bends.
At the apex of the road junction to Skellgill, join the pitched footpath (signposted Cat Bells Summit 1m). Follow it as it
bends E around the nose of the hill then climb the path S as it works its way on to the rounded ridge of Cat Bells. The path is
interspersed with a number of short scrambles, some of which may need the use of hands for balance. The crest leads directly to the summit of Cat Bells (after a few false summits!).
Descend S from the summit (one more short scramble) and follow the path to the col at Hause Gate. Turn L and follow the
bridleway as it swings SW descending to the road at Manesty. Turn L and follow the road N to the entrance of Manesty Park
(not the caravan park!)
Follow the track N through the trees and then join the path beside Derwent Water. Follow the path N along the lake side to
the jetty at Hawes End.
If you're planning a holiday to the northern Lakes then Borrowdale and Derwent Water are a must. With the historic market town of Keswick at it's head, Derwent Water offers all manner of water sports, while Borrowdale and the surrounding mountains and valleys harbour fantastic activities, trails and wildlife. Take a walk through our Best of Borrowdale, paddle down the River Derwent or cycle to the Lake District's last remaining metaliferous mine at Coledale.
Visit Keswick.org for places to stay.