Cat Bells - A Proper Little Mountain

Duration:Half Day

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

Strenuousness: 2/5

Navigation: 2/5

Technicality: 3/5

Terrain: Steep ridge, rocky steps, rocky and stony summit, rounded grassy ridge, broad col, packhorse track, woodland paths, minor road and lakeside paths.

Maps: Maps: OS Landranger 90, Exlorer OL4, Harvey’s Superwalker Lakeland Western (1:25 000), British Mountain Maps Lake District (1:40 000)

  1. 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.

  2. 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!).

  3. 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!)

  4. 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.

Further Information

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 for places to stay.

By National Trust

How to get here

Hawes End Jetty, Derwent Water

Ordnance Survey OL4
The English Lakes
North Western area

NY 251 207

Get Directions

By bike: 2 miles south of National Cycle Network Route 71

By foot: This trail follows a part of the Cumbria Way footpath and is just off the Allerdale Ramble footpath

By bus: From Cockermouth and Keswick, X4, X5, X50 stops at Braithwaite (2 miles north of walk start). From Keswick, Honister Rambler 77 calls at Portinscale (2 miles north of walk start) during summer only

By boat: Catch the Keswick Launch from Keswick Lakeside to Hawes End Jetty

By car: We recommend you park at Keswick Lakeside car park and catch the launch to Hawes End Jetty. Limited roadside parking at Swinside. From A66 at Portinscale, follow road towards Swinside