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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 10 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Oliver Berry

For a first-time fell walk, this compact little hill on the western shore of Derwentwater is hard to beat. At just 451m, it’s half the height of the highest Lakeland fells, but it still makes for a brisk, bracing walk – and the views from the summit over Derwentwater and the Skiddaw range are really grand.

The trail is well-marked and easy to follow; the usual route up follows a loop from the fell’s northern end at Hawes End, and in total covers about 3.5 miles.

While you're there

Pair the walk with a lovely boat tour of the lake on the lovely, traditional Keswick Launch.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 3 hours

Getting there & doing it

The best way to reach Catbells is aboard the Keswick Launch, which will drop you off right next to the trailhead at Hawes End. From here, the trail ascends the northern flank of Catbells, heading up the summit before descending the south side and looping back onto the lake shore via High and Low Brandelhow back to Hawes End, where you can catch a return ferry home.

The total distance covered is between 3.5 and 4 miles depending on your precise route, with around 400m of ascent. Most walkers of moderate fitness will cover it in three hours or so, but it’s worth allowing a little longer to take in the views.

For an excellent post-walk lunch, try the Lingholm Kitchen, a delightful cafe surrounded by a walled garden on the Lingholm Estate. It can be reached on foot from the jetties at Nichol End or Hawse End.

When to do it

Walking is superb all year round. Summer (usually) brings good weather but crowds. Winter offers invigorating walking conditions and fewer crowds, but be prepared for snow on the Fells.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Forest Side Hotel

Grasmere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[16.1 miles]

One of the very best of the Lake District’s boutique hotels, a reinvented country mansion, brimming with wit, style and invention. In prime position for exploring the Lakes..

Official star rating:

Daffodil Hotel

Grasmere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[17 miles]

A large, lakeside hotel not far from Grasmere, with a variety of rooms to suit all kinds of visitors – families, couples, walkers and weekend breakers will all find a happy home here.

Official star rating:

Brimstone Hotel & Spa

Great Langdale, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[17.8 miles]

The Lakeland version of a deluxe ski lodge, offering supremely plush rooms, a lavish spa and a very private location on a Langdale estate. It’s also adults-only – making this an ideal place for couples looking for a place to pamper themselves.

Official star rating:

The Samling

Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[23 miles]

A charming, cosy boutique hotel, perched on a private hillside on a 67-acre estate, with an excellent restaurant and grandstand views across Lake Windermere.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Lake District

Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

Imposing mountains, wild landscapes, tranquil lakes and picturesque towns combine to make the Lake District uniquely beautiful, and one of the best places in Britain for walking, climbing, boating and biking.

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Overview >

Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Keswick, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[4.7 miles]

The most dramatic stone circle in all of England, standing on a lonely hilltop near Keswick for the last 3,000 years, and surrounded by a natural amphitheatre fells.

Best for ages: 8+ | Free

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Underground tours of Honister Mine

Keswick, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[8.2 miles]

Venture underground into the dark mines under Honister Pass to discover the history of Lakeland slate mining – and, if you’re feeling brave, tackle an underground climbing expedition.

Best for ages: 3+ | £18

Walk up Scafell Pike

Wasdale, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[14.5 miles]

Climb up to the highest point in England for a memorable view of the Wasdale fells – and a special sense of achievement. But don’t expect to be on your own if the weather’s fine

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | Full day

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Close up of 3 small glasses containing whisky

The Lakes Distillery

Cockermouth, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[12 miles]

One of the only distilleries in England that makes its own whisky, this boutique spirits maker also produces its own gin and vodka. Tours explore the alchemical art of distilling and offer the chance to taste the latest batches.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 3 hours

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Pedestrians outside the gift shop and cafe in the Main Street in the centre of Grasmere Village

Grasmere Village

Ambleside, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[16 miles]

The region’s most picturesque and charming village. Grasmere is set on the shores of its eponymous lake and cradled by green fields and fells. William Wordsworth is buried in the churchyard of St Oswald’s – you can see the poet’s tombstone.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 3 hours

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Visitors in the garden in June at Wordsworth House, Cumbria, the birthplace and childhood home of romantic poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy.

Wordsworth House and Garden

Cockermouth, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[16.2 miles]

Wordsworth’s childhood home in Cockermouth is now owned by the National Trust, and offers an absorbing glimpse of the poet’s early life, with costumed guides on hand to help illustrate the story.

Best for ages: 18+ | £8 | 3 hours

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