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.
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.
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.
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