Miles Without Stiles 33: Catbells


Route type: For some. A route with exceptional views of Derwentwater and the surrounding hills - OS Explorer Map OL4

Distance: 4 km or 2.4 miles. Shorter options also possible

Start point: Gutherscale car park. Catbells is very popular and parking spaces may be limited - grid ref. NY 245211

Turning point: The Walpole Memorial Stone - grid ref. NY 248192

Facilities: None nearby but there are refreshments at Portinscale, 2.5 km north and at the Swinside Inn

Getting there: Bus: Buttermere Rambler 77 / 77A runs from Keswick and passes Catbells four times a day, from March to November. Boat: Keswick Launch calls at Hawse End eight times a day. Car: by minor roads from Keswick to Hawse End. Parking in this area is very limited. Public transport options are recommended


From the carpark, go downhill for 150 metres to the road junction and then turn right. Follow the road south (take care of traffic) and take the second path on the right, marked with a Public Bridleway" sign (the first path goes to the top of Catbells). This first section is uphill and a bit challenging.

needs to emphasise the need to continue along road passing sign on right, (image Catbells 2, marked 2 on map) and then lookout for sign marked “Public Bridleway” (image Catbells 3) slightly further on the right. Plus a warning to keep an eye on road traffic, only a short length but needs care!

The track then runs along the flank of Catbells, about 50 metres above the road. It gives stunning views across the lake to Keswick, framed by the mountains of Skiddaw and Blencathra. The nearest island is St Herbert's Isle, named after a 7th century monk who lived there. Friar's Crag on the other side of the lake is named after the monks who used to row out with supplies for him. The best views are just past some old quarry workings.

After 1.5 km, the route drops steeply to a small lay-by (grid reference NY 198247) which can be used as a pick-up point. You can retrace your steps from here, but wheelchair users will need to get back up the steep section (1:6) they have just come down.

From the lay-by, the route rises again and undulates for about 0.5 km to reach the Hugh Walpole memorial. Sir Hugh wrote the famous Herries Chronicles, a four volume saga of Cumberland family life.

Wheelchair users will need to go back to the lay-by at grid reference NY 198247, or return to Gutherscale car park.


Map - Catbells route