Starting Point: Gutherscale car park is located at the foot of Catbells’ north ridge but it’s small and fills up very quickly throughout the year, especially during peak times, so consider arriving by boat instead, with the Keswick Launch Company.
Ascent: Approximately 451 metres (1,480 feet)
Overview: A popular Wainwright walk over the iconic fells known as Catbells which overlook the stunning town of Keswick. Its distinctive shape makes it a must for most walkers, plus its proximity to Keswick, accessibility for all walkers, and of course it’s known to be one of Wainwright’s favourite fells.
The path whilst relatively short is steep with some clambering required in places. Always take your map and compass as with any walk, but there is a clear path as you follow the ridge line with various signposts at lower levels.
When heading up, rest and look behind you for a fantastic panorama of Keswick with Skiddaw dominating the skyline. Look out towards the right to see Causey Pike and its unusual knobbly summit across the Newlands Valley.
What did Wainwright think? “It is one of the great favourites, a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved. Its popularity is well deserved, its shapely top knott attracts the eye offering a steep but obviously simple scramble to the small summit.”
Jen says: Such a picturesque walk so try and choose a clear day to really enjoy the panorama. I have been up several times over the course of 30 odd years and have always seen families laughing and smiling their way up as they tackle this great Wainwright.
Tips: You can simply walk up to the summit and back the same way, but we suggest taking the circular walk option. If you do, walk anti-clockwise – as most walkers do, up the front with Keswick behind you as its easier going up this section than down. There is usually more than one way up so look to the left or right if you don’t fancy heading straight up some of the steeper, rockier sections. This is a busy and popular walk throughout the year so expect to share the summit with a few others.
A great place to stop for refreshment is the newly opened Lingholm Kitchen & Walled Garden. A beautiful house and garden in an amazing location. With wonderful food and delicious cakes!
Prepare and plan! As with any walk, it’s important you plan and prepare. Essentials include a map, compass, torch and whistle. Wear suitable footwear and clothing. Check the weather. Our weather is incredibly changeable, even in summer. Take plenty of food and water and include a first aid kit in your bag. Don’t rely on your mobile phone, many areas have little or no signal. Really useful guidance can be found at http://keswickmrt.org.uk/ (Keswick Mountain Rescue)
Due to its popularity, Catbells suffers quite badly from erosion. There are now signs asking walkers to keep to the official paths, but sadly this doesn’t always happen. You can read more at the Fix the Fells website.