Cat Bells walks, near Keswick - the best routes with maps

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The summit of Cat Bells overlooking Derwent Water near Keswick - in terms of accessibility - it's one of the best and most popular walks in the Lake District. For any visitors to Keswick in the Lakes - it's a must!

Cat Bells - one of the Lake District's most popular fell walks

Cat Bells has a modest height of 451 meters (1,480ft) - so it's quite accessible - even for families and children. It's also a very popular walk as it is not far from Keswick in the Lake District - and it offers superb views of the surrounding fells and Derwent Water. Its an excellent walk for those new to fell walking or even more experienced walkers who want to see some cracking views on a walk that doesn't take long at all!

Cat Bells, Catbells, walk, Keswick, Derwent Water, Lakes, Lake District, map, route, best views
The view from Cat Bells looking across Skelgil Bank towards the town of Keswick at the head of Derwent Water on the right with Skiddaw mountain in the distance and Bassenthwaite lake in the far distance to the left. For a relatively quick walk  - the views are some of the best in the Lakes.

The best and most popular routes to Cat Bells 

Often those who walk to the summit of Cat Bells are relatively new to walking - so I thought I would share some of my favourite and best routes to Cat Bells. The routes are of varying distance and starting points - and which route you choose all depends on the time you have available really and your modes of transport.

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The quickest Cat Bells walking route (return on western edge):

Distance: 4.8km, 3 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Start: Car Park at foot of Skelgil Bank (or get the ferry to Hawes End landing stage)

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This is the quickest route to the top of Cat Bells and back. It starts at the Car Park at the foot of Skelgil Bank, and then it's straight up Skelgil bank - onto Cat Bells and the down the wester edge of Cat bells via Brunt Crag then onto Skelgil. This gives good views of the Newlands Valley. Full route can be found here
Here you can see the elevation o this quick route - it's a fairly steep climb up Skelgil bank which might get you out of breath :-) but after that it's quite easy

Alternative Cat Bells short route (great views of Derwent Water all the way)

Distance: 6.2km, 3.8 miles
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Start: Hawes End ferry landing stage or Car Park at Skelgil

This is another quick route up to Cat Bells and in my opinion is worth the extra 0.8 miles compared to the one above as the views over Derwent Water are superb. Full route here 

As you can see once Cat Bells has been tackled it's plain sailing on the way back :-)

Cat Bells returning along the Cumbrain Way along Derwent Water's edge

Distance: 6.7km, 4.2 miles
Time: 2.5 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Start: Car Park at foot of Skelgil Bank or take the ferry to Hawes End

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This is my best way of walking Cat Bells as it gives a lot of variety and different views. As well as the great views from Cat Bells, you also walk through the woodland of Manesty Park and along the Cumbrain Way along Derwent Water's edge around Brandelhow Bay and onto Brandelhow Park.You can either start from the Car Park or any of the 3 Ferry landing stages. The full route can be found here 
Once you have tackled Cat Bells on this route - its a nice leisurely stroll along flat terrain on Derwent Water's edge back to the start 

Cat Bells from Keswick

Distance: 15.1km, 9.4 miles

Time: 4 hours

Difficulty: Easy
Start: Keswick

This route is ideal if you want to start from Keswick and fancy a longer walk or don't want to travel via car/ferry/bus to the usual starting points nearer Cat Bells. The walk begins along the Cumbrian Way and heads to Portinscale and Fawe Park and then you walk up to Cat Bells via Skelgil bank in much the same way as the routes above. You would then return the same way via The Cumbrian way - or you could catch the ferry back at the landing stage at Hawes End if you time it right! Full route can be viewed here
When walking to Cat bells from Keswick you have plenty of time to warm up before you begin the ascent of Cat Bells - with a leisurely stroll back to Keswick

Extending your Cat Bells walk

I have only shown the most popular Cat Bells routes on this blog post to help those unfamiliar with the area in planning a walk. For the more experienced walkers amongst us or walkers with more time on your hands - then after Cat Bells you may want to head onto Maiden Moor, High Spy or even Dale Head! I'll leave those longer walks for another time though.

To finish off - I hope this little blog post sheds some light on walking up Cat Bells and for those unfamiliar with the the area it helps you plan your walk. I really recommend Cat Bells if you are in the Keswick area as it offers some great views.

Blog Post by Stuart Hodgson, 'The Hiking Photographer'

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