Catbells and the Newlands valley

Cat Bells is a lovely little fell. It's got a little of everything, a narrow ridge line, steep climbs and rocky steps, yet is a remarkably straightforward ascent. As seen from Keswick it has a beautiful and iconic profile, which you can feel when you are on it. And it has wonderful views from the summit.

In summer the slopes are clothed in bright green bracken with Herdwick sheep hiding in its midst. In the depths of winter with the bracken dead and brown, the early morning sun turns the slopes golden. The rock is grey whatever the time of year. It's a tuff from the Borrowdale Volcanics family which means it was blown skywards in great clouds and settled as dust. Over the many millions of years it lain it was compressed to become a mudstone, which we refer to as just slate. It can be quite slippery in the wet.

The walk starts at the little rough parking area near Hawes End on the minor road to Skelgill. After a little warm up climbing onto Skelgill Bank, you tackle the last final slopes up to the summit of Catbells. It looks quite intimidating but you are not forced into any particular line. If you don't like one bit it's easy to find many alternatives. The summit is reached all too quickly. The only disappointment is there is no cairn, trig point or marker of the summit; just a bare bit of rock. After looking at the view, it's onward along the ridge and then down to the hause. Turning right off the ridge you follow an easy grass path, which above some old quarrying spoil heaps becomes stony and loose. It's only a short section and turning off beneath a crag a grass path is followed above bucolic pastures of Newlands valley. Finally reaching the end of the Skelgill minor road the car park is but a short stroll along the tarmac.

This parking area fills up quickly, you should not park on the roadside verge as it is too narrow, and in any case there are yellow lines in places.