The Lake District, again.

 Having been fortunate during various mini adventures in our younger days to venture up many of the high places in Cumbria the desire to “top-out” no longer needs satisfying, however the challenge still remains to reach the summit of one particular little mountain on every visit we make to this magical part of England. Catbells is the hill/mountain we consider the testing of our ageing limbs. The venerable Mr. A. Wainright called it “a family fell where grandmother and infants can climb the heights together” (although I think perhaps grandma shouldn’t be too long in the tooth or the infants too young). At only 1481 ft. high it’s not the highest but certainly has one of the most fabulous three hundred and sixty degree panoramic views.

So it was in early autumn we loaded “Minty” with wet and dry walking gear and headed north to our  pre-booked Keswick campsite pitch for our first week of two in the Lake District. On day one to loosen our legs we strolled to the ever popular viewpoint at Friars Crag, a little way along the shore of Derwentwater past the numerous hire skiffs and pleasure boats. From here most visitors get their first view of Catbells on the western bank, unmistakable with its camels hump and looking as a real mountain should.

The view reaches the length of the lake to little Castle Crag and beyond. Carrying on around the lakeside and through a rather boggy stretch of woodland (we didn’t realise at first but the lakes level was higher than usual). We soon arrived at Calfclose Bay and the National Trust’s Centenary plaque with the unique Split-Stone sculpture, normally dry on the foreshore but today having water lapping around it.

Retracing our steps we spotted our first Red Squirrel of the trip, then we stopped off at the charming Theatre By The Lake to book a couple of performances for later in the week. Then a brief walk round Keswick town centre to remind us what a great walkers place this is, rounding off with a pint of local bitter then back to our home on wheels.

As the next day loomed dull and not the best of weather forecast a day of mooching around the shops (turned out an expensive mooch as there is now a dedicated Paramo brand clothing shop) and a visit to Keswick’s Museum, which had an interesting side exhibition on Arthur Wainwright. In the evening we enjoyed our weeks first Theatre outing, a really funny interpretation of “Watch it Sailor”. The campsite is really convenient for the Theatre, town or lake, being only an easy 5/10 minute walk away.

The morning we had been waiting for broke under a clear sky and backed up with a great local forecast of a settled dry day with good visibility, Catbells was on. We took the iconic and classic way to reach the base of  Catbells, which is to walk the little distance to the lake jetties, then board one of the Derwentwater’s launches for the short sail across to Hause End.

Then a lovely walk through the trees to the start of our hill challenge.

Here we parted company with the other walkers who were all taking the traditional trail up the northern end of Catbells flank. The name Catbells, Mr. Wainwright thought may well be a corruption of Cat Bields (the shelter of the wild cat). We proceeded along the little lane to arrive on the western side of the hill and keeping parallel to it but slowly gaining a few contour lines. The views over to Newlands are typical Lakeland, lush and perfectly proportioned.

We came upon the small beck we had to cross but the little bridge had been washed sideways in the recent flood. Fortunately a temporary plank had replaced it. Here the trail headed away from Catbells and towards Little Town (town is quite an exaggeration for a handful of dwellings) before turning sharply through the ferns and keeping on the Maiden Moor side of the path, due to a landslide beneath the Catbells/Maiden Moor saddle. Now the terrain became steeper and rockier but with a line of cairns (rock and stone piles) the much lesser walked route remained clear. In fact although we were eventually to meet a couple of dozen walkers on the summit only two other people had taken the same peaceful but longer ascent as us.

A bonus of taking this way up behind the mountain was not seeing the lake or scenery to the east until you leave the mountain’s saddle and start the final steep ascent. Then like a crescendo of vision the whole of Derwentwater, all of Keswick, mighty Skiddaw, Blencathra and many other northern mountains blast into view filling the senses. Lunch in the warm sunshine was a drawn out affair watching the ferry boats criss-crossing the lake far below from our mountain viewpoint.

Our way down was by the tourist route followed by the continued leisurely cruise round the lake to Keswick. Challenge complete, a celebratory pint in the “Dog and Gun” then highly recommended fish and chips from opposite the Tourist Office in the square.

A chilling out day followed as we met up with friends who were staying nearby, then another pleasant evening in The Theatre by the Lake watching the classic “Dial M For Murder”, kept our attention and in suspense.

Due to the devastating floods the area had suffered earlier it was a real marvel that so much was more or less back to normal. Another couple of bridges that had been completely washed away were on the old railway walk out towards Latrigg, which we were made aware of part way along the walk. Even so it was still a lovely walk with the suspended elevated section in the trees giving great views down to the tumbling river below.

We were fortunate to see both a little Dipper and a statue like Grey Heron, before we had to turn around at the gaping gap where the bridge was no more.



With the prospect of another warm and dry day we met up with our friends for a leisurely nine mile waymarked walk round Derwentwater.

Starting from the Keswick launch jetties the first place of interest was the Split-Stone now high and dry on the shore, as the lake had receded to its regular level. After a couple of hours in the trees the scenic bay of Lodore with its waters lapping our beach trail, marks nearing the lakes head.

Crossing the lakes exit river is on the unusual named Chinese Bridge and a board walk to protect the wetland and provide safe dry walking. Following the lakes easy path is in the trees one minute then on the shore the next, soon we were beneath diminutive Catbells with its skyline broken by stick insects of people.


Passing the huge wooden sculpture of cupped hands and several ferry landing stages we decided to complete our lovely walk through pretty Portinscale village then back into Keswick for another celebratory beer.

The time had come to pack up our covered wagon and head south twenty four miles to Bowness and our second weeks booked campsite at Braithwaite Fold. A convenient site for both the bustling town and the small foot/car ferry across Windermere to some great walking trails on the other side.

One such walk started with the short ferry crossing (50p each) then an undulating trail mostly through the woods and over fields on good gravel paths to beyond Far Sawrey village. Passing Near Sawrey’s charming stone church, alone in a field.

Alongside a narrow lane we heard a plaintive Baa-Baa from a single sheep, who, trying to reach greener grass beyond his wire fence had got his horned head stuck. Being in the back of nowhere it fell to us to release it. It didn’t help much by pulling back as we tried to widen and lift the wire, eventually it was freed and away it ran without a Baa-Baa of thanks. The walk took us to the private lake Esthwaite Water, just south of Hawkshead. Walking through the trees along the foreshore Nature Trail we passed several Story Boards about the lakes wildlife. Osprey are resident here but on our visit they were keeping a low profile. Part way along the lake there is an artist’s studio and cafe with splendid views out over water, also electric powered boats can be hired for fishing or to follow the water safari theme.

After lunch here we retraced our steps, checked our wayward sheep was o/k and completed the eight mile walk with the ferry back to base-camp.


The sights and sounds of Bowness are quite a contrast to Keswick, Bowness seems more family orientated with large pleasure boats and their appropriate advertising kiosks and signs competing for trade.

The town is laid out on a hillside and has all kinds of shops and entertainment, including The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction for the young at heart. One fine day we ventured up the hill to Windermere town which sits above Bowness-on Windermere. With a train station here it makes for a good roundabout link to all main-line stations. Within the stations grounds is the huge famous kitchen store of LakeLand. Also there is the lakes own supermarket brand of Booths, complete with comfortable cafe. The old world charm of Windermere makes for a pleasant stroll around before the easy downhill meander to Bowness. Instead of passing through the town we decided to deviate on to The Dales Way footpath and sample the view from Post Knot hill and circle on the fields and quiet lanes the back way down to our campsite.

With our legs now in fine fettle and with another good weather forecast after a night of rain a return to the other side (sounds a bit mystical) was in order. Crossing the lake on the ferry we then took the shore side trail through the trees on the easy gravel path. After about two miles we turned in at Belle Grange and up to the steep hillside heading for the hills top at Three Dubs Crags. Although the trail was awash after the nights heavy rain it was stony and wide so apart from being wet it was walkable. Once up on the top and following the hill’s contour views out over Windermere’s glistering water kept appearing.

Reaching a turning point at Far Sawrey we had to pass the odd named pub “Cuckoo Brow Inn”, only we didn’t pass it we went in to celebrate another splendid eight mile walk. Then again through the trees to the ferry and back to base.

Once again the Lakes had come up trumps for a short walking break.





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