For one of the best short routes in the north Lakes combine the charismatic mini mountain Cat Bells with a ramble along the wooded west side of Derwentwater - perhaps the most picturesque shoreline in England. To make this family-friendly trip a little bit extra special try approaching the walk by boat from Keswick; there's a regular timetable of launches year round.


Analysing terrain data



The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.

Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extreme exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.


From the landing stage at High Brandelhow follow the footpath north along the lake shore, through beautiful deciduous woods.

If you've kids in tow Victoria Bay is a good place to stop for a splash-about.

Just before reaching here you pass a wooden sculpture of a giant pair of hands, commissioned in 2002 to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Trust.

Brandelhow is the 'birthplace' of the Trust in the Lake District.

Continue past the jetty at Low Brandelhow and instead of turning inland here carry on to the little point at Otterbield Bay (because it's there, and lovely).

Now the path cuts back on itself, running inland to pass around the bay to reach Hawse End Outdoor Centre.

Beyond the centre turn left and walk up though the woods to the minor road at the foot of Cat Bells.

You've a choice of paths to get established on the fell's north ridge, either to the left or the right.

Above their initial zigzags both soon rejoin for the steady plod up the ridge, with expansive views over Derwentwater opening out behind you.

A short section of scrambly slatey rock leads to an attractive level ridge crest, Skelgill Bank.

This soon brings you to the base of Cat Bells' steep summit cone; brief, but quite a slog.

If it's a sunny weekend expect some company on top.

Descend easily south to the col at Hause Gate.

Here cut left on a flagstone path for a long diagonal descent into Borrowdale.

Once down by the trees cut left on a trail that traverses the hillside to reach the road above Brandelhow Bay.

Go north very briefly on the road, then turn off right to descend a path past mine workings down to the lake shore at the High Brandelhow landing stage. © Dan Bailey -, Aug 2013