Classic Lake District Walks – Walk up Catbells

Classic Lake District Walks – Walk up Catbells

By Dave Roberts   

on January 5, 2021   4/5 (1)

Classic Lake District Walks – Walk up Catbells

Further Details

Route Summary:

One of those classic walks that almost everyone who walks in the Lakes has walked at some point or other.

Start and Finish: Hawes End near Keswick

Distance: 5.91 km

Ascent: 379 m

Time: 2.5 – 3 hours

Timings are approximate and depend on the individual. Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.


None on route but plenty of pubs, cafes and shops in nearby Keswick.

Public Transport:

The Keswick Launch runs boats from Keswick to Hawes End. The journey takes 10 minutes and all parking issues by Catbells can be avoided. Plus, a boat trip is a great start to the walk!

Traveline for UK Public Transport


Some steep sections

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Keeping Safe on the Wales Coast Path,  Navigation and the Gear and Equipment you’ll need.

Scafell Pike Guidebooks:

Recommended Scafell Pike Maps

Classic Lake District Walks – Walk up Catbells Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Classic Lake District Walks – Walk up Catbells

The ascent of Catbells is probably one of the most popular easy fell walks in the Lake District. The walk from Hawes End on Derwentwater is the most popular route up Catbells, but it can alternatively be ascended from Little Town or for a longer approach, from Portinscale just outide Keswick. The Portinscale walk follows the Allerdale Ramble (part of the Cumbrian Way) and then joins this walk. While limited parking is available at the start of the walk up Catbells (Catbells Parking Postcode = CA12 5UE), we recommend that owing to the popularity of this walk that you either walk in from Portinscale or catch the launch from Keswick to the start of this walk.

Image credits – Emma Knipe.

Walk up Catbells from Hawes End and Derwentwater

Its with thanks to the National Trust who ensure that this busy little hill does not become eroded by the hordes of walkers

1 – The bet bet is to catch the Keswick Launch which has numerous pickup and drop off points on Derwentwater, including Hawes End. More information is available on their website – Keswick Launch Hawes End.

2 – The climb up Catbells is an excellent introduction to fell walking, as it has some steep sections to get the legs going as well as a short scramble section near the summit of Catbells. Remember that this is an easy fell walk – which is still a reasonably tough walk compared to walking in the park. Thankfully, you’ll be able to take a breather at Skelgill bank and survey the views across Derwentwater and up to the summit ahead. Even better are the views from the summit, which is still a good yomp despite being only 451m in height and goes to show that it’s often the lower summits that make the best viewpoints.

3 – The descent from the summit down to Hause Gate is gentle, but then steepens as the path descends to join the Allerdale Ramble.

4  Once the route reaches the bridleway, turn left to follow the Allerdale Ramble to the start.


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Dave Roberts

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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Gear you may need

Welcome to Walk up Scafell Pike

Walk up Scafell Pike is the dedicated on-line guidebook for walking routes up Scafell Pike in the English Lake District, with free walking maps and full guides to all the routes to the summit of England’s highest mountain.

Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England at 978m high and is one of the mountains climbed on the Three Peaks Challenge walk. It’s a formidable mountain that needs respect, with no such thing as an easy route up  the mountain to be had. All the walks and hikes are a challenge, and well worth the effort to reach the roof of England.

The Routes to the Top of Scafell Pike page has an interactive map that shows all the walking routes to the summit of Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head, Scafell Pike from Borrowdale and Scafell Pike from Langdale as well as hotels, campsites and pubs near Scafell Pike (add your Lake District business for free), and there’s a page for each walk that shows the route, parking postcode,  a downloadable file for your GPS device as well as details on the weather for the mountain.

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page for more Scafell Pike facts such as how long will it take to climb Scafell Pike, where can i start the walk from and other questions.

Main Walking Routes up Scafell Pike

Route Name Starting Point Parking Post Code Distance Ascent Walking Time
Scafell Pike from Wasdale or Wasdale Head Wasdale or Wasdale Head  CA20 1EX (Wasdale Head)  4.2km*  900m*  3-4 hours**
Scafell Pike from Seathwaite, Borrowdale (Corridor Route) Borrowdale  CA12 5XJ  15km (round trip)  1000m  6 hours+
Scafell Pike from Langdale Langdale  LA22 9JY 9km  1130m 4 hours**
Scafell Pike from Hardknott (southern approach) Eskdale Hardknott CA19 1TG – for Boot – then continue up Hardkott Pass to GR NY211 011  17km  1000m  6 hours
Scafell Pike Corridor Route from Wasdale Wasdale or Wasdale Head CA20 1EX (Wasdale Head)  7.8km*  970m*  3-4 hours **

*Distance/Ascent noted is for one way only.

**Time is for one way only, and variable. Very fit walkers can walk up and down in 3-4 hours(depending on the route)and will know their own timings and speed. If in doubt, assume the longest duration for your ascent and add the longest for your descent, depending on route. Add a good half hour or more for the summit stop as well.

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