The Lake District Guide

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Best walks in the Lakes

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Valley & Lakeside Walks

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Lake District Mountain and Fell Walks

 


3 Cat Bells & Derwentwater

You'll need the OL4 map for this walk. It'll take you around four hours.

Cat Bells is probably one of the most popular mountain fell walks in the Lake District; it's certainly one of the most scenic. It offers outstanding views towards Derwentwater and Newlands, as well as back towards Keswick, Skiddaw and Saddleback.

If you'd like to join in a spirit of green tourism, take the ferry to the Hawes End landing stage. Otherwise, take the road down the western side of Derwentwater (leaving Keswick via the Portinscale Road and heading for Swinside, but turning down the road towards the lake before you reach Swinside). Park your car at either of the two car parks which are prominently signed on both the map and the roadside.

If you come by boat, from the landing stage find the path which leads you directly ahead through the wood and carry on until you get to the road. Turn right along the road until you come to a path on the left, helpfully signposted Cat Bells. This will lead you to anther road, which you should follow until you get to the car park by the cattle grid - marked on the map. This is the point at which the walkers who have arrived by car will start. You'll find the path up Cat Bells marked very clearly; it ascends in a series of steep zig-zags until it reaches the ridge and goes along the undulations to the summit. On the left you can see Derwentwater, on the right the Newlands valley.

When you get to the summit, keep going and descend to the col, where you will meet a track that crosses your path. This is where you want to turn left to descend off the fell; take care, because the track is steep and can be slippery in wet weather. Lower down the fellside the path bends to the right and gradually sweeps down to meet a lower, broader, path which is in fact the Allerdale Ramble, a longer distance walk which takes in some of the beautiful landscapes of the area - it's clearly marked on the map. Turn left along the Allerdale ramble and then follow it until you get back to your starting place. The path leads along the lower slopes of Cat Bells with fantastic views of Derwentwater to the right.


4 Haystacks & Buttermere

I've never accepted that there's a distinctive height at which you can call a fell a mountain - they're all mountains to me! But Haystacks is just under 2000 feet high, so some would call it a hill or a fell rather than a mountain. But what the fell lacks in height it makes up in charm - and it has become famous as the favourite mountain of Alfred Wainwright, author of the famous guidebooks. You too may find you fall under its charms when you ascend the entrancing slopes of this little-explored peak.

Again, you'll need the Ordnance Survey OL4 and the walk will take you about four and a half hours. As always, make sure you are prepared for a day on the fells with adequate food, water and clothing for any possibility that the weather may turn bad.

Start from the car park on the B5289 at the South Eastern end of Buttermere. Go a little way along the road until you come to the path signposted Buttermere and Ennerdale. You're aiming for the path that goes across the flat fields to Peggy's Bridge, where you begin the ascent by taking the path straight ahead and up the fell, not the one to the right which curls around to the right and goes along the Western shore of Buttermere.

Your path goes up the fell side and climbs at an angle until it reaches Scarth Gap. As you go up here, you can see Ennerdale on your right. At the point where the four tracks meet, take the left hand path. This junction is not far past the large cairn on the col. The route to the summit is not easy, but there are several places where you can sit on grassy turf ledges and watch the view unfolding in front of you. You'll find the summit marked by a small cairn situated to the left of a tarn.

You can either retrace your steps from this point or you can continue on past the summit and complete a circular walk. As you proceed beyond the summit, you pass Innominate Tarn, drolly named by Alfred Wainwright, and continue onwards on a very clear path past Blackbeck Tarn, until you get to the left turn that will take you down the mountain (or fell,!) and back to your starting point. You have two options for the descent, as you will see if you look at the map. Either will give you a delightful end to your day and take you back to the car park at Gatesgarth farm.


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