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Hawes End to Brandelhow via Catbells

A strenuous walk to the top of Catbells with some of the most beautiful views in the Lakes.

Time: 3-4 hours
Grading: Difficult
Start: Hawes End
End: High Brandelhow

This stunning Lake District walk involves a stiff climb but the views make it well worth it. Ensure you are wearing adequate footwear and carry a waterproof.

Take the boat to Hawes End (or Low Brandelhow which will add a little more distance). Walk through the wood away from the landing stage and out onto the road at the metal gateway. Slightly to your right, cross the road (by the metal fence) and follow the stone wall up to the next road. Follow the road uphill, over the cattle grid, for fifty yards where the “end” of Catbells is visible. Follow the signs directing one to the footpath for Catbells. (The preferred initial route changes sometimes to prevent erosion.)

A steady climb takes you up the ridge, but stop every now and then to look backwards at the opening vista below. You will have noticed that there are two summits on Catbells, and just before you reach the lower, there is a memorial tablet set in the rock to Thomas Arthur Leonard. (Who’s he? Well, you’ll find out!)

Once on the first summit, the main summit is clearly visible to the south and after a walk through the intervening dip, this can be reached. This is at a height of 1481 feet (451 metres). This is an excellent place to eat one’s packed lunch, (about 1 p.m. given the timings suggested) but beware, the sheep on Catbells are not at all shy and are very partial to sandwiches!

If one looks to the west, the side away from the lake, one is gazing into Newlands Valley and the hamlet of Little Town, familiar to Beatrix Potter readers as the territory of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle.

Continue south to the depression of Hause Gate, usually marked by a low cairn and turn left (East) i.e. towards the lake. The path is well worn and descends by a series of zigzags with occasional rails against which one may pause to enjoy a whole new series of perspectives of Derwentwater and lower Borrowdale.

Coming to the road at the bottom turn left and in a few yards is the track which takes you down to the lake shore at High Brandelhow, (approximately 3-30p.m.) where one may relax among the trees or splash about in the lake.

For kids of all ages, there is a certain tree there, near the water’s edge, which is extremely climbable right to the top in the way its branches are laid out like a spiral staircase – just the way to draw off any remaining energy while waiting for one’s boat back across the lake.