A lovely hike up Catbells with my wife Mandy

September 22, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Hi Folks,

It feels like such a long time since I wrote a trip report. Regular readers will remember I damaged my ankle during the descent of Ben Nevis back in mid July. Well, it has taken this long to feel like I could try hiking again and since the physio said its time to start pushing it a little, Mandy and I decided to make a weekend of it and stay over at a B&B and see how we got on. Afterwards we could either drink to celebrate my return to the fells, or drink to drown my sorrows. Read on to see which it was...

So, here we go. Our planned route will take in just the one Summit this time:

  • Catbells (1480ft)


This is the route we took, downloaded from my Suunto and converted to Google Earth KML after the hike:


Car duly loaded up, we set off from Blackpool for the lakes at 9:30am Saturday...


Arriving at the lovely Swinside Lodge Hotel at around 11:30am. The owners had kindly agreed to let us get here early and use their car park for the hike and check in when we came back down off the fells. I was hoping that wasnt going to be anytime soon... surely my ankle would hold out longer than it would take to get our room ready? lol


I must apologise for the poor trip report images here as my head was firmly in "Hope The Ankle is Ok" and not "Remember to take images for the trip report" mode, so I forgot a lot of key images that make the trip report more understandable, but I will do my best with what I have.  Swinside lodge is very close to the foot of Catbells and you literally walk up a road for about 10 mins before you find yourself right here at the foot of the fell. The western side was very busy, so Mandy and I walked round a couple of minutes to the eastern side where the map showed another way up. Whilst I have done Catbells before as part of the epic Newlands round, I have never been up from this path.

Its a nice easy ascent, quite steep but nothing too hard and the ankle is feeling good. The weathers great and even Mandy, who feels the cold a lot is down to her T-shirt. This is going to be a great day. As the views start to open up, which on Catbells is very quickly, we take the obligatory selfie. The reason for Catbells popularity is just so obvious... the views start like this and just stay as good or better for the rest of your day. Its hard to beat.

As we climb up onto the ridge, I look across to Causey Pike and notice our favourite of the lakeland hotels nestled at its foot. Ellas Cragg. That place is fabulous, very highly recommended for anyone wanting to stay in the Newlands area.

With the first section of the ascent done, we stop here on the flat bit for a breather and a drink.

Looking over the other side, I notice we can now see tonights hotel from here too.

And this is the view back the way we have just ascended. The mighty Skiddaw watching over the town of Keswick just looks incredible from here and brought back great memories of my hike up there with Paul.

We ascend up to the next section and stop again to take some more images. The Hotel we are staying at looks clearer from here and Bassenthwaite Lake (The only body of water in the Lake district with "Lake" in its name) is now in view too.

I grabbed this image of Mandy taking 5 minutes to enjoy the view when we breached the first major section which on ascent, looks like the summit. I bet loads of people have been saddened here to find that the hard work is far from over. Here is Mandy looking over to her own personal favourite fell, Walla Cragg. I like this image as Mandy was worried about the scrambly part just prior to this but she did it no problem at all and is probably sat there wondering what she was worried about... she has done quite a few fells now and of course they get easier every time you do one. I think this is Mandys 12th now, while I have done 78 this year alone and hope to top 100 before the year is out.


The views from here are just incredible. We have really picked a great day for it, which is lucky in late September as I doubt there are many nice days like this left now. That said, i am really looking forward to the snow!


Its getting busier up here too, as you can see behind Mandy.

Time to move onwards and upwards. The main ascent is upon us now and as always on Catbells, it is very busy on that tricky ascent section.


Looking back from about a third of the way up. We had to stop here to let the traffic calm as there were bodies everywhere... some coming up, some going down, pretty much a free for all. We are certainly in no rush so we just step to the side and let people go about their day, enjoying watching the kids fly up ahead of huffing and puffing parents. Of course, I kept busy with the little Canon G7X. Its hard not to take pictures with views like this.

As the view upwards starts to look less busy we make a move and start up the final scramble to the summit.

Success... both my wife, and my ankle have made the 1500ft summit without so much of a grumble. I asked Mandy to push my belly back in for this image, but she appears to have failed! LOL

I love seeing people on the fells, enjoying the amazing scenery the lakes has to offer, but at the same time I dislike the noise and the amount of people around as that is what I come hiking to avoid.

A double edged sword for sure, and nobodys fault but my own. Dont get me wrong, I am not as miserable as Wainwright allegedly was, I will chat to anyone out on the fells, but I do prefer to be alone or just in the company of my own group. It has to be said though... seeing all these folk enjoying the fells is fabulous. Especially the kids, who definately need time away from TV's and iPads nowadays! (God, listen to me, im only 43 and I sound like im 83).

We are both keen to move on now, so we drop down the other side and start our descent. We find a nice little place devoid of breeze and settle down here for our lunch and just watch the world go by for 30 mins or so. Absolute Bliss... I am feeling really happy to be out on the fells again and having Mandy with me makes it all the better.

Then we start the descent down towards Derwentwater. We decided while sat eating lunch not to walk right back to the hotel but to go and enjoy a ride on a boat! I know there is a jetty down at High Brandelhow as I have done many a dawn shoots there, all alone enjoying sunrise, so I plot a route to it and we head that way. You can just make out our turning point down there where we will turn left.

Looking back upwards, the way we have just descended.

After a left turn, we wander across the flanks of Catbells towards Keswick, steadily making our way down towards the water.

We come across this bench and it occurs to me this would make a great sunrise location. I make a mental note of where it is and vow to return soon.

We are both having a great day and our spirits are high. Mine perhaps more so because I now know my ankle is almost back in great form and the injury sustained on Ben Nevis hasnt caused any permanent damage that would show itself on the fells. That is something that has been worrying me for 2 months now. We spent quite a while on this bench enjoying the amazing views and testing out my cameras remote control from the iPhone. A feature I havent used for months and one that sets the Canon G7X apart from most other pocket cameras. Its great for unusual selfies because you can operate the zoom and shutter from your phone via wifi... so I test it out without Mandy knowing...

As you can see!

So... after we grow up into adults again, we set off towards Derwentwater. The jetty we are ultimately aiming for is somewhere near this amazing looking building here.

We head downwards some more, across a road, and then drop down the other side of the road and just keep walking downhill until we get to the lake shore.

When we reach the jetty, the first thing I noticed was its collapsing on one side. I have shot this jetty many times so know it used to be straight.

Last time I was here... it was also a lot quieter! The joys of sunrise photography I guess.

Sunrise Over Derwentwater - Lake DistrictSunrise Over Derwentwater - Lake DistrictAll images are available as either simple prints or framed, installed on canvas or even supplied as Jigsaws. My images are all processed and delivered to you without any Copyright watermarks.

First light Over Derwent Water - Lake District. Aug 2014First light Over Derwent Water - Lake District. Aug 2014All images are available as either simple prints or framed, installed on canvas or even supplied as Jigsaws. My images are all processed and delivered to you without any Copyright watermarks.

One of the best sunrise locations in the lakes in my opinion. Ive spent many a happy hour there in the dark with a flask. Great memories.

Anyway, I digress. So the boat arrives and we arent at all sure we will manage to get a seat...

However, enough folk get off to make room, so on we go to Nichol End, where there is a nice cafe I have used before. I think we have earned a rest and a pot of tea.

Nichol end was very busy too. I was quite surprised at all the activity here... loads of people having a lot of fun, mainly in these cayaks and it seemed the excellent Calvert Trust were running some courses here. Fabulous to see.

We enjoy a pot of tea and a bite to eat. I had a cheese and mushroom toastie and Mandy a little ginger cake. Suitably fed and watered, we make our way out to the road. From here its just a couple of miles back to the hotel. Initially through woodland.

Where Mandy naturally has to play a game of hide and seek... Shes such a kid at heart... I love her happy spirit.

She also seemed to greatly enjoy the fact that while trying to go high round this mud, I slipped on a tree route and ended up slipping right back down into the mud. Mandy of course wandered right on by, once she had finished laughing... She even found time to do a little demonstration of how I "Should" have done it. Hmm...

This route back takes you past the quite well known Lingholm estate, a place Beatrix Potter spent many a summer dreaming up such amazing books as Peter Rabbit. Apparently one of the gardens in the Peter Rabbit stories is based on one here in this very estate.


Leaving the estate grounds behind, the path opens up to a very well maintained one.


Before opening up again, out of woodland and into nice clear land. The suns still shining too. What a great day, and we are almost back.

Just one more gate and a road to cross...

And we are quite pleased, yet at the same time saddened, to be met by this sight... Our final Destination and the end of a fabulous day out on the fells.


That said, although sad the days hiking was over, once we got our gear off it was nice to just have a shower and then lay here until it was time for our tea.


As a side note - the food here is simply stunning. We had high expectations anyway as the hotels restaurant features in the Michelin guide, and we were not disappointed at all. 4 courses, each one fabulous. After we had eaten, we sat and watched the sun set, with the moon high up above Catbells. A perfect end to a pretty perfect day.  :)

However - sat there with Mandy watching the last light of day fade away with such nice colours, a plan was hatching in my mind. knowing I rarely sleep well away from home, I suggested I get up about 6am and head up to that bench we found earlier and take my chances on capturing a nice sunrise sky over Derwentwater. The weather forecast was 80 - 90% cloud cover so I wasnt expecting too much, but it was still awesome to be out with a camera, all alone in one of my favourite areas of the lake district once again.

As a footnote - It would be rude of me to use this bench so much in my blogg and not mention the plaque explaining who it was dedicated to, so I will sign off with an image that sits next to this wonderful seat, in a wonderful location. R.I.P Mr Walpole.

Thanks for reading folks... Until next time.


All images in this blog bar the jetty and bench sunrise shots were taken with my Canon G7X point and shoot pocket camera. My camera of choice when hiking any distance. The Canon 5D3 SLR stays at home and only comes back with me if I come across any location really worth coming back for with time on my hands to make the best of it.

Here is a little Suunto movie of the trip, showing the route via Google earth.



And some data aquired by the Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch too. Interesting for ascent, descent and mileage etc.
(calories are pretty accurate as I wear the Suunto Smart HR monitor too but ignore max speed, we were on a boat for a while.)






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