WALKING | 6.3km Hawse End to Catbells Cumbria Plus Camping on the Autumn Equinox

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Catbells Cumbria Wainwright Walks

Circular walk, Hawse End to Catbells, Cumbria

  • Start & End Point: Hawse End car park, CA12 5UE
  • Distance: approximately 3.8 miles / 6.3 km
  • Time Taken: approximately 2-3 hours
  • Elevation: 500 metres
  • Uphill: 2.5/5
  • Technicality: 2/5
  • Scenery rating: 4/5
  • Need to know: There are two scrambles, so despite this being a short ‘family’ walk, it’s not for the faint hearted!

Walk Summary

This is a lovely short walk, but as it’s a Wainright, it does suffer from crowds and parking is limited. Billed as a family walk, there are two scrambles required on this route so it’s best attempted by confident walkers or adventurous walkers keen to attempt their first easy scramble. The initial ascent is fairly steep, but the views are excellent and the ridge walk and final push to the summit are easy. With a clear path all the way to the top, navigation is simple too.

Castlerigg Hall campsite

Castlerigg Hall campsiteAll set up at Castlerigg Hall Campsite

Castlerigg Hall campsiteOur simple camping setup (not a fairylight or bunting in sight), using our brilliant Thermarest Tranquility 4 tent

At this time of year I always crave time outdoors. Autumn is definitely my favourite season, followed by Spring, and with the Autumn Equinox upon us, I made a last minute decision to spend the weekend camping and walking in the Lake District.

With a new found love of hill walking, I’d been wanting to get to up the Lake District for a good walk for some time, so my hastily arranged, very last minute trip saw us drive up to Cumbria after work on Friday. We pitched up at one of our favourite campsites, Castlerigg Hall Campsite near Keswick. The campsite overlooks Derwentwater, and there are a host of enticing walks in the immediate area to choose from.

I chose to walk Catbells, a short Wainwright walk that also rather handily features in my Collins guide book, The Low Fells: Walks on Cumbria’s Lower Fells.

The start of the Catbell walkThe start of the Catbells ascent, starting at Hawse End

Our ascent of Catbells started at Hawse End, the ‘small carpark’ I’d read about, actually consisted of just a patch of gravel with space for 3 cars, and as we approached a car backed out. Hurrah! From there we followed the route set out in in my Collins guide book.

Catbells Cumbria summit

The ridge to Catbells summitThe ridge leading to Catbells summit

For those seeking solitude, this is not a route to choose! Famed as a family walk, it was busy. The benefit of a walk that attracts a lot of people is that the route is made obvious, the downside however, was needing to wait a few minutes for each set of walkers to pass to get shots of the landscape without it looking too crowded!

The ascent is short and sharp and we needed quite a few stops on the way up to catch our breath before we reached the first scramble. Bouyed with the confidence of watching a steady stream of fellow walkers drop to their knees and climb up, we followed suit, and soon found ourselves at the summit, just as the weather started to close in.

The final scramble towards the summit of Catbells

Summit of Catbells

Catbells Cumbria summitMe at the Catbells Trig point

The views from the summit, in fact, throughout the walk were stunning. Every step revealing enticing new vistas including Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite Lake and the peaks of Skiddaw and Blencathra. In terms of views, despite the modest length of the walk, Catbells is a stunner.

The view from Catbells summitDerwentwater viewed from the summit of Catbells

At little over 6km, don’t let the short length of this walk or the fact that the fell is just 451 metres high make you think it’s easy. There are a couple of good scrambles that require both hands, and then on the immediate descent, there’s a short scramble down from the summit which largely involved (at least for us and the other walkers we observed) sliding down rocks on our bum.

The easy descent down from Catbells

Beautiful Derwentwater on the way back down

Half way down

The descent of Catbells rewarded us with stunning views of Derwentwater and whilst the rocky steps were slippery with mud and we had to move slowly, it didn’t take us long to get down, and we were soon back at the car.

A waterfall on the way back down

Ancient woodland fringing DerwentwaterAncient woodland fringing Derwentwater

This was just the second time that I’ve ever scrambled, and I’ve decided that despite suffering from vertigo, thanks to the adrenaline kick, I love routes that require scrambling! The verdict is out however for Mr CWS who isn’t as keen, but we both enjoyed the walk and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the Autumn Equinox.

Castlerigg Hall campsite

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DISCLAIMER: Please be aware that our route descriptions and ratings are based on our personal thoughts and experiences as new hill walkers with moderate fitness levels. A difficult walk for us might be a cinch for someone else, so we’d encourage you to always look at a number of different route descriptions and ratings to get a true reflection of a walk you’re planning to do. Never attempt a fell, hill or mountain walk without appropriate footwear, clothing, navigational equipment and hydration.  UK Mountain rescue teams do an incredible job and it’s up to us to ensure we are taking all precautions necessary to complete a walk safely!