Walk Date – 23rd May 2016
Distance – 5.65 miles
Weather – dry and sunny but breezy
“Do you know when we last walked up Catbells?”
“Not exactly, two or three years ago perhaps?”
“Its a bit more than that, in fact, rather a lot more.”
“Go on then, when was it?”
Poor old Catbells, we have just forgotten about it and yet it has hardly ever been out of our sight during many of our walks in recent years. Perhaps it has become so familiar a sight that we just didn’t notice it was there any more. As it was a good weather day and we had some time to spare we thought we’d give it a go today. We decided to start at Grange, in Borrowdale, but had a quick check before setting out to find out if the bridge had been re-opened after being damaged by a bus earlier this month. It had re-opened and a few day ahead of schedule, so the walk was on and we were good to go. Here’s the link to the incident if you’d like to read about what happened –
Grange – Manesty – Hause Gate – Catbells – Derwentwater Terrace Path – Manesty – Grange
We were a little late starting out so we did wonder if we would find somewhere to park in, or near, Grange, especially as all the parking areas on the way here were full, but we were in luck. As we drove over the bridge a car was just pulling out of a space directly in front of us so we were able to drive straight in. This is the double arched bridge over the Derwent at Grange where the bus incident happened, although this arch wasn’t the one which was damaged, the damaged one is to the left of it and hidden by the trees. The water is very low at the moment and although we have had some rain it hasn’t been enough to raise levels back to normal.
Many of the gardens along the way were ablaze with rhododendrons and the colours, ranging from palest cream to deepest red, were particularly striking against all the fresh new greenery around them.
Across the fields to our right we have a view of Walla Crag rising up to Bleaberry Fell in the foreground, and tucked in behind them to the left is Blencathra. It was really enjoyable walking along here this morning, one of those time when you have a real spring in your step.
Just beyond Manesty is where we leave the road and follow this footpath which will take us up and across the fell side to Hause Gate.
The path starts off gently enough as we start the climb to Hause Gate with Black Crag, at the northern end of Maiden Moor, up ahead of us.
It doesn’t look much, but it gradually becomes steeper and steeper and, with the sun blazing down on our backs, increasingly more tiring. Added to that, about halfway along here, I began to feel a bit ‘out of sorts’, so from then on until we got to Hause Gate, it was more of a struggle than it otherwise might have been.
At this point I had to stop and take a drink in the hope that it would settle the slightly queasy feeling I was still experiencing. It was very hot walking up the path and there was no air movement to cool things down a little. Below us, across the lovely green fields of Borrowdale, Grange Fell was showing up quite nicely. Some of the shade from the trees on its slopes would have been very welcome up here right now.
Now that we are a little higher than the trees the views across Derwentwater begin to appear, part of the Skiddaw range is over on the left, then to the right of centre is Blencathra, while on the extreme right is Walla Crag. We’re standing at the junction of the path we’re using and the one with the walker on it going down the centre of the shot.
A little further on and higher still and now we get to see much more of Derwentwater. Its launches were constantly busy, ferrying passengers from one landing stage to another, and cars were squeezed into every available parking space on the road alongside, I think you could safely say that the holiday season is well and truly under way.
We’ve almost reached Hause Gate but before continuing I had to stop and try to sort out the queasiness again by having another drink. We moved off the path and sat on the grass for a five minute break and we were now high enough to catch some air movement which was a welcome relief from the heat we’d been experiencing lower down the path. This was a busy route today …..
….. but at the Hause we encountered an even busier scene. As well as the usual adult walkers there were many, many small groups of schoolchildren, about a dozen or so in each group, with three or four adults supervising them. They were all chattering away like crazy and seemed to be having a great time. When I went on school trips as a child we didn’t do fun things like this, we were taken on very earnest educational visits to York Minster and other similar places, where the teachers would point out items of significance and tell us all about them. Back at school the next day we always had to write about the visit and what we had learned from it. I wonder if these children will have to write up their experiences tomorrow.
I took a look back at Maiden Moor as we made our way up Catbells from the Hause. We certainly had more air movement up here and the breeze was whipping across from the Newlands side, out of shot over on the right. Quite a nippy one it was too and strong enough to have us reaching for another layer before progressing any further along.
Strolling along the super highway towards a very busy Catbells summit.
Lots of good views to be had as we made our way across to the summit. This is the view to the south west looking across High Crags towards the Newlands ‘twins’ of Hindscarth and Robinson.
Immediately on our left, the view to the west across the Newlands Valley showing some of the north western fells. The hawthorn hedges in the valley are thick with white blossom and, although my memory may be playing tricks on me, there seems to be a lot more of it this year than there was last year.
“Are we there yet?”
Yes, we’re there now, but the summit is quite crowded so I wandered around for a while just to take in the views, one of which is this one of the very pretty Newlands Valley and its surrounding fells.
A look back at Maiden Moor, Hindscarth and Robinson …..
….. and a look down at what will form part of our descent route. Walkers are still toiling up in both directions, people sheltering from the breeze in any available hollow and having something to eat or just enjoying the view, and the summit area to my left is packed with folk.
Catbells may not be one of the giants but there are some wonderful views to be had from the summit. To the left, across Derwentwater, is Blencathra and opposite it, over on the right are Clough Head and Great Dodd. No reflections on the water today because its far too breezy.
Blencathra in close up …..
….. and a close up of Bass Lake to the west.
After waiting a very long time for the summit area to be vacated we nipped in quickly to get a couple of summit shots in before the next wave of walkers arrived.
Windblown yet again. It has been windy, to a greater or lesser degree, every day, so far, during May hence the windproof layer I’ve been wearing since we arrived at the Hause. However, the cropped trousers have come out of their winter hibernation so things are definitely improving. Nevertheless, my shorts remain dormant in the wardrobe.
We dropped down a little to find some respite from the breeze and settled ourselves in this sunny little spot to have our coffee and sandwiches. I realised that I hadn’t had any breakfast before we set out so probably that, along with the heat and humidity as we were climbing up the path, was probably the reason behind the queasiness I had been experiencing. By the time we had finished our food and drink I was feeling fine and back to normal. Note to self – remember to have some breakfast before setting out!
After our break we began to make our way back down again. Many feet have formed a number of different tracks and pathways all of which appear to be about to plunge you over the edge of a precipice …..
….. its not quite as a precipice but its steep enough, and its a short and entertaining little scramble whether you’re going up or coming down. The rocks were nice and dry today so no worries about slipping. There’s a similar little interlude a bit lower down, which the walkers on their way up have just scrambled over.
A little way along the path you may be able to pick out a small junction where side paths are crossing the main one. When we reach that point we are taking the path going down towards Derwentwater. That eventually joins up with the light coloured one running across the bottom of the fell side on the right of the shot. The path going over to the left would drop you down into the Newlands Valley.
We’ve reached the junction so I take a final look back across Newlands for this shot which shows a good part of what is known as The Coledale Round. The pointed peak in the centre is Causey Pike and to its right, on the opposite side of Coledale, is Grisedale Pike. No matter which one you start on, if you kept walking across from one fell to the next, following an inverted U shape, you would eventually end up on the one on the opposite side and you would have completed the round.
A look back at the route we have just descended from Catbells before we disappear stage left and begin our return to Borrowdale.
‘They’ are trying to dissuade walkers from using these side paths, even going to the extent of planting young trees right across the middle of this path. If you want to prevent erosion why not just put a pitched path in because no matter how many trees are planted, walkers who do not want to walk all the way along Catbells and back to Hawes End will always make a cut through to get to where they want to be. The saplings seemed to be happy enough in their new environment though, as always I peered in to check on their progress and was amazed to see that quite a few of them had fresh green leaves instead of the all too familiar dead brown twig!
A final look along Derwentwater because we’re about to lose the view. The path we are going to join is coming towards us from the left across the fell side. A thin veil of milky cloud came over while we were descending the main Catbells path but it has cleared now and we’re back in warm sunshine with no breeze. Time to remove the outer layer and give the old brow a good mop round.
We’re back down on the lower path now, which more or less runs parallel with the narrow road below us. The road carries on alongside the water and when the path we are on now reaches Manesty it will tip us out back on to the road for the walk back to Grange. Across the water we have a good view of Walla Crag and Bleaberry Fell.
Above Grange Fell is the veil of thin cloud which hung around for a while earlier. Ahead of us is a point where the road and the path run alongside each other for a couple of yards before going their separate ways once more.
The view down to Abbot’s Bay, the small inlet at the bottom right of the shot. There’s a footpath which goes down there and we did consider going down and walking a little way round the head of the water but in the end we didn’t. It would have tipped us back on to the road just a few yards beyond Manesty so we would still have the road walking section to do. If it had eliminated the road section completely it would have been a different matter altogether.
Another look back along the water with some odd shaped clouds beginning to appear.
A look ahead at the path we are following, this too was a popular route today.
A very colourful garden below us in the little group of houses at Brackenburn.
The memorial seat above Brackenburn …..
….. and the inscription on the memorial tablet set in the crag opposite the seat.
The memorial seat with the tablet opposite it.
Back at Manesty once more, the path ends and we are back to walking the tarmac mile once again.
A very pretty display of Solanum on one of the garden walls in Grange. We have a one of these in the garden but its white not lilac. I’ll have to see if the local garden centre stocks them.
Back in Grange and passing Holy Trinity Church.
We had a quick look round inside, it was wonderfully cool, light and airy and beautifully maintained.
Almost the last building before the road turns right across the bridge is the Grange Bridge Cafe and we’re heading straight for it because …..
….. they have a lovely riverside garden where you can sit and enjoy a full meal or just a cup of tea and a sandwich or a slice of cake. Your order is taken at the table, it arrives very soon afterwards and it isn’t exorbitantly expensive. They weren’t stingy with the quantities either, we ordered a pot of tea for the two of us and there was so much we ended up getting three cups each from the teapot. Across the river you may be able to make out the recent repairs, whitish in colour, to the other arch of the bridge. Sitting here in the sunshine drinking our tea was a very relaxing and enjoyable way to round off today’s walk. The weather is set to remain good for the rest of the week so we’ll have to get out again and make the most of it.