Catstycam and Birkhouse Moor

Walk date – 1st March 2021

Distance – 7.7 miles

Weather – sunny and warm, very light breeze at height


We’re having a settled spell of weather at the moment so today we went along to Patterdale to follow the Hole in the Wall path from Grisedale up to Red Tarn and from there over to Catstycam and Birkhouse Moor and then back down to Grisedale. With sunshine all the way and only a very light breeze it was a glorious day to be out on the fells. Conditions weren’t the best for photography though as there was a lot of haze which obscured the long distance views, and didn’t do much for the middle distance ones either.


Patterdale – Grisedale – Hole in the Wall – Red Tarn – Catstycam – Red Tarn – Birkhouse Moor – Grisedale – Patterdale

From the parking area at the Patterdale cricket ground we walked up the access road and then dropped down into a very chilly Grisedale.

We were soon out of the chiller cabinet and into the warm sunshine. Here’s a look along Grisedale towards the Helvellyn range as we walked up the hill to the gate.

We stopped here not only to take this shot of the path junction, but to remove a couple of layers and get down to t-shirt and bare arms level as the walk up the hill in the sunshine has warmed us up nicely. We could have done without the winter weight trousers too but there wasn’t much we could do about them. We take the right hand path and begin the long trek up to the Hole in the Wall.

The bulk of Saint Sunday Crag keeps Grisedale in the chiller and  will do so for a couple more weeks yet.

  Approaching the first gate across the path.

Bleaberry Crag on the skyline as we keep plodding along. The last couple of days of dry sunny weather have dried the paths out very nicely so we had firm ground under our feet for a change.

The Helvellyn skyline above Grisedale: from left to right are Dollywaggon Pike, Nethermost Pike and Bleaberry Crag. Time passes and we keep walking but the Hole in the Wall doesn’t seems to be getting any closer. Its a bit of a slog across here but amongst all the uphill bits there are some level sections now and again.

The view doesn’t change much so the camera was forgotten about until we reached the paved section of the path just below the ridge line of Birkhouse Moor. The wall is visible on the left so there’s not much further to go but its steeper than it looks in this shot. My back begins to complain, as usual.

Topping out at the Hole in the Wall where we decided to have a coffee break over by the wall across Birkhouse Moor.

The usual crowds heading for Striding Edge were absent today, for obvious reasons, so we downed packs, sat in the sunshine with our backs to the wall and had a very pleasant ten minute break. This was our view in one direction and  …..

….. this was the view in the opposite direction, the long wall stretching across Birkhouse Moor with a hazy Place Fell over to the right of it.

Break over so we clamber over the stile and make our way over to Red Tarn with views of Helvellyn and Catstycam ahead of us. Its good to be on the level for a while before we start the climb up Catstycam.

On the path towards Catstycam and a look back towards Birkhouse Moor, left, and the start of the Striding Edge route, right. Nothing much is visible beyond them thanks to the haze.

More uphill plodding as we leave the area around Red Tarn and walk up to reach the path leading up Catstycam. We spotted a few walkers up on Helvellyn, two walkers came by us on their way down to Red Tarn and a solo walker came down Swirral Edge and carried on over to Catstycam.

Catstycam, looking very much like every child’s drawing of a mountain.

We join the path coming over from Swirral Edge so here’s a look back towards it with Helvellyn summit on the left and Lower Man on the right.

A look down to Red Tarn as we climb. No shots when we were down at the tarn because it was so dark and it didn’t show up well enough.

A fabulous view from the summit of Catstycam. On the left are the lower slopes of Raise which drop down to Stang End, on the right is Birkhouse Moor, and between the two is Sheffield Pike with Ullswater in the distance.

Raise from the summit of Catsycam. A zoom in makes the zig-zag path a little clearer. A few more views from the summit …..

White Side with Keppel Cove below it.

The ridge line between White Side and Lower Man.

Helvellyn summit, Swirral Edge and Lower Man.

Armboth Fell in the middle foreground behind the ridge between White Side and Lower Man. Its very hazy beyond Armboth Fell but its possible to identify Scar Crags, Sail, Crag Hill and Grasmoor in the gloom.

Looking east with Place Fell and Birks Fell immediately behind the Birkhouse Moor ridge, a little further to the right are …..

….. Birks and Saint Sunday Crag.

After descending Catsycam we had a lunch break at Red Tarn and then retraced our steps back over to the wall across Birkhouse Moor. We noticed that quite a few walkers were now making their way up to Red Tarn via the path from Glenridding.

A look back at Helvellyn and Catstycam as we cross Birkhouse Moor.

The summit cairn on Birkhouse Moor from where there isn’t much of a view so we carry on to the viewpoint at the far end.

  The view of Ullswater is well worth the very short diversion although the haze dulled everything down today which was disappointing.

A few more shots from the viewpoint, here’s Sheffield Pike …..

….. Hart Side beyond Sheffield Pike and Green Side …..

….. Green Side with its slag heaps below …..

….. Stybarrow Dodd rising up from Green Side …..

….. Raise with Stybarrow Dodd behind it …..

….. White Side and Raise. As I mentioned it is only a very shot diversion to the end point of Birkhouse Moor so its well worth taking a look.

We made our way back to the path and began the descent of Birkhouse Moor

Birks Fell from the descent.

Ullswater, Place Fell and Glenridding.

Looking ahead at our descent route.

We needed to leave the main path to get back over onto the Grisedale path so we dropped down to the faint path leading to the wall, it becomes clearer with a zoom in. There are step stones set into the wall so there’s no problem getting across and the path clearly continues beyond the wall crossing.

Birks Fell again from the path taking us down to Grisedale.

The path eventually joins up with the Hole in the Wall one so we are back on the path we started out on.

Arnison Crag and Grisedale in the afternoon sun, the lower fields are beginning to ‘green up’ nicely in the fine weather.

A look back towards Helvellyn’s Bleaberry Crag after we crossed the bridge over Grisedale Beck and made our way back to Patterdale.

Back at the cricket ground parking area, with mud free boots for a change, and a view of a sunlit Arnison Crag. Its a great setting for a game of cricket. So that’s it for today folks, the weather has been wonderful and we’ve had a good walk so now we’ll get off home, reward ourselves with a well-earned cuppa and make plans for our next outing. See you soon.