Cat Bells, the Newlands Valley and a short stroll along Derwent Water

The final day of my week off in March and, although we didn’t know it at the time, just over a week until the “lockdown”. The Government’s policy at the time was to develop “herd immunity” and and in an interview in the Sunday Times – behind a paywall! – the Health Secretary was talking about locking up the elderly and other vilnerable people for 3 months. Government policy seemed confused and uncler, but there didn’t seem to be any reason not to go up to the Lakes for a walk, where I’d be in contact with fewer people than I would have been back in Wigan.

I set off early and driving up the M6 traffic was noticeably quieter than normal, but it was far from deserted. Arriving in Keswick I found a place to park on the old road to Pontiscale – now a dead end for traffic but a popular free place to park. After donning my boots and rucksac I set off, crossing the footbridge over the river and walked through Portiscale village, passing the appartment where we stayed a couple of summers ago.

It was a relatively easy start to the walk but after about a mile and a half, during a short climb , I realised I’d left my walking poles in the car. They take some of the strain off my dodgy old knees when descending, but I’d gone too far to turn back to retrieve them so I soldiered on.


About 40 minutes after setting out I reached the foot of Cat Bells. It’s a smaller fell and in easy reach of Keswick, so it’s a popular climb and I expected to see a few other walkers on the way up. The sign told us it was an hour to the top. The last time I went up here it took me about 40 minutes, but as I hadn’t done a lot of fell walking of late I wasn’t sure I’d manage to equal that this time.

As expected there were other walkers making their way to the top, probably not as many as usual, although it was still relatively early. I wan’t the slowest by any means, although I stopped several times to take in the view (not just and excuse to pause for breath – honest!).


I arrived at the summit after 45 minutes, so not quite as quick as last time. It was a grey day so the fells didn’t look their best, but he views were still magnificent even with cloud covering some of the higher fells – it made them look atmospheric.


After a short break to take some photos I resumed my walk, heading south, downhill towards Newlands hawse. I could have carried on along the ridge up to Maiden Moor and High Spy or down to the shores of Derwent Water, but my plan was to descend down to Newlands Valley.

Old mine workings
Looking back down the valley

Newlands is something of a “secret valley” much less trod than the east side of the ridge and I passed very few people – just a handful of walkers and a mountain biker (older than me!)


There was some rain around and I spotted a rainbow

Reaching the bottom of the path up to Cat Bells, rather than retrace my steps back to the car, as it was stoll early in the afternoon, I decided to walk round to Derwent Water and take a gentle stroll part way along the lake shore.

Sculpture commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Trust

I was half tempted to continue on all round the lake, but that was a bit ambitious! Time was getting on so I turned round and retraced my steps, along the shore, back towards Portinscale and then over the bridge to my car.

Another monument to the National Trust – a bench this time
There’s the launch – not many passengers today
I wandered lonely as a cloud …… (wrong lake, mind)

Arriving back at my car I decided to drive into Keswick and visit a favourite bookshop – just enough time to browse and make a purchase before closing time.

29 thoughts on “Cat Bells, the Newlands Valley and a short stroll along Derwent Water

    • It’s a lovely little fell. Not so high but steep in places and a couple of scrambles. And great views from the top. I’ve been up a few times. It was as busy as normal this time. Hope I’ve a few more years of climbing the fells yet – if we ever get out of lockdown

    • Managed to sneak one more walk in before we were told to stay indoors and that the Lake District was closed. I didn’t feel irresponsible in that I was certainly practicing “social distancing” but then they started discouraging travel.

  1. I was out that weekend too – a bit fortuitous with hindsight. I don’t know that bookshop! Shall have to investigate. An old friend lives in Portinscale – now I’m wondering how he’s doing!

  2. Lovely photos as usual, despite the rather grey weather. I especially love that quaint little bookshop. It’s like something out of a movie. Also, why is it called Cat Bells?

    • Indeed! I did sneak in another trip before the lake district was “closed” but I am missing the fells and moors, particulalry as we have had some good weather the past 3 weeks. Thank goodness for the Plantations which are only 5 minutes from my front door.

      • It wasn’t so busy. I typically go out around 6 o’clock and stick to quieter paths. There’s usually a few dog walkers, runners and cyclists about but easy to keep distance. Not much different this long weekend. Most people having their tea at that time! We eat later than most.

  3. A great little fell, albeit a very popular one, not at the moment though. It will be interesting to see if the lockdown period is long enough for some paths to recover a little from erosion or some lesser known paths to vanish into the undergrowth.

    • Yes it will interesting to see what happens to the well trodden paths while they are having a little “rest”. Those routes through the slopes covered with bracken will probably disappear. But I’ve not sure that badly eroded paths will recover.

      • I have a local hill, Ysgyryd Fawr where the summit path used to be a lovely grassy tread that’s been reduced to a wide grassless earthy mess. I’m hoping stretches like that might recover. No real clue why it disintegrated so quickly

      • I was thinking of the rocky slopes, but you’re right. I think the grassy slopes that have suffered damage may just recover.

    • Indeed, Eunice, and it looked even better in real life. Luckily the rain was further down the valley so I managed to keep dry.
      Pining for the Lakes at the moment 😦

  4. Beautiful views. Love the carving monuments to commemorate 100 years and the daffodils. Ours are much slower but with a day of sun, we have two blooming-it’s the lake effect! Soon you’ll be back out there I hope!

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