Back when I was 17 a friend who lived in England asked me to join her Girl Guide (like the Girl Scouts) in the Lake District for a walking and camping trip. For various reasons I could not go. However, the placed stayed in mind. Last month I had the opportunity to visit the Lake District for weekend with my spouse.
The Lake District is a national park located in the northwest corner of England. Glasgow, Scotland is closer to it then London by several hours. It is known for its picturesque lakes and the fells (varying in size between a tall hill to a short mountain). All the major guidebooks referred to the north part of the Lake District as a walker’s paradise. In British English walker means hiker. When planning the trip I picked Keswick the largest town in the north as the base of operations.
The first day my spouse I decided to tackle Cat Bells and High Spy lower fells across the lake from Keswick. It’s a two mile walk to the trail head for Cat Bells, but we opted for the ferry to drop us off at Hawes End. Guidebooks and tourism advertises the walk to the top of Cat Bells as a family friendly walk. It starts off by some fields, which reminded me of the Shire in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. However, the easy path quickly became a 1,000 foot accent, which included scrambling up rocks.
As both of us sweated up the ascents young boys aged 11-13 ran past like we were standing still. Fell running is a common activity in the area. Later on in the walk we’d run into adults running up and down higher fells. Along, with the young runners there were multiple families with small children hiking Cat Bells and enjoying a picnic lunch up top.
The views were like walking into a painting. I posted a picture below. The amount of beauty surrounding you seems surreal. It is cliche, but there are no words to describe the place. Even looking back on the photos they do not quite capture the magnitude of the fells, the lakes, and their beauty.
One thing the guide books all suggest is to buy real maps because there is a lack of signage. They are not being overly cautious. Hiking from the Cat Bells to High Spy, which includes walking along the ridge and over several more fells there no posted signs beyond a cairn. The two of us missed our turn off because we missed the cairn and distracted by all the adult runners.
Heading back down to the lake became an adventure. Once we retraced our steps to the turn off we had to hike through a semi bog then hop a fence. Next was at least an 8% decline down an abandon slate mining area with slate slabs towering over us on one side. At this point we had not seen anyone lately and a sheep baaing startled me. Lots of sheep reside in the area hence the reason you have to climb over several fences. Along the way we stopped in a tiny village at a tea shop, which served tasty tea and scones with cream and jam. The last three miles were on a path looking out over the lake. We made it back to Hawes End dock as the ferry boat pulled up. On the way back into Keswick we gazed up at Cat Bells and the ridge we climbed to High Spy.
Looking back at the Cat Bells, Dernwater Lake, and Keswick.