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Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...

Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...


Postby When Adventure Knox » Sun Jul 03, 2022 5:17 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Cat Bells

Date walked: 31/08/2021

Time taken: 5

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Last summer I hiked Catbells and was left torn in my opinion of it. I loved taking the Launch (boat) from Keswick to Hawse End to begin the hike, I loved the views and appreciated these rewards for not a huge amount of effort. I loved the lake shore walk to return and eating lunch on the jetty of Derwent Water. But as it was the 6 weeks summer holidays (I'm a teacher so get little choice in the matter) it was incredibly busy. Litter was an issue, and people were facetiming from the top (and not discretely either!) Have you hiked Catbells and if you have, what were your thoughts? I'll be back again this summer (Keswick based) so am open to any suggestions for hikes you think I might enjoy.

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Re: Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...

Postby simon-b » Sun Jul 03, 2022 6:26 pm

I find the best way to enjoy a crowded Catbells is to include it in a walk with some less crowded nearby areas. For example, I once climbed neighbouring Maiden Moor direct from Newlands Valley, and didn't encounter another soul on the way up. Then, heading along the ridge towards Catbells is became busier, then unsurprisingly very busy on Catbells summit. By combining quiet solo bits with more popular tops, I can not only tolerate the crowds when I do meet them, but also enjoy the banter with folk up there. Similar thing using an obscure route up Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, Skiddaw etc.
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Re: Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...

Postby When Adventure Knox » Sun Jul 03, 2022 7:09 pm

Hi Simon

This is a fab suggestion. Thinking about it, when I was in the Lakes in 2018 with friends, one of them planned our route for Old Man of Coniston and we had the route mostly to ourselves until the popular summit and you're right, after the solitude, it's sometimes nice to have others around.

I'd be very interested to hear of any recommendations you have for a route up Scafell Pike. I did Ben Nevis in 2020 (Tourist Path, though it was July and I think many people were still not venturing out so it was quiet) Snowdon in 2021 via the Rhyd Ddu path (and again, quiet until the summit) and would like to tackle Scafell Pike this year so I have the 3 under my belt.
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Re: Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...

Postby simon-b » Sun Jul 03, 2022 7:25 pm

When Adventure Knox wrote:Hi Simon

This is a fab suggestion. Thinking about it, when I was in the Lakes in 2018 with friends, one of them planned our route for Old Man of Coniston and we had the route mostly to ourselves until the popular summit and you're right, after the solitude, it's sometimes nice to have others around.

I'd be very interested to hear of any recommendations you have for a route up Scafell Pike. I did Ben Nevis in 2020 (Tourist Path, though it was July and I think many people were still not venturing out so it was quiet) Snowdon in 2021 via the Rhyd Ddu path (and again, quiet until the summit) and would like to tackle Scafell Pike this year so I have the 3 under my belt.

If you can get access to Wainwright's Southern Fells (Chris Jesty's 2000s revisions shouldn't be too dated yet) I'd recommend Scafell Pike from Wasdale alongside Piers Gill. Spectacular, not too long and the Piers Gill section has been quiet when I've done it (you can return by regular path to Wasdale). Another good Wainwrigt route, quiet when I did it, although longer is from Eskdale via Little Narrowcove (you can return over Scafell and Slight Side). Finally, if you're feeling fit and adventurous, the Eskdale Horseshoe taking in the length of both the Scafell and Bowfell ranges is as good as it gets in England.
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Re: Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...

Postby tolkienabouthills » Sun Jul 03, 2022 9:28 pm

It's many years since I did Catbells—it was one of my first fells as a child—I have vague memories of it being fairly busy at the time, but tolerable I think? Mind you we always favoured going to the Lakes either in the February half term, or the Easter holidays. Summer holidays were usually reserved for either Scotland or France.

I get the impression that the Instagram effect has hit the Lakes hard in the last few years though. That is the effect that occurs when a few images of a beautiful, preferably easily accessible, location become popular on the app, prompting thousands of people to flood to the same spot in order to attempt to get exactly the same picture. This is what's left places like the Isle of Skye, Lofoten and parts of Iceland overrun in the last few years. Catbells unfortunately has all the factors necessary for that sort of thing: beautiful views over Derwent Water, close access from a town, a relatively short and easy walk etc.

I'd echo Simon's tips for the busier fells. When I did Ben Nevis with my dad we took the Càrn Mòr Dearg route and the day was all the better for it, especially since we were there in high season. When we did Scafell Pike we took the route up from Borrowdale along Grains Gill—it was quiet at the time but this was a few years ago and again during the February half-term, in fact we ended up turning back at the very last slope to the summit because of the icy snow and our lack of crampons. That said I think my family's practice was generally a good one if you're able to do it: go to the Lakes during the half terms and easter holidays and save the summer holidays for places that are a bit quieter.
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Re: Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...

Postby When Adventure Knox » Sun Jul 10, 2022 6:52 pm

Thank you for the tips tolkienabouthills. It's a shame as we've already booked for this summer again - but should heed your advice for a non-summer school holiday for future trips (as I know the Lakes will keep pulling me back!)
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Re: Catbells - loved some elements and hated others...

Postby Sgurr » Tue Jul 19, 2022 2:11 pm

We combined Catbells with Maiden Moor and our first thought was that it was incredibly eroded. It needs to the CLOSED for a couple of years to recover, but this was on the back of doing Marilyns, where, at least in Scotland at that time of the year you are lucky if you don't have to beat your way through virgin bracken. On the summit we met a D of E group who all had impeccable English. Where had they done their Silver Award? "Senegal" and what about their bronze? "The desert somewhere" They had all flown over from the English school in Qatar and were resenting being given a dressing down by a female Scots instructor who laid into them for not looking after the weak amongst them . They all knew what they wanted out of life (unusual for late teenagers) All but one wanted to be engineers of one sort or another, and he wanted to be a doctor. But they only took up a fraction of the space that the rest of the summiteers took. It was hooching. I am glad I have climbed Catbells, it is in a wonderful setting, but felt that maybe I should have done it when Wainwright did to truly appreciated it.
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