Appeal for help to repair flood damage to Cat Bells

Runner Steve Birkinshaw with rangers on Cat Bells
Published : 01 Apr 2016 Last update : 04 Apr 2016

Was Cat Bells your first fell? Its distinctive summit dome and it’s fantastic views out over Derwent Water ensure Cat Bells has a special place in many people’s hearts. But the floods of 2015 caused landslides and worsened existing erosion damage on the steep fell paths – and now Cat Bells needs your help.

Help us raise £25,000

Keswick Mountain Festival and the National Trust have joined forces in a campaign to raise £25,000 for urgent work needed on Cat Bells on the Western Shore of Derwent Water near Keswick. 

Joe Cornforth, Upland Path Supervisor for the National Trust in the North Lakes, said: 'Storm Desmond caused a landslide on Cat Bells, ripping straight through the well-known lower terrace path and making existing erosion scars on the summit path so much worse that they almost became unwalkable. '

In places paths have been gouged by rainwater
Cat Bells terrace path damaged by Storm Desmond
In places paths have been gouged by rainwater

'We carried out emergency repairs to keep the paths open for Christmas. However, we need them to withstand the next storm that comes along, so we’ve got to make the paths and the fells a lot more resilient to the extreme weather events we’ve seen in recent years in the Lakes.'

Slowing the Flow

One of the first tasks to be undertaken by the National Trust and supported by Keswick Mountain Festival is the planting of trees on the steep flank of Cat Bells. Long term, the trees will help to stabilise the very unstable ground as well as helping slow the flow of rainwater down the fell reducing the risk of future landslides. 

'This will not only help protect Cat Bells, making it less likely that paths will be carried away by landslides as they were in December,' says Joe. 'It will also help protect the roads from damage by slowing the water down and releasing it more gradually into rivers and the lake. I live in Keswick and also witnessed first hand the damage to family and friends’ homes as a result of Storm Desmond and I hope never to see anything like that again.' 

Planting trees helps to stabilise the steep slopes reducing the risk of landslides
Steve Birkinshaw on Cat Bells planting trees with rangers
Planting trees helps to stabilise the steep slopes reducing the risk of landslides

Record Breaking


Steve Birkinshaw, the Cumbrian fell runner who holds the record for tackling all of Alfred Wainwright’s 214 peaks in just six days and 13 hours, joined teams from The National Trust and Fix the Fells to plant the first lot of saplings on Cat Bells on Wednesday 30th March. Steve broke the legendary Joss Naylor’s record in 2014, and Cat Bells was the final Wainwright he reached. 

Steve will be working with Berghaus during this year’s Keswick Mountain Festival, which runs from 19th -22nd May. He will be leading group trail runs for visitors and speaking in the Adventure Talks Tipi in the Festival Village and was only too pleased to come out to do his bit on Cat Bells. He said: 'The Lake District is the most amazing and beautiful natural adventure playground. It’s loved by so many people, but it does still need to be looked after so it’s great that the Keswick Mountain Festival is supporting the work of the National Trust teams in caring for Cat Bells.'


Keswick Mountain Festival


Nicola Meadley, Keswick Mountain Festival Director, said: 'For many people, Cat Bells is their first climb. It provides a stunning backdrop to the Festival village and we know it holds a special place in the heart of the many walkers, runners and outdoor enthusiasts who come to the Festival each year. 

'The National Trust Rangers and volunteers work really hard to keep Cat Bells and much of the Lake District beautiful and accessible so we’re delighted to have them as our official Festival charity in our tenth anniversary year. We hope that everyone attending the Festival can donate something to help look after the landscape that we all love running, cycling, swimming and climbing in.

The campaign aims to raise the £25,000, which will pay for 950 tonnes of gravel, 30 bags of stone, and the labour and machinery needed – including a helicopter to lift the bags of stone into position - to move them up the fell to repair the paths.


Donate to the Lake District flood appeal

With your support we can continue to repair the destruction caused by Storm Desmond and protect the Lake District from future storms