Remember: Press F11 for a full screen view of this page.

" Catbells Cloud Inversion "

Date & start time: 10th January 2013, 12.50 pm start for the walk.

Location of Start : Roadside close to Skelgill, Hawes End, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 245 211 )

Places visited : Skelgill Bank from the northern end, Catbells and back via Yewthwaite Comb.

Walk details :   2.85 mls, 1000 ft of ascent, 3 hours 5 mins.

Highest point :  Catbells 1,481ft - 451m.

Walked with : Ann and the dogs, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Clear blue skies with a temperature inversion keeping the clouds in the valleys.

" Catbells Cloud Inversion " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


The forecasts hinted at cloud in the valleys and clear above but our valley dawned clear from top to bottom. 

If we were going to get some interesting cloud effects, Catbells in the next valley may be a good place to see them

but if not, then at least we would get good views over Derwent Water in the sunshine.

Great Gable ~ Great Views ~ as I think I have said already !

It's a sunny day and a touch of cloud hangs above the valley . . . but not in the way that was forecasted.

As it was beautifully clear we decided to drive the long way round, up the Buttermere Valley and over to Catbells,

instead of the more direct Whinlatter Pass route.    This was Grasmoor as we paused at Hause Point.

Beautiful reflections of Mellbreak across the lake . . . the real reason for the brief stop.

Go on . . . click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam annotated panorama

The sun bursts over the top of Haystacks as we look down on the Buttermere Pines at the head of the lake.

The lack of breeze has allowed us to catch the lovely reflections today.

Driving up the valley we catch this view of the pass

with a strange wisp of cloud flowing through the old bridge parapets by the mine buildings.

There must be more cloud in Borrowdale than here.

The cloud is trapped in the valley beyond, due to the temperature inversion, but there's blue skies not far above.

A short walk up the bank failed to climb above it so I headed back to the car.

There are sounds of slate hammers from the shed so I call in to pass words of encouragement to the staff

to try for an appeal against the recent second refusal for the revised zip wire scheme.

Surely the added attraction would encourage the tourism and employment that the Lakes so badly needs ?

Catbells is the plan so we head down into the mist . . . (the blue sky is the car windscreen colour by the way)

But we have second thoughts . . . if the mist was that far up the valley then Catbells would probably not be high enough to be out of the cloud ?

Plan B . . . we return to Honister to walk to Dale Head . . . that will definitely give us views today.

On returning to Honister we noticed the cloud had dropped a few hundred feet . . .

Plan C . . . Catbells will now be clear so we reverted to Plan A . . . and once again drove down into the mist.

Brandelhow Point . . . down there somewhere in the mist.

The house on the zig-zags at the foot Catbells . . . we parked just round the corner on the road to Skelgill.

From here we took the public footpath to Catbells ~ 1 mile ~

Once up the first steep ascent the sky started to brighten . . . a fore-taste of things to come.

Yes . . . up there was the sun . . . and the inversion was within our grasp.

The excitement of that first glimpse above the clouds . . .

Even Bethan looked pleased to get a view once again.

As we climbed a little further, out of the immediate separation zone, the sky was once again fully clear

and the views across to Skiddaw and Skiddaw Little Man were as clear as a bell.

Further to the north east, Blencathra could be seen above the cloud that covered Keswick.

The cloud base rose and fell as waves of mist moved over us.

We're in the cloud again . . . but that in itself was interesting.

I recognise that silhouette . . .
. . . and that one.

Climbing a little higher, or with the cloud a little lower,

we now had a clear view across to Causey Pike and the north western fells.

The nick on Catbells, remnants of some surface mining.
I turn for a photo back along the ridge.

Wainwright says this fell is suitable to bring your granny . . .

well she'll have to climb that one as well before she reaches the summit !

Closer now and the cloud rolls over us . . . and down to Borrowdale on the left.

A wider panorama of the north western fells while the air is clear.

Hinted at on the last photo . . . this is a fog-bow . . . a white rainbow in the fog.

Stand back and wonder at the magical optics of the world as the sunlight is reflected in the droplets of water that make up the cloud.

The story so far . . .

Click here or on the photo above for a full Loweswatercam 360 degree annotated panorama

More cloud envelopes us as we walk on towards the summit.

There is a bank of cloud on the far horizon, evidence of a weather front approaching from the west.

I hope the sun doesn't get lost behind it.

Newlands Valley Sheep
Maybe his name is Robinson after the mountain behind.

The full Newlands inversion.

On the edge again and the mist is playing tricks again.

I can see the white fog-bow again . . . but there's a sheen around Ann's outline on the mist ahead of her.

Not the most distinct . . . but a definite Brocken Spectre . . .

I have a go at capturing the moment as I see it . . .
. . . my shadow, with an undeserved halo, showing on the cloud below.

To experience a Spectre you must have the sun low in the sky behind you and a layer of cloud ahead, on which to cast your shadow.

Like the fog-bow, the halo effect is a refraction of the light hitting the water droplets and bounding back from each of the micro-prisms.

The view's not bad either !

We're now on the start of the last steep climb to the summit.

A slight breeze ruffles the cloud base below us,

the arms of which extend into each of the five major valleys of the Newlands basin.

Catching the sun.

Looking back once again as my shadow, and that of the fellside we are climbing, is cast onto the clouds below.

A cheerful hello

as we meet up with a distant neighbour of ours.


Penny from Lorton is also out walking Catbells.


Her hunch that the cloud inversion

would seen from Catbells has really come paid off.

After a short chat, she descends with the view ahead as she goes.

The cloud is rolling in again over the shoulder of Skelgill Bank.

Penny very kindly sent us this photo that she took a few minutes later.

That may even be us on the summit of Catbells . . .  thanks for that.

Certainly by the time we reached the top, the sun has temporarily dropped behind the cloud I mentioned earlier.

The top of the inversion is much darker now and some of the texture of the cloud is lost.

On the summit there were seven of us . . . and the spirit of the occasion was superb as everyone chatted together.

Cameras were exchanged and photos taken to record the climb above the clouds.

This couple had a large dog, Sinbad, and three small chihuahuas . . . the smaller ones being easier to arrange for the camera !

This couple were up in the Lakes from the Cardiff area.  They wanted that special summit photo too. 

He used his larger SLR camera that he has for his professional work and also a smaller compact type, in order to record the scene from the summit.

I also wanted to capture that lovely sky behind them.


After subsequent exchange of emails meant we received Gareth's photos of us on the summit.

Such a magical place and everyone we talked too, including Colette and Gareth

were really friendly and equally excited about the conditions today.

Thanks for sending the photos Gareth . . . RmH


This gentleman was from Manchester if I recall correctly.

He's just walking back to put his camera away in his rucksack too.

Stand back . . . or sit back and enjoy the big picture.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger Loweswatercam 360 degree annotated panorama


Lunch at the top is the general rule and after our walk around we return to the rucksack to dig out our sandwiches.

Also in there is a flask of soup . . . very welcome as the summit breeze has a definite edge to it today.

While we were sat and enjoyed lunch there was the sound of an aircraft

and my big lens captures the RAF Hercules aircraft as it flies past Clough Head.

Again as it quietly flies over Ether Knott, the highest of the Grange Fells.

Looking around to the west . . . there's Newlands Pass clear above the clouds.

When you leave the summit always check to see if anything has been left behind . . . that's his theory too !

King of the Castle . . . strutting his stuff.

A we leave the cloud rolls in once more sliding over the ridge from left to right.

A big bank of cloud was also flooding up the Bassenthwaite valley towards Keswick . . . it can just be seen by distant Lord's Seat.

Harry leads the way . . . or is it Bethan . . . check the colour of the collar.

The colour and texture of her coat has changed over the last year and now she looks a lot more like Harry.

Did you notice Castle Crag in the last photo ?

The cloud base is such that just the top fifty feet are showing above the inversion.

Look at Newlands now . . . there's a whole bank of cloud flooding over the Pass.

Zooming in . . . I wonder whether there's any sunshine left in our valley . . . or is it full of cloud too ?

Time to go and find out.

We continue on towards Hause Gate and Maiden Moor . . . but then take the diagonal path down Yewthwaite Comb.

. . . passing signs of the old Yewthwaite lead mines along the way.

It seems we must leave the fine weather behind and descend into the mist.

Fine Mares Tails in the sky . . . ice clouds blown on the high winds of the upper atmosphere.

All good things come to an end as we are enveloped by cloud.

Following the old mine track down.

Ahead, the walk along the out take wall . . .
. . . back to the car parked on the Skelgill Road.

- - - o o o - - -

It was headlights all the way as we drove up the Newlands Valley, passing Stair and Stoneycroft, Rigg Beck and Keskadale,

as we climbed up through the clouds to the top of the pass.

- - - o o o - - -

Suddenly, as befits these sort of situations, the sky cleared again

and we had an outline of Sail, Scar Crags and the lower end of Ard Crags above the mist.

The cloud that was flooding over the pass had not come from the Buttermere Valley.

It was forming over Whiteside and being blown up and over the pass.

Knott Rigg / Ard Crags has a cotton wool covering separate from the main cloud bank.

It was time to leave the wonders of the day behind and make our way down a cloud-free Buttermere Valley

to that eagerly awaited teapot . . . what a great day . . . despite our initial prevarications !

- - - o o o - - -



Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon Sureshot SX220, my Canon G10 or 1100D SLR digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . the best weather information . . .or just pots of luck !

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 8th January 2013 - Rannerdale Late On

A previous time up here - 7th May 2011 OFC 10th Anniversary - Catbells

Next walk - 12th January 2013 - A West Coast, St Bees Sunset