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Walks, Cruises, and Quirky Museums - What to See and Do in Keswick

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Keswick appeals both to visitors who want action and those who prefer to take things slowly. The town offers numerous ways to enjoy the great outdoors, whether on the fells or on the water. Equally, there are gentler pursuits if you’d rather relax and admire the views - perhaps from a cozy pub or a traditional café.

High walks and park walks


With over 20 outdoor clothing shops, Keswick is a walker's paradise. If you know what you’re doing with a map and compass, you can scale some classic Lake District fells, including Skiddaw, Blencathra, and Grisedale Pike, all within easy distance. For novices, Catbells, on Derwent Water’s western shores, is a rewarding first climb. Other gentle walks include crossing the river to Portinscale and strolling around Hope Park, where you can play mini-golf. If you prefer someone more experienced to take you up the fells, Keswick Rambles offers guided walks.


  • Hope Park, Lake Road, Keswick CA12 5DJ; Tel: +44 17687 73445; Website: Hope Park

  • Keswick Rambles; Tel: +44 17687 71302; Website: Keswick Rambles

Launch across the lake


Taking a boat trip across Derwent Water in a traditional wooden launch is a great way both to enjoy the mountain scenery and to reach lakeside beauty spots like Ashness Bridge and Lodore Falls. From the Lodore Pier landing stage you can walk along raised wooden walkways to Grange, a hamlet with a twin-arched packhorse bridge and several tea rooms. Rowing boats, kayaks, canoes, and windsurfers can be hired at several places around the lake including Keswick Launch Pier and Nichol End Marine at Portinscale.


  • Keswick Launch Company, Keswick Landing Pier, Lake Road, Keswick CA12 5DJ; Tel: +44 17687 72263; Website: Keswick Launch Company

  • Nichol End Marine, Portinscale, Keswick CA12 5TY; Tel: +44 17687 73082; Website: Nichol End Marine


Museums and markets


The world’s longest pencil - almost 8 meters - is one of the fun exhibits at Cumberland Pencil Museum, where you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about pencil production. Locally occurring graphite made Keswick king of the pencil industry until the late 18th century. A xylophone made out of stones and weird-looking pieces of antique climbing equipment are some of the eclectic items to be found at the town’s riverside Museum & Art Gallery. Saturdays are for browsing Keswick’s traditional market. Nearby Penrith and Cockermouth have monthly farmers’ markets, too.



Stone circles and views


A mile-and-a-half outside Keswick is one of the Lake District’s most mysterious sights: Castlerigg Stone Circle. The 38 slabs of rock are thought to be 4,000-5,000 years old. An easy walk along the lakeshore to the rocky promontory of Friar’s Crag rewards with mesmerising views down Derwent Water to the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale,’ the local name for the entrance to the steep-sided valley. Ashness Bridge, on a narrow track above the lake’s eastern shore, is a charming old stone packhorse bridge. Walk beyond the bridge for sweeping views over the lake and northern fells.



Attractions near Keswick


Free tastings are included in the tour of The Lakes Distillery, 6 miles north of Keswick, where gin, whisky, and vodka are distilled from the waters of the River Derwent. If the wild ospreys have returned to Bassenthwaite, you can watch them during the season - April to August - through high-powered telescopes from a viewing platform in Dodd Wood. Little beats the scenic drive south of Derwent Water through Borrowdale’s craggy heights, forested slopes, and traditional hamlets. You can continue up steep Honister Pass to Honister Slate Mine, where you can tour the still-working facility.


  • The Lakes Distillery, Setmurthy, near Bassenthwaite Lake, Cumbria CA13 9SJ; Tel: +44 17687 88857; Website: The Lakes Distillery

  • Honister Slate Mine, Honister Pass, Borrowdale, Keswick CA12 5XN; Tel: +44 17687 77230; Website: Honister Slate Mine