When you walk down to the lakeside it is not difficult to see why Derwentwater is one Keswick's main assets. Derwentwater is only a short stroll from the town centre via Hope Park with its beautiful formal gardens. The lake is three miles long and is fed by the River Derwent catchment area in the high fells at the head of Borrowdale.
A little further on from the boat landings is Friars Crag with its stunning views of Derwentwater and the Borrowdale valley. The viewpoint is one of the most popular places for photographs and only a short stroll from the town centre. The view was described by Ruskin as one of the three or four most beautiful views in Europe. There is a memorial to Ruskin on the crag, a slab of rock with a bronze portrait medallion. It is called Friar's Crag because it is said to be the departure point for monks sailing to St Herbert's Island on pilgrimmage to where the Saint was said to live. The fictionary Old Brown from Squirrel Nutkin in the Beatrix Potter tale was also supposed to have sailed to the island, known as Owl Island in the book. The Lingholm Woods on the opposite side of Derwentwater were used as a background for many of Beatrix Potter's woodland and nature sketches.
Tens of thousands of walkers will have looked at and wondered at the modern sculpture set in Calf Close Bay, placed there to commemorate the Centenary of the National Trust in the Lake District. carved out of a boulder of volcanic rock from the Borrowdale Valley, the unusual design represents ten segments across ten rings, a century. The hige range of lake levels means a variation from total submergence to standing marooned high on the share. A memorial plaque is set beside the path.
There are four islands in total on Derwentwater, all owned by the National Trust, as is much of the shoreline.
Derwent Isle - the largest island and with an occupied house on it, is linked to the mainland by boat, the boat house being clearly visible from the boat landings. The island and house are leased by the National Trust to tenants who travel in and out using boathouses on both sides. The house is open to the public for organised visits at certain times of the year arranged by the National Trust. Derwent Isle was probably first settled by the german copper miners of the 16thC, a grand house was built in the late 1770's by a prominent character, Joseph Pocklington, who is possibly most renowned for the spectacular firework displays on the lakeshore at that time and the fake naval battles staged around the island.
St Herbert's Island - named after the seventh century hermit who took sanctuary here. It is also 'Owl Island' in Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin story.
Lord's Island - once home to the earls of Derwentwater until the Jacobite rebellion.
Rampsholme Island - the smallest of the four islands.
One of the popular ways to enjoy the beauty of the lake, besides walking the lakeshore paths, is to take one of the launches which operate on a regular timetable around the lake. Not only is it possible to make the complete circuit of Derwentwater, lasting about 50 minutes, but a little planning allows passengers to leave the launch at any one of the regular stops for a walk and picnic and then catch another launch at the same or different jetty.
Rowing boats can also be hired and canoes and kayaks are a common sight on the lake. There are two marinas and several launching spots around the lake. Powered craft on the lake must not exceed 10mph. A permit from Keswick Angling Association is required to fish in addition to an Environment Agency rod licence. Both are available from the Keswick Information Centre.
Derwentwater Foreshore has a rich and prestigious history. In the 16th century the site was used as a landing spot for the local mining industry and in the 18th and 19th century it became the inspiration for Romantic Poets such as William Wordsworth. In Victorian times the Foreshore became a focal point for the newly developing tourist industry which brought tourists to Keswick by railway.
Dive into Derwentwater,
Have a go at all the activities taking place on it, around it and of course, in it.
Derwentwater rivals anywhere in the world for its sheer stunning location and beauty. So, dive in, and have a holiday to remember.
Sail on it ............. hire a rowing boat, canoe, kayak, dragon boat, windsurfers - with two marinas and many water sport activity providers, the choice of watercraft is varied and fun. Sail to one of the islands, explore and have a picnic. Have a real 'Swallows and Amazons' adventure.
Walk or Cycle round it .......... the walk around the lake is about eight miles long and you can follow the shore for much of the way. Stop for coffee and cake at one of the hotels and cafes you'll pass on the way. Rest on one of the shingle beaches and simply watch the world go by. The bike ride is slightly longer as you need to head down the Borrowdale Valley as far as Grange, take a right over the beautiful humped back stone bridge and back via Portinscale.
Paddle in it ........... or feed the ducks or buy the kids a fishing net. The lakeshore is just perfect for families. Pack a picnic and have a memorable family day out. Take the launch to your favourite bay - which will it be - Brandelhow or Manesty, or perhaps Calf Close Bay?
Ramble round it ............. with the Rambler Stagecoach buses. From Keswick, travelling along the Borrowdale Road by the side of Derwentwater, visit our wonderful Borrowdale Valley and stop off at its attractions along the way - Honister Slate Mine, Whinlatter Forest with its Play Area, Cycle tracks and GoApe. Take a break at Buttermere and enjoy an ice cream.
Stay by it.......Keswick is situated by the lake - just a short walk from town. Quality accommodation from camping to cosy cottages, guest houses to luxury hotels. Try a valley location for a change-peace and quiet a world away from city life!
Walk on the fells surrounding it ................... Derwentwater is surrounded by Skiddaw, Walla Crag, Catbells and the Jaws of Borrowdale. Plenty of fellwalking to give you such a fabulous day out. Explore the fells yourself, with map and compass in hand, or take a walk in the company of an experienced guide.
Take a tour on it.................one of the best ways to get your bearings for Keswick and the surrounding area is to take a tour of the lake. Keswick Launch Company runs a regular service which take you clockwise or anticlockwise on a 50 minute tour of the lake. You can hop on and off at the six stops to explore the lakeshore and it's the easiest way to get to the foot of Catbells (481m). There's also a bus service that operates in a loop around the lake.
Do something new on it .........try a new activity - mountain biking; ghyll scrambling; high ropes; Via Ferrata; climbing - our hills are alive with adventure!