If you head west out of Keswick towards Cockermouth via the busy A66 you'll drive alongside Bassenthwaite Lake - the only true 'lake' in the Lake District as all the others in the Lake District are meres or waters.
You can follow a lakeside path all the way along the western shore but there is no access to the eastern shore except at Mirehouse. This fine country house and its grounds are open to the public, you can get down to the lakeshore and the tiny, peaceful St Bega's Church. There are strong links between Mirehouse and the poet Tennyson and it is thought much of the 'Morte d'Arthur' was written here.
Bassenthwaite Lake is a very important place for wildlife. Hundreds of birds including the osprey migrate to the lake and fish such as atlantic salmon come to Bassenthwaite Lake to spawn.
A major regeneration project was undertaken to bring the water in the lake up to the high quality which best supports its wildlife, including the unique vendace fish and the feeding grounds of the ospreys, now a regular summer visitor. Much of the problem came from surface run off washing sediment into the lake and the seepage of agricultural fertilisers which encourage the spread of algae.
The Lake District's first ever wetland nature reserve is situated at the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake. Visitors to the Dubwath Wetland Nature Reserve can expect to spot grasshopper warbler, curlew, greylag, geese, reed bunting and meadow pipit. The 10 hectare site incorporates a 650m gravel path linking to 900m of recycled plastic boardwalk. The routes are designed to provide access to viewing points and bird hides. The round celtic style wildlife hides will be made from local materials gathered in coppice woodlands and reed beds.
Whinlatter Forest above Bassenthwaite Lake is famous as the nesting place of the magnificent ospreys which feed on fish from the lake. A television link can be seen at the Whinlatter Forest Visitor Centre and there is an observation point across the lake in Dodd Wood.
At Dubwath, on the North Western shore, is Bassenthwaite Sailing Club which hosts a family regatta during the first week of August every year. RYA members can launch sailing boats from the grounds of the club for a daily fee.
Boat, canoe and sail board users must respect the no boating zones as these protect important breeding grounds. There is no right of navigation on Bassenthwaite so to take any craft onto the lake you must have a permit. For fishing on the lake you need a valid lake permit and an Environment Agency rod licence. Click here for more information and fishing and boating and to view and download a pdf map of Bassenthwaite Lake.
Bassenthwaite Lake is a very important place for wildlife. Hundreds of birds including the osprey migrate to the lake and fish such as atlantic salmon come to Bassenthwaite Lake to spawn. Don't miss a visit to Dubwath Silver Meadows, a wetland nature reserve is at the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake. Visitors to the reserve can expect to spot grasshopper warbler, curlew, greylag, geese, reed bunting and meadow pipit.
Don't miss a visit to the Lake District Wildlife Park, there are 24 acres of parkland with over 100 species of wild and domestic animals. Enjoy a tour of The Lakes Distillery, the largest whisky distillery in England, is set in an area of unimaginable beauty next to Bassenthwaite Lake. Inviting and informal The Bistro at the Distillery is the perfect place for coffee and cake, light lunches, afternoon tea or a leisurely three-course supper. Mirehouse is a beautiful family run historic house with gardens, lakeshore and woodland playgrounds.
Just off the A66 at the Western end of Bassenthwaite Lake you will find the Bassenthwaite Lake Station cafe, aboard a full-size replica steam train, used as the filmset for the 2017 film, Murder on the Orient Express located on the restored former railway station.