When you walk down to the lakeside it is not difficult to see why Derwentwater is one Keswick's main assets. Derwentwater is about 15 minutes leisurely stroll via Lake Road and the beautiful gardens of Hope Park from the Market Square in Keswick town centre. The lake is three miles long and is fed by the River Derwent catchment area in the high fells at the head of Borrowdale. 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.
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. 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.
The Derwentwater Walk is a scenic 10 mile waymarked walk around Derwentwater. On flat and easy paths, the walk passes through ancient woodlands and along the shores of the lake. The scenery is stunning, with perfect picnic stops, cafes and restaurants along the way. Look out for the sculpture of the hands which commemmorated the 100 year anniversary of the National Trust's care of Brandelhowe.
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, St Herbert's Island. Lord's Island and Rampsholme Island.
One of the popular ways to enjoy the beauty of the lake, besides walking the lakeshore paths, is to take one of the Keswick launches. This operate on a regular timetable around the lake. Not only is it possible to take a cruise and enjoy the complete circuit of Derwentwater, lasting about 50 minutes, you can also use the lake tickets to hop on and off the launch at any of the 7 landing stages around the lake. You can enjoy a walk and a picnic and then catch another launch at the same or different jetty.
Watersports are a very popular pastime on the lake. Derwentwater Marina offers tuition in watersports aswell as hiring out canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, rowing boats, dinghys and windsurfers. Keswick Launch Co. hire rowing boats and self drive motor boats from the Keswick boat landings. There are several launching spots around the lake. Powered craft on the lake must not exceed 10mph.