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Keswick

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Keswick viewed from Latrigg

Keswick is the northern tourist hub of the Lake District National Park and is a favourite base for serious walkers and climbers, artists and photographers, and anyone who enjoys mountain and lake scenery. A thriving town of individual shops, including many selling outdoor equipment, art galleries, delis, cafes, restaurants and pubs, Keswick is a great place to collapse at the end of a long walk and eat a hearty meal. It also has many attractions to occupy visitors on a rainy day when heading up into the hills is not the thing to do.

Keswick sits under the shadow of England's fourth highest mountain, Skiddaw, and it lies at the head of the Borrowdale valley with Derwentwater lake reaching the edge of town.

Get in[edit]

Trains to and from Keswick were axed back in the 1970s so you either have to drive, cycle, walk or get a bus.

There is a regular bus service from Penrith train station to Keswick.

Driving is fast - Keswick is 17 miles along the partially-dualled A66 trunk road from the M6 Motorway at Penrith.

Parking space is at a premium on busy days. There are a couple of pay and display car parks in the town centre, and another close to the lakeside, with plenty of free on-street parking further from the centre. A free but time-limited disc-parking scheme is in operation on some roads, often allowing two hours free parking.

Get around[edit]

Within town, distances are short so walking is easy.

Buses run all over the Lake District from Keswick and these can make a good way to get out to or back from a days walking destination.

The Keswick Launch[1] water taxis run on Derwentwater with both clockwise and anticlockwise routes serving seven jetties around the lake.

Thirlmere, a lake on the way to Keswick

See[edit][add listing]

  • The Cumberland Pencil Museum, Southey Works, +44 17687 73626, [2]. 9.30am-5pm, closed on 25th & 26th December and 1st of January. A museum documenting 350 years of pencil making, situated next to the factory. Graphite was first discovered in nearby Borrowdale, hence the factory is here. Also includes the world's largest colored pencil. Adult £4.00, Child (under 16) £3.00, Child under 5 yrs, free, Senior Citizen £3.00, Students £3.50, Family (2 adults & 3 children under 16) £11.00, Family membership pass (entry to Museum for 12 months & 10% off in retail shop) £16.50..  edit
  • Keswick Museum & Art Gallery, Station Road, CA12 4NF (In Fitz Park, just North of the river.), +44 17687 73263, [3]. Tu-Sa 10:00-16:00. A victorian museum with an assorted permanent collection and temporary displays. Free.  edit


Do[edit][add listing]

Walk... walk.. walk... Hikers can walk onto the surrounding hills (known locally as fells - a word dating from viking times) or into the nearby valleys straight from the town, with more options opening up if you use the Keswick Launch, a car, or the local buses.

  • The easiest walk locally is the ten-minute level stroll along the lakeshore to Friar's Crag viewpoint, looking down the lake deep into Borrowdale. Start at the end of Lake Road by the theatre.
  • A circuit of the lake can be done but involves a bit of road-walking. The ferries can be used to shorten the walk as necessary.
  • Skiddaw is Keswick's own mountain. The walking path leaves from the back of town and ascends this 3,000 foot hill, the fourth highest in England. The walk is straightforward, just a little long for non-walkers. First you pass the smaller Latrigg, then along a well worn path up the grassy slopes. The summit is a long undulating dome with four tops.
  • Catbells is the most-climbed of the local fells. This is because it looks great from the lake shore in town, and looks close and easy. Many people take the ferry over to the jetty at Hawse End and take the pleasant walk through the woods then onto the hillside for the easy ascent. However, it is also the hill with the most injuries, because people tackle it in trainers or sandals, then have problems on a section of smooth-worn rock. For an alternative (quieter) route, when the path crossed the lane by the cattle grid, take the small lane to the right of the hill toward Skelgill Farm, and continue the gently-ascending path into the Newlands Valley, then head left and uphill to reach the summit ridge after the summit of Catbells. You can then backtrack along the ridge to the summit. People most often descend from this dip on the ridge, down to the side of the lake, then either walk along the lakeshore or catch a ferry back to Keswick from the jetty at Brandlehow.

Take a scenic drive. If you can't walk then at least drive around from Borrowdale. A trip over the Honister Pass to Buttermere is well worth the effort returning over either Newlands Pass or Whinlatter Pass for spectacular views.

Keswick leisure pool is on the site of the old railway station, or for a more indulgent spa session there's the Lodore Hotel a few miles down the road into Borrowdale, which offers pamper days for when the weather really isn't cooperating. [4]

Theatre[edit]

The Theatre by the Lake[5] is an attractive theatre at the end of Lake Road by the Lakeside car park. It is open all the year round and is particularly popular in the summer months when it runs a series of plays in repertory. The main theatre puts on three productions during the summer which run on consecutive nights throughout the season. Similarly there is a small studio theatre which also runs a three production repertory system. It is professional theatre of a high standard and has Dame Judi Dench as one of its patrons. The theatre building is modern and comfortable with good refreshment facilities and a small shop.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Outdoor gear. All the big high-street outdoor shops are represented in Keswick, so you'll be spoilt for choice if you need any clothing or equipment for walking, climbing, or camping (Just don't forget to spend some time using it!)

Eat[edit][add listing]

Pretty much all of the pubs in the area offer traditional pub food at lunch and dinner time. With so much sheep farming in the surrounding hills, roast lamb is a favourite local dish, as is Borrowdale trout. Cumberland sausage is a speciality throughout Cumbria. Beyond pub grub there are plenty of restaurants - such as the Red Fort and Taste of Bengal (Indian), the Loose Box (Italian, so named as it is the former stables of one of the hotels), or the Golden Hills (Chinese). For something a little lighter, try Cafe Bar 26 or Good Taste, both on Lake Road, or The Square Orange on St Johns Street.

Drink[edit][add listing]

The Dog & Gun, The Oddfellows Arms, The Four In Hand and the Bank Tavern are among the more popular of Keswick's traditional pubs, all offering a good range of real ales. The modern and stylish Cafe Bar 26, Sweeney's and The Square Orange offer a welcome change to the traditional, as does the newly opened Grove Bar on the main street.

Live music is very popular in Keswick. The Oddfellows on the main street has music every night of various quality. The Square Orange on St Johns Street and Cafe Bar 26 on Lake Road have music every Thursday, both worth a visit. Sweeney's on Lake Road has live music every Friday and Saturday.

The Loft on the main square is the town's only night club with the vibe of a bad school disco with alcohol. However, a late night drink is available at other venues such as the locals favourite, The Queens Back Bar or Rumours, the local dive bar.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Keswick has many, many bed-and-breakfasts. Stanger Street and Bank Street just east of the bus station are good places to start, or the grid of streets around Southey Street, Helvellyn Street and Eskin Street just back from the riverside, or try the visitor information centre in the Moot Hall in the main square. Note that very few B&Bs in Keswick have a car park. During high season or weekends, reservations are strongly recommended. Try the Keswick Tourism Association site for finding accommodation [6].

  • Keswick Youth Hostel, Station Road, Keswick, CA12 5LH 0870 770 5894. In a nice setting in the town by the river [7].
  • Denton House independent hostel, Penrith Road, Keswick, CA12 4JW, +44 17687 75351. [8]
  • Derwentwater Youth Hostel, Barrow House, Borrowdale, Keswick, CA12 5UR, 0870 770 5792. In a 200 year old mansion house about 2 miles out of town. Walk, Bus or Lake Ferry from Keswick [9].
  • Camp at sites in town, or a mile away at Castlerigg Farm, or at the nearby village of Braithwaite, or at Hollows Farm in Borrowdale.

In the surrounding villages and hamlets there are country inns and guesthouses where you can find accommodation away from the hustle and bustle of Keswick, may with good views of the fells.

Get out[edit]

Head to the southern part of the Lakes via Grasmere to Ambleside or Windermere.

Go back to civilisation via Penrith, a nice small town which is less touristy than the Lake District proper. Has a ruined castle, the nearest McDonald's to Lakeland, a mainline railway station and a motorway junction.

Head West for the coast around Workington, Maryport, or Silloth on the Solway Firth with views across the Scotland.

Head North to Carlisle then Scotland.

Or go deeper into the Lakes via Borrowdale to Buttermere.

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