Keswick is the hub of the North Lakes, a popular, bustling centre for climbers, walkers, and day-trippers. Excellent outdoor stores mingle with tempting cafes and eateries, and there is a lovely range of antique shops and art, craft, and gift stores. The pedestrianised town centre around Market Square and the historic Moot Hall building, now home to the National Park Information Centre, offers a relaxed browsing and shopping experience. Keswick boasts its own well-established theatre, and there is a beautiful park by the lake shore to help you make the most of the superb setting.
If you want to take in some culture while staying in Keswick, the Theatre by the Lake hosts a superb range of drama, music, lectures, and films. All set in wonderful surroundings near the shores of Derwent Water, replete with cafe and bar facilities. – http://www.theatrebythelake.com
This climbing centre aims to cater for all levels of experience and is suitable for families with little experience looking for a fun day out, but also for high-level climbers wishing to hone their skills. Features include an ice wall. Situated on Heads Road near the town centre. – http://www.kingkongclimbingcentre.co.uk
Keswick happens to be the home of the world’s very first pencil! You can learn about the history of pencil-making, and see how Derwent Fine Art Pencils are made today. There is a walk-through replica of the Seathwaite Mine, where graphite was first discovered, and you can also see the world’s longest pencil. Artist workshops take place here, and there are many activities for children, too. – www.pencilmuseum.co.uk
When considering what to do in Keswick on a fine day, you need look no further than the town’s two excellent parks. Hope Park must be one of the most beautiful parks in the country. Sprawling on the side of Derwentwater by the Theatre By The Lake on Lake Road. A relaxing place for picnics or soaking in the views. Fitz Park is situated on Station Road. Both offer a range of leisure activities for both adults and children, including a nine hole pitch and putt course at Hope Park.
Local galleries include Northern Lights Gallery on John Street, The Cookhouse Gallery on Lake Road, and Gallery 26 at 27 on Station Street. You should also be sure to check out Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, which showcases the stories of local people, places, and artefacts, and offers a variety of temporary exhibitions and family activities. – http://keswickmuseum.org.uk
A short run on the A66 towards Penrith lets you access Ullswater, regarded as one of the very finest of the regions lakes. It was also the inspiration for Wordsworth’s famous poem ‘Daffodils’. Excellent hill walking, a beautiful path along the eastern lake shore and a majestic cruise on the steamers all offer wonderful ways to see the valley. To the west of Keswick, you will want to visit the Borrowdale Valley, the Honister Pass with its slate mine, and Buttermere. To the north lie the Northern Fells, including Skiddaw and Blencathra. To the south you can drive past towering Helvellyn to Grasmere and Ambleside. Be sure to stop to sample traditional Grasmere Gingerbread along the way.
There are several excellent choices in Keswick itself for drinking and eating out. Or choose to travel a few miles for a traditional pub meal in one of the many cosy country pubs in the area. There are options a little further afield in Buttermere which are popular with locals and day-trippers. Look out, too, for Keswick Beer Festival in the late summer if you like real ale or cider. If you want to take a pre-prepared lunch onto the fells with you, there are a tempting selection of bakeries and delis around the town. For takeaways, The Old Keswickian Fish and Chip Shop is situated in the Market Square. There is another is on Main Street, plus a Thai, and a Chinese restaurant. There is an Indian restaurant on St. John’s Street, and The Royal Bengal Bangladeshi is by the Central Car Park.
A short run on the A66 towards Penrith takes you to the turn for ….. and lets you access Ullswater, regarded as one of the very finest of the regions lakes, and the inspiration for Wordsworth’s famous poem ‘Daffodils’. Excellent hill walking, a beautiful path along the eastern lake shore, and a majestic cruise on the steamers all offer wonderful ways to see the valley. To the west of Keswick, you will want to visit the Borrowdale Valley, the Honister Pass with its slate mine, and Buttermere. To the north lie the Northern Fells, including Skiddaw and Blencathra, and to the south you can drive past towering Helvellyn to Grasmere and Ambleside, being sure to stop to sample traditional Grasmere Gingerbread along the way.
The Northern Lakes is renowned for some of the very finest scenery in the district, and this is perhaps particularly so in the Borrowdale area to the west of Keswick. Walking guides are easy to come by in the town, including at the Tourist Information Centre, and we recommend that you purchase an Ordinance Survey Map or similar, especially for longer routes. The town boasts many top quality outdoor stores to satisfy all your equipment needs, so there is no need to hit the hills under-prepared.
One of the most popular fell walks in the area due to the superb views and relatively short duration. We like Cat Bells because it is suitable for walkers of all abilities, and really showcases the best of the Lake District. You can start from the car park near Hawse End on the western shores of Derwent Water. 2-3 hrs.
Amongst the best things to do around Keswick is to take a short drive to pretty Ashness Bridge, where the views back over the valley provide excellent photo opportunities. These are surpassed only by the vista from nearby Surprise View, which perches on a cliff top high above Derwent Water.
One of the finest of the Lake District fell walks, Blencathra is also known as the Saddleback due to its highly recognisable flattened top, and is a dominant feature in the landscape of the Keswick area. There are several ways to approach Blencathra summit, and you can decide whether to undertake the exhilarating scramble of Sharp Edge which can be dangerous for those with less experience. Skiddaw is also a good option nearby. 3-4 hrs.
A short, pleasant woodland walk beginning at the National Trust car park on the road towards Buttermere takes you to the famous Bowderstone, a large rock deposited by glacial action. There is a ladder to the top, and underneath there is a gap that allows flexible visitors to shake hands with a companion on the opposite side of the huge stone. ½ hr.
Head past Derwent Water towards Buttermere and over the Honister Pass, and begin this fabulous fell walk from Gatesgarth Farm. Alfred Wainwright, famous writer of walking guides and champion of the Lake District, chose to have his ashes scattered on Haystacks. Though not the highest, it was one of his very favourite fells. The interesting ascent, varied and outlandish rock formations on its top, and the sensational views to surrounding fells and over beautiful Buttermere make this a great choice for a mountain walk. 3-4 hrs up and down. If you wish to stay on the flat instead, consider the lovely path around Buttermere itself.
Whinlatter is England’s only true mountain forest, and the visitor centre lies a few miles west of Keswick off the B5292. We recommend a visit here as an excellent family day out. The well-known Altura mountain bike trail or the Quercus trail are fantastic ways to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and Cyclewise offers on-site bike hire as well as training courses. There are a great range of walking routes, too. The Whinlatter Wild Play Trail incorporates 9 different play areas for children of all ages, and there are also two children’s discovery rambles to help your family explore the forest. If you’re looking for an adrenalin rush, you can engage your inner-Tarzan on the Go-Ape treetop course. – http://www.forestry.gov.uk/whinlatter
This ancient stone circle sitting in a field near Keswick is well worth a visit. You can park in the country lane nearby, and a short stroll takes you to the circle and information boards. The setting, with a backdrop of the Lake District fells, is wonderful.
Explore England’s oldest working slate mine with a guided tour through the passages and caverns deep in the heart of Fleetwith Pike, an ancient extinct volcano. The mine can be found at the top of the Honister Pass in Borrowdale, on the way to Buttermere. There are great climbing opportunities here also, with two via ferrata’s, the ‘classic’ and the ‘xtreme’, which add rungs, ladders, and cables to the traditional climbing experience. – www.honister.com
At the northern end of Derwentwater by the small village of Portinscale, just 5 minutes drive from Keswick, this marina offers taster and refresher courses in windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking, and sailing, and you can hire craft to explore the lake under your own steam, too. – http://www.derwentwatermarina.co.uk
Ghyll scrambling, rock climbing, kayaking, and canoeing are amongst the activities offered by this local company who take groups and individuals for action-packed days out. – http://www.mobileadventure.co.uk
Learn to canoe, visit the hidden bays and the islands around Derwentwater, see local wildlife and engage in various bushcraft activities, all with specialist tutoring and equipment. – http://www.keswickcanoeandbushcraft.co.uk/wp/
You can find Keswick Bikes on Main Street. As well as servicing and sales, the superb store has a hire and demo fleet. The North Lakes really offers an incredible variety of opportunities for riders of all abilities. – http://www.keswickbikes.co.uk
From north or south, leave the M6 at Junction 40 by Penrith and take the A66 straight to Keswick, or if coming from the south you can choose to leave the M6 at Junction 36 and wend your way through the Lakes on one of England’s most scenic roads, the A591. Trains run to Penrith on the West Coast Mainline, and bus routes are plentiful and run from Penrith and from Kendal, Windermere, and Ambleside in the south.
Keswick Tourist Information Centre is located inside the iconic Moot Hall in the town’s central Market Square.
Booths is a high-end supermarket selling quality grocery produce and is located near the town centre on Tithebarn Street and includes an excellent cafe. There is also a Co-op on Main Street, along with other convenience stores including Open All Hours on St. John’s Street. If you travel along the A66 to Penrith, be sure to visit Cranstons Food Hall, which offers an enticing range of regional foodstuffs.
There are petrol garages on Penrith Road, Crosthwaite Road, and High Hill.
Doctors are available at Bank Street Surgery on Bank Street and Castlehead Medical Centre on Ambleside Road. – http://www.bankstreetsurgery.co.uk | http://www.castlehead.org.uk
You can obtain veterinarian services from Millcroft Veterinary Group, located on Southey Hill. – http://www.millcroftvets.co.uk/?Locations:Keswick
Pay and Display car parks include Otley Road Car Park, Bell Close Car Park off Main Street, Central Car Park on Heads Road, and Lakeside Car Park, which is located near the Theatre By The Lake on Lake Road. While you can find unrestricted street parking in the town, most of the central streets only allow parking according to time restraints. There are disc zones where you must display a parking disc showing your arrival time, and these can be obtained for free from various shops in Keswick. – http://en.parkopedia.co.uk/parking/keswick/