Put your best foot forward on the Derwentwater Walk

Posted by Katy Peck on 20 June 2019
Related property: Ivy House, Braithwaite
Put your best foot forward on the Derwentwater Walk

Just a 10-minute drive from the charming Ivy House, you’ll find the starting point for one of the most popular walks in the area. You certainly won’t be alone if you decide to take on the Derwentwater walk during your stay and it’s easy to see why… with ancient woodland, beautiful lake views and rolling fields, it’s a perfect example of everything the Lake District has to offer. Add in the level walking trails, local cafes, facilities and beautiful picnic locations and you’ve got yourself the ideal walk.

Derwentwater Lake

Derwentwater is the local lake to the town of Keswick, flanked by Cat Bells on the west and the famous viewpoint of Friar’s Craig on the east. The entrance to the Borrowdale valley is at the south end of the lake, meaning you can enjoy spectacular views from every angle! The lake is 5km long and 6km wide, with its deepest point being around 22m. Much of the surrounding area is maintained by the National trust and there’s plenty of flora, fauna and wildlife to spot during your visit.

Where is Derwentwater?

Derwentwater Lake is located in Cumbria, in the borough of Allderdale. The lake lies immediately to the south of the town of Keswick. From the town centre, the edge of the lake is around a 15 minute walk, via Hope Park and some charming shops and cobbled streets.

For those looking to park close to the lake in Keswick, the postcode of the Lakeside car park in CA12 5DJ. Please note that parking may be busy in the peak season.

The marked footpath which encircles Derwentwater is perhaps the best way to take in the views of this beautiful area, but if you’d rather enjoy the scenery from another perspective, you can also enjoy a 50-minute cruise. With several landing points where you can board and disembark the boat, you could even split your time between sailing and walking.

Walk around Derwentwater

This 10-mile circular trail takes walkers all the way around Derwentwater and is waymarked throughout, making it a fantastic choice for beginners or those less confident in their navigation skills! It can be enjoyed as a single long walk, or as a series of shorter walks by taking a bus or boat to various points around the loop. 

Different walking routes

Part one: Keswick to Ashness Gate

Start at the Moot Hall clocktower in Keswick town centre, a mile from the Derwentwater. From here, head out of the village and towards the Theatre by the Lake, before following the road right down to the Marina (where you can also buy a ferry ticket and pick up a timetable). Turn left onto the promenade that leads to Friars Crag, which was said to be where monks once departed to pay pilgrimage on St Herbert’s Island. It’s one of the most popular viewpoints in the area, so make sure to bring your camera! You’ll also find a memorial to John Ruskin here; the first of several monuments on this trail.

Continue around the outcrop, turning right to pass through the gate and onto parkland. Eventually, you’ll reach another gate which opens onto a path circling the moor. Turn right and cross the bridge, continuing along the path until you reach a farm track. Turn right again and, following the signs, take the route that bears left. You’ll pass a couple of other gates as you take the trail above the shore of the lake. This is Broomhill Point, which includes Calfclose Bay. Here you’ll find the National Trust’s Hundred Year Stone, which marks 100 years of the National Trust looking after special places such as this.

After crossing a footbridge, you’ll turn back towards the road, after which the route turns right to join the pathway. Here you will also find the Ashness Gate landing stage/jetty and bus stop, where you can either hop on a bus or boat back to Keswick, or continue on.

Part Two: Ashness Gate to Lodore

Keep following the path from Ashness Gate. Passing the Youth Hostel, you’ll go through yet another gate onto the lake shore. If you’ve bought a picnic, this is a great spot to stop and enjoy a snack as you drink in the spectacular views! The path here is a bit less reliable but if you follow the shore, you’ll find your way back to another wooden bridge, bearing left to take you into gorse shrub and trees.

Once you reach the National Trust Kettlewell car park, carefully cross the road to the footpath on the other side. This charming part of the walk takes you through a woodland full of lush trees and mossy boulders. Soon you’ll start to hear the noise of the Lodore Falls… bear left and climb up to the viewpoint and bench, which is another great spot to crack open the thermos for a cup of tea! You'll also find the Lodore Landing stage around here, creating another place to leave or join the walk.

Stage Three: Lodore to High Brandelhow

Once you’re done, return the way you came and bear left over the bridge. Continue round the back of the buildings to the Borrowdale Road. Cross to the footway and head left again – here you’ll also find some public conveniences. Passing these, take the track to the ‘Chinese bridge’, built to protect the fragile environment. Once you’ve crossed, carry on along the walkway across the wetlands. As the name suggests, make sure to keep to the path if you want to stay dry! You’ll find a gravel trail which will finally mark the start of the home stretch.

Continue along the shore, crossing a few more walkways until you reach a gate at the far end of the field. This allows you access into the woodland of Manesty Park. Follow the path until it turns inland and reaches a cottage, where you’ll turn right onto a route signposted ‘Abbots Bay’. Through the next gate, you’ll start to see signposts to Keswick.

Bear right to get back to the lake shore; you’ll circle several bays and cross Brandelhow Park, which has several benches to sit and enjoy the views over the water. Here you’ll also find the ‘Entrust’ sculpture, marking a century of the National Trust at Brandelhow. If you feel like you've had enough at this point, you can also catch the boat back to Keswick from here.

Part Four: High Brandelhow to Nichol End

Follow the path through the gate, turning left to take you away from the water. Soon the track bears right, taking you to a tarmac drive. From here you'll find yourself walking beneath the Hawse End Centre. From here you can use the launch from Hawse End or instead continue walking, taking the second right to Derwent Bay. Head down through the woodland and across the field,  before leaving the forest through the gate. Cross the road and look for the waymarked track, crossing a drive and walk to Nichol End Marine and landing stage.

Part Five: Nichol End to Keswick

Turn left and keep following the trail, taking in the stunning views across the water to Blencathra, before finally turning left and then right into Portinscale. This little village has a lovely traditional pub with a beer garden, as well as a tearoom and a selection of charming cafes… after all, you’re bound to have built up an appetite! Once you’ve had your fill, turn right at the major jucntion, past the Derwentwater Hotel and over the suspension bridge, and carry on across the fields to Keswick. From here you can return to your start point at Moot Hall.

Highlights of Derwentwater Walk

Moot Hall: This building is certainly the focal point of the town and now houses the Keswick Information Centre. Although there has been a building on this site long before the 19th Century, the present structure was built in 1813. Over the years, it has been used as a prison, market square and meeting place.

Ruskin memorial: This simple memorial was erected in October 1900 and is now a Grade II listed structure. It is a dedication to poet and conservationist John Ruskin, who had many ties with the area. It is also interesting to note that the small area around the memorial was the first part of the Lake District to become property of the National Trust.

Hundred Year Stone: Created by the artist Peter Rendall-Page in 1995, this monument to the National Trust’s centenary is made from a large boulder sourced from the Borrowdale volcanic valley. The boulder was sawn in half and then each face carved with a pattern of ten fan-shaped segments to create a truly unique piece of art.

Lodore Falls: This waterfall has been a must-see for tourists since the Victorian Era. Water from the Watendlath Tarn flows over huge boulders down a drop of around 100 feet, creating a cascade of boiling, surging currents. It’s a truly spectacular sight, especially after heavy rain, but can dry up after long dry periods.

Entrust sculpture: Nestled in Brandelhow park, this wooden sculpture of cupped hands marks 100 years since the National Trust purchased its first large piece of land in the lakes

Red Squirrels: Borrowdale valley, at the south end of the lake, is one of the most wooded valleys in the Lake District. Red squirrels have been seen across the area and the National Trust works with local groups to help protect and encourage these rare animals throughout the woodland.

Derwentwater Activities

As well as these beautiful walking routes, Derwentwater is a haven for all manner of outdoor pursuits. In fact, once you've ticked the walk off your list, you might want to have a look at some of the below...

Derwentwater Boat Hire

When you're done exploring on foot, you may like to take to the water and admire this beautiful lake from a whole new perspective. Keswick Launch Co not only run the ferry across the lake, but also hire out rowing and motor boats for those wishing to get out on their own. Alternatively, you can also pay a visit to Nichol End Marine or Derwentwater Marina in Portinscale, both of which have kayaks, canoes, pedalos and more available to hire.

Derwentwater Outdoor Sports

For those looking for something a little different during their break, take a look at Keswick Extreme, based in Nichol End Marine. They offer everything from abseiling and rock climbing to 'lazy tubing' and scrambling.

Other activities around Derwentwater 

There are a range of activities around Derwentwater fpr when you're ready to give your walking shoes a rest. Visit the Theatre by the Lake and enjoy a show or some live music, or head to The Falls Spa, just a short walk from Keswick, for some treatments and relaxation. Keswick itself also has a range of interesting and fun days out, including the famous Derwent Pencil Museum and intriging Puzzling Place.

FAQ

Is there parking available?

There is parking available in Keswick itself - try the Lakeside car park (CA12 5DJ) for easy access to both the lake and town. Prices start at £3.40 for two hours. However, these can get busy during peak season, so it may be useful to consider public transport.

There are also two National Trust car parks nearby; Kettlewell (CA12 5UN) and Great Wood (CA12 5UP). These are free to National Trust members. Otherwise prices start at £4.50 for two hours.; 

Is the walk dog friendly?

Yes, dogs are bound to love this walk as much as their owners! However, please note that there are roads on the walking route, as well as grazing and roosting land, so your canine companion will need to be on the lead during some sections. If you like the idea of a shorter walk, the Keswick Launch also welcomes dogs on their boats for free.

Is the walk accessible?

The Derwentwater walk consists mostly of flat, easy paths, making it a good choice for those who are less sure on their feet. However, it can be very muddy if there has been rain, and there are still some uneven and steeper sections which are not easily tackled with wheelchairs or prams. In these circumstances, we would recommend using the ferries or buses to take you to and from the easier sections.

 

The Lake District is famous for its walks and this is just one of the trails which can be easily reached from our Ivy House property. There’s no need to rush – follow the route at a gentle pace and you can easily spend a day taking in this spectacular scenery, taking time to drink in the views and perhaps stopping for lunch along the way! It really is a truly enjoyable day out.

After a long walk like this, it’s important to have somewhere comfortable and welcoming to relax and recover. Ivy House is just that. With 13 beautiful bedrooms and a fantastic restaurant and bar, there’s nowhere better to rest your tired feet.

Find out more about how you too can enjoy a memorable stay in this breathtaking part of the Lake District.

Katy Peck

Katy Peck

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