Located at the northern tip of the Lake District, Keswick is a real gem of a place to visit. Slightly less busy than the destinations on the more southerly lakes, the town is pretty, welcoming and within easy reach of some of the most beautiful parts of the area making it a perfect spot for a weekend away and especially in the spring time.
Spring – the best time to visit
Many consider that spring is the best time to enjoy the Lake District, there are a few less visitors around and the traffic is not as heavy as in the summer months, but the weather can often be good and a little cooler, making it perfect for getting out and enjoying some sightseeing, boat trips and walking on the stunning fells.
Keswick offers the perfect place to enjoy the north lakes in spring and it is so easy to get to from our area. You can either meander up passed Windermere, Grasmere and Thirlmere and take in some of the best views in the world or you can shoot up the M6 and enjoy your visit to the town in no time.
Keswick is a small market town between Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake. It is thought that the name is derived from the word Keswick, or place where the Kese or cheese is made. People have inhabited the area for almost as long as there have been people, the nearby Castlerigg stone circle is thought to be as old as five thousand years.
In the 6th and 7th centuries, it is thought that the important figures of St Herbert and St Kentigern lived locally. There is also evidence of both Saxon and Viking influences on the area.
For centuries Keswick’s dramatic scenery and sleepy atmosphere has attracted writers, poets and artists. In 1800 Samuel Taylor Coleridge returned to England and settled with his family and friends in Keswick. He did this to be near Grasmere, where his friend William Wordsworth lived.
In 1802, during a nine-day walking holiday on the fells of the Lake District, Coleridge is credited with the first recorded descent of Scafell to Mickledore via Broad Stand. But this is widely thought to be more down to good luck than good management as it is thought he only achieved this because he got lost!
Robert Southey, like Wordsworth and Coleridge, was also an English poet of the Romantic school who made his home in Keswick. He was England’s Poet Laureate for 30 years until his death in 1843.
Places to visit
If you want to be inspired like Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey then Keswick is the place for you, set as it is in the most beautiful setting. But, if you want to do more than merely take in the beautiful scenery there is plenty to do in and around the town.
The Derwent Pencil Museum – is only a short walk from the town centre and is the home of the first pencil and the Cumberland Pencil Company, manufacturers of Derwent pencil perfection since 1832 and possibly used by the odd poet or two!
Visitors enter the museum through a replica of the Seathwaite mine where graphite was first discovered in the 1550s. Through words, pictures and carefully restored machinery you can trace the history of pencil making and see how Derwent Fine Art pencils are made today. It’s a really interesting story and the museum is a nationally recognised treasure that is well worth a visit.
Keswick Museum – has interesting exhibitions, events and displays that tell the story of Keswick’s landscape, history and culture. It has a shop and Café West is open from 9.30 daily. It is in the beautiful Fitz Park, next to a popular playground.
Honister Slate Mine – is a short drive from Keswick but it is well worth the journey. It has been described as the highest, coolest inside and outside Mountain Adventure in The Lake District and it is easy to see why the place won so many awards. However good your head for heights, there is something for everyone here.
Theatre by the Lake – a popular, unique and inspiring cultural experience. Each year it stages up to nine of its own productions of classic, modern and new plays on its two stages and has won multi-starred reviews from national critics. It also hosts festivals of literature, jazz, film and mountains. Daytime and evening refreshments are available from light snacks to pre-theatre meals.
Things to do
Although there is plenty to do on your weekend away just pottering around the town of Keswick, most visitors to the area like to enjoy a day exploring, rambling, walking or hiking in the stunning countryside or on the fells, hills and mountains.
Keswick Launch – is like an aquatic bus with several routes that start their journeys from the Keswick boat landings and cruise around the lake. It is great for hopping on and off as it stops at seven lakeshore jetties where you can embark or join the various boats. This is perfect if you want to cram a lot of exploring into your weekend away. But if you just want to stay put you can stay on the boat and enjoy the fifty-minute trip around Derwentwater.
The Derwentwater Walk – is a scenic ten-mile waymarked walk around Derwentwater, known as the Queen of the Lakes. Generally it is on flat and easy paths, the walk passes through woodlands and along the lake shore. It can be broken down into smaller stretches by using the Keswick Launch.
Latrigg – is a great fell for children to climb and is easily achievable in 2-3 hours depending on your pace. The views from the summit over Keswick town, Derwentwater and the surrounding fells are breath taking and will give a real sense of achievement.
If you can’t make it all the way up from Keswick then there is a small car park at Gale Road above Applethwaite with a Limited Mobility Path which you could use to reach the viewpoint with an all-terrain pram.
Catbells – overlooks Derwent water and is a splendid fell to climb. For many people it is their first experience of climbing a mountain and one they remember all their life. The fantastic views really make the climbing worthwhile. Combined with a launch trip from or back to Keswick, the options are to take the path up to the summit which is quite steep and, in some parts, scrambly (and more suitable for older children) or for younger children take the easier terrace path and return along the lakeshore to complete the circuit.
As with any climb, ramble or walk, always check the weather forecast before your leave and be mindful that the weather can change quickly in the mountains and on the fells. Dress for the weather, make sure you tell someone where you are going, charge up your mobile and wear appropriate footwear.
Whatever you decide to do, whether you stay in town or explore slightly further afield, Keswick makes the perfect destination for a spring weekend away.