Things To Do In Keswick, Lake District

The Lake District is home to so many beautiful places, it can be hard to decide where to go! To try to give you a helping hand (or hoof), we have put together a list of things to do in Keswick to help you plan your trip.

If you’re not going to be near Keswick then fear not! We’ve also put together some handy guides for Kendal, Bowness, and Grasmere.

Why Keswick?

Keswick is a pretty market town sitting in its own little pocket with the Skiddaw range looming above the town in the north, and the expansive Derwentwater in the south. In recent years it has become a major centre of tourism in the north Lake District. Keswick offers a wide range of attractions for visitors from shops, restaurants and museums to boating trips around Derwentwater. It is a great place to visit, especially if ewe are looking for a more semi-urban setting.

Outdoor activities in Keswick

Skiddaw seen from just south of Rakefoot farm, near Keswick. Photo by Antiquary, licensed CC-by-SA-4.0.
Photo by Antiquary, licensed CC-by-SA-4.0.

Like most places in the Lakes, Keswick is surrounded by beautiful fells and therefore there are plenty of outdoor activities to do.

Perhaps a more obvious choice would be hiking up Skiddaw, the sloping fell range that commands your attention to the north of Keswick. The summit of Skiddaw, known as High Man, reaches 931m or 3,054ft high and is the sixth highest fell in England.

Though of substantial stature, the hike up Skiddaw is simple and non-technical. The most popular route starts from Keswick town centre and heads towards the smaller fell of Latrigg. Follow the bridleway around the back of Latrigg and up onto the Jenkin Hill Bridleway. Then you just follow this Bridleway all the way to the summit, passing Jenkin Hill and Little Man along the way.

The Hundred Year Stone, half submerged in the waters of Derwentwater, with the Borrowdale fells in the distance.

Another long hike you can do, but without the ascent, is a circular route around Derwentwater. It’s a 10-mile trail, properly waymarked throughout, so give yourself a whole day to walk the trail and take time to enjoy the stunning sights and scenes.

You’ll pass Friar’s Crag, one of the Lake District’s finest viewpoints, as well as several sculptures along the way, such as the Hundred Year Stone. Keep an eye out for red squirrels too, whenever you enter the woods around the lake!

As it’s a fairly long hike make sure you’re stocked up on snacks and water, and wear a hat and suncream for when it’s a boiling hot day (they do happen). Our Roam Free Tumbler Flasks are a b-ewe-tiful companion to take with you, superb at keeping cold drinks cool or hot drinks warm.

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Another awe-inspiring destination is the Castlerigg Stone Circle, east of Keswick. From the town centre just head east along the A591, over the roundabout onto Penrith Road, then off onto a little lane to the right called Eleventrees. Simply follow this steep lane up and you’ll soon see the stone circle up on your right. If you don’t fancy hiking it, you can simply drive up the lane and park up on the side when the road widens.

An ultra-wide panorama of Castlerigg Stone circle, with Blencathra and Lonscale Fell looming behind.

Castlerigg Stone Circle was probably constructed around 3200BC, making it one of the earliest known stone circles in Britain and Europe. It sits atop a plateau and is surrounded 360° by the fells of Skiddaw, Blencathra, the Helvellyn range, Wythburn and Watendlath Fells. It is truly an incredible experience being at the stone circle.

There are plenty of other more challenging hikes to do around Keswick, such as the summit of Blencathra via Sharp Edge (be careful!), the famous Catbells hike, the Newlands Valley and all its fells, and of course you can head south of Derwentwater into Borrowdale, one of the Lake District’s most famous valleys, where you can tackle some of the loftier peaks in the Lakes.

Keswick is one of the main centres of Outdoor Activities in the UK and an extensive selection of Adventure Activity companies, guides, and instructors for all abilities are based around here.

Derwentwater has two marinas, the nearest to Keswick being the Keswick Launch Co. Here you can hire a variety of rowing or motor boats and explore the lake at your own pace and pleasure. Keswick Launch also provides cruises that circumnavigate the lake, stopping at seven lakeshore jetties where you can get off and onto other boats.

Alternatively, stay on the cruise and enjoy the 50-minute trip around Derwentwater.

There are plenty of mountain bike shops to hire bikes from, outdoor gear shops to equip yourself for long hikes, and two indoor climbing walls where you can test your strength and agility. There is so much to do around Keswick!

The "Princess Margaret Rose", photographed just off Ashness landing stage two miles south of Keswick. The mountain behind it is Skiddaw. Photo by Antiquary, licensed CC-by-SA-4.0.
Photo by Antiquary, licensed CC-by-SA-4.0.

Place to visit in Keswick

For rainy days, or perhaps something a little less energetic, you're spoilt for choice in Keswick.

The world's biggest colouring pencil, at Derwent Pencil Museum. Photo by Stinglehammer, licensed CC-by-SA-3.0.
Photo by Stinglehammer, licensed CC-by-SA-3.0.

The Pencil Museum (yes, you read that correctly) is probably Keswick’s most famous, and unusual, attraction. It is the home of the world’s first pencil—made from local solid graphite found in the valley of Seathwaite—and also the world’s biggest colour pencil, at almost 8m (26ft) long. The Museum is fascinating and provides an experiential journey of graphite and pencil discovery from its humble beginnings as a cottage industry to modern day production.

Another museum to check out is the Keswick Museum & Art Gallery. Founded in 1873, the museum houses a local history collection as well as original manuscripts from the Lake Poets, such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. The local history collection stretches back to Roman times, and includes items like the famous 700-year old cat, a penny farthing cycle, and have fun playing a set of musical stones set out like a xylophone.

Keswick outdoor market on a sunny day, with Moot Hall at its head. Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0

Running on Thursdays and Saturdays, Keswick Market is widely regarded as the best market in the Lake District. This year, 2019, is the 743rd year that the market has opened, as the Royal Charter was granted in 1276.

Around 60 traders gather on Market Day complete with stalls offering food, spirits, clothes, shoes, tools, artworks, crafts and gifts, and so much more. Much of the products available are locally produced. Food stalls include fresh fish, locally produced meat, fresh vegetables, artisan bread and bakery products, and a wide range of preserves and condiments. There is also artisan hot food to take away, either to eat immediately or to take home for dinner. Treat yourself! Just make sure you save cake and BISCUITS for your Herdy(s).

You also can’t miss Moot Hall at the Keswick Markets. Built in 1813, it has an unusual one-handed clock, and now contains the Keswick Tourist Information Centre on the ground floor, and an art gallery above.

In the mood for something more theatrical? Then you must visit the Theatre By The Lake, between the lakeside car park and Derwentwater, the home of Cumbria’s leading professional theatre company.

As well as offering traditional summer seasons of drama, much loved by Keswick’s summer audiences, the Theatre also offers film screenings, music, festivals, and hosts regular arts and crafts exhibitions and other day-time activities.

Shopping and dining in Keswick

The interior of the Keswick Herdy shop

Keswick is home to a wonderfully diverse range of shops, from local and niche to global and popular.

If you’re in self-catering accommodation and need to stock up on supplies, the Booths supermarket is your best friend and we’re sure it’ll have everything you need. Be sure to stop by and pop into the Keswick Herdy shop too, just round the corner from Booths. We'd love to see ewe!

A good strong coffee in the morning is sometimes exactly what you need and you won’t be short of excellent cafés in Keswick. Your best bet would be having a wander around the Moot Hall on Main Street, where’ll find lots of options including Merienda and Java Coffee Shop.

This main stretch in Keswick town centre is also home to a variety of shops; there are some bigger brands available, but Keswick is mostly home to small gift shops, selling local produce and souvenirs, as well as plenty of outdoor clothing, gear, and activity shops.

Eating out in Keswick can prove tricky as there’s so much choice! A rising favourite with locals and holidaymakers alike is the Fellpack, who “delicately craft food and drink menus that make use of the best local ingredients and balance classic flavours with bold innovation”. The team behind the café/restaurant are also all keen fell wanderers and runners, and are more than ready to offer people new to the area tips and guides for nearby walks in Keswick.

If you’re after something more traditional a good bet would be the Pheasant Inn, just outside Keswick town centre. They make good use of locally sourced ingredients, and offer generous portions of hearty and fulfilling Cumbrian specialities. The Pheasant Inn is also ideally located for walkers who have come down from the Skiddaw range of fells.

But don’t just take our recommendations as gospel! There’s an incredible variety of cuisine and dining spots in Keswick, so have fun exploring.

Coffee and cake can be had at the many cafés of Keswick

Are ewe heading to Keswick? Make sure to keep us up-to-date with your travels! Leave a comment below or join the flock on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or email us.

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