Catbells is a wonderful little hill and a great introduction to walking the lake district fells. The views from the top are outstanding giving a wonderful return for your effort.
Visit Keswick | A guide to this beautiful lakeland town
Keswick is located in the heart of the Lake District National Park in the county of Cumbria, Northwest England and is considered the gate way to the northern fells. Keswick is an ideal base for a visit to the Lake district. Sat between the Skiddaw mountain range and Derwentwater, there is something here for everyone. From Shopping for outdoor gifts and clothes, walking the fells or round the lake to Museums and restaurants. If you love the outdoors it really does have everything you need to keep you happy.
If your here to try your first hill walk why not look at our Catbells Guide It’s a great little circular walk and a great introduction to the Lake District fells.
When to visit Keswick
The area around Keswick is beautiful at any time of year. July and August are the peak months when the temperatures can be high and the chance of rain is at its low. At this time of year it will be very busy. April can be the driest month although it still rains. November is the wettest month although you can get dry days.
Spring (March, April & May)
Everything starts to wake up at spring time in the lakes. The flowers are at there best and it’s lambing season. If your into bird watching this is the best time to come as the leaves on the trees are not yet fully open and the birds are easier to spot. Weather wise you have more chance in late spring to get good clear dry weather than any other time of year. It should also be a little quieter in the spring than the main season.
Summer (June, July & August)
The summer months are the warmest but not necessarily the driest. Its the main tourist season and the town, fells and the lake will be buzzing with people. If your here with the kids and want to get them into the great outdoors this is a great time to come. All the organised activities will be in full swing, this is the best time to come if you are in to water sports, rock climbing or hiking although the hiking is fantastic in any season.
Autumn (September, October & November)
Personally this is our favourite time of the year to visit Keswick. The trees are turning that golden bronze colour and the fells also start to become a wonderful golden brown. Its a wonderful season for photography if you lucky enough to get a dry still day the reflection in Derwentwater can be stunning. Late October is usually the best of the autumn colour although it does change depending long the summer lasts. It can be a little quieter during autumn although it still get busy.
Winter (December, January & February)
Winter is also another good season for photography. Snow capped mountains and crisp clear views can be spectacular at this time of year although snow is not guarenteed. Winter walking can be very a rewarding activity but requires specialist equipment and skills. The days are very short at this time of year so you have less time to get your walk in. Winter is a lot quieter though and Christmas breaks are very popular, it’s a great place to spend the festive season.
So to sum up, as with all holidays in the UK you’ll need an amount of luck with the weather. You could pick a week in any season and it could pour down all week equally it could be sunny and dry. Having said that your more likely to get a mixture of the two.
How to get to Keswick
Keswick is in the county of Cumbria in the North west of England. It’s one of the main hub towns for a visit to the Lake District National Park.
It’s easy to visit Keswick by road with good links to the motorway network. Take junction forty of the M6 motorway and follow the signs heading west on the A66. Its about a two hour journey from Manchester, five hours from London and about three hours from Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Unfortunately Keswick no longer has a rail link. If you are coming by public transport you will need to get a bus from the nearest train station which is in Penrith about seventeen miles away. The buses run from outside the railway station to the bus station in Keswick. The X5 runs every hour with a reduced time table in the winter months. Check Here for the latest information.
To visit Keswick by air the closest airports are Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh all about two to three hours away by road. Check Here for the latest flight information
Where to stay when you visit Keswick
As you would expect you are spoilt for choice. Being the main tourist hub for the area there are many options for accommodation from five star spa resorts to camping and clamping, Hostels and Bed & Breakfast.
Keswick has a number of good campsites in and around the town. You will find that most have a minimum stay usually three days. They fill up fast as demand out strips supply near enough all year round. During school holiday periods they are very busy you will need to book months in advance to get your chosen site. Also be aware that most of them close down for the winter usually mid October although a small number do open all year round. There are loads of websites to check camping availability just google and start planning.
It’s quite difficult to define what a hostel is in the area. In Keswick itself there is youth hostel accommodation. Provided by the Youth Hostel Association there are also bunkhouses which offer bunk barns and such like for independent travellers usually hill walkers to spend the night. We have never used these so can really comment on facilities. We have stayed at Youth hostels in the Lake District area and have found them to be very good for a night or two. Again these places are limited and fill very quickly.
Static caravans and lodges
There are a number of Holiday parks in the area which offer family accommodation in either Static caravans, Lodges or yurts (Pre-erected tents). Again there are snapped up early in the season especially during school holidays so its important to book in advance. Just google what you require and check out the reviews so you have an idea of what your getting.
Hotels & Bed & Breakfast
Theres so much choice in this area of accommodation it seems like every other house in Keswick is offering some sort of hospitality. Hotels of very style are available from eco lodges to five star spa resorts. You can check out your options Here or use our Resources Page
Things to do in and around Keswick
You’re most likely to visit Keswick to get out into the great outdoors and we don’t blame you its something we do whenever we can. The town has great facilities to help you get going.
Walking & Hiking
The Lake District is a walkers paradise wether your a Hill bagger or just want a stroll you’ll find a walk to suit you. A circuit of Derwentwater is a good low level walk at ten miles though its quite a long walk. You can do sections of the walk and then catch one of the water launches back to your starting point see below for more information on these. If its a good walk in the fells your looking for then your spoilt for choice Keswick is the starting point for a number of hill walks both long and short.
One of the most popular of these is Catbells from the lakeside you can see all the walkers traversing the hill like little ants. It is a great walk with a little scramble near the top. It can be extended to include near by fells to make a walk as long or short as you choose. Please remember to alway stay safe and choose a walk within your capabilities and alway let someone know your plans for the day.
Hill bagging is the ticking off of hills as you climb them in order to complete a full list. The most famous of these lists in the Lake District was compiled by Alfred Wainwright it consists of 214 peaks that were given separate chapters in his famous pictorial guide books. We have done them all and its a great incentive to get you up and out and great fun. Many of them can be locally when you visit Keswick with Catbells and Castle Crag being the most popular. These two hills are a good start to get into this addictive hobby. Click Here for a full list and routes.
Kayaking & Paddleboarding
It is possible to bring your own and launch from access points around Derwentwater. Check out this map which details where these points are. If you don’t have your own there are plenty of places you can book organised guided tours or hire and go out on your own. Just make sure you know your capabilities. If you just want to mess about on the water for an hour you can hire rowing boats from the shore at the lakeside. Check out Viator for a list of available organised tours.
As you would imagine Keswick is a great base for a cycling holiday with many route on and off road. Whinlatter forest park close to Keswick has organised way marked mountain bike routes for all levels. There is also a network of country lanes and tracks that offer low traffic or traffic free cycling around the area. If you don’t know the area they can be difficult to find so you may need to do some research before setting off or book an organised trip with a guide.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Just outside Keswick is a prehistoric stone circle believed to be five thousand years old. It consists of thirty eight standing stones that were believed to be used as a meeting place although nobody knows for sure. If you get there early in the morning you may be lucky enough to see the stones shrouded in mist with the great bulk of the fells behind and amazing sight. Its looked after By English Heritage but is free to visit.
Derwentwater has a number of pleasure boats that do circuits of the Lake in both directions clockwise and anti clockwise. These can be a great way to spend an hour or two. In high season you can do a hop on hop off trip that gives you flexibility to see the area around the water. Check out their website for more details
There are some amazing routes in the Keswick area but of course you need to have the experience to tackle these routes, it’s not something you can just go and do without the necessary skill. There are however plenty of places that offer climbing courses and taster sessions if you fancy giving it a try. If this is you then the best place to start in the area would be one of the indoor climbing centres. Keswick Climbing Wall can set you off in the right direction with indoor and out door climbing adventures and courses available. It’s also a good place to get out of the rain if you not lucky with the weather. We have climbed here and found it well organised.
Keswick Town centre
Keswick is a market town and holds a general market day every Saturday which runs through the centre of the town and is traffic free. It is also open on Thursdays between February and December. The Moot Hall is a prominent land mark in the centre of town. Its been here in its present form since 1813 But there has been a meeting place on this site for much longer. If your looking for outdoor wear or Lake District goods and local crafts the town centre is a great place to spend a few hours browsing. Personally we would rather be up a hill but thats just us.
The pencil museum
I remember going here on a school trip many years ago. They have been making pencils here since graphite was discovered in the hills. The museum charts the industry from the beginning to the present day. There is an art room where the kids can go and colour. They famously have the biggest colouring pencil in the world surely thats worth seeing.
Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Trail
Food & Drink
Again Keswick has many choices when it comes to refreshments after a hard day out and about on the hills and lakes. We have tried many over the years. But we tend to come back to the same one or two time and again. If you want a sit down pub meal with a good pint the Dog & Gun in the town centre is a good choice, if you can get a seat. If you want something to take away and eat in the park or may be in your car the Old Keswikian Fish and Chip Shop is a great choice. Don’t take our word for it get out there and explore a few places for yourself like I said theres loads to choose from.
We love to visit Keswick and the surrounding area and have been back many times over the years. Its a great place to spend a weekend or longer. You are a little reliant on the weather so if your taking the kids you will need a back up plan for the rainy days. If your leaving the kids at home go out in the rain its not a bad way to spend a day or sit round the fire in one of the local pubs until the sun comes out. It doesn’t get much better.
Booking resources for your trip to Keswick
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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