Keswick is one of the most popular places to visit within the Lake District National Park. It’s easy to see why with its pretty market town situated between rugged mountains and a picturesque lake. It’s the perfect place for some much needed relaxation or even some adrenaline adventures if that’s your thing! This guide will show you the best things to do in Keswick to make the most of your visit including how to get there and where to stay.
Affiliate Disclosure – Lou Does Travel contains affiliate links. If you choose to make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to yourself.
Keswick and its surrounding area is absolutely stunning! I personally enjoy taking solo trips and getting out and about in the beautiful scenery, literally walking my feet off! As you wander around you will encounter fabulous picture perfect countryside alongside fabulous mountain views! It’s the perfect place to unwind and recharge ya batteries after a stressful few weeks at work. If walking isn’t your thing then you can still enjoy your time in the Lake District. Derwent water is the perfect place for a scenic cruise or if adrenaline adventures are your thing you have plenty of activities to choose from including rock climbing, abseiling or canyoning.
13 Fabulous things to do in Keswick:
Derwentwater is around 3 miles long surrounded by mountains on all sides and just a short stroll south from Keswick town centre.
There are a variety of ways you can enjoy the lake, you can either take an 8 mile walk around the lake utilising the many well maintained foot paths or you can enjoy a scenic boat trip from one of the Keswick launches that operate around the lake.
If a walk around the lake is a bit too much then why not combine it with a cruise and have the best of both worlds.
There are also numerous activity centres around the lake offering various water sport activities such as paddle boarding, boating or wind surfing.
2. Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the oldest stone circles in Britain dating back to 3000 BC. Castlerigg is also one of the most atmospheric and dramatically sited circles with fabulous panoramic views surrounded by mountains. The circle itself is about 30 metres in diameter and comprises of 38 stones which vary in height from 1 metre to 2.3 metres!
The site itself is free to enter and is maintained by English Heritage. The site is open 24 hours a day and can be reached by car or with a leisurely 30 minute stroll uphill from Keswick town centre. Be warned, if walking the hill can be very steep in parts!
If driving, there is a small car park so best come early in the day to guarantee a spot.
Dogs are also welcome but must be kept on a lead as there are grazing sheep on the site!
3. Climb a mountain
If you enjoy walking or hiking then Keswick has plenty of mountains and trails to keep you occupied.
One of the most common trails is to hike up catbells with a height of 451 metres and situated on the western shore of Derwentwater if offers an easy hike with amazing views across the lake and surrounding area. You can climb Catbells from either end, walking up one side and down the other or you can climb up and back down the same route if your short on time.
I incorporated a walk up Catbells whilst walking around the lake and it was defiantly the highlight of my walk. The views are absolutely stunning and defiantly worth the hard work up the trail.
Other trails include Skiddaw, Latrigg or Wallaby’s Crag, however there are a variety of trails available for all different abilities. For those with limited abilities Miles without Stiles offers selected routes throughout the Lake District including Keswick that are suitable for wheelchair users, visually impaired and those with pushchairs and young children.
4. Take a Cruise
Just like in other parts of the Lake District, Keswick has its own Launches and Jetties dotted around beautiful Derwentwater. These lovely little wooden launch boats leave roughly every half hour for a leisurely 50 minute boat trip around the lake. Around the lake are 7 landing stages that enable people to get on and off and explore the local area.
You can either buy tickets for single leg trips or an all day hop on hop off ticket enabling you to explore most parts of the lake in one day. Boats have both indoor and outdoor seating, however be warned that the temperature can be a lot cooler out on the water and the weather can change very quickly even in the summer months.
If visiting Keswick with children visiting the landing stages are also a great spot to feed the friendly ducks. Duck food can be bought from the vendors and shops at the jetty for about a £1
5. Ashness Bridge
Ashness Bridge is probably the most photographed stone bridge in the Lake District due to its location and stunning views. This extremely popular viewpoint looks out over Derwentwater with spectacular views over Bassenthwaite Lake and the River Derwent.
You can reach Ashness Bridge whilst walking around Derwentwater or you can take a launch boat and get off at Ashness Pier and just head uphill towards the remote hamlet of Watendlath and Watendlath Tarn. The walk is fairly steep but the views are very much worth it!
You can continue up the hill to Surprise view which will give you even better views of the whole of Derwentwater, Borrowdale to the South, and on a clear day Bassenthwaite Lake to the North.
6. Take a trip to Buttermere
From Keswick you can take a trip to one of my favourite parts of the Lake District, Buttermere! With only a 4km low level walk, Buttermere is one of the smallest and easiest lakes to walk around within the Lake District. Views in the Lake District rarely get better than here!
Buttermere also has a small village nestled on its shore offering a few fabulous pubs to have a bite to eat and a hard earned beer! On the other side of the village you will also find its twin lake of Crummock Water. These lakes were once joined together before fall erosion gradually split them apart.
Buttermere is easily accessibly via public transport with buses running every hour during the summer months, offering plenty of time to explore the lake and the surrounding area. The bus ride itself is a beautiful run taking you over the Honistor pass, be prepared to stand though, especially in peak times in the summer months as the buses can get packed out even refusing passengers at times.
7. Check out one of the beautiful parks
There are 2 lovely parks in Keswick, Fitz Park and Hope Park.
Located alongside the River Greta and only a few minutes walk from Keswick town centre is the lovely Fitz Park. If the weather is on your side then Fitz park is a lovely spot to sit with a picnic or coffee enjoying some sunshine.
Its also a great little spot for those with small children who can enjoy the park facilities, make sure you bring a bucket and spade. Even without children is a great place to wander and chill out, you might even be able to catch a local cricket or football match in the playing fields adjacent.
Situated between Keswick and the lake, Hope Park is a mosaic of gardens and family leisure facilities. The park was landscaped in the 1920s by the landowner Sir Percy Hope, and the sweet ornamental garden on the west side was once his wife, Lady Hope’s private garden.
Today, Hope Park has free Wi-Fi remote-controlled boats, a woodland walk and a picnic area, together with crazy golf, an 18-hole putting green and a nine-hole pitch and putt course.
8. Walk with Alpacas and Llamas
Ever wanted to take a walk with a Alpaca or Llama? If so Keswick is the place to visit. Alpacaly Ever After is an organisation that lets you get hands on experience with their fabulous Alpacas and Llamas. They have several places around the area where you can meet these amazing creatures, however The Lingholm Estate is probably the nearest to Keswick.
Opportunities range from meeting and feeding them to taking them out for a little walk around the local area. If you are looking for something different to do whilst in the Lake District then this could be for you.
9. Lingholm Kitchen and Walled Garden
I found this place purely by accident whilst walking around the lake. As it was still early morning I saw a sign for a cafe and decided to stop off and grab a quick drink.
The Lingholm Kitchen and Walled garden is part of the Lingholm Estate which offers amazing holiday accommodation along the shore of Derwentwater. However you can’t access this part of the estate unless you are a guest.
The cafe and kitchen itself is lovely with a large terrace overlooking the walled garden below, its the perfect place to sit and grab a coffee and definitly recommend a stop if walking around the lake. The fabulous greenhouse next door to the cafe is also available for a special lunch or a fabulous afternoon tea.
The walled garden is beautiful and very well maintained. The Octagonal walled garden sits on the same spot as the old Lingholm Kitchen gardens which Beatrix Potter credited as her inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Within the garden is a gallery dedicated to Beatrix Potter’s work in the Derwentwater area giving a little incite into her life.
10. Check out a Museum or two
Keswick is home to a several museums that are worth a visit. These include:
Keswick Museum: If looking to find out some local history this museum aims to to tell the many stories that have put Keswick firmly on the map and at the heart of a World Heritage Site.
Derwent Pencil Museum: Located in Keswick, the home of the first pencil, visitors enter this museum through a replica graphite mine which would have served as the source of the pencil industry over three centuries ago. A journey of graphite and pencil discovery from its humble beginnings as a cottage industry to modern day production.
The Puzzling Place: The Puzzling Place’s ‘World of Illusion’ takes the theme of Illusion and runs with it. It’s exerbitions include the anti-gravity Room, Ames Room, Hologram Gallery and Eyelusions Exhibition. It’s a fascinating, fun and social excursion into the wonderful world of optical illusion, which will leave you quite literally, not believing your eyes!
11. Try some adventure sports
The Lake District is home to adventure sports and Keswick is no exception. There are various companies around Keswick offering a multitude of activities to keep any adrenaline junkie happy. Probably the most popular outdoor adventure in the Lake District is rock climbing and the nearby hoister Slate mine on route to Buttermere is home to the fabulous Via Farrata! Thought to be one of the best in the UK!
Using the original Miners track up the steep outer incline of Fleetwith Pike, the addition of a continuous cable made climbing this magnificent Lake District Mountain achievable and safe for everyone. You can choose between the Via-Ferrara classic or the Via-Ferrata X-treame!
For more information on what’s on offer click here to view the Honister Slate Mine website.
Of course not all outdoor adventures are that extreme! There are various other companies offering activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking or water sports as well as many others, there really is something for everyone.
Ok, so most of the shops around Keswick are generally outdoor clothing adventure shops, however if you delve a little deeper you will find an assortment of novelty, vintage and some smaller boutique stores selling clothes, jewellery and homeware as well as great places to find some local produce including sweet treats to take home.
Don’t miss out on the fabulous Ye Olde Friars Sweetshop in the main square! The sweets in here are amazing!
Keswick market is also a great place to find a bargain or some unusual souvenirs. Held every Saturday in the main square it sells everything from lakeland wool, to Greek olives, cheese, meat, jewellery, art, and gifts. It’s also the perfect place to grab a bite to eat with lots of different food stalls on offer.
13. Enjoy the local Cafes and Bars
With all that waking and sightseeing, you’ll defiantly be in need of putting your feet up and enjoying some hearty food and some beers! Well there are plenty of places to wet ya appetite, choose form cozy pubs with open fires, fancy wine bars or even a cute cafe selling the best hot chocolate! Whatever ya tastebuds Keswick has something for everyone!
How to get to Keswick:
Keswick can be easily reached via junction 40 of the M6 (Penrith) and the A66 or via the A1 and the A66. For a scenic route coming from the South leave the M6 at junction 36 and take the A591 through Windermere, Ambleside and Grasmere. Using motorways from Manchester it takes approximately 2 hours, whilst from the Midlands Keswick is around a 3 hour drive. The average journey time from London is approximately 5 1/2 hours.
The recently opened Carlisle Airport now operates flights to Dublin, Belfast and London Southend. Flights can be booked on the Loganair website
Keswick is within easy driving distance of several airports. All airports offer car hire and have easy access to the M6.
Newcastle Airport 1 3/4 hours
Manchester Airport 2 hours (There is a train station at the airport)
Edinburgh Airport 2 1/2 hours
Glasgow Airport 2 1/2 hours
Liverpool Airport 2 1/4 hours
Blackpool Airport 1 3/4 hours (Daily flights to the Isle of Man, Belfast and Dublin)
The nearest railway station to Keswick is Penrith, on the West Coast Main Line, a distance of 17 miles. A bus service, taking forty minutes, connects Penrith railway station with Keswick Bus Station.
National Express offers cheap fares to Keswick from other major cities within the UK, click here for the National Express website for current offers and pricing.
Getting around the local area:
With only living a few hours away from the lake district I have visited the area countless times and believe the area is one of the most beautiful in all of England. On most occasions I have travelled to the Lake District by train therefore only utilising public transport to get around and can fully recommend the area for those without their own transport such as foreign travellers and backpackers.
For up to date information on routes around Keswick and the rest of the Lake District either download the Stagecoach app or check out the Stagecoach website here.
Where to stay in Keswick:
Keswick has accommodation for every budget and every type of traveller. Accommodation ranges from campsites all the way up to pure luxury resorts as well as everything else in-between.
I personally always choose a local B&B that’s situated within the town centre and close to all the local amenities.
On my last stay in Keswick I stayed in the lovely Dolly Wagon Guest House which had the loveliest rooms as well as one of the best cooked English breakfasts I’ve ever had! At only £50 a night for a single room it was well worth it, I would defiantly recommend!
So there you have it my best things to do in Keswick. Have you been to Keswick, would you add anything else to this list? Let me know in the comments below. Plus if you have enjoyed reading this article then please share on your favourite social media and subscribe to hear more about my travel adventures.
Thanks for reading,