Bassenthwaite Area Guide
Bassenthwaite area mainly consists of the tranquil Bassenthwaite Lake and the village of Bassenthwaite which is a typical Lakeland village with a lovely pub. The Sun Inn has an ancient atmosphere (including oak beams and open fires), supplies tasty bar food and has an outside beer garden and is dog friendly. The pub has a very pleasant ambience and will provide you with all the facilities you need to refresh yourself after a walk on the fells.
Bassenthwaite Lake is one of the largest lakes in the English Lake District. It is long and narrow, approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) long and 3⁄4-mile (1.2 km) wide.
It is the only body of water in the Lake District to use the word "lake" in its name, all the others being "waters" (for example, Derwent Water) and the lake's catchment is the largest of any lake in the Lake District. This, along with a large percentage of cultivable land within this drainage area, makes Bassenthwaite Lake a fertile habitat.
The lake contains salmon, trout, pike, perch, minnow, dace, ruffe and eel, though the predominant species is roach. Cormorants have been known to fish the lake and herons can also be seen. Bassenthwaite has a sailing club which can be used by visiting RYA members or members of RYA affiliated clubs
Bassenthwaite is overlooked by the towering Skiddaw, England's fourth highest mountain. With a well defined path to the summit from where you gain wonderful views, maybe being lucky enough to see the Isle of Man on a clear day. Gentler walks can be found on the well marked forestry commission paths in Dodd Wood to the North of the lake and In Whinlatter Forest to the South. Dodd Wood also has the Sawmill Tearoom for a lovely cup of tea and cake after your walk.
Whinlatter Forest has the forestry commission visitor centre with cafe and shop as well as the osprey web cam. The Ospreys can be viewed on the nest and fishing in the lake from the view point at Dodd Wood and on the web cam in Whinlatter visitor centre. The Osprey's return to the same nest in Dodd Wood every year and are usually in residence from end of March to September before flying off south to warmer climes for the winter.
The beautiful idyllically located St Bega's church by the shores of the Lake was said to be built at the place where St. Bega resided for some time or where she is buried, though there is no evidence for this. Saint Bega was the daughter of a seventh century Irish Chieftain. At an early age, she resolved to devote herself to the service of God and renouncing worldly pursuits, she 'wedded herself' to the service of Jesus Christ. She fled from Ireland to avoid marriage to a Norse Prince, selected by her father. She landed about thirty miles from here at St. Bees Head. Her story has been retold in a dramatic way by Melvin Bragg in his book "Credo".
'Probably in 1794, William and Dorothy Wordsworth visited the church, which features in Wordsworth's 'A Guide to the English Lakes.' In 1835, Alfred Tennyson paid his first visit to St.Bega which is probably the setting for the opening of 'Morte d'Arthur.' Sir Bedevere carries King Arthur....
"....to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the Ocean, and on the one
lay a great water, and the moon was full."
The historic house of Mirehouse is situated by the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake
Mirehouse has a particular connection with Tennyson, who wrote his famous poem Morte d’Arthur whilst staying there. It is open to the public and holds portraits and manuscripts of 3 poet laureates.
Both the towns of Keswick (8 miles) and Cockermouth (8 miles) are within driving distance from Bassenthwaite village. Keswick is a thriving market towm with shops , cafes, restaurants, pubs and a thriving Theatre, as well as the lovely Derwent Water. Derwent Water, flanked by mountains is a popular place for walks. The Keswick Launch is a lovely way to see the lake itself, stopping at various points around the lake where you can hope on and off. You can also step back in time and hire Victorian rowing boats to see what the Lake District looks like at a slower pace. Alternatively there are also motor-boats available to hire.
There are many mountain biking cycle routes, plus there are the specifically built trails on Whinlatter Pass, just above Keswick, where you can hire bikes.
There are also many galleries and museums, including the Pencil Museum, featuring the biggest pencil in the world. In Hope Park there is a pitch and putt golf course and a mini-golf.
The market town of Cockermouth is on the River Derwent at the north-western tip of the Lake District. Dating from Norman times, with much of its medieval streetplan remaining, and beautiful Georgian architecture, it has a strong sense of history.
All Saint's Church, Cockermouth
The Cockermouth Trail is a good introduction to the town, taking visitors around its many famous landmarks and lesser-known attractions. It is well signposted, with 19 plaques along the trail to show the way - a map can be obtained from the tourist information centre.
William Wordsworth's Home
Cockermouth is famous for being the birthplace of the poet William Wordsworth in 1770. Just at the end of the main street, Wordsworth House has been restored to how it would have been in Wordsworth’s day and is open to the public. There are hands-on activities for children and costumed living history.
The Jennings brewery and museum, based in Cockermouth since 1828, is a different sort of historical experience – but just as popular! Visitors can take a guided tour of the brewing facilities, find out about the 175 year old process, see how the beer is made and sample the finished product.