Just what is it about Keswick that makes visitors come back again and again? The answer is, lots! This traditional market town in the Northern Lake District has so much to offer; from its stunning natural beauty, ample walking and a bustling town centre where you'll never be short of something to do. Here's our list of reasons why Keswick has captured our hearts:
See our large range of cottages in the Keswick area.
1. The Fells
As soon as you enter Keswick, it's impossible not to be impressed by the sight of the fells that surround it. With all this green space, there's so much opportunity for hiking, but where to start?
Keswick is a perfect base for walking several of the Wainwright's, a group of 317 fells in the Lake District National Park that feature in Alfred Wainwright's popular guides. His classic books have inspired keen fell walkers to 'bag' these mountains, which include steep challenges such as Helvellyn, Blencathra and the highest of them all, Scafell Pike.
If an entire day spent walking uphill isn't your scene, don't worry; the beauty of Keswick is that there is walking for all ages and abilities. There are plenty of low fells such as Latrigg or Catbells that can be done in a few hours and offer fantastic panoramic views of Derwentwater and the surrounding scenery.
2. History and Culture
Many famous literary figures are affiliated with Keswick, helping to shape the cultural heritage of the Lake District. Two of the Lakes Poets, Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey, resided together at Greta Hall, where they were also visited by the Wordsworths. And of course, several of Beatrix Potter's classic tales were inspired by her childhood trips to Derwentwater and the Lingholm Estate.
Another fascinating figure is Millican Dalton, or the Professor of Adventure as he came to be known. An outdoor enthusiast who took visitors on guided climbs, Dalton lived a simple, self-sufficient life in a cave at Castle Crag near Keswick for nearly 50 years. The cave can be visited today, where the legendary caveman has inscribed the words, 'Don't waste Words, Jump to Conclusions.'
Read more about the Lakes Poets and Lake District's amazing literary heritage.
Just a short walk from the town centre is Derwentwater, a picturesque lake offering plenty of outdoor activities. At the main shoreline, take a lake cruise, hopping off at one of the eight jetty stops around the lake, or simply enjoy the entire journey while admiring the views of Catbells. Hire a rowing boat or kayak from Nichol End Marina or, if you're feeling more adventurous, have a go at windsurfing!
The lakeshore itself is a popular walking route; the flat, ten-mile course will take you along the shoreline and through ancient woodlands, with ample opportunity to stop for a picnic. For a shorter walk (about 15 minutes), head from the Keswick jetties towards the viewpoint at Friar's Crag - perfect for an evening stroll!
When you walk down the high street of Keswick, don't expect to see dozens of big brands and cheap chain stores! Shoppers can instead enjoy independent shops that stock locally sourced goods and high-quality souvenirs. Pick up some delicious gifts - or just treat yourself - at Ye Olde Friars chocolatier and The Cheese Deli. There's also a weekly market that takes place every Thursday and Saturday in the main square, selling everything from local slate to fruit and veg.
If you forget any of your hiking gear at home, never fear, as there are more outdoor shops in Keswick than you can shake a walking stick at!
Like a bit of retail therapy? See Sally's guide to shopping in the Lake District.
Sometimes it rains in the Lake District and sometimes, as beautiful as the fells are, it's nice to spend a few hours inside taking in some local history, admiring some local art or enjoying a show.
Keswick has several attractions, such as the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery, which showcases the town's history and art, as well as the world-famous Pencil Museum, which explores the important role that Keswick Pencil Factory played in the war. A firm favourite with visitors is the Theatre by the Lake, situated just next to Derwentwater. This award-winning gem has an extensive and varied yearly programme featuring everything from small, intimate plays to large Christmas productions, as well as visiting musicians and comedy performances.
See our blog on the Top 9 Museums in the Lake District for more indoor activities.
Whether you're looking to get active or enjoy a relaxing stroll, Keswick has two lovely parks offering different leisure activities. The bigger of the two, Fitz Park, has a large playground and sports area, so it’s perfect for families looking to expend some energy. The ample green space is ideal for letting the dog off too!
At the other side of town is Hope Park, much smaller but no less charming with its pretty landscaped gardens and bird-watching area. Grab a club and a scorecard for the Pitch and Putt or the obstacle golf course, which is cleverly designed to resemble Keswick landmarks!
Keswick plays host to a variety of events throughout the year, including the Jazz Festival, Words by the Water, the Mountain Festival and the Film Festival, to name a small few.
The annual Beer Festival is very popular with both locals and visitors. Not only is it a chance to sample from a range of hundreds of ciders and ales, but it's also a great weekend to take in some live music and dress up - the sillier, the better!
Why should humans have all the fun? Keswick is well-known for being dog-friendly so, as well as enjoying lots of exciting walks, your best friend can join you in one of the town's many dog-friendly pubs, cafes and shops.
Why not let your dog bask in the limelight at the annual Scruffs dog show, which takes place at Fitz Park in July? This fun event has lots of different classes to enter, including Waggiest Tail, Dog That Looks Most Like Its Owner and Best Trick. Get Practising!
Take a look at all of our dog-friendly cottages in Keswick.
9. Eating Out
Keswick has so many options when it comes to eating out that you may struggle to decide where to go! Those looking to be wined and dined over candlelight can try Morrel’s Restaurant, a refined eatery which offers a pre-theatre menu. Or choose from one of the many other town centre restaurants offering Chinese, Indian, Italian and Thai cuisine.
For something a bit more laid-back, grab yourself a portion of fish and chips from a choice of the three town centre chippies, then watch the sunset from a park bench. Be prepared to queue right out into the street on summer days - they're worth it though!
Check out our full guide to eating out in Keswick.
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