Things to do nearby Chaucer's Gem
A stone's throw from the centre of Keswick, 4 Chaucer House is perfectly placed for exploring everything that this bustling market town has to offer. There's a great choice of outdoor and independent shops on offer if you fancy a bit of retail therapy - be sure to stop off at one of the many quant cafes to refuel with a generous slice of cake! Fancy an evening out? Why not take in a film at the family owned cinema or catch a show at the renowned Theatre by the Lake? Walkers will delight in the wealth of routes on offer straight from the front door. Head down to beautiful Derwentwater for lakeshore and woodland walks, or pack a picnic and enjoy the circular route round the whole lake.
Keswick is a bustling town with a good range of independent shops just perfect for browsing; books, outdoor clothing, antiques, sweet treats, it is all here! There is also a popular, twice-weekly market for produce, gifts, and all sorts besides. When you’re taking a break from retail therapy, choose from anything from coffee bars to tea shops, Mexican to fish and chips, pasties to ice cream, or just head to a traditional pub for refreshment.
You don’t have to look far for plenty to do within the town itself. There is a quirky town museum, a Puzzling Place and Pencil Museum, swimming pool, crazy golf, radio controlled boating, and the King Kong climbing wall.
For the evening take in a show at the Theatre by the Lake (guests with Sally’s Cottages can receive a discount on tickets) or watch a new release or live-streamed ballet, opera or theatre at the traditional Art Deco Alhambra cinema. There are also a large variety of restaurants, pubs, and bars to choose from.
Keswick is undoubtedly popular with walkers, climbers and cyclists. There are plenty of fantastic fells to climb and low level walks by the lake or in the valleys. Borrowdale is a popular location: here you will find the starting point for climbing up Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain. There are plenty of other mountains to climb, too: Catbells (small and sweet with fantastic views), the Coledale Horseshoe (a ridge walk, just amazing), Skiddaw (one of the Lake District’s highest mountains) and Blencathra (voted England’s best walk!)
The town sits on the beautiful Derwentwater and a regular launch service crosses the lake. You have the option to stay on board for a trip around the entire lake or to explore locations around the various landing stages around the lake. At Lodore, stop off to see the waterfall and then treat yourself to afternoon tea in the plush surroundings of the Lodore Hotel! Ashness Gate gives easy access for a walk up to Ashness Bridge and Surprise View high above the valley. At Lingholm you can view the walled garden that inspired Beatrix Potter. The launch also stops at Hawse End, the starting point for the ridge walk up Catbells via Rowling End, which boasts some of the best views anywhere. There are also lovely and easy lakeside walks between landing stages; just walk until you have had enough and then hop back on the boat at the next stop. Of course, the main stop is Keswick where you can explore the lake at a slower pace by hiring a rowing boat from the boat landings. Why not aim for one of the islands for a unique picnic destination?
Honister Slate Mine is up the steep and twisting Honister Pass and has fabulous views. At the mine, you can take an underground tour, climb along the Via Ferrata, or walk high above the ground across the Infinity Bridge- not for the faint hearted! You can also enjoy a more relaxing time here by browsing through the gift shop and picking up some of the lovely local slate.
The ancient and mysterious Castlerigg Stone Circle sits just above the town. English Heritage describes it as “perhaps the most atmospheric and dramatically sited of all British stone circles, with panoramic views and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat as a backdrop.”
Rising above the nearby village of Braithwaite is the mountainous Whinlatter Forest with its forest paths, mountain bike trails, and a Go Ape! high ropes course. The shop and café in the visitor centre are well worth visiting, as is the information display; you can even see the magnificent Osprey nesting site from the Whinlatter webcam.
The Caldbeck Rambler is a seasonal circular bus route that runs from Easter to October between Keswick and Caldbeck. The route includes Dodd Wood (a forested mountain with Osprey viewing points), the Lake District Wildlife Park (including a café, petting zoo, soft-play centre and bird of prey displays), St Bega’s Church and Mirehouse (a historic house and gardens with wooded adventure playgrounds and lakeside walks).
Cockermouth is a similar but quieter town that has a wonderful array of independent shops, restaurants, cafés and other attractions. History and literary fans will love a visit to Wordsworth House and Gardens, the childhood home of the Romantic poet. Made to look as it would have in 1770, there are interactive activities and the opportunity to dress up in traditional clothing. The Jennings Brewery is also a popular choice for its tours and tastings.
Penrith, in the opposite direction, is an attractive town with a good mixture of independent and high street shops as well as many places to eat. Penrith prides itself on its range of small independent shops, stocking everything from books to sweets. It has an artisan bakery, cake shop, and even its very own smokery! Look out for the adorable Devonshire Arcade, an original indoor Victorian shopping arcade in the centre of town, which is home to small boutiques and food retailers. Penrith holds farmers' markets on the third Tuesday of the month (between March and December) in Market Square and you can also find out about the town's history through the town trail. Don’t forget to stop off at nearby Rheged with its shops, cafés, pottery painting, arts exhibitions, a 3D cinema, and a soft play area.