It's easy to see why so many people choose Keswick as their favourite holiday destination. It sits in the heart of a truly breathtaking landscape with lush green fields and woodland at the lower levels and a great panorama of mountains surrounding you in all directions. You can sign yourself up for a wide range of outdoor activities or enjoy some of the town's many indoor attractions. If you've only got a weekend in Keswick, you might feel pressed for time, but we've got you covered with a Keswick Itinerary to make sure you see the best this Lake District town has to offer!
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Friday Afternoon (arrival): Friars Crag
After arriving in Keswick, you’ll want a little time to relax and familiarise yourself with your surroundings. A great starting point is to take a stroll down to Friars Crag, a rocky outcrop that looks out across Derwentwater and offers beautiful views towards the 'Jaws of Borrowdale'. From Keswick town centre, you simply follow Lake Road all the way down to the lakeshore, just a leisurely 15-minute stroll. If you have the time, you can enjoy a game of pitch and putt in Hope Park along the way, or can simply wander through the park's beautifully kept gardens.
Friday Evening: Theatre by The Lake
Keswick’s well-loved Theatre by The Lake offers a great range of plays and performances year-round and is an enchanting way to experience a first night in Keswick. The full programme of events can be found online, so you can book your tickets in advance. This wonderful theatre had humble beginnings as the ‘Blue Box’ mobile theatre, taking shows to theatre-starved towns in post-war Britain before finally becoming a permanent feature in Keswick and eventually being replaced by the theatre building that exists now. If you fancy dining out prior to the performance, you are perfectly placed to pop into the Lakeside Café Restaurant, where you can enjoy a tasty meal whilst looking out across the lake.
Saturday morning: Keswick Launch and Lingholm Estate
This morning’s activity is to take the Keswick Launch across the lake to High Brandelhow, from where you can follow the Cumbrian Way footpath along the lakeshore and through woodland and green fields to the Lingholm Estate. This wonderfully scenic low-level walk gives you a chance to enjoy the mountain views whilst getting a little exercise (approx 30-40 minutes). By the time you arrive at Lingholm, you will be ready to sample some of the delicious foods cooked on-site. There is a café looking down onto a walled garden, a gift shop, an art gallery and an artisan bread bakery. There is also a lovely walk that meanders through this grand estate where Beatrix Potter enjoyed many summers. You can even walk with alpacas!
Saturday afternoon: Water sports at Nichol End Marine and Keswick Market
Your delicious lunch will leave you feeling energised and ready for a further 20-minute walk through woodland to Nichol End Marine. From here, you can explore Derwentwater in a range of water vessels available for hire. You might choose to have a relaxed row on the lake or perhaps try something more energetic such as paddleboarding or kayaking. This is a good chance to explore the lake and there are some little islands nearby that you can land on. After having fun with some water sports, you can catch the launch from Nichol End back into Keswick. If you make it back in time, you can enjoy the delights of Keswick’s local market, which runs from 8am until 4:30pm on a Saturday.
Saturday evening: The Alhambra Cinema
After an active day out, you can enjoy putting your feet up whilst watching a film at the Art Deco Alhambra Cinema. This quaint, old cinema is one of the UK’s very few picture houses that has remained in continuous operation for over 100 years. The locals are very fond of it and you can even get a cuppa during your visit!
Sunday morning: Honister Slate Mine
The aim for today is to learn a little about the mining history of the town. A scenic drive (or bus journey) down the Borrowdale Valley for 20 minutes will take you from Keswick to the top of Honister Pass, from where you are treated to breathtaking views down into the Buttermere Valley. Honister Slate Mine is a working mine but also offers mine tours, where you are taken deep underground to learn about Honister’s 450-million-year-old volcanic green slate.
This exciting tour takes you into the heart of the mountain, where you will experience first-hand what life was like for miners through the ages. The tour includes illuminations, mock explosions, uneven ground and 50 steps, so there is a physical aspect to it. As well as the mine tours, there is a viewing window into a workspace for cutting the slate, a souvenir shop selling a range of slate products and a lovely café where you can enjoy a spot of lunch. For those who like to test their nerve, you can sign up for the Via Ferrata, a dramatic scramble up the face of Fleetwith Pike via cabled bridges, cargo nets and ladders (book in advance).
If you would rather remain in Keswick, the Pencil Museum is also a really great way to learn about the mining history of the area. Graphite was another precious commodity for the area, and Keswick was the first place in the world where it was discovered. It is reputed to never have been bettered in quality. Keswick’s famous pencils were even used to hide little pieces of map during WW2, as a way of getting secret information out to our armed forces!
Sunday afternoon: Explore Keswick town centre
Image Credit: Dave Willis. Copyright: Dave Willis.
Keswick has a picturesque town centre with a fantastic range of independent shops, galleries and cafés. You can enjoy a relaxed few hours simply strolling through these pretty streets. Some top recommendations are: Ye Old Friars chocolate shop (main street), The Cheese Deli (Pack Horse Court), Magpie Jewellery Shop at Masons (Lake Road), the Northern Lights Gallery (St John’s Street), The Orchid House (Lake Road), Needle Sports (Main Street) and George Fishers (Lake Road). There is so much to enjoy here and the shopfronts have retained the quaint old style from centuries past. There are lots of lovely cafes for when you need refreshment, not to mention the temptation of ice cream, fudge and much more!
You’ll soon work up an appetite for your evening meal. Check out our Eating Out In Keswick guide to help you choose the best establishment for you.
Sunday evening: Sunset canoe
Why not finish off your weekend with a Sunset Canoe on Derwentwater? Mountain Memories have a fleet of hand-built wooden canoes, which you will use to go on a gentle tour of the lake. You will be taken on a journey, stopping off at one of the islands to enjoy a warming fire, hot drink and maybe a marshmallow or two! You can enjoy views of Catbells, Walla Crag and Skiddaw whilst drifting through these tranquil waters.
Monday morning (departure): Castlerigg Stone Circle
If you have the time this morning, you can visit Castlerigg Stone Circle on your way out. This Neolithic landmark is perhaps one of the most beautifully placed of Britain’s stone circles, with Helvellyn and High Street as a dramatic backdrop. Thought to date back to 3,000 BCE, this ring of 38 stones is possibly one of the earliest stone circles in the country, and its beautiful location makes it a top choice for photography enthusiasts!
You will certainly want to return to Keswick after this wonderful weekend itinerary! Make sure you find your perfect holiday cottage in Keswick or use our cottage search to browse the wider Lake District and Cumbria.
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