Keswick is the hub of the northern Lake District with every conceivable outdoor activity on offer. But it is not all walking and climbing and high octance fun. There are many other attractions for you to discover such as beautiful parks, interesting museums and inspiring art galleries. Here are a few suggestions:
Hope Park is situated between the town centre and the Theatre by the Lake. There is a 9-hole pitch and putt course, crazy obstacle golf and bowls on offer. The new Hope Cafe has opened this summer selling all the usual hot and cold drinks and ice creams. Benches line the path through the park and the floral displays are really pretty.
Fitz Park is off Station Street on the way to the swimming pool and leisure centre. There is a brilliant children’s playground which was designed and fund raised by local parents. The perimeter path is great for kids to cycle on in safety and there are a few shallow spots on the river suitable for paddling. The cricket pitch in the middle of the park was described as the 'loveliest cricket ground in all of England' by the Wisden Guide to Cricket, with the back drop of Skiddaw and the benches around the edge. There is also a floodlit multi sport pitch (tennis/basketball and football) and under the bridge to lower Fitz Park there are lawned tennis courts and two bowling greens.
Keswick Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre is also off Station Street. The pool is not aimed at swimmers wanting to clock up lengths, but the wave machine, swirly slide and plunge pool are certainly brilliant fun for families. Bikes can also be hired from here to cycle along the railway line.
Theatre by the Lake is just beyond Hope Park and on the way to Derwentwater. There is a season of 6 rotating plays with something for everybody - comedy, drama, music etc. You will also find regular special events and notable speakers - as diverse as Eddie Izzard to Chris Bonnington. The Christmas shows are very popular as are the festivals such as Words by the Water and the Jazz and Mountain festivals. Guest with Sally's Cottages can receive discounts on various shows.
The Pencil Museum at Southey Works off Main Street is a popular rainy day activity. The Cumberland Pencil Co. has been based in Keswick for 175 years and is credited with producing the world's first pencil. The well thought out museum tells the history of pencil making, with a replica of a graphite mine. It is highly suitable for kids, with a quiz and drawing zone. There is also a café and pencil shop. Open daily with reduced hours in the winter.
Threlkeld Mining Museum - The mine at Threlkeld, 3 miles east of Keswick, produced granite for road building until 1982. Here, you can go underground to see a real mine, see the original quarry machinery and visit the geology and mining museum. Open 7 days a week from Easter to October.
Keswick Museum and Art Gallery - This free museum was opened in 1898 and well deserves its moniker as the ‘3rd strangest museum in the world’! It has a mixed collection of interesting objects left to the museum, including a stone xylophone, a 664-year old desiccated cat and a penny farthing bicycle. More seriously, it also has a credible collection of the manuscripts of Southey, Wordsworth and High Walpole, and examples of the Keswick School of Industrial Art’s arts and crafts items.
St. Kentigern’s Church is a beautiful gem of a church in Crosthwaite just to the west of Keswick. The first church at this site was allegedly established by St. Kentigern himself in 553AD, but the current church mostly dates from 1523 with parts from the late 12th and 14th centuries. It is unique in having all twelve consecration crosses. It has a 14th century font, a fine mosaic floor and two alabaster effigies dating from 1495. It also houses a monument to the poet, Robert Southey. Weekly services.
The Puzzling Place - At Museum Square. This interesting exhibition aims to entertain with confusion, with lots of optical illusions, including holograms and an ‘anti-gravity’ room. There is a puzzle shop and a puzzle room. Open 10-6, seven days a week from Easter to November. Open 11-5 from November to Easter, closed Mondays.
The Keswick Brewing Company - You can tell how long this has been here – it’s based on Brewery Lane. Full brewery tours available but opening times vary – call 017687 80700.
Alhambra Cinema situated on St. John’s Street is an art deco building with an eye catching red brick frontage and some original stained glass inside. The cinema is privately owned and hosts a film club on Sundays - with foreigh language and thought provoking pictures. The beauty of the private ownership means popular films run as long as there is demand and extra matinee shows are put on for rainy days.
Honister Slate Mine is not strictly in Keswick but falls into the category of all weather attraction. The mine is on Honister Pass, 9 miles west of Keswick. It is the last working slate mine in the country. There are guided tours of the mine itself, and a visitor centre, but most people go there for the Via Ferrata. This ‘iron road’ is an updated version of the climbing system used by Victorian miners to get to work; it has iron cables and hand holds up the rock face, reaching the 2126 ft-high summit of Fleetwith Pike. Open 7 days a week, 9-5.