About half an hour’s drive north of Windermere, the bustling town of Keswick sits right at the heart of the Northern Lakes, surrounded by craggy mountains. From cultural events at Theatre by the Lake to historical sights such as the Castlerigg Stone Circle and off-beat museums such as the Pencil Museum, Keswick and the surrounding area has heaps to offer tourists.
Starting out at Keswick Tourist Information Centre in Market Square, which is well-stocked with leaflets about local attractions, you’ll soon discover how much there is to do in and around Keswick. Here’s a taster of what the vibrant Lakeland town has to offer…
Peaceful Derwentwater is well-known for its much-photographed dramatic landscapes, which appear to shift with the weather. It’s also very popular amongst recreational walkers, with lots of trails along and around the lakeshore. For a more relaxing visit, you could just pack up a picnic and take in the stunning views, or head out onto the water for a scenic boat trip.
Theatre by the Lake
Perched on the shores of pretty Derwentwater, the Theatre by the Lake has one of the most spectacular locations of any theatre in England. Cumbria’s only year-round professional producing theatre, it also hosts a fabulous variety of visiting drama, music, dance, film, comedy and talks — so it’s well worth taking a look at what’s on when you are planning your trip, and booking tickets in advance if there’s something you fancy seeing. A bar serves food and drinks when there is a performance on, ranging from light lunches to afternoon teas and pre-theatre suppers.
Go Ape! – Whinlatter Forest Park
Embark on an adrenalin-fuelled tree top adventure at Whinlatter Forest Park near Keswick, swinging through the trees on high wires and bridges, and whizzing down zip wires. This popular attraction takes visitors out of their comfort zone with huge rewards – not least the amazing views.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
The striking setting of this enigmatic stone circle, created in the Neolithic period around 3000 BC, makes it incredibly memorable and atmospheric – attracting more visitors than any other stone circle in the country. Surrounded by stunning mountains and offering panoramic views, it’s one of the area’s unmissable sights. From this spot you can also get excellent views of some of Cumbria’s highest mountains, including Skiddaw, Grasmoor, Helvellyn and Blencathra.
Honister Slate Mine and the Via Ferrata
About nine miles outside of Keswick, Honister Slate Mine is situated near Borrowdale, and offers an adventure for all ages. Venture deep underground on a guided tour of the mine and explore the visitor centre – then, if you’re feeling adventurous, try out the first Via Ferrata in England — taking the original Victorian miners’ route to work along a nerve-wracking route high above the Honister Pass.
In Thornthwaite Village, just a few miles outside of Keswick, this contemporary art gallery offers free entry and displays the work of more than 140 exhibitors, many from Cumbria and the North West. Exhibitions by local artists change fortnightly, and include paintings, jewellery, wood turning, sculptures, furniture, glassware, pottery, photographs, greetings cards and beadwork.