Keswick viewed from Latrigg

Keswick is the northern tourist hub of the Lake District National Park and is a favourite base for serious walkers and climbers, artists and photographers, and anyone who enjoys mountain and lake scenery. A thriving town of individual shops, including many selling outdoor equipment, art galleries, delis, cafes, restaurants and pubs, Keswick is a great place to collapse at the end of a long walk and eat a hearty meal. It also has many attractions to occupy visitors on a rainy day when heading up into the hills is not the thing to do.

Keswick sits under the shadow of England's fourth-highest mountain, Skiddaw, and it lies at the head of the Borrowdale valley with Derwentwater lake reaching the edge of town.

Get in

Trains to and from Keswick were axed back in the 1970s so you either have to drive, cycle, walk or get a bus.

There is a regular bus service from Penrith train station to Keswick.

Driving is fast: Keswick is 17 miles along the partially dualled A66 trunk road from the M6 motorway at Penrith.

Parking space is at a premium on busy days. There are a couple of pay-and-display car parks in the town centre, and another close to the lakeside, with plenty of free on-street parking further from the centre. A free but time-limited disc-parking scheme is in operation on some roads, often allowing two hours' free parking.

Get around

Within town, distances are short so walking is easy.

Buses run all over the Lake District from Keswick and these can make a good way to get out to or back from a day's walking destination.

The Keswick Launch water taxis run on Derwentwater with both clockwise and anticlockwise routes serving seven jetties around the lake.

Thirlmere, a lake on the way to Keswick



Walk... walk.. walk... Hikers can walk onto the surrounding hills (known locally as fells - a word dating from Viking times) or into the nearby valleys straight from the town, with more options opening up if you use the Keswick Launch, a car, or the local buses.

Take a scenic drive. If you can't walk then at least drive around from Borrowdale. A trip over the Honister Pass to Buttermere is well worth the effort returning over either Newlands Pass or Whinlatter Pass for spectacular views.

Keswick leisure pool is on the site of the old railway station, or for a more indulgent spa session there's the Lodore Hotel a few miles down the road into Borrowdale, which offers pamper days for when the weather really isn't cooperating.


The Theatre by the Lake is an attractive theatre at the end of Lake Road by the Lakeside car park. It is open all the year round and is particularly popular in the summer months when it runs a series of plays in repertory. The main theatre puts on three productions during the summer which run on consecutive nights throughout the season. Similarly there is a small studio theatre which also runs a three production repertory system. It is professional theatre of a high standard and has Dame Judi Dench as one of its patrons. The theatre building is modern and comfortable with good refreshment facilities and a small shop.


Outdoor gear. All the big high-street outdoor shops are represented in Keswick, so you'll be spoilt for choice if you need any clothing or equipment for walking, climbing, or camping (just don't forget to spend some time using it!)


Pretty much all of the pubs in the area offer traditional pub food at lunch and dinner time. With so much sheep farming in the surrounding hills, roast lamb is a favourite local dish, as is Borrowdale trout. Cumberland sausage is a speciality throughout Cumbria.

Beyond pub grub there are plenty of restaurants - such as the Red Fort and Taste of Bengal (Indian), the Loose Box (Italian, so named as it is the former stables of one of the hotels), or the Golden Hills (Chinese).


The Dog & Gun, The Oddfellows Arms, The Four In Hand and the Bank Tavern are among the more popular of Keswick's traditional pubs, all offering a good range of real ales. The modern and stylish Cafe Bar 26, Sweeney's and The Square Orange offer a welcome change to the traditional.

Live music is very popular in Keswick. The Oddfellows on the main street has music every night of various quality. The Square Orange on St Johns Street and Cafe Bar 26 on Lake Road have music every Thursday, both worth a visit. Sweeney's on Lake Road has live music every Friday and Saturday.

The Loft on the main square is the town's only night club, with the vibe of a bad school disco with alcohol. However, a late-night drink is available at other venues such as the locals' favourite, The Queens Back Bar, or Rumours, the local dive bar.


Keswick has many, many bed-and-breakfasts. Stanger Street and Bank Street just east of the bus station are good places to start, or the grid of streets around Southey Street, Helvellyn Street and Eskin Street just back from the riverside, or try the visitor information centre in the Moot Hall in the main square. Note that very few B&Bs in Keswick have a car park. During high season or weekends, reservations are strongly recommended. Try the Keswick Tourism Association site for finding accommodation .

In the surrounding villages and hamlets there are country inns and guesthouses where you can find accommodation away from the hustle and bustle of Keswick, may with good views of the fells.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, October 06, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.