Bordered by woods and towering crags, Derwentwater is hailed as 'Queen of the Lakes', and is surrounded by some of the most magnificent scenery in the Lake District. The lake is three miles long by one and a quarter miles wide and is the third largest of the Cumbrian lakes.
The Lake from the boat landings at Keswick. Click to enlarge
Derwentwater has four islands Derwent, Lord's, Rampsholme and St. Herbert's.
The largest of these is St. Herbert's, at the centre of the lake, which covers 4- 5 acres. The island was named after the saint of the same name who brought christianity to the area in 685 and used it as a hermitage. St. Herbert was a disciple of St. Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and was referred to by the Venerable Bede as 'the hermit of Derwentwater'. After his death, which was on the same day as St. Cuthbert's, it became a place of pilgrimage. St. Herbert's cell can still be determined amongst the undergrowth on the island.
Derwent Island was once owned by the monks of Fountains Abbey. The only island to be inhabited, it was once the home of German miners working in the area. The island and its house, which was considered by Wordsworth to be a blot on the landscape, have, since the 1950's been owned by the National Trust, the public are allowed to visit five days a year.
Lord's Island was once the residence of the Earls of Derwentwater. A grand house once existed on the island, dating from around 1460, with a drawbridge across to the mainland. The house gradually fell into a sad state of disrepair, its foundations can still be determined.
Rampsholme derives from the Old Norse Hrafns holmr or 'wild garlic island'.
Derwentwater from the west bank
The footpaths around the lake follow the banks through areas of extremely attractive woodland offering truly spectacular views, making it one of the most popular spots for walkers. Much of the surrounding land is the property of the National Trust, the lake was one of the Trust's earliest acquisitions.
The nearby Scafell Pike was donated to the trust in memory of the men of Cumbria who gave their lives in the First World War. Grange Fell, which stands between the Watendlath Valley and Borrowdale was given to the trust by Queen Victoria's daughter, Princess Louise in memory of her brother, King Edward VII. Some excellent views of the lake can be had from the viewpoint known as Surprise View, which lies just past the small but picturesque humped back bridge at Ashness, on the Watendlath road.
Derwentwater from Ashness Bridge and Surprise View near Watendlath
Derwentwater is a shallow lake, being only seventy five feet deep at its deepest point, its average depth is but fifteen feet. This is mainly due to the vast ammounts of silt washed down into it by seasonal floods over the centuries, making it the first lake to freeze over in the winter.
The famous beauty spot of Friars Crag can be reached on foot, via a short walk from the boat landings. The crag derives its name from the pilgrims who once embarked from there to visit St.Herbert's Island. It has long been a contender for the accolade of the most famous beauty spot in the Lake District, the view is truly breathtaking. Near to the Crag, often crowded in the summer, is a stone memorial to Canon Rawsley and to John Ruskin, a great lover of the Lake District who claimed the view from Friar's Crag was one of the three most beautiful scenes in Europe.
Derwentwater and Skiddaw
Hugh Walpole's house at Manesty, on the south west shore of Derwentwater, has gardens which are open to the public for charity, although the house itself is not. Brandelhow Park on the west shore of the lake is owned by the National Trust, the area is a delightful mixture of woodland, grass fields and wet land offering superb views over Derwentwater's wooded shores and into craggy Borrowdale.
Keswick Launches on Derwentwater
The Keswick Launch Company runs sevices around the lake, calling at six points en - route.
Services run hourly between Easter and the end of November. Services are extended to the early evening from the Spring bank holiday until mid September, with the last departure at 7 pm (8pm in summer school holidays) From December - Easter services operate on Saturdays and Sundays only, three times daily in each direction.
Evening Cruise on Derwentwater
An evening cruise, with a complimentary glass of wine or soft drink, is availiable from May Day bank holiday to mid September.
The Derwentwater Marina, at Keswick is a Royal Yachting Association Training Centre and provides amenities for various watersports including sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking, it also provides amenities for mountain sports.
A walk at Derwentwater
Duration:- 1- 2 hours
This walk entails a return trip on the Derwentwater launches. Please ensure you leave enough time to catch the last trip back.
*Commencing at the Keswick boat landings, check the launch timetable, then follow the shore of Derwentwater with the lake on your right side. Continue along the woodland trail to the local beauty spot of Friars Crag.
* Bear left at Friar's Crag and pass through a gate to an area of grassland. Proceed along the path. After the grassland is a second gate which heads through a further woodland trail.
*Cross the small footbridge ahead and continue to the end of the path where you meet a gate leading onto a rough road.
*Go right along this road and follow the lakeside path past a wooded headland and the National Trust centenary stone (a large stone cut in half on the lakeshore) at Calfclose Bay.
*Continue on the lakeshore path until reaching Ashness Gate, from there take a launch back to Keswick.