The historic market town of Keswick is one of the major centres for tourism in the Lake District. Sandwiched between the towering Skiddaw and the shimmering lake waters of Derwent water, Keswick is a wonderful base from which to explore the Lake District.
The town boasts a large number of outdoor shops, pubs and restaurants, as well as a number of local museums and outdoor pursuits and adventure companies. Hiking, scrambling, and cycling are very popular, as are boating trips around Derwentwater.
Walks around Keswick
Keswick is a perfect base from which to explore the Northern Fells. As well as Skiddaw, you’re ideally located for hiking Scafell, Great Gable, Blencathra and Dodd Fells. The great advantage of Keswick is that there are plenty of wonderful shorter and less strenuous walks that can be enjoyed from the town, some of which are suitable for pushchairs, buggies and wheelchair users.
These five routes combine a selection of routes of varying distance and accessibility, to showcase the breadth of family-friendly walking options in the Keswick area. They include an accessible path around Whinlatter Forest, a walk around the summit of Latrigg, a circular route that combines the fell of Catbells with the shores of Derwentwater, a rewarding hike around Rossthwaite and the ten-mile circuit of Derwentwater itself.
An Easy Walk around Keswick: Walking Trail at Whinlatter Forest
Whinlatter is England’s only mountain forest and it boasts many waymarked woodland paths.
It’s just a short, five-mile drive westwards from Keswick. Park by the visitor centre, where in addition to the café and gift shop, you’ll find a red squirrel camera and an osprey camera via which you can view some of the forest’s other inhabitants.
The one-mile trail at Revelin Moss is ideal for most prams and buggies as it follows a gravel forest road under the peaceful woodland boughs. Here, the mighty Grisedale Pike dominates the horizon to provides a scenic backdrop to your walk – so you can enjoy dramatic Lake District views for relatively little effort.
A Family-friendly Walk close to Keswick: Latrigg
This walk starts from the car park at the top of Applethwaite Lane, around two miles from the centre of Keswick. This circular route takes you around the summit of Latrigg to deliver panoramic views of Keswick and across to Skiddaw. At just one and a half miles long and with an incline of just 120 metres, this is a walk for everyone, young and old. Note that you’ll need to set off early if you want to secure a parking space at the Applethwaite Lane carpark, especially if it is a nice, sunny day; it can get very busy.
If you’d prefer not to drive and would like a walk that takes you to the summit from Keswick town centre, you could try this three-mile route instead.
The Classic Keswick Walk: Catbells
Catbells overlooks Derwentwater and the views from the top are incredibly picturesque. It is probably one of the most-climbed fells in the Lake District. This short and achievable walk is just three miles long and starts at the small parking area at the foot of Skelgill Bank.
The route takes you to the top of Skelgill Bank where you’ll reach a flat plateau. As you follow along the path, you’re overlooking Little Town, the home of Beatrix Potter’s Mrs Tiggy-Winkle. From here, the climb to the summit of Catbells involves a few rocky, scramble sections where you’ll probably want to use your hands as well as feet! Once you’ve had your fill of the magnificent views from the summit, follow the path down to Hause Gate and left down a woodland walk to return back to your starting point along the shore of Derwentwater.
An Easy but Rewarding Circular Route from Rossthwaites
The village of Rossthwaite lies just outside Keswick, in Borrowdale. It’s well worth the short drive out of town to enjoy this rewarding four-and-a-half-mile walk. The village is home to the wonderful YHA Borrowdale hostel, a magnificent place to stay in the area if you can secure a room or camping pod!
The walk starts close to the hostel before taking you up High Doat and then descending to follow the Allerdale Ramble path across Tongue Gill to Castle Crag, a favourite fell of Alfred Wainwright. From the top of Castle Crag, there are wonderful views across Borrowdale and back to Derwentwater, Keswick and Skiddaw. The return route leads down Castle Crag to join the Cumbria Way running alongside the River Derwent and takes you back into Rosthwaite.
Before heading back to Keswick, don’t miss a rewarding pint or pub meal at the Langsrtath Country Inn in the village of Stonethwaite, just beyond Rossthwaite.
Following the Shoreline of Derwentwater
One of the best Keswick walks has to be the then mile circular route that tracks fully around the shores of Derwentwater. The route follows flat footpaths through ancient woodlands and along the shores of the lake. The lakeside scenery is beautiful, with viewpoints, sculptures and local landmarks such as the Chinese bridge along the route. There are also plenty of picnic stops, cafes and restaurants along the way.
The flat, easy route is ten miles in total around the lake, but you can cut short the journey by making use of the Keswick Launch boat service to cut out portions of the route and speed your return to Keswick if time is tight or little legs are tired.
What You Need to Walk these Easy Walks around Keswick
The Lake District is renowned for experiencing ‘four seasons in one day’, so pack your rucksack. sensibly and for all eventualities.
Even though these are short and easy walks, do wear the appropriate footwear and clothing for hiking, such as these walking trousers. In the words of legendary Lake District guidebook author Alfred Wainwright, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’!
As well as the obligatory packable waterproof layers, you’ll want to pack snacks and water and the appropriate maps (ORDNANCE SURVEY Explorer OL4 The English Lakes – North Western area and ORDNANCE SURVEY Explorer OL5 The English Lakes – North Eastern area)and a compass. One gadget we love for coping with changeable weather conditions is this handy waterproof phone cover – essential kit if you’re using your phone to navigate (although you should always pack a paper map and compass too as backup).
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These five walks showcase the variety of easy walks available around Keswick. With little effort, you can enjoy stunning Lake District scenery. If you want to explore other beautiful areas of the Lake District, we recommend you read the following articles: