The Lake District Series – Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite

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Derwent water sits in the north east of the lake district peninsula of Cumbria, England. This 5km long tranquil water offers plenty to see and do for locals and visitors. With the nearby town of Keswick only a stones throw away and plenty of walking routes ; the surrounding areas tend to be a bit quieter than the fells of the southern lakes.

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Paddle boarding last summer on Derwent water, during the temporary easement of the covid-19 lockdown
Paddle boarding last summer on Derwent water, during the temporary easement of the covid-19 lockdown

One of the huge draws of the lake district is the accessibility. Unlike some other countries there isn’t a time when the lakes become closed, nor do you have to pay to access the national park. There are however times where the lakes and this area in particular wont have quite as much to offer.

The north of England is known for its damp and cold weather, and the lake district is no exception to this. In fact it seems each of the mountains appear to carry their own microclimate. We would recommend avoiding in winter unless you like the cold, rain and snow. The varied and unpredictable weather play a huge role maintaining the beautiful landscape of the the lake district. With the surrounding ancient forests, historical manor houses and evergreen landscape; this area has been inspiration to many world class writers and painters.

Enjoy Nature And The Views of Derwent Water

One of the best things about the lake district (unlike many other world wide national parks), is the fact it’s free to enjoy. You don’t need a pass to enter the national park or to enjoy the trails. And you could easily find a many places to pull into, enjoy a picnic and take in the view.

The Lake District Series - Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite
View of Derwent water from surprise View on a clear day. Each time we have been up there we’ve been with my friend and her dog, and the one time I had my camera ready the weather drastically changed. Next time I head up I’ll get my own snap for you.

Surprise View

Coming from the north, you will need to turn off from Ashness pier at the south of the lake. This is the easiest way to spot the entrance road. If you are coming from the south, it is a sharp turn to the right and very easy to miss.

Just as the name suggests this lovely lookout has some brilliant views over the lake. It is easily accessible by car. You can park at the bottom car park or half way up and take the walk to the top or you can park at the top close to the view.

Lodore Falls

Lodore Falls is only a small set of waterfalls that feed into Watendlath beck and eventually into the lakee, but they are surrounded by beautiful woodlands. In front of the the trail to lodore falls is the hotel and spa of the same name.

Looking towards Lodore Falls from Derwent water. I took this picture whilst out on the water Paddle boarding last summer. You can also see the lookout point and crag of surprise view.
Looking towards Lodore Falls from Derwent water. I took this picture whilst out on the water Paddle boarding last summer. You can also see the lookout point and crag of surprise view.

My Favourite Hiking Trail

Walking around the lake itself you really can’t go wrong, like much of the lake district there are stunning views all around and little short trails that loop back and are well marked.

  • You will be happy to know in England we don’t have any large predators on the trails.
  • Make sure you are wearing appropriate trail shoes or hiking boots (B1’s will be suitable most of the year round).
  • Take sunscreen – Yep it rains a lot but when the English sun does come out it’s a sneaky bugger.
  • Make sure you have your waterproofs or are already wearing them.
  • Take a waterproof bag/dry bag for your valuables.
  • Stick to the trails and let your accommodation hosts a time you’d be back.
  • Phone signal is limited in the area (although Vodaphone have really great coverage in cumbria)

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**Please note we receive no compensation for this discount, just simply love the products, regularly use them and always recommend them to friends, so we managed to get a discount code to share. We also used one of their smaller bags to take out on the paddleboard so I could get a few shots from the lake with my camera (such as the cover photo and the photo of Lodore falls from the water; both of which are unedited because I’ll be honest know how to and can’t be bothered editing, I just love pictures).

Getting on the Water

There are a few different ways to get on Derwent Water. One of them is to bring your own boat or board, the other is to hire boat. You can hire boats from keswick or the marina that start at a really good price. Travel with No Anchor has created the ultimate guide to hiring a boat in the lake district, with all the best choices.

So this the main reason I go to Derwent water is to get on the lake.

  • If you decide to go kayaking, canoeing or paddle boarding i’d recommend a life jacket and at a minimum an ankle strap (for SUPs).
  • I’d also advise a wet suite or clothing that is lightweight which you don’t mind being soaked.
  • The water is deep and the temperature most of the year is a bit of a shock to the system if you aren’t local or from a colder climate.
  • You don’t need a license to get out on a kayak, Paddle board or none powered boat.
  • There isn’t anywhere to get changed at the launches so you may need to be creative (I wore swimwear under my clothes so I can pop a wetsuit on in a quiet spot).

There are a few lakes you simply aren’t allowed to take your paddleboards or kayaks at all, others you need licenses and a few that you can access regardless (definitely check beforehand).

Derwent Water Boat Launches Starting Clockwise

There are 7 launches for none powered boats on the lake:

  1. Keswick – North East
  2. Ashness Gate – South Eat
  3. Lodore – South East
  4. High Brandell How – South West
  5. Low Brandell How – West
  6. Hawes end – West
  7. Nichol end – North West

Be warned the car parks at each of these fill up fast and early in late spring and peak summer. We launched from Ashness Gate.

The Nearby Bassenthwaite

Bassenthwaite is quite close to Derwent water and would only take 10-15 minutes to get to get there by car. This shallow lake is narrow and just 4 miles long. It is very quiet and doesn’t offer amenities like most of the other lakes in Cumbria, however there are lots of trails nearby.

Skiddaw from a distance by Drew Collins via @unsplash
Skiddaw from a distance by Drew Collins via @unsplash

The lake itself is classed as having special protection. You cannot use a petrol or electric powered boat but you can kayak or paddleboard. This lake does require a permit and you may get stopped or asked by the local wardens. To purchase a license Click Here. These start from £20 a day but there are reasonable price options for a month or year.

Skiddaw is just north of Kewsick and is the sixth highest peak in England at a height of 931m. It overlooks this beautiful lake. I’ve hiked up here a couple of times but it was about 7 years ago.

My last hike up there I has just got a new DSLR. It was days before and I was really fearful of taking my new camera with me on the fells as we knew we would have very wet weather and cold. I do have older ones but those were taken on an old disposable camera from the hike 12 years ago, so I will get some snaps next time I head up.

Sale Fell (pictured above) which is approximately 2 miles in distance is an easier route. The incline is consistently steep from the parking spots by the road. Despite the steepness it is a gentle route, the path is easy to follow. You will be rewarded with great views of Bassenthwaite and towards Derwent Water. We didn’t go much further than the marker on the day these were taken due to the increasing winds and dark cloud rolling in (on this occasion it has been scorching all weekend and we expected it to stay this way. So we didn’t have the full walking boots on just trail shoes and didn’t fancy heading down the steep hill when it was raining in them).

Where to Stay?

Lordore Falls Hotel, Spa and Waterfall

This hotel named after the falls is gorgeous and I highly recommend it. I visited here last October with my best friend and a friend visiting from overseas. I booked us in for a treatment, meal and access to the spa facilities.

This place is lovely and my pictures certainly don’t do it justice. I only took these on my phone as a bit of an after thought and they don’t do it justice either.

Lodore Falls Spa and Hotel
Lodore Falls Spa and Hotel

The spa has treatment rooms, a mudding room, a Scandinavian timber log sauna (overlooking the gardens and lake), an aromatherapy room, a salt room, a steam room, heated tile benches (which are delightful), an outdoor heated pool and plenty more. They have a bar in the spa that serves smoothies and drinks. We took full advantage of everything other than the mud room as we opted for a massage. Click Here to read their reviews on Trip advisor.

The restaurant is Chinese and very lovely. I love Chinese food anyway but my best friend who I went is very fussy about Chinese cuisine when it’s done in the U.K. She used to live in Pu Dong for 3 years and Suzhou for a year and even she loved it.

I have also booked into the hotel which is gorgeous for my hen do (bachelorette party) after a night out we will stay here and use the spa facilities the next day.

Keswick Hotel

The easiest place to be based for general access is Keswick. If you do chose to stay in this town, you will benefit from the quintessentially British pubs that offer hearty food and great ales.

I’d recommend staying at the Keswick Hotel, they are family owned and also own the Patterdale hotel by Lake Ullswater along with a few hotels in my home town on the North West coast of England. Their prices are really good compared to others in the town and area, the building itself is stunning and the food is amazing too. Really you can’t go wrong. Click here to check out their reviews on trip advisor.

Final Notes

Day Trip Around the Lakes

If you fancy visiting the lake district but you are limited for time it can be difficult to chose between which lake to visit and how long to stay. The good news… the lakes are only a short distance from each other, and you could visit quite a few in one day if your happy to walk around the shores, stop for a coffee and take some pictures. This personally for me would be too rushed but if you haven’t been before or you want a glimpse of this stunning national park you can do a full day tour ran by locals by Clicking Here. It starts off at Bowness and goes via many of the famous and beautiful lakes in this peninsula.

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Follow Nicole:

Owner of Travels and Wandering | Lecturer by Day, Nomad at Heart Adventure Travel Tester | Outdoor Instructor | Mountaineering and Outdoors Researcher | Strength and Conditioning Coach | Yoga Instructor | Personal Trainer | Fitness Pro | Endo Warrior, Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, Spoonie

5 Responses

  1. Renata

    This view from above is just amazing – so idyllic. It’s great that such a serene place at the same time offers so many activities. Must be the perfect place for at least a long weekend.

  2. Linda (LD Holland)

    I did not realize that the Lake District was so big with so many different areas. Amazing that it is free to visit without a pass. I’d love to get out on the water and this wimp would definitely be in a wet suit. I’d definitely be bringing my hiking shoes to wander the trails too. 
    The Lodore Falls Hotel looks like a great spot to stay and enjoy this area for a few days.  

  3. Jacqueline

    I have heard of the Lakes District through my boyfriend who used to live in England. Otherwise I’d have never known the UK had such beautiful lakes, honestly. I think I’d avoid winter. I’ll probably opt to go in summer so I can try paddleboarding. It does looks like a perfect place

  4. Kat

    I tried SUP’ing a few years ago and loved it! I went a few times again last year. These lakes look like very beautiful spots to be out on the water doing it. I’ve never heard of Derwent before

  5. Antoine

    I can definitely see ourselves packing a paddleboard and our hiking shoes, park the van and enjoy what Derwent Water has to offer! We’ll be sure to park up early.

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