Borrowdale, Derwentwater and Keswick

Sketch map will appear here

Everybody has their own favourite corner of the Lake District. Borrowdale is mine.

The River Derwent is formed by the streams that run northwards off the Scafell and Gable massifs, and on its journey through the fells it forms two lakes, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite. The town of Keswick, the undisputed capital of the northern half of the Lake District, lies at the foot of Derwentwater, but curiously separated from it by a low dome of pastureland known as Crow Park. Thus, Derwentwater is virtually unsullied by development around its shore.

Derwentwater is of modest size, around 7 square km in area; its setting, though, is magnificent. To the immediate west lays the Catbells - Maiden Moor - High Spy ridge, though the northern end of the lake is also prominently overlooked by a real feast of peaks from Hindscarth and High Stile, round through Causey Pike, Eel Crag, to Grizedale Pike and Barf and most of their neighbours. To the east is the ridge of the Central Fells and their complex and beautifully wooded western outliers including Walla Crag, Falcon Crag, Bleaberry Fell, Holme Fell and Great Crag. Keswick and lower Borrowdale are overshadowed by the great mass of Skiddaw to the north, together with its various outliers such as Latrigg and Dodd. And to the south, the numerous valleys that radiate from upper Borrowdale encompass and enable views of Great End, Rosthwaite Fell, Seathwaite Fell, Glaramara and Scafell Pike.

A major feature of Derwentwater is its wooded flanks, which give such delightful walking, and on routes numerous enough to occupy a score of holidays. There is a rich variety of walks even very close to Keswick; Friar's Crag, just south of the boat landings, is a firm favourite with holidaymakers while nearby are Calf Close Bay, the modest height of Castlehead and the more demanding but thoroughly rewarding Great Wood and Walla Crag. Further south, Falcon Crag, Surprise View, Strutta Wood and Lodore Wood offer a lifetime of delights. We must not forget Brandlehow and Manesty Park on the opposite side of Derwentwater.

The village of Grange sits at the head of the lake, south of which the Derwent squeezes through a narrow gap known as the Jaws of Borrowdale. The minor yet thoroughly enjoyable hillock of Castle Crag sits in the gap, the only fell of less than 1000ft altitude to be rewarded by a chapter in Wainwright's guides. Southwards again, Borrowdale springs a surprise; it opens out into pasture country dotted with picturebook hamlets such as Rosthwaite, Stonethwaite and Seatoller, the only Lakeland valley to exhibit this particular topography. The wooded flank recipe is repeated here, and in spades; King's How and Great Crag to the east, How Woods and Johnny Wood to the west, and the valleys that radiate into the high fells; Stonethwaite, Seathwaite and Little Gatescarthdale, to name but three.

Finally, the boundaries of this page encompass the village of Portinscale, just off Derwentwater's northwestern corner, and Derwent's flood plain northwest of Keswick in the area known as Underskiddaw. It may include just one body of water and only one minor fell, yet this page encompasses an area of scenic value that I feel is supreme even by the high standards of Lakeland. Borrowdale is the best.

Gallery Index

Borrowdale debut, 30th May 1982

The first morning of my first holiday in Keswick

Derwentside sunset, 28th May 1985

The lakeside at sunset after an evening cruise 


Visited while returning from a wild camp in Langstrathdale

Coast-to-Coast, 12th August 1993

A few shots of Stonethwaite and Rosthwaite 

Derwentwater, 6th May 1996

An afternoon stroll on the last day of the Mayday holiday

Crow Park and Derwentwater, 23rd May 1997

Images from the first day of my Whitsun break in '97

Friar's Crag, April 30th 1999

An evening stroll from Keswick
Crow Park, 30th April 2000

A sunny late afternoon on Derwentwater's north shore

Crow Park, 22nd April 2003

A beautiful evening in Borrowdale

Fitz Park, 24th April 2003

Keswick's town centre park

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Last updated 4th May 2003