Situated between Skiddaw and Derwentwater, Keswick is a popular centre for tourism in the north lakes. A pretty market town it offers a wide range of attractions for visitors, from shops and restaurants to museums and theatre, along with boating trips around Derwentwater and a variety of walks and climbs.
The original settlement was at Crosthwaite, on the Western side of the town. The first Church at Crosthwaite was built in 553 AD, and named St Kentigern.
In 1276 Edward I granted the town its market charter, and the Saturday market continues to this day in the town centre huddled around the famous Moot Hall.
Keswicks main claim to fame came with the discovery of black lead at Seathwaite in the 16th century, and sparked off pencil making, which is still the major industry in the town. The Pencil Museum tells the story of pencil making in Keswick, where there is a quite interesting mock up of an early mine.
Shopping - Dining - Entertainment
Today Keswick is now a major centre for outdoor activities, with a large selection of adventure and activity companies, guides and instructors.
Shops abound, some come and go, some are old favorites such as George Fisher out door gear on Borrowdale Road. You will find chemists and bookshops, fashion and shoes but for everyday needs there is a Booths Supermarket, one of the best small chains in the country, offering excellent and varied produce.
There is a huge choice of venues for wining and dinning. The George Hotel in the main street has a nice atmosphere. LB’s Pizza House offers a quick but relaxed lunch, and Lucas Italian Restaurant gives a flavor of Tuscany. For a fuller list go to www.keswick.org.
For entertainment there is the famous Theatre by the Lake, attracting big names to its stage. For a blockbuster and popcorn evening you have the Alhambra cinema on St Johns Street.
Keswick has a vast number of museums and exhibitions in and around the town. The pencil museum a firm favourite, along with Mirehouse gardens, Rheged, and out at Threlkeld the Quarry and Mining Museum. Again a good source of information for events, activities and venues is www.keswick.org.
Out And About
The town sits by Derwentwater , a beautiful lake with plenty of activities including boat trips, boat hire and fishing, but for many to stroll by a lake shore is enjoyment enough.
Surrounding the area are some magnificent fells and mountains. North lie the Caldbeck Fells running down to Skiddaw and Blencathra. South and west lie the beautiful Borrowdale and Buttermere fells, including the famous Cat Bells peak, along Buttermere and Crummock Water.
Connecting Borrowdale and Buttermere is the Honister Pass with its working slate mine. A visit is very interesting where you get a guided tour of the mines, traveling deep inside the mountain. At the mine centre is the much spoken of ‘Via Ferrata’. A Via Ferrata allows the average person the opportunity to go higher and further than they ever imagined possible. These climbing/walking experiences are hugely popular in the Italian Dolomites and across Europe, but this is a first in the UK. It's all perfectly safe and you don't have to be a trained mountaineer to do it – just a bit brave and with a head for heights.
The Newland and Whinlatter vallieys are truly magnificent and both areas of preservation. At Whinlatter is England’s only true mountain forest and winner of the Cumbria Tourism award for Visitor Attraction of the Year 2012. The Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission and is a great day out for all ages. Head to the Visitor Centre and main car park to start your visit. If you’re looking for adventure, try the Altura or Quercus mountain bike trails, which make full use of the stunning setting. The Whinlatter Wild Play trail is for children of all ages. Its nine different play areas take you on a journey through the trees and include a climbing wall, water features, giant swings and a secret path. Finally if you’ve got a head for heights, swing through the trees on the Go-Ape tree top course.
Further afield you have Ullswater, one of the finest lakes. East lie the towns of Appleby, Alston and Penrith, where nearby sits the poignant ruins of Lowther Castle, once described as the Windsor of the north and home of the Yellow Earl.
So - Keswick is a town with much to do, filling your days with entertainment, exploration or simply relaxing over lunch in one of the many fine inns or restaurants, or sitting by a waters edge with a picnic and a good book.