Up here in Cumbria, we like to joke that we have given over the southern Lake District to the tourists and kept the best bits to ourselves. If you are planning a Lake District break this year then Ambleside and Windermere do offer some fabulous opportunities. The towns are near the Windermere Lake Cruises, Brockhole, and both have accommodation to suit all budgets and preferences. However, this year, why not venture a little further north (or South if you are coming from Scotland!) and base yourself in Keswick instead? Here are some reasons that might persuade you.

1. Location, Location, Location

Derwent Water from Latrigg

Derwent Water from Latrigg

Keswick is very easy to get to, just a few minutes off the A66. It also lies on the edge of Derwent Water, a stunning lake surrounded by rugged fells. Furthermore, many places around the Lake District are within a 20-30 minute drive, including Penrith and the Rheged Centre, Ullswater for the steamers and the magnificent Aira Force falls, Thirlmere for a tough ascent up Helvellyn, Buttermere, another stunning lake, and Whinlatter Forest, a giant adventure playground.

2. There’s an Amazing Choice of Accommodation

Armathwaite Hall

The Spectacular Armathwaite Hall

Keswick has a fantastic range of accommodation to suit all budgets and needs. For town centre chic and luxury, check out the Inn on the Square. Just outside of Keswick, Armathwaite Hall has a luxury spa where you sit in an outdoor hot tub overlooking the fells.

If your budget is limited, then why not stay in one of Keswick’s friendly and welcoming pubs, such as the George Hotel where you can enjoy a pint of locally brewed cask ale. For more hotels, have a gander at our Keswick Accommodation page.

3. Keswick is incredibly Dog Friendly

Golden Retriever along the shores of Derwent Water

Golden Retriever along the shores of Derwent Water

Keswick has been voted as the UK’s most dog friendly town on a number of occasions by the Kennel Club. There’s a wide choice of accommodation that will accept dogs (just zoom in on the map to Keswick). Be aware that some hotels may apply a surcharge for bringing dogs, which seems to vary from around £5 up to £20 per night. You will also find that dogs are welcomed in most of the shops, cafés, pubs, and restaurants in the town. Many of the establishments have dog bowls outside so your pet can enjoy a quick drink, and some pubs and cafes even stock dog snacks and meals.

4. There are Plenty of Rainy Day Attractions

The famous Pencil Museum

The Pencil Museum (Smabs Sputzer / Wikipedia.org)

We can’t promise you dry weather, but in Keswick there are some delightful indoor attractions that will help you pass the time. The Keswick Museum & Art Gallery has a huge collection of quirky and unique items and art that celebrate Keswick and the surrounding area. The Derwent Pencil Museum gives a nod to Keswick’s past as a prime producer of pencils, whilst the Puzzling Place is a unique attraction brimming with optical illusions.

Let’s not forget to mention that Keswick is home to the Theatre by the Lake. This two staged theatre hosts various productions throughout the year, with something to appeal to everyone, from the great Shakespearean classics to modern dramas and family friendly Christmas shows. The Theatre also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year.

5. Keswick is a Walker’s Paradise

Borrowdale from the Summit of Castle Crag

Borrowdale from the Summit of Castle Crag

Basing yourself in Keswick gives you an abundance of opportunities for fell walking. If you are a beginner you could try Latrigg (which can be accessed from near the town centre), Cat Bells, or head down to Borrowdale at the other end of Derwent Water and try one of Wainwright’s favourites, Castle Crag. For more experienced walkers, the Coledale Horseshoe is an impressive feat to add to your collection, and Skiddaw, England’s sixth highest mountain, dominates the town’s skyline.

6. Keswick is a Shopper’s Paradise

Keswick Town Centre

Keswick Town Centre (chrisd2105 / bigstockphoto.com)

Keswick is brimming with a mixture of independent shops and major retail chains. If you love browsing outdoor gear, you are spoilt for choice in Keswick, with Blacks and other major high street chains all present, along with independent shops that include the very successful George Fisher. Fashionistas will love some of the high street chain shops that include White Stuff, Fat Face, and Ness. However, it’s in the independent gift shops where Keswick really excels. Locally made products including jewellery, art, bath products, and other gifts can be found in abundance here. Plus, a visit to Keswick’s own chocolate shop, Friars, is a must.

7. Keswick is Fabulous for Kids

Whinlatter Forest Park

Whinlatter Forest Park (DM McAtamney / geograph.org.uk)

There is plenty to do in and around Keswick to keep younger minds occupied. The Kong Adventure centre has a hard play area plus a climbing wall and other activities. Just outside Keswick, the Lake District Wildlife Park is a delightful small zoo with plenty of animal enclosures to visit, plus a soft play for when the weather turns bad. Also just outside of Keswick, Whinlatter Forest has an adventure play trail for younger children, and a Go Ape course for older children and adults, plus plenty of bike and walking trails.

8. A Cruise on Derwent Water is a Must

Boats on Derwent Water

Boats on Derwent Water

Take a ten-minute walk from Keswick town centre and hop on board a Derwent Water cruise with the Keswick Launch Company. The boats can take you to various points around the lake, including Brandelhow, the birthplace of the National Trust, the Lodore Falls, and the Lingholm Estate where you will find the wonderful Lingholm Kitchen with its delicious selection of cakes and savoury treats. Of course, you may prefer to explore the lake a little more freely, and the Keswick Launch Company also have a selection of rowing and motor boats available to hire.

9. Keswick Has a Fine Selection of Pubs

Dog and Gun, Keswick

Dog and Gun Pub (Gil Darwen / Wikipedia.org)

There are pubs galore in Keswick, and most of them serve up locally brewed real ale. Whether you prefer the sophisticated and chic bar at the front of the Inn on the Square, or the traditional Wainwright pub with it’s eight real ales, you will find something to suit your tastes. Of course, if ale isn’t your thing, many of the establishments also stock the local gins, whiskies, and vodkas!

10. Keswick Has Two Beautiful Parks

Hope Park, Keswick

Hope Park (grumpylumixuser / Wikipedia.org)

If all of the above isn’t already enough to tempt you to stay in Keswick, then finally, consider Keswick’s two wonderful parks. At Hope Park, near the lake, you can take a stroll through beautifully maintained gardens, play a game of crazy golf or pitch & put, or try your hand at remote controlled steamer boats on a mini lake. Over in Fitz Park, there’s a weekly park run, a large flat, grassed space perfect for sports, a track around the grass that is ideal for jogging or learning to ride a bike on, and a wonderful play park with a giant sandpit. Both parks also have cafés where you can grab a bite to eat and sit and watch the world go by.