One of the jewels of the Lake District, Derwent Water is superbly situated for all manner of adventures. There is a plethora of fantastic and varied walks around Derwent Water, such as leisurely ambles from nearby Keswick or full-on summit-bagging raids that can last from sunrise to sunset.
The surroundings are dramatic, atmospheric and exciting. Mountain hikes around Derwent Water are some of the finest in the national park. The surrounding fells take on a diverse array of forms: noble, rounded summits; undulating roller-coaster ridges; bristling wooded fists of crag and distant, brooding giants. And all can be experienced by trails that begin at the water’s edge.
There’s iconic, ancient monuments, gushing waterfalls, glorious photogenic viewpoints, oak woodland and magnificent wildlife to discover. You’ve got all the amenities of the Lake District’s adventure capital at one end and the beautiful Borrowdale valley at the other. Derwent Water is Lakeland perfection.
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Keswick is the obvious base for hiking in the region. It has everything you could ask for: from cosy pubs, cafes inspired by adventure and countless outdoor gear shops. From the Moot Hall in the town centre you can be lakeside in ten minutes or on a modest summit enjoying wonderful panoramas within the hour.
There are plenty of splendid circular walks around Derwent Water itself, with the option of a number of fascinating detours en route. Its shores are rich in woodland, including some beautiful Atlantic oaks. Red squirrels are protected here and the sight of buzzards, sparrowhawks and peregrines is common.
To the north west, 5,000 year old Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of Britain’s most dramatically situated ancient monuments, standing proud on a grassy plateau and surrounded by some of Lakeland’s most iconic mountains. A short, easy hike south, the popular summit of Walla Crag at 1,243 feet (379 m) offers a stupendous view across the water. Back down by the lake is the immensely picturesque Ashness Bridge, a packhorse crossing that is the foreground to one of the most photographed images in the Lakes, featuring noble Skiddaw as the backdrop.
Your hikes around Derwent Water will get better still when you experience Borrowdale to the south. It’s a darkly atmospheric, beautiful valley: one of England’s finest. Its entrance, ‘the Jaws of Borrowdale’ is guarded by Castle Crag, a small fortress of rock that makes for a great short expedition. Nearby Lodore Falls is a spectacular sight after a period of rainfall.
The best hiking trails around Derwent Water explore the shapely fells to the west. The most popular is the 1,480-foot (451 m) Catbells, a glorious mini mountain whose distinctive profile lures many hikers to the simple scrambling found on its ridge. Avoid the afternoon rush for any chance of enjoying its marvellous summit to yourself.
Fellwalking around Derwent Water is wonderful all year round. Summer is peak season, particularly during school holidays. The autumn hush brings a sumptuous regal colour scheme to the hillsides and woodland. It is rare that the highest summits in the region are wintery enough to warrant mountaineering skills and equipment, but if in doubt there are so many great, lower objectives. Spring brings fresh life and colour to the lake, a wonderful season for a ramble.
Explore more of Cumbria: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.