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Derwent Water

Hiking around Derwent Water

Hiking

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Photo: Tom

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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.


Top 10 best walks and hikes around Derwent Water

    Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors
    1
    1
    Difficult
    05:29
    10.6 mi
    1.9 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
    2
    Difficult
    05:50
    11.4 mi
    1.9 mph
    1,825 ft
    1,825 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
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  • 3
    Intermediate
    03:37
    7.15 mi
    2.0 mph
    1,375 ft
    1,375 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
    4
    Difficult
    06:34
    12.4 mi
    1.9 mph
    2,900 ft
    2,925 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
    5
    Difficult
    05:41
    11.1 mi
    1.9 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,125 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
    6
    Intermediate
    03:11
    6.89 mi
    2.2 mph
    825 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.
    View
    7
    Easy
    01:33
    3.51 mi
    2.3 mph
    275 ft
    275 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    8
    Intermediate
    02:53
    4.90 mi
    1.7 mph
    1,650 ft
    1,650 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    9
    Easy
    00:41
    1.64 mi
    2.4 mph
    50 ft
    50 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View
    10
    Easy
    00:42
    1.64 mi
    2.4 mph
    75 ft
    75 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.
    View

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The adventure capital of the Lake District

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.

Around the lake

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.

Jaws, cats, castles and crags

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.

Wonderful all year round

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.


Derwent Water's best walks and hikes on the map

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