Derwent Water is one of the most popular of the Lake District National Park’s attractions. On the edge of the small but busy town of Keswick – a Mecca for walkers and visitors to the North Lakes region of Cumbria – Derwent Water pulls in thousands of visitors all year round.I have to confess, it’s not one of my favourite Lakeland destinations precisely because it’s so touristy. Far from being an idyllic country town, Keswick (in my experience) can become very crowded and doesn’t quite seem to have enough facilities. I know that mine is a minority view and that many people love both keswick and Derwent Water. I like it too…. I just like other lakes and Lakeland towns more.
Regular readers will know that I don’t drive, so Keswick is bit of a trek for me: a train to Penrith (that’s the easy bit) followed by an hour long excursion on a bus which runs once every couple of hours. Last time I went on my own I decided I would not return because of the crowds, struggling to find somewhere to eat and (mainly) a lot of time wasted waiting for buses. However, when a friend suggested a drive I was glad to accept. Being driven out for the day is a luxury for me, especially when it’s to a location not easily accessible by public transport.
Derwent Water is three miles long, one mile wide and 72 feet deep, so not one of the largest bodies of water in the region. It is fed by the River Derwent and above it rise the peaks of Skiddaw and Cat Bells, both popular with walkers. Walking around Keswick, almost every other person looks like they are kitted-up and bound for a hike. Cat Bells in particular is popular as at a mere 451 metres it is considered an easier climb for the non-hardcore walker. Being a cat person, I just like its name which is believed to be a distortion of Cat Bields – home of the wild cat. I don’t know if there are still any wild cats living up there – I doubt it – but there have been, sadly, a number of lost dogs over the years. When I last visited a couple of years ago I saw appeal posters all over the area for two different dogs which had gone missing during walks. I can’t understand why people don’t take better care of their dogs in potentially hazardous environments. Thankfully, one of the dogs was found by a rescue team funded through a social media appeal; I remember reading about it shortly after. Brilliant news! Not all outcomes are so good.
There were dogs aplenty frolicking at the water’s edge on this occasion, or swimming out eagerly to retrieve a skimmed branch or ball, bringing it back like a top prize to smiles and praise, eagerly waiting for it to be thrown again.
Further down the lake there were quieter spots to be found away from the crowds at the north end near to the town.
Like the bigger lakes of Windermere and Ullswater, Derwent Water also runs pleasure cruises but on much smaller vessels. It was far too warm to be crammed like sardines inside one of the launch boats, though I would have liked to see more of the islands. I may try to persuade my chauffeur to take me back in winter.
Instead, we watched from the bank as the voyagers sailed off on calm water. Shaded by overhanging branches, we sat for another hour or so enjoying the gentle melodic ebb and flow of Keswick’s lake and watched the dazzling sunlight dancing on its surface.