Pencils, mines and whiskey: 48 hours in Keswick
Located between Skiddaw Mountain and Derwentwater in the Lake District, Keswick is famous for its pretty, green slate houses and is a base to explore the North Lakes region. Experience a taste of what Keswick has to offer in our 2-day itinerary below.
Town centre and Derwentwater
Begin your trip with a walk around Keswick town centre and its cobblestone streets. There's a good mix of mix of independent and high street shops, and plenty of pubs and cafes to enjoy Cumbrian hospitality.
Make your way down to Derwentwater, a 10-minute walk from the town centre. Enjoy a peaceful stroll around the lake (approximately 10-miles) and take in the art and nature you’ll see along the way. For a more challenging walk, try the Catbells walking route offering panoramic views over Derwentwater, Keswick and Borrowdale. If you want to rest your legs hop on the Keswick Launch and enjoy the scenery from the comfort of a boat instead.
A hop and a skip away from the Keswick shores of Derwenwater is the Lake Theatre & Cafe, a perfect spot for lunch. With mesmerising views of the lake it’s quite easy to pass a whole afternoon here. If the weather's good, enjoy your lunch al-fresco at the many picnic tables by the side of the cafe. Another good place for lunch is Kat’s Kitchen overlooking the River Greta at the other end of Keswick.
After lunch, discover the Derwent’s Pencil Museum. Don’t be fooled by its size. Although it’s small, it’s packed full of information about the history and manufacture of the humble pencil. Items on display include the world’s largest pencil and a replica of a diamond encrusted pencil given to the Queen to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. History buffs should head to the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery to swot up on local history and marvel at its eclectic collection of 20,000 objects.
The nightlife in Keswick is fairly low key. Catch a show at the Theatre by the Lake which puts on local and national productions or settle in one of the many pubs in town. The Dog and Gun with its low ceilings, wooden beams and flagstone floor is a good place to unwind. Serving traditional pub food and mouth-watering pies, the pub is a good choice for dinner too.
There are plenty of traditional B&Bs in Keswick so you’ll be spoilt for choice on where to rest your head for the night. For mid-range accommodation stay at the Keswick Country House Hotel or the Inn on the Square, smack bang in the town centre. If you’re after something more luxurious, book a night at the Lodoro Falls on the other side of Derwentwater.
Honister Pass and the Lake Distillery
It’s an early start for a day of thrills, adventure and maybe a touch of the wobbles! Book a taxi to the via ferrata at Honister slate mine, an exhilarating climbing/scrambling route with heights of up to 1,000 metres. The via ferrata takes place come rain or shine (except if there’s thunder or lightning) so remember to bring your waterproofs just in case! If the via ferrata is too daunting for you, book the mine tour which will take you deep into Honister's rich mining history.
After the exhilaration at Honister, return to solid ground with lunch at the Skiddaw Hotel back in Keswick. Reward yourself with a hearty, doorstep sandwich and a glass of local ale – you’d have earned it!
Next make your way to the Lake Distillery, for a fascinating tour of the area’s whiskey, gin and vodka distillery. Set in a converted Victorian dairy farm you’ll learn about the spirit making process and get a chance to sample the whiskey, gin and vodka after the tour.
Prolong your visit to the distillery and dine at its bistro. With local art adorning the whitewash walls it’s hard to believe the restaurant used to be a cattle parlour! The food is tasty too with locally sourced produce on the menu. Alternatively, head back into town and enjoy your last night with modern British cuisine at Morrels or Merienda, both restaurants are popular with locals and visitors alike.
How to get here: From London, Keswick is a 3-hour train journey to Penrith, followed by a 40-minute bus ride (X5).
If your trip involves an interchange or pit stop at Penrith make sure you pop into Brunswick Yard a salvage and antiques yard. Inside you’ll find an Aladdin's cave of stalls selling salvaged clothes, furniture and wine. Try and grab a bite to eat at the yard’s café with friendly staff serving heart-warming, homemade food. For a more substantial meal, the 14th century Dockray Hall in the centre of Penrith serves superb food at very reasonable prices.