A Free Day Out in Keswick
06 January 2017 | Mri Grout
Keswick is ‘the’ tourist town of the northern Lake District – a title that is easily understood by anyone who visits this charming place even if only for a day. Able to trace its roots as far back as 3000BC, Keswick is steeped in a history that’s hundreds of years older than the creation of the Stonehenge down south. Situated in the heart of Cumbria with its colorful fells and well-known lakes, Keswick is also a fantastic starting point for any outdoor enthusiast – whether you’re up for a simple day hike or desiring a longer multi-day exploration. Ideally located next to a frequently flown paragliding site and an easily accessable lake, Keswick is home to multiple adventure sports sure to take your breath away. This town really does seem to have something for everyone and you could easily spend days upon days here exploring all that it has to offer. But if you only have one day to explore this beautiful piece of history, then here is our recommended itinerary for a free day out in Keswick.
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10.00 - Step Back in Time at Castlerigg Stone CircleThe best way to start your exploration of this town is to start at its own beginning. Erected right on its outskirts of Keswick is an ancient stone circle that’s a fantastic alternative (or addition!) to the crowded Stonehenge. Castlerigg Stone Circle was constructed by the Neolithic people, but for what exact purpose still remains unknown. However, the most popular theory for this particular stone circle was that it was used as a market or trading ground for farmers and other producers. This is due to the discovery of three Neolithic axe heads being discovered within the circle of stones, dating back to a time when farming communities were just starting to evolve. There is free side-road parking at Castlerigg Stone Circle and due to its close proximity to the town, I would recommend to leave the car here for the day as there isn’t any (available) free parking in Keswick. However, if you travel during the winter, be aware of possible ice on the roads.
11.00 - Wonder Around the Historic Part of KeswickOne of the oldest buildings in Keswick is Greta Hall, which was owned by the Coleridge family back in 1800-04 and then later by the Southey family for nearly 40 years after that. Since then it's undergone many transformations and is now used as one section being a private home for a lovely family that I've had the pleasure of workawaying with, another being a BnB, and yet another separate section being a set of holiday flats rented out by the week. However, there are many other historical houses scattered throughout Keswick, with my personal favourite being a row on Station St. located right next to the River Greta. As you can see in the photo above, it makes for a great view for anyone enjoying the park across the street. If you carry on down Station St. away from the River Greta, you will come to the main cobbled street of Keswick in very short time. There you can find Moot Hall, which is a Grade II listed building and now acts as a tourist information centre on the ground floor as well.
12.00 - Have a Treat Down at Derwentwater LakeDerwentwater is a lovely place to visit all year round. In the spring, Hope Garden is blooming with flowers. In the summer, the water is warm enough to go for a swim - and to an island no less!* In the autumn, the islands' leaves change into a startling display of color. And in the winter, the surrounding fells are kissed by snow. There is also an artistic monument of spirals located by the pebbled beach and in the adjacent field are a herd of curious sheep that make for a picturesque place for a picnic. And though, eating isn't a free thing to do in Keswick, the number one place that I would recommend for any foodie lover visiting is Kat's Kitchen of Keswick. It even caters to vegetarians, vegans, and gluten frees; its lunch portions are of a filling size and everything's offered at a reasonable cost, but the most to-die-for, heavenly bit of food that's served here is their vegan chocolate and mint cake. I don't even like cake or chocolate, but I just can't go through Keswick without having a taste of this pure deliciousness! *Lord's Island is actually close enough to the shore to swim to, especially given it's shallow enough to walk to half-way there. However, be aware that there are nesting geese on the island over the autumn and winter, so please be considerate.
16.00 - Windowshop as You Walk Back to Castlerigg Stone Circle
As your free day out in Keswick draws to an end, why not mooch around the many outdoor shops that Keswick is known for? Avoid the crowds by going in closer towards closing time and given you're not actually buying anything, you won't feel like you're in a rush to leave. There are also three charity shops for any kindred spirits that love to search for possible great deals.
18.00 – Enjoy a Sunset Laze at the Top of LatriggThere are many wonderful and free things to do in Keswick as you now know, but the best way to end a day here is with a sunset laze at the top of Latrigg. Not only does it offer amazing views of the surrounding fells, but it also captures a picture-perfect, postcard view of the very town that you spent all day discovering. Sunset times obviously change with the season and can take place as early as 16.00 over the winter, but unlike all of the other fells in the Lake District, Latrigg has a road that weaves its way 98% to the top. After parking (also free), it’s then only about a half mile easy stroll to a stunning viewpoint overlooking Keswick.
Walking Map for This Free Day Out in Keswick
Travel Tip #4
Have you ever enjoyed a free day out in Keswick? Are there other free things to do here that we haven't covered? We'd love to learn all about your personal recommendations!