Derwentwater, at 3 miles long, 1 mile wide and 72 feet deep, is fed by the River Derwent catchment area in the high fells at the head of Borrowdale, and has a long historical and literary background. The Lake is very much a landscape of moods, varying from the dramatic waves splashing against Friar’s Crag when driven by southerly gales, to the absolute mirror calm of early mornings.
There are four islands, Lord’s Island, Derwent Island, St Herbert’s Island, and Rampsholme Island. Smaller islands are Park Neb, Otter Island, and Otterbield Island. Lord’s Island was once the home of the Earl of Derwentwater and the ruins of the house can still be discerned in the undergrowth. St Herbert’s Island is named after the hermit, or anchorite who lived there in the 7th Century. All of the major islands are owned by the National Trust, as is much of the shoreline.
The most popular way to enjoy the beauty of the lake, other than by walking the paths around its shores, is to board one of the Keswick Launches which operate round the lake. The launch stops at Ashness Gate, Lodore, High Brandlehow, Low Brandlehow, Hawes End and Nichol End.
There is an extensive selection of Adventure Activity companies, guides and instructors for all abilities based around and on Derwentwater.
Though there is plenty of activity with several sailing & windsurfing centres and providers and rowing boats, and motor boats for hire, Derwentwater is remarkably peaceful. For the family, whether picnicing, fishing, swimming or just walking, the lake is holiday in itself.
Between 1885, when she was 19, and 1907, Beatrix Potter spent nine summer holidays at Lingholm and one at Fawe Park, the two stately homes whose estates now occupy most of the north western side of Derwentwater. The two houses, their gardens and the surrounding landscape provided material for several of her books.
There is a National Trust shop just by the lake at Lakeside Car Park, from where leaflets can be bought describing Family Walks round Derwentwater.
The town of Keswick is at the north end of the lake, and the valley of Borrowdale at the southern end.
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