Keswick is a quaint, cobble stoned, market town in the central-northern Lake District. It is surrounded by mountains (Cat Bells, Skiddaw, Lonscale Fell) and beautiful boutique shops. The main attraction in Keswick however is definitely the Keswick Launch which bobs around majestically on Derwentwater. If you’re going to The Lakes with kids and you’re looking for a child friendly activity, here’s how and why you should absolutely catch the Keswick Launch with kids.
The Town of Keswick
I spent a lot of my childhood in the Lake District and Keswick has become my favourite town. Much of it is pedestrianised and it features quaint boutique shops & tea rooms but without a doubt the Keswick Launch is its hidden gem. Although maybe not so hidden!
If you’re looking for things to do with kids in Cumbria, Keswick, Derwentwater and The Launch are brilliant fun. For us, the conditions were PERFECT! Check out the photos below – they are spectacular! If you’re having a holiday in Keswick, you’ll not want to miss the boat ride.
What Walks Could You Do Around Derwentwater with Kids
Keswick is home to the river Derwent and the lake of Derwentwater. Surrounded by snow-capped, wooded fells (in winter) it is designated a place of considerable scenic value by The National Trust and has a number of walks around the town. The Derwentwater walk is a ten mile hike over flat and easy paths around the shores of Derwentwater although it’s not one I’d really like to do in the wintery months. BRrrr. Too cold for me!
Alternatively you could do the Lodore Secret View Hike which we did. Our kids managed it well and although there are sections which are steep, there’s plenty to see and also splash in – so take some wellies!
However, don’t fear, if you’re not in a walking mood just catch The Launch and you don’t even need to get off as it operates a 50 minute, ‘hop-on hop-off service’ from Keswick. The boat visits six small marinas around the lake; Nichol End; Hawes End; Low Brandelhow, High Brandelhow, Lodore and Ashness. You can just sit on the boat and admire the views; take a picnic and a hot flask of soup and soak up the beauty. Don’t forget to wrap up warm in the winter months though because the lake is cold.
Where To Catch The Keswick Launch
Keswick launch was first launched in 1935 by Victor Hodgson & Walter Walker. In the summer months you can hire a range of rowing and motor boats however in the winter, it is only The Launch that is is use – and only on weekends too.
The summer and winter timetables vary a lot, so make sure you check out the launch times before going. We decided to go anti-clockwise around the lake, leaving at 10:30am, getting off at Ashness Pier and re-meeting it at Lodore Pier on its clockwise tour at 14:50.
We paid £23.50 for a family ticket as well as £5 for parking near the theatre.
Are You Visiting Keswick From Penrith?
We originally arrived into Keswick from the east on the Penrith road and no matter how many times I drive this road, I am never anything but mesmerised at the sheer beauty of the mountains.
The day before we arrived we’d had a good sprinkling of snow and those snowy peaks add to their lure.
Check Out The View From The Car Park
You know you’re on to a winner when the view from the car park doesn’t disappoint. This is the view over Crow Park. I love the autumnal colours popping through still.
The Keswick Launch Boat Itself
In my opinion this is one of the top attractions for kids in The Lake District. The boat is a polished, wooden boat; small and flat with both an indoor and outdoor seating area. You will need to wrap up warm if you’re visiting in winter and you will need sturdy footwear as some of the piers can be slippy and the walks muddy.
Watch out on the Derwentwater foreshore for the menagerie of ducks, geese, swans, seagulls and pigeons on the shore front as many people like to feed them.
Land on the Islands on Derwentwater
There are four, permanent but small islands on Derwentwater; St Herbert’s; Derwent Island (privately owned by The National Trust); Lord’s Island and Rampsholme Island. St Herbert’s was the inspiration for the fictional Owl Island in Beatrix Potter’s ‘The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin‘ and Lord’s Island once had a drawbridge and house.
Apart from Derwent Island, boat users are welcome to land on the islands but are reminded not to disturb any nesting birds.
See the Six Piers Around Derwentwater
There are six piers in total (Nichol End; Hawes End; Low Brandelhow, High Brandelhow, Lodore and Ashness). My favourite was Lodore Pier! Which one will be your favourite?
Spectacular 360 Degree Views
The view from The Keswick Launch is spectacular regardless of which direction you consider however if mountains and reflections are not your thing, you’re going to be a bit bored! Thankfully, I love mountains and reflections and I’m hoping you’ll love them too.
If you’re planning a holiday in The Lake District, the Derwent Launch should be on your to do list.
The winter sun starts going down in The Lakes at about 2:45pm in the winter months. It’s very early but it does mean that, unlike in summer, you don’t have to spend until 11pm waiting for it to set.
It also means that if you catch The Keswick Launch’s last boat at 2:50 that you can watch the sun disappear behind the mountains.
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