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Why Derwentwater is your Favourite Water in the Lake District

The final vote is in. There were two big guns in our Facebook ‘Favourite Lake, Mere, Water’ vote. The final became south vs north contest, with Windermere up against Derwentwater. Known as the ‘Queen of the Lakes’, Derwentwater takes the title of your favourite body of water in the Lake District, steaming ahead with 56% of your votes. 

For quiz buffs; the Lake District has 16 bodies of water, of which Bassenthwaite Lake is the only one with the name ‘lake’ in its title, the rest being ‘waters’ or ‘meres’, like Windermere and Coniston Water. 

Back to our Facebook vote; join us as we delve into the highlights of your ultimate Lake District water, Derwentwater - an island-strewn lake that pools majestically at the foot of Skiddaw in the North Lake District. We’ll also skim the surface of what you love most about your runner-up, Windermere.

Discover Derwentwater

This Lake District’s ‘Queen of the Lakes’ lies south of the northern market town of Keswick.

She was referred to as Keswick Lake in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

Derwentwater is the third largest body of water in the region, 3 miles in length and 1 mile wide. It is a shallow lake with wonderful lakeshore access, so all that choose to visit can easily drink in all her splendour.

The Derwentwater Way is a 10-mile walking trail that circumnavigates the lakeshore, starting and returning from Keswick. Give legs a break by hopping on and off the Keswick Launch - or try the full 50-minute cruise which takes in some the more secluded parts of Derwentwater.


Derwentwater Foreshore, Keswick 

A 5-minute walk outside of Keswick town centre is Derwentwater Foreshore, which is the place where you’ll make your first introductions with the Queen of the Lake District! Keswick Launch lake cruises head out from here, as well as giving you your own steam power, with rowboat or motorboat hire on offer. We love taking in island life, taking a picnic on a boat trip to one of the three islands that are National Trust owned and open to the public. 

To discover Derwentwater’s lakeshore walks, there’s a choice of guided routes and maps from the National Trust Foreshore shop, where there’s parking, as well as toilets and cafe. Choose from several lakeshore walks, including the trail to Friar’s Crag. This is the best view of Derwentwater from the lakeshore and arguably one of the best in Europe, or so claimed the prominent Victorian art critic John Ruskin.

Water Meets Woodland at Brandelhow 

Derwentwater is uniquely surrounded by woodland, bringing together a distinctive landscape of tree and lakescape.

Borrowdale is, in fact, the most wooded valley in the Lake District, giving rise to a truly special and unique landscape. Combined with the rich lake life, the area attracts a rich range of wildlife, from otters to Peregrine Falcons that nest at Falcon Crag. Derwentwater attracts wildlife lovers and those looking to soak up the special tranquility that only a woodland walk gives.

Today, much of this woodland is managed by the National Trust. Take the Keswick Launch to High Brandelhow, on the quiet eastern shore of Derwentwater. Here you arrive at the majestic birthplace of the National Trust in the Lake District, Brandlehow Park woods.

Frog Chorus & Ghost Walks 

It is not only us who love Derwentwater, but her wealth of wildlife means we don’t have to venture too far to enjoy her abundance of fauna. Plus, enjoying Derwentwater in different lights is a magical experience. A short walk out of Keswick at dusk brings you to Ings Wood, where the frog chorus is simply wonderful. On a warm summer’s night, leave the bright lights of Keswick behind and head to the light pollution-free spot of Friar’s Crag for a magical star gazing display - one of the best in the UK. For anyone who enjoys myths and legends, there are plenty in and around Derwentwater. Why not try Keswick’s evening Ghost Walks for a bit of spooky fun!

Squirrels Set Sail & Wildcats Roam 

Hawes End jetty is the main stop on the Keswick Launch for the popular walk up Catbells. This is not only one of our favourite Lakeland walks but it is also the best view of Derwentwater. The former lair of the wildcat, Catbells is a short, sharp climb. It’s only 451m and so can be summited in 30-40 minutes. It has a very distinctive shape, the most iconic fell seen from Derwentwater and so it’s hard not to feel compelled to climb her when visiting Derwentwater. 

Also, only a 15-minute walk from the jetty is the delightful Lingholm Kitchen, which is the place to enjoy home-baked breads and artisan cakes as well as barista-style coffee and mouthwatering brunch and luncheons. The Linghome Estate is a beautiful place for spotting red squirrels as you wander the lakeshore and indeed is where Beatrix Potter, whilst on holiday at Linghom, was inspired to create her illustration of Squirrel Nutkin using his tail as a sail across the water to Owl Island. 

Explore our holiday cottages in Keswick and the North Lakes.

Skimming Lake Windermere’s Top Features 

Windermere, the largest of England’s lakes, takes the second position in our bid to find your favourite body of water in the Lake District. It is the best-known and one of the most easily accessible of the English lakes.

This slender ribbon lake is just over 11 miles in length and less than a mile wide, ribboning from the peace and quiet of Newby Bridge and Lakeside in the South Lakes to the bustle of Ambleside, the vibrant heart of the Lake District, at her northern tip.

From the gentle lakeshore paths, walkers wave to smiling faces aboard Windermere Lake Cruises, which makes hourly trips along this great stretch of beautiful mountain water.

Laughter from little walkers can often be heard disembarking the exciting steam cruise at Brockhole, half-way along the eastern shore. They know that there are TreeTop nets and zip wires in store, as well as a series of outdoor playgrounds for toddlers to teens.  

There’s an atmosphere of watersport-cool at Waterhead Pier on Windermere. This is the perfect spot for learning to paddleboard or kayak as there are sheltered bays and the mouth of the river Brathay is nearby offering an alternative water sports experience. Plus, the bars and pubs of Ambleside’s lakeside hospitality are on tap too!

Whether its an early-start coffee hit, a relaxing brunch or afternoon cocktails, when on holiday on Windermere you’ll most definitely find yourself drinking in lazy lakeshore life at Bowness Bay. 

Get away from it all with Heart of the Lakes Bowness and Windermere cottages.    

Have you experienced the Lake District’s stunning scenery from the unique perspective of a lake? Fall in love with our Lake District cottages with lake access. Contact us online or call 01539 432 321 to book your lake resort holiday.