Use the excellent ferry service to enjoy this Derwentwater walk without having to walk the 4 miles return from Keswick. The paths pick their way amongst the trees on the shoreline and the views over the lake are always interesting. It is the best part of Derwentwater and very straightforward.
The pretty woodland shores which form the ‘other side’ of Derwentwater are as attractive as any in the Lake District. Many lakes in the area have limited shoreline walking. This is partly due to private ownership and subsequent lack of access but also Derwentwater is a ‘flatter’ valley. The lake is one of the shallowest and there is an area between it and the steeper mountain slopes which is unusual. As a result this far shoreline is characterised by rocky outcrops and attractive inlets filled with shale beaches. The popular side of Derwentwater where the road, choked with traffic, is heading up Borrowdale is a barren place to walk. The shore is too near the road for any enjoyment. Fortunately the road on the Catbells side is quieter, much further away, separated by woodland and therefore never disturbs the walker.
There is only limited parking under Catbells. Therefore it is a walk best combined with a ride on a steamer. By far the most attractive section of the walk is from the landing stage at Lodore, past the mouth of the lake and the River Derwent, and through the woods to Hawes End. Once arriving at Hawes End take your time picking your route back. The path winds its way close to the shore but it is quite possible to climb a little which improves the views across the lake. Where the River Derwent enters the lake is prone to flooding. Decking has now been laid but I have waded across waist deep with a child on my back and the dog swimming beside me. Despite what I thought this can be an exciting walk!
I would always suggest jumping on the steamer first. This means that there is no reliance on the steamer timetable.
In the past I regularly swam in Derwentwater. In the summer months it is a real pleasure and due to the relatively shallow water safe and warm (at least in the summer months). At least have a paddle!
The ferry from Keswick leaves every hour from Keswick during the summer and 3 times a day during the winter months.
Planning the best way to enjoy Derwentwater is not easy. The east shore is not easy to access. The west is much better and you can choose from the path a few yards from the shore or actually sticking to the stony shoreline.
It is also possible to get the ferry directly to the western shores and return the same way, many do.
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