Keswick has some of the richest and oldest history in Cumbria with the oldest evidence of life dating back to prehistoric times. The Castlerigg Stone Circle on the eastern edge of Keswick dates back to somewhere between 3000 and 2500 BC, with Neolithic-era tools being found within the circle. Further pre historic evidence points to Iron Age settlements, with hill fort excavations pointing to some level of permanent residency there.
The recorded history of Keswick begins in the Middle Ages, with reports regarding Anglo-Saxon conquerings and Viking rebellions. Keswick was the hub for monastic farms in the area in the 13th century and by 1276 it was granted a charter for a market. A market which still operates today with a 700 year long, uninterrupted history.
Enthusiastic reports of the beauty of The Lake District began to draw in visitors from across the country in the 18th century, beginning the area’s reputation as one of the premier places to visit for walking, sightseeing and beautiful landscapes.
When railways started to be constructed in the 19h century, access to The Lake District, and Keswick, in particular, became much easier. The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway was a railway company that invested heavily in the area to transport Keswick’s fruitful landscape offerings to the further county.
How to Get To Keswick
Keswick is in the very heart of Cumbria, surrounded by beautiful, rolling hills and within short distances of nearby iconic lakes. Its central location makes it incredibly easy to reach the town by all transport.
If travelling by road on your trip to Keswick, you’ll need to travel along the M6 to junction 40 (Penrith) and then along the A66, or you can take the A1 and then the A66. If you’re approaching from the South, then leaving the M6 at junction 36 will allow you to take the A591 through the scenic towns of Windemere, Ambleside and Grasmere.
Travelling to Keswick by rail can offer stunning views through the countryside that motorways simply cannot provide. The nearest train station is Penrith and the station greets two main train operators. Virgin Trains connects the area to London, while TransPennine Express offers access to Scotland and Manchester. From Penrith, a bus service runs directly to town which takes around 40 minutes or a taxi can be booked in advance to greet you.
Cumbria and The Lake District is within a reasonable driving distance from several major airports. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool airports are all within 2.5 hours drive of the town, Manchester within two hours and Blackpool and Newcastle are under two hours. From there, Keswick can be accessed by rail or road.
Areas of Interest in Keswick
The main hub of activity in Keswick is the famed Market Square, which offers a pedestrianised shopping experience and a range of bars and restaurants. Market Square is the heart of the town and should be the starting point for your trip.
There are also two large parks within walking distance that have plenty of game facilities and beautiful gardens.
Just a ten-minute walk from town is the shore of Derwentwater, the area is perfect as a starting point to explore the lake. You can even take a lake trip from Keswick launch, or just take in the stunning views.
Keswick’s Claim to Fame
While not the most glamorous claim to fame, Keswick’s history with pencils has seen it heralded as the home of the pencil. Thanks to the abundance and quality of graphite found in the area, the best pencils in the world were crafted here and, even today, millions of pencils are produced in the town.
The Derwent Pencil Museum pays tribute to the industry, leading visitors through a journey of discovery and uncovering the secrets of the humble pencil.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one of the founders of the Romantic Movement in poetry, along with William Wordsworth, they were both members of the Lake Poets. A group of poets who called the Lake District their home. Coleridge himself resided in Keswick and the town inspired many pieces of literature.
Things to Do in Keswick
Despite being a relatively small town, Keswick’s reliance on tourism has fuelled a wealth of things to do that suit every lifestyle and every person. From families to couples to those looking for a relaxing stay, there is no end of things to do around Keswick.
The Keswick Museum and Art Gallery is a draw for those looking for culture in town, while The Lakes Distillery offers visitors a glimpse into the largest whisky distillery in England.
For the more adventurous there is Keswick Climbing Wall, an indoor climbing centre that has routes and tracks for all ages or rent a bike from E-Venture and explore the town on two wheels.
The main shopping area lies in Market Square with lots of quirky trinket shops and big name brands, but every alley and side street offers a new delight for the avid shopper.
If entertainment is more your thing, the Alhambra Cinema is a classic viewing experience in an intimate environment.
Check out our complete guide to all the best things to do in Keswick and plan your perfect holiday with the help of iknow-UK.
Keswick Food & Drink
Just like the things to do in Keswick, the food and drink offerings are varied and plenty, from pizza to burgers, whisky to traditional pubs, you’ll never be short of places to eat or drink.
Food at Jiggers overlooks Derwentwater and offers classic pub food with an incredible view, the restaurant is open seven days a week and is even pet-friendly!
For a classic pint in the English countryside, venture to Farmers Arms in the picturesque village of Portinscale, just 1.5 miles from the centre of town. With a quality Cask Mark and an ever-changing choice of cask ales, Farmers Arms is a destination within itself.
Read more about where to get the best food and drink in Keswick with our rundown of the must visit pubs and restaurants in Keswick.
Where to Stay
Keswick’s accommodation choice is one of the best in the Lake District catering for all budgets and tastes and featuring some spectacular Victorian guest houses and beautifully situated holiday cottages with Skiddaw or Blencathra views perfect for walking holidays. Choose from over 100 hotels, character B&B guest houses and hostels in and around the centre, or opt for one of the many spectacularly situated holiday cottages in surrounding villages like Threlkeld and Braithwaite. Browse and book Keswick accommodation now.