Keswick - the Lake District.
Welcome to the EDGE Guide to Keswick. Keswick is the chief town of the North Lake District and is beautifully situated near the north shore of Derwentwater.
Which ever way you approach Keswick you cannot fail to be impressed by the majesty of the surrounding countryside and the situation of the town.
Keswick has a good reputation for specialised shopping, especially walking and climbing gear and a unique tea pot shop.
Tea shops, restaurants and pubs can be found aplenty if you need to indulge after a mornings walking, shopping or a day out in the spectacular countryside.
The great poet Samual Taylor Coleridge found Keswick so charming and the countryside so inspirational that he made his home in the town at Greta Hall.
He shared the building with Southey and they were often visited by Wordsworth from his home at Cockermouth.
A walk around the town will reveal several buildings of historical interest:
The Moot Hall in Market Square, built in 1813 is a striking building.
Toll Bar Cottage in Main Street was built for the collection of tolls from travelers on the road from Kendal to Cockermouth.
Crosthwaite Parish Room, Main Street, was built in 1879 to commemorate the vicar of Crosthwaite church.
Luca's Restaurant was until 1984 the Keswick School of Industrial Arts. Canon Rawnsley was responsible for its construction in 1893-94 and as the name suggests it was used for the training of pupils in crafts using various metals. It is a handsome building using the popular local green slate for its construction, its style owes something to the Arts and Crafts movement.
Nearby is Porch Cottage formerly the home of the Ruskin Linen Industry, a business that thrived for a number of years from late C20 century, they exported all over the world.
The church of St. John the Evangelist was built in 1838 by the noted architect Anthony Salvin, though it was added to throughout the century.
The novelist Hugh Walpole is buried in its grave yard, from where you can enjoy the views over to Derwent Water.
The Keswick Convention was founded in 1873 by the then vicar, the Reverend canon Harford Battersly together with Robert Wilson, and has held meetings in the town every July since.
Walk down to the lake past the boat landings, where you can catch the ferry around the lake, and you will come across the monument to Ruskin: continue on the path and you will come to Friars Crag where pilgrims to St. Herberts Island embarked the ferry.
In the opposite direction along Main Street and over the River Greta is Crosthwaite Old School, dating back at least to 1571.
St Kentigern Church, Keswick.
Then on to Crosthwait, the site where the church stands takes its name from Saint Kentigern who supposedly visited in 553AD and founded the church. Both Southey and Canon Rawnsley are buried here. The church that stands here today dates back to the 1300's with later additions.
The current church is from the 1300's with additions and improvements up to the 1500's.
After all this walking about you may want to rest at Fitz Park along the banks of the R. Greta, it can be found on the north side of the town centre.
Here also is a museum and art gallery, the swimming pool and the old railway
Other attractions and activities in and around Keswick include:
Derwentwater Lake - Bassenthwaite Lake - Two Marinas - Keswick Mining Museum - Mirehouse, house & gardens - Whinlater Forest Park - Trotters World of Animals - Cars of the Stars, Motor Museum - James Bond Museum - The Cumberland Pencil Museum - Castlerigg Stone Circle - the Bowder Stone - Honister Slate Mine. Plus lots more.
The Bowder Stone.
Travel 5mls down the east side of Derwentwater on the B5289 past the end of the lake and look for the signpost for the Bowder Stone, a popular and unusual tourist attraction, it is a large block of stone brought down by the melting glacier at the end of the Ice Age, and left perched on one corner.
Carry on along this road and follow the signs for Buttermere and Crummock Water. You will need to go up the Honister Pass - a steep mountain road - you may want to stop at the spectacular Honister Slate Mine (tours and shop), near the top.
Carry on down into the valley and you will be rewarded by the sight of the lovely Buttermere lake.
Keswick: a short history: top
Keswick, (the name means cheese farm), dates back to Neolithic times as evidenced by Castlerigg Stone Circle and early stone tools found at the nearby village of Portinscale.
Little is known of the history of the town until in the 'Dark Ages' the church of St. Kentigern just outside the town was founded in 553.
Later Keswick established a trade in wool and in 1276 King Edward I granted a market charter to the town. The market continues to this day.
In 1564 the Company of Mines Royal was created, an Anglo-German concern which obtained permission from Elizabeth I to mine in the area.
They initially sought gold but soon began to extract copper: later with the discovery of graphite the first pencil industry was founded, and the graphite was also used for medicinal purposes.
Although the graphite deposits have long been exhausted the Cumberland Pencil Company still operates in the town and has a good museum worth visiting.
In the late C18 Keswick caught the collective eye of the group of men now known as the "Lake Poets"; Samuel Taylor Colridge, Robert Southey and William Wordsworth.
Colridge and Southey as already mentioned shared Greta Hall and this house still stands in the town.
They lived there for some thirty years. It is the work of these poets and Wordsworth that perhaps popularised the Lake District.
Keswick: OS ref NY 267234 Sheet 90. Get the map.