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Lake District Towns and Villages

Keswick in the Lake District National Park

Keswick has been described as the Bowness of the northern lakes. Sheltered by the steep slopes of Skiddaw and a short stroll from the northern shore of Derwentwater, it can become very busy during the summer months with coach loads of trippers pouring in from the north. It's setting makes it a natural centre for walkers, climbers and more leisurely tourists alike and for it's size it is said to have more beds for visitors than anywhere in the country.

It's origins lie around the early medieval church just over the river in Crosthwaite with farming providing it's first local industry. It was granted a market charter in 1276 and became an important centre for trading wool and leather until around 1500, when mining interests took over. German miners were brought over to lend their expertise and at one time there were at least twenty mines producing copper, graphite, iron lead and even some silver and gold. Huge tracts of woodland went to provide charcoal for the smelting operations. The last mines closed in the 19th century coinciding with the opening of the Cockermouth to Penrith railway, bring in the first of its visitors.

Many of it's buildings are Victorian, including the Moot Hall situated in the market place and formerly the town hall and prison but now housing the tourist information centre. St John's church is also early 19th century and contains the grave of Sir Hugh Walpole. There are plenty of good cafe's, pubs and a profusion of shops selling walking and climbing gear.

There are many local attractions, including a park, two museums and a theatre by the lake. On Derwent water you can hire out a rowing boat or take a cruise a cruise around the lake. Keswick museum and Art Gallery contains a huge array of letters, manuscripts, poems and memorabillia of Southey, Wordsworth, De Quincey, Hartley Coleridge, Ruskin and Walpole, as well as the usual archeological, mineral,butterfly and stuffed bird collections. Pencils are still made in Keswick and the Cumberland Pencil Museum, part of the Rexel pencil factory, is fascinating, with exhibits, videos and the world's largest pencil. Mirehouse Historic House & Gardens is a place for the children with adventure playgrounds.

A short distance from the centre of the town, over Greta Bridge is Crosthwaite Church, dedicated to St Kentigern, the Celtic missionary who founded several churches in Cumbria. The poet Southey is buried here as is the Canon Drunnond Rawnsley, one of the co-founders of the National Trust.

There are plenty of fine walks to be had in the locality, from the gentle stroll down to Friars Crag, a local beauty spot, to more energetic ones of Latrigg, Skiddaw and Bencathre or Catbells on the opposite side of the lake. Castlerigg stone circle is Keswicks most mysterious landmark. It dates from about 2000 years BC, and noone really understands it's true purpose. There are 38 stones in the circle itself with a further 10 set in the centre in a stunning setting, surrounded by high fells. It is owned by the National Trust and open to the public.

For Accommodation in Keswick see Hotels and Guest Houses in Keswick

More information available from Keswick Tourism Association





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