Derwent Island and House

Derwent Island is one of our most fascinating treasures. The 18th Century house on this little wooded island makes this the only inhabited island in the Lake District which opens to visitors.

The house is lived in all year round but open to the public for five days every year, giving you the wonderful opportunity to have a look around the house and garden, find out about island life past and present and imagine yourself living in a house which must have one of the most beautiful commutes to the shops in the country!

Come by canoe

Because the lake level changes so quickly in response to rain and drought, we've found the most reliable way to make sure the open days take place is to travel to the island by canoe.

If you've never canoed before - don't worry, we make it as easy as possible. The canoes are rafted together in pairs, which makes them very stable. You will need to paddle yourself, but all the trips across are accompanied by two qualified canoe instructors from Keswick Canoe & Bushcraft.

The instructors will give you a full safety briefing and instructions on how to use the paddle, and will help you get in and out of the canoes. It then takes approximately five minutes of actual paddling at a leisurely pace to reach the island. If you'd like to see how this works, watch our video above.

How the visit to the island works

We can fit 18 people in the canoes, so access to the island is by timed tickets, which give you approximately two hours on the island, plus half an hour getting there and back in canoes.

When you arrive on the island you will be greeted by a tour guide who will give you a 50 minute guided tour of the main show rooms in the house. After the tour, the island is yours to explore for the remaining time until your canoe trip back.

History of Derwent Island

Throughout its history it has been owned by monks and royalty, in the 16th Century it was inhabited by group of German miners when they came to work in the area. They built a camp on the island, grew vegetables, kept animals and even brewed beer.

Paddle with us for a rare chance to explore this inhabited island
South front of Derwent Island House, Keswick, Cumbria
National Trust / Penny Webb

The current house was built by Joseph Pocklington in the 18th century, something of an eccentric; he also built a chapel and a small fort on the island, using the fort for mock battles during annual regattas on the lake.

Open Days 2016

Thursday 31 March
Wednesday 1 June
Sunday 24 July
Wednesday 10 August
Wednesday 24 August

More information and Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting an island isn't your average day out and you probably have a lot of questions about how the day works. We've created the video above and this Frequently Asked Questions sheet (PDF / 0.0283203125MB) download which might help answer some of your queries.

If there's anything not covered by our FAQ sheet, please call our information line on 017687 74649 to speak to a member of staff.

Booking Tickets

Booking opens at 10am three days before the open day (so that we can check the weather forecast) and tickets are sold through our Keswick Lakeside shop on 017687 73780, this number is for booking only - for further information in the meantime please call 017687 74649.

For prices see our what's on page.