Best car parks for Borrowdale

Car park sign and four walkers, Seatoller, Cumbria

Visiting Borrowdale and Derwentwater couldn't be simpler - there are many National Trust car parks in the valley. Each one is a starting point for an amazing day out.

Every car park ticket sold helps to support our conservation work to care for the paths, gates, stiles and wildlife of the Lake District. You can support our work for 24 hours by buying a day ticket.

If you're planning lots of short stops that's a good option, as you can transfer your ticket between our car parks until it expires.

If you're a member, your parking is free as a thank you for supporting all the work we do.

Great Wood Car Park CA12 5UP

A nice relaxed car park with plenty of space, this is the ideal start point for walking the circular route round Derwentwater. Calfclose Bay lakeshore is only 250m away, across the road.

There are also short strolls through the Atlantic Oakwoods, which are designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and a gentle climb to the famous viewpoint of Ashness Bridge.

It's only 1.5 miles from Keswick town centre, if you're looking for parking and don't mind a walk.

Ashness Bridge Car Park CA12 5UN

Probably the most photographed packhorse bridge in the Lake District, this is also a good starting point for walks to Walla Crag, Surprise View and Lodore Falls.

Surprise View Car Park CA12 5UU

A view that makes your jaw drop, Surprise View is the point where the hanging valley of Watendlath was cut off by the main glacier carving out Borrowdale in the last ice age. The result is a sheer drop with views over Derwentwater, Skiddaw and even Scotland on a clear day.

Watendlath Car Park CA12 5UW

A scenic drive for the brave, this single-track lane with passing places rises steeply from Derwentwater and leads to the most famous viewpoints in the valley.

Watendlath hamlet nestles high up (263m) beside a tarn, with a farmhouse café, and a National Trust bothy. There are also public toilets here, and packhorse trails which climb gradually up the slopes.

Kettlewell Car Park CA12 5UN

Right on the lakeshore, this carpark is the easiest one for getting out on the water. Bring your own canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard, unload and set off for the islands. Get here early though - it fills up fast on busy days.

Bowder Stone Car Park CA12 5XA

Bowder Stone is right in the 'Jaws of Borrowdale' - the narrow point where the road winds beneath overhanging crags. A large car park with picnic benches, the obvious option is the half mile wheelchair-accessible track to the Bowder Stone itself. The house-sized boulder has come to rest improbably on one edge. This is also a popular spot for climbers and people seeking a direct way up to Kings How and the crags.

Rosthwaite Car Park CA12 5XB

This popular car park is in the heart of the village of Rosthwaite, there are toilets and a café and easy level walks to the stepping stones across the river Derwent. The packhorse trail to Watendlath is a popular walk from here; but get here early, it's often full by 10am.

Seatoller Car Park CA12 5XN

Seatoller is our biggest car park, with toilets and a bus stop - it's where the 78 bus service from Keswick turns round to begin its return journey. The most popular route from here is the short climb onto the Allerdale Ramble - the old road to Honister - which leads you to Castle Crag, you can return beside the river Derwent via Rosthwaite.

Honister Pass Car Park CA12 5XJ

Our highest car park - at 350m altitude, this is either a good way to gain height before heading for the summits, or a good place to start a downhill walk and catch the bus back up.

Cat Bells

There is no permanent car park at Cat Bells - only a couple of laybys. One is at Gutherscale CA12 5UE where the main path starts, the other is at Little Town CA12 5TU where you can walk up the Newlands Valley side of the hill.

We recommend either getting there very early (before 9am) or parking in Keswick and catching the Keswick Launch to Hawes End landing stage. From April-October the 77A bus service from Keswick also stops at Cat Bells.

Occasionally a farmer opens their field for parking, but don't bank on it being open when you visit.