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, including the awe-inspiring Great Gable.

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 (in Borrowdale and Buttermere Valley)

If you're a member, your parking is free as a thank you for supporting all the work we do, and when you scan your membership card we get a little credit from head office to help support our work to care for the surrounding woods, walls, rivers and paths.

Great Wood Car Park

CA12 5UP (Grid ref: NY271222)

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.

Please note: if you're approaching from Keswick, as you head down the Borrwdale Road you will be tempted to turn into the first National Trust entrance you see on the left, if you park here however you may find yourself locked in! Just keep going for about another 100m and you'll reach Great Wood  Car Park.

Ashness Bridge Car Park

CA12 5UN (Grid ref: NY269196)

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 (Grid ref: NY268189)

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 (Grid ref: NY275163)

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.

Winter 2018/19 - the toilets will be open whenever the café (Caffle House Tearoom) is open.

Kettlewell Car Park

CA12 5UN (Grid ref: NY266195)

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 (Grid ref: NY253168)

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. NB - the ladder up the Bowder Stone is closed for repairs until April 2019.

Rosthwaite Car Park

CA12 5XB (Grid ref: NY257148)

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.

Winter 2018/19 - the toilets will be open each weekend in December, open during the Christmas week, and then they will close to re-open again at February half term

Seatoller Car Park

CA12 5XN (Grid ref: NY245137)

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.

Winter 2018/19 - the toilets will be closed for refurbishment in November/December, open during the Christmas week (building work allowing), and then they will close to re-open again at February half term

Cairn on Castle Crag overlooking Upper Borrowdale, Cumbria.

Castle Crag from Seatoller downloadable walk 

Enjoy a moderate walk with amazing views to an iron-age hill fort that was dedicated as a war memorial after the First World War

Honister Pass Car Park

CA12 5XN (Grid ref: NY225135)

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.

Seathwaite hamlet

The roadside at Seathwaite is a really popular place to park if you plan to visit Scafell Pike, Great Gable and other high fells in the Lakes. At busy times, this causes access problems for people who live there including farmers and potentially emergency vehicles.

We are doing everything we can to find a solution for your parking needs, but it will take time. In the meantime, we’d like to ask everyone to do what they can to help ease the pressure of parking in the valley. 

Click here to see three things you can do to make a difference:

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.