Derwent Water in Borrowdale

Derwent Water has been called 'Queen of the Lakes' because of the way it's cradled by the surrounding fells. The 10 mile lakeshore circular path takes you from Keswick's foreshore to secluded headlands off the beaten path, with plenty of boat and bus links to save any weary legs.

Just so you know...

This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and may not reflect the current situation. Please check our homepage for the most up to date information about visiting.


125th Anniversary

2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Trust, and Derwent Water holds a special place in our history. The lakeshore at Brandelhow became the first place in the Lake District to be protected for the nation in 1902 - a fact marked by the sculpture 'Entrust' by sculptor John Merrill, locally known as 'the hands sculpture'.

Most of the landscape around Derwent Water is now cared for by the National Trust thanks to the activism of local hero Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, who was one of the three people who founded the charity in 1895. In the video his great-grandaughter revisits this special place to reflect on his vision and what it means for us today.

Water wildlife

Derwent Water is an exceptionally important area for wildlife. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because it is a clean, naturally nutrient-poor lake with excellent vegetation.

The lake supports the healthiest remaining population of Britain’s rarest fish, the Vendace (the only other natural population in Britain is just downstream in Bassenthwaite Lake).

Birds, red squirrels and otters

The surrounding wetlands are important for breeding birds – most days you should be able to catch a glimpse of Common Sandpiper or Snipe, in amongst a beautiful variety of plants such as Bog Asphodel and Cotton Grass.

The sheltered bays are valuable for wintering wildfowl. Red squirrels are often seen in the surrounding woodlands and if you're very lucky, you may see an otter.

Island life

We care for all four islands in Derwent Water. We bought three of them especially so that visitors could take a picnic to an island, so what are you waiting for. Lord's Island, St Herbert's Island and Rampsholme Island are all waiting for you to beach your canoe or your rowing boat and discover them

The largest island, Derwent Island, opens to the public for five days each year - see our events page for how to book a ticket.

Keswick Foreshore

Just five minute's walk from Keswick's market square, Derwent Water Foreshore offers easy level walks with parking, toilets, benches and cafés, along with the view that inspired a lifelong love of natural landscapes in artist and writer John Ruskin.

The friendly staff in our shop will share their local knowledge with you if you're looking for inspiration and help planning your trip.


You can get out on the water by hiring a canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle board or boat from one of the outdoor providers around the lake at the foreshore, Lodore, Nichol End and Portinscale.