Islands of Derwent Water

Canoe and dog on Derwentwater lakeshore, Cumbria

Derwent Water has four permanent islands: Derwent, Lord's, Rampsholme and St. Herbert's. It also has (reputedly) one floating island which sporadically appears towards the end of summer consisting of a mass of vegetable matter that rises to the surface on a cushion of methane gas!

St Herbert's

St Herbert’s is the largest of the islands, covering between four and five acres and named after the saint of the same name who brought Christianity to the area in 685 AD. St Herbert used the island as an hermitage. After his death, it became a place of pilgrimage, and St. Herbert's cell can still be identified amongst the undergrowth.

St Herbert's is also the inspiration for the fictional Owl Island in Beatrix Potter's 'The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin', so be sure to keep your eyes open for any little rafts pulled up along the shore!

Derwent Island

Derwent Island is the only inhabited island on the lake. Once owned by the monks of Fountains Abbey, it was the home of German miners working in the area in Elizabethan times.

The island and its house, which was considered by Wordsworth to be a blot on the landscape, has, since the 1950's, been in the ownsership of the National Trust and is open to the public five days a year.

Lord's Island

Lord's Island was once the residence of the Earls of Derwent Water. A great house used to exist on the island dating from around 1460, with a drawbridge across to the mainland. The house is now gone, although you can still make out its foundations.

Rampsholme Island

Rampsholme derives its name from the wild garlic that thrives on the island. The word derives from the Old Norse 'Hrafns holmr' or 'wild garlic island'.

Not much of note has happened on Rampsholme other than it formed part of the late Earl of Derwent Water's confiscated estate, which was purchased by John Marshall Esq of Leeds in 1832.

Access to the islands

Apart from Derwent Island, which is a private residence, boat users are welcome to land on the islands. However we request that you do not stay overnight or light any fires. Please take care not to disturb any nesting birds.