Walking and cycling in Borrowdale

Borrowdale is a great place to get an introduction to walking in the Lake District. With hotels and cafés dotted all along the seven mile valley road, you're never too far from civilization, while the regular bus service and the launch ferry service around the lake mean it's easy to cut a walk short if you need to.

Waymarked Trails

If you're looking for an easy or moderate walk close to Keswick, our Academy Ranger Leila Todhunter has created seven waymarked walks through the woods and along the lakeshore. Ranging from just 15 minutes to 1¾ hours the routes are easy to follow, whichever one you choose.

The shortest walk, around Cockshot Wood, starts right next to Keswick lakeside shop and includes wildplay areas for den building, a magic climbing tree and dragons, while the trees provide a bit of shelter from the wind for families with young children.

The longest walk, around Great Wood, starts from Great Wood car park, just 1 mile outside Keswick and climbs up to the top of the internationally significant Atlantic Oakwood. People often spot red squirrels and even roe deer in the wood, and from the top of the hill a few 'windows' through the trees give glimpses out over Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite.

Follow the markers from the car park in Great Wood
Ranger hanging a banner at Great Wood in Borrowdale
Follow the markers from the car park in Great Wood

Approachable Fells

Although the fells around Derwent Water aren't the highest in the Lakes, they're not lacking in interest. Cat Bells might only be 451m (1,479 feet) but it's a proper little mountain with false summits and rocky scrambles where you'll need to use your hands.

On the Keswick side of the lake, we've added a few directional signs on footpaths to make it easier to find your way to classic viewpoints like Walla Crag, Ashness Bridge and Surprise View.

Walk round Derwent Water

You can walk all round Derwent Water. The entire loop is 10 miles, so make sure you've got all day. Good places to start from are the National Trust car parks at Great Wood and Kettlewell which are both right on the lake shore.

Castle Crag and riverside paths

Away from the lake, the busy hamlet of Rosthwaite makes a good starting place for walks along the traditional packhorse routes up to Castle Crag, or the route that winds gradually up to Watendlath, which used to be the main route into the valley before the road was built in the 20th Century. A low-level alternative is the path that meanders gently beside the river Derwent from Rosthwaite to Grange and back.

Climb atop the small but adventurous Castle Crag
Walker on Castle Crag in Borrowdale, Lake District
Climb atop the small but adventurous Castle Crag

High adventure and cycling

If it's adventure you're after, Seatoller and Seathwaite are often seen as the 'gateways' to the high fells such as Great End, Scafell Pike and Dalehead.

Cyclists can also enjoy the countryside - we've a network of bridleways and tracks here, from challenging mountain bike trails to more gentle family rides, we're sure you'll find a route to suit. A good off-road route is the track that gradually climbs the Coledale valley from Braithwaite to Force Crag Mine, an abandoned metal ore mine beside the waterfall that gives it its name.

Cycling in the Lake District's Borrowdale countryside
Three cyclists in Seatoller, Lake District
Cycling in the Lake District's Borrowdale countryside