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Car parks in Borrowdale and Derwent Water

Walkers setting out from Seatoller car park in Borrowdale, Lake District
Visitors return to their car after a family day out in Borrowdale | © National Trust / Steven Barber

The valley of Borrowdale is nine miles long, and there are nine National Trust car parks strung along its length. Each one is a starting point for an amazing day out in the valley. Find out parking costs and how to find each of the car parks.

How much does it cost to park in Borrowdale and Derwent Water?

National Trust members can scan to park for free, but if you’re not a member don't forget some change as due to our rural location there is very limited mobile signal which means we can't take card or phone payment in all the car parks.

Every scan and every penny directly funds our work in the valley to care for wildlife, walls, paths, cottages and farms.

  • £5 up to 2 hours
  • £7 up to 4 hours
  • £8.50 all day

Charges apply at all times.

Pay by phone in our car parks

If you don't often carry cash with you, many of our car parks have the option to pay by phone. To do this, you must first download the app to your phone which then allows you to pay for your parking remotely. You can find more information and download the app here: Pay by Phone

We recommend dowloading before you head out in case connection is poor on location.

Check car parking availability in the Lake District

We're working with our partners in the Lake District to safely manage our car parks. You can find the most up to date information and a guide to how busy car parks are today using the Safer Lakes car park tool.

No Overnight Parking

We don't allow overnight parking due to the impact on nature and wildlife, staff resource and visitors. However, motorhomes and campervans are very welcome and well served at our campsites. You can find your nearest site here Click here to find out which of our campsites are open throughout winter: Winter camping and outdoor holidays.

Don't always believe the satnav

Please note that in rural locations post codes often cover a wide area so don't always believe the satnav; look for the signs.

Great Wood National Trust car park

Just outside Keswick, an ideal starting point for walking the 10-mile circular route around Derwent Water with Calfclose Bay lakeshore only 250m away across the road. You can pay-by-phone at this car park.

How to get to Great Wood car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5UP
  • Grid ref: NY271222
  • Find us on Google Maps

Great Wood car park is 1.8 miles outside Keswick on the B5289. As you head down the Borrowdale Road you will be tempted to turn into the first National Trust entrance you see on the left, however if you park here you may find yourself locked in. Keep going for about another 100m and you'll reach the entrance to the car park which is on the left hand side, marked by a roadside sign.

If you want to visit Keswick, but don't want to negotiate town centre parking, Great Wood car park is just 1.8 miles away, making it a good alternative if you don't mind a scenic walk.

Kettlewell National Trust car park

Kettlewell is a small and popular pay-and-display car park on the shores of Derwent Water. Right on the lakeshore, it’s a great place for getting out on the water. Get here early though – it fills up fast on busy days. For convenience, you can also pay by phone here.

There is height restriction barrier which is set to 190cm.

How to get to Kettlewell car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5UN
  • Grid ref: NY266195
  • Find us on Google Maps

Kettlewell car park is 3 miles outside Keswick on the Borrowdale Road, B5289. Drive out of Keswick and the entrance to the car park is on the right-hand side of the road, marked by a roadside sign.

Ashness Bridge National Trust car park

This is a small and usually very popular car park with around 15 spaces. Pay-by-phone is available here. Driving from the lakeside in the Borrowdale Valley, the road up to Ashness Bridge is steep and narrow with passing places. For your convenience, you can pay by phone to park here.

How to get to Ashness Bridge car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5UN
  • Grid ref: NY269196
  • Find us on Google Maps

Surprise View National Trust car park

On the scenic drive between Ashness Bridge and Watendlath hamlet, a pause at Surprise View brings huge rewards. This is a small pay-and-display car park with a huge view across Derwent Water to Skiddaw and even Scotland on a clear day. For your convenience, you can pay-by-phone to park here.

How to get to Surprise View car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5UU
  • Grid ref: Grid ref: NY268189
  • Find us on Google Maps

Surprise View is 3.5 miles from Keswick en route to the hamlet of Watendlath. The car park has around 15 spaces in total split across two areas. The upper car park being more suitable for those with mobility problems as it is nearer to the viewpoint (approximately 10m) and work has been done in recent years to improve the surface of the viewing point for wheelchair access.

Watendlath National Trust car park

With around 45 spaces, there's plenty of room to park at Watendlath. The approach road, although extremely scenic, is very narrow and definitely not for the faint-hearted. The scenic drive terminates at the quiet hamlet of Watendlath 2 miles further up the road from Surprise View. It nestles high above Borrowdale (263m) and is reached by a winding road with many passing places.

How to get to Watendlath car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5UW
  • Grid ref: Grid ref: NY275163
  • Find us on Google Maps
Wild garlic covering the forest floor in Borrowdale
A carpet of wild garlic in the woods of Borrowdale | © National Trust Images / Simon Fraser

Bowder Stone National Trust car park

Bowder Stone car park is a large car park (approximately 60 spaces) right in ‘the Jaws of Borrowdale’, 5 miles (8km) outside Keswick on the Borrowdale Road, B5289. Drive out of Keswick beyond the lake. The entrance to the car park is one mile past the bridge to the hamlet of Grange, on the left-hand side of the road, marked by a roadside sign.

How to get to Bowder Stone car park

  • Post Code: CA12 5XA
  • Grid ref: NY253168
  • Find us on Google Maps

Exit the car park via the steps near the ticket machine for the half mile wheelchair-accessible track to the Bowder Stone. There are three disabled parking spaces at the bottom of the steps beside the bus stop.

Rosthwaite National Trust car park

This popular spot is in the heart of the village of Rosthwaite with toilets, a café and an easy level walk to the stepping stones across the river Derwent. Please be aware that toilets are often closed during the winter season.
How to get to Rosthwaite car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5XB
  • Grid ref: NY257148
  • Find us on Google Maps

Rosthwaite is 6½ miles south of Keswick at the southern end of the Borrowdale Valley on the B5289. The car park is on the right-hand side in the village.

Seatoller National Trust car park

Seatoller is our biggest car park, nestled at the end of Borrowdale before the road climbs up the Honister Pass. It has toilets and a bus stop; the 78 bus service from Keswick turns round here to begin its return journey. Please note the toilets are often closed during the winter season.

How to get to Seatoller car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5XN
  • Grid ref: NY245137
  • Find us on Google Maps

The car park is on the right-hand side off the B5289 in the hamlet of Seatoller situated 8 miles south of Keswick at the southern end of the Borrowdale Valley.

Couple standing on top of the Bowder Stone on a summer's day
Enjoying the views from Bowder Stone | © National Trust/Chris Lacey

Honister Pass National Trust car park

Our highest car park at 350m altitude is a good place to gain height before heading for the summits or to start a downhill walk and catch the bus back up. The car park is off the B5289, 9 miles from Keswick at the summit of Honister Pass between the Borrowdale and Buttermere valleys.

How to get to Honister Pass car park

  • Postcode: CA12 5XN
  • Grid ref: NY225135
  • Find us on Google Maps

Parking at Seathwaite

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.

This road gets particular busy around midsummer's day, bank holidays and remembrance Sunday.

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

Three ways you could help the parking at Seathwaite

  1. Ask: could a fire engine get past?
    If you’re trying to park at Seathwaite and you’re not confident a fire engine or tractor and trailer could easily pass, please find an alternative place to park. The National Trust car parks at Seatoller and Honister Pass are just up the road.
  2. Plan ahead
    Plan your trip ahead and park elsewhere. Seatoller car park is just one mile away or you could start your day from another car park in Borrowdale
  3. Go green
    There are regular buses to and from Keswick to Seatoller car park. Could you get the bus instead of bringing the car?
    Bus service 78: This open-top double-decker bus runs an hourly service between Keswick and Seatoller Monday to Friday, and every 30 minutes at weekends during the high season.
    Bus service 77/77A: This seasonal service (the ‘Honister Rambler’) runs from Keswick and calls at Seatoller every hour. It runs from April to October each year.

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

There are only eight parking spaces in the layby at Cat Bells, and its narrow country lanes get crowded early. It's much better to park in Keswick and get here by bus or use the Park and Sail.

How to get to Cat Bells

We recommend either getting there very early (before 9am) or getting here by boat or bus. From April-October the 77A bus service from Keswick also stops at Cat Bells.

The Park and Sail in Keswick offers 200 parking spaces at Keswick Rugby Club, and you can park all day for £4. It gives a 15 per cent discount on tickets for the Keswick Launch which stops at seven lakeshore jetties, including Hawse End for Cat Bells. Find out more at Visit Keswick.

A top tip from the locals is that it's best to avoid leaving the valley between 4pm and 5pm in summer, especially during the Keswick Convention (mid-July) as you may find yourself queuing to get back into Keswick.

Clouds and mountains reflected in the water on a sunny day at Borrowdale and Derwent Water

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