Derwentwater – Our ‘Queen of the Lakes’

Derwentwater – Our ‘Queen of the Lakes’

Derwentwater is a big part of what makes our little town of Keswick such a special place to live and visit. Surrounded by woodland and soaring peaks, it’s one of the most magnificently beautiful places in the whole of the Lake District. We’ve all been talking about it recently as all this hot weather has made it lower than it’s been in years. With that in mind, here are some facts about our favourite water!


The Lake itself is (usually!) three miles long and a just over a mile wide. It’s the third biggest body of water in the region and it’s fed and drained by the river Derwent. Derwentwater is a shallow lake. It’s only seventy-five feet deep at its deepest point and only 15 feet on average which is due to silt being washed down into it by seasonal floods over the centuries – this also means it is usually the first lake to freeze over in the winter.


Derwentwater has four islands; Derwent, Lord’s, Rampsholme and St. Herbert’s.


The biggest island on the Lake is St Herbert’s which is right in the middle. It’s named after the saint who brought Christianity to the region in 685 and who used the island as his hermitage (maybe he was hiding from all the pagans?) St Herbert made his way into Cumbria from the famous Lindisfarne Abbey in Northumbria and after his death the island became a pilgrimage hotspot. You can still see the remains of the little hermit house today.


Lord’s Island was, funnily enough, the island that the local lord – Earl in truth – lived on. There was a grand house and drawbridge dating back to 1460 but it sadly fell into ruin and only foundations remain today.


Rampsholme doesn’t have much history of note, but its name tells a tale of our heritage descending from Old Norse language, meaning ‘Wild Garlic Island’.


Derwent Island is the most visited island these days and also has a religious history as it was once owned by the monks of Fountains Abbey. Today it’s home to the Derwentwater House which the public can visit on various open days though out the year.


The island like much of the surrounding land is owned by The National Trust – the lake was actually one of the first acquisitions the Trust ever made. The nearby Scafell Pike was donated to the trust in memory of the men of Cumbria who fell in the First World War and Grange Fell near Borrowdale was given to the trust by Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise in memory of her brother, King Edward VII.


We thoroughly recommend the walk right around the Lake, which is 10 miles of pure viewing pleasure – don’t forget to look out for the local wildlife! And of course you can enjoy putting your feet up afterward with a nice cup of tea home at Burleigh Mead.


Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0