It is right that most people celebrate our Lake District but few realise the importance of the rivers which feed the lakes.

The River Derwent for example rises around Sprinkling Tarn at a height of 1,960 feet and runs through Borrowdale, Derwentwater and Keswick, in and out of Bassenthwaite and on to meet the Cocker at Cockermouth, and then on to reach the sea at Workington.

My two favourite Derwentside walks are from Derwentwater and from Bassenthwaite.

There is a short walk from the car park, downhill to the marina. Comfortable launches circumnavigate the lake, which is 3.5 miles long and 1.25 miles wide. There are five stops on the circular route and the journey can be broken at any or all of these. There is Ashness with its famous packhorse bridge, Lodore with its hotel and waterfall and at High and Low Brandelhow and at Hawse End. There is a stroll from each of these jetties but my choice for this route is at Hawse End.

At Hawse End carry on ahead with mixed woodland to the left and right. Approach a minor road for a short distance and turn left. Look for a path to the right through the area of Skelgill Bank, seen at its best at this time of the year.

At this point look out to the right where a footpath strikes off to reach Catbells, which rises to 1,481 feet. This is described by Wainwright as an ‘afternoon stroll,’ which means that for most of us it is an all day hike. I have done this and it is well worth the effort. Continue to the well- named High Ground with views through an area of woodland towards the lake.

Here cross the minor road at Manesty and turn left. Pass through the mixed woodland of Manesty Park and be sure to keep an eye open for buzzards that breed in the woods. Continue ahead with the Abbots Bay area of Derwentwater on the right.

Enter yet more mixed woodland and Brandelhow Park on the left and St Herbert’s Island, Lord’s Island and Derwent Isle on the right. Pass Withersike Bay, Victoria Bay and Otter Field Bay before returning to Hawse End. If time permits, enjoy a picnic close to the lake before picking up the boat to return to the starting point.


How to get there: From the M6 turn off at Penrith (junction 40) then follow the A66 to Keswick. Turn left to reach the pay and display Lakeside Car Park

Distance: Five miles

Time: Three hours plus the ferry crossing (check times)