After a lovely week with my parents it was time for them to head home, but not before we squeezed in one more walk. The sun was shining and the skies were clear, it was due to be a hot day and we decided to go low level and well connected, so motorways could be reached easily afterwards. The 10 mile loop around Derwentwater, Keswick, was our chosen route for the day.
We parked up in Ketterwell, the National Trust car park in Borrowdale – it is right on the shore of the lake and the walk passes pretty much straight through it. The first mile of so is not great from this point, along the road past the big hotels that are dotted along that stretch of road. The pavement appears and disappears and on a hot day during the busy season it is wise to stay vigilant for oncoming cars! But in no time at all you head through a gate and away from the road, there is a wide gravel track which meandered through the field, this is the bottom of the lake and the water peters out into the long grass nearby.
Crossing River Derwent, the path heads into boggier land, relying on the boardwalks for safe passage through. They are well constructed and it is easy to see what a fantastic habitat they cross as you walk through it. The flora growing up and around the boardwalks had a strong scent in the hot weather, the butterflies and damsel flies flitted from tree to shrub as we moved through them and the birds were dipping through the air, flying between the larger patches of trees.
The boardwalks ended and the next section had no true path, just a rough route across the pebbly shores of the lake. A few canoes casually paddled by on the blue water, and with Skiddaw rising up prominently behind them it was a quintessentially Lakeland scene. The sun was red hot and we were glad when our route took us into the woodland on the western side of the water. We followed the woodland track through the spaced out tall trees, in and out of dappled sunlight with the water twinkling through the trunks to our right. We stopped at rather perfectly placed picnic bench and enjoyed the cool while we could.
In and out of the woodland, the walk continues much the same until you start entering Keswick and the surrounding villages – the route gets a bit busier as it skirts near roads, making it more easily accessible to more people. There is a small stretch on pavement before breaking off onto another woodland path, this one was denser, shorter trees and bushes growing closer together, rhododendrons filling in the gaps. The path at this stage was a woodland track, well made and hard to deviate from, it continued a fair way before depositing us in a large grassy field. A couple of fields later and you enter Keswick itself, which suddenly feels very built up and busy compared to the surroundings of the first half of the walk, walking on the concrete, surrounded by buildings accentuated the heat of the day, which was high in the sky, beating down on us.
We all concluded it was a good time to stop for lunch and we piled in to a wee pub, grateful that it was cool and shaded inside. We refuelled on good pub grub (a mushroom & halloumi burger is always a good choice!) and some cold drinks before continuing through the town and out the other side onto our last leg of the walk. Through the pretty cobbled streets we made our way back to the water’s edge. At various stages of the walk, this one included, you are suddenly surprised with a more open view, showing off the numerous peaks surrounding Derwentwater. Suddenly one will loom up over the trees ahead or behind you, one you had failed to notice at all until that moment.
The path moved back onto pebbly shore as it broke away from the busy-ness of town, before re-entering woodland, this stretch of woodland showed signs of felling, large trunks left on the floor to create habitat and small pools of boggy pond water were drying up in the sunshine. The last sectioned varied between waterside paths and woodland tracks, more natural than the previous ones, as we found ourselves clambering over roots and rocks to keep our direction. In no time at all we were approaching our starting, and therefore finishing, point and we knew that soon it would be time for my parents to head south and for normal life to resume.
We decided to procrastinate a little longer and dip our hot feet in the cool water, as I took my boots off a paddling of ducks had rushed up behind me, obviously used to being fed! Of which I was completely unaware until I turned around to about 7 or 8 little faces looking up at me – as soon as they realised I had nothing to give them the majority sidled off nonchalantly, but a couple hung around to keep us company.