6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Why Keswick remains as popular as ever with tourists

PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 May 2016

The picture of Keswick’s main street is by Lancashire Life artist Nick Oliver. See more of his work at www.smilecreative.co.uk or contact him at 01257 427465.

The picture of Keswick’s main street is by Lancashire Life artist Nick Oliver. See more of his work at www.smilecreative.co.uk or contact him at 01257 427465.

Archant

As this lovely Lakes town prepares for its annual mountain festival, Suzanne Elsworth discovers a place with a wide appeal.

Esther Felton and her Border Collie 'Ginny' (left) at Podgy Paws Pet Shop with customers, Dave and Kate Powell with 'Cydney' and 'Tegan' their Cocker Poos Esther Felton and her Border Collie 'Ginny' (left) at Podgy Paws Pet Shop with customers, Dave and Kate Powell with 'Cydney' and 'Tegan' their Cocker Poos

Keswick is set in a landscape which inspired the Romantic poets but it’s also known as the ‘Adventure Capital’ of the UK. It’s famed as the home of the world’s first pencil, was a location for the latest Star Wars film and it offers retail therapy heaven.

It is this diversity which gives it such an enduring popularity. Even pop star Kim Wilde, who visited at Easter, took to social media to sing its praises.

The town’s original growth was due to the mining and textile industries, though its name is thought to be derived from the Norse for ‘cheese town’. Edward I granted its charter in 1276 – a tradition which continues with an award-winning market held on Thursdays and Saturdays.

It was the work of poets like William Wordsworth and Robert Southey who inspired the town’s first tourists in the 1700s and Laura Johnson, owner of the Laura in the Lakes cafe on Main Street, says it is the constant flow of visitors which provides its great atmosphere.

Editor, Jane Grave, and her brother/business partner David Branthwaite at The Keswick Reminder newspaper Editor, Jane Grave, and her brother/business partner David Branthwaite at The Keswick Reminder newspaper

‘This is a fantastic tourist location,’ she says. ‘People are relaxing and on holiday so it makes it very sociable. That’s what I really love about having a business here.’

And it’s not just humans who are welcome. Keswick has been voted the UK’s most dog friendly town four times by the Kennel Club. Chris Harper, owner of town centre pet shop Podgy Paws says: ‘So many of Keswick’s shops, cafes, pubs, taxis and accommodation providers welcome dogs. Some provide complimentary treats and towels, a couple of pubs and a hotel even have a dog menu. They realise they are part of a family.’

There’s a lot of history and tradition too – not least the Keswick Reminder, the town’s newspaper, which still retains time-honoured broadsheet format and its original Old English title typeface which has been used since the paper was founded in 1896. Editor Jane Grave, whose great grandfather launched the paper, says: ‘The Reminder has always been totally ingrained in the local community. People queue at our release time of 4pm each Thursday for their weekly Reminder “fix”.’

The discovery of graphite in the Borrowdale Valley in the 1500s allowed Keswick to lay claim to the title of ‘home of the world’s first pencil’ – and the fact the town is home to The Pencil Museum is something that never fails to raise a smile.

That popular tourist attraction is currently undergoing repairs following the floods of December 2015 and is due to reopen in June. Storm Desmond hit Keswick’s homes and businesses hard but it has already bounced back.

Visitors may not immediately spot the damage - particularly in the countryside – but the destruction has led to a major fundraising campaign by the National Trust. It owns and manages a lot of landmarks, including the iconic Derwent Island and Friar’s Crag, a popular lakeside walk, both of which were eroded by Derwentwater’s pounding waves.

Jessie Binns, of the National Trust, says: ‘There were 23 landslides in Borrowdale and Newlands Valley alone. As a charity we’re faced with the choice of postponing other important conservation projects or trying to raise extra funds through donations.

‘Flood water created deep trenches in some of our most popular paths – the terrace route up the Catbells fell and the path to the Bowder Stone, a mysterious giant rock located in the valley south of the town, were two which were badly damaged. At Watendlath, the 800-year-old bridge slumped and cracked and is now being supported by scaffolding.’ To donate to the fundraising appeal visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/lakes-donate

The great outdoors is a driving factor for many, which is no surprise to the town centre manager Joe Broomfield. The council is a supporter of the Lake District’s first on-road long distance triathlon, The Lakesman, which starts and finishes in Keswick on 19 June.

Joe says: ‘Keswick really is the Adventure Capital. There’s fantastic access to Derwentwater and the surrounding fells, and, on the occasional day when the weather isn’t great, we even have an ice-climbing wall. Keswick is a must-visit town.’

Keswick’s population was less than 5,000 in the 2011 census, but you can get lost in the back streets, where many of the guest houses and hotels are located. And, as many people are coming to the area to experience the outdoors, camping is popular. Castlerigg Hall Caravan and Camping Park, which commands amazing views of the town and the lake, received national acclaim this year when it was highly commended in the Visit England Awards.

Those who prefer a more sedate social life are more likely to head to the traditional Alhambra Cinema, or the acclaimed Theatre by the Lake, which draws fans from across the UK and beyond. Shows include nine of its own productions each year with a resident company of actors, plus performances by visiting theatre, music and dance companies. It also hosts festivals of literature, jazz, film and mountains, including the annual Words by the Water event.

After a season there, actress Amy Humphreys summed up the town: ‘On my return home to London after the season had ended, for many months I pined for the mountains and the freedom they had afforded me. The next time I visit Keswick, you’ll have to prise the anorak off my back.’

High hopes for festival

Lovers of the great outdoors will be putting on their hiking boots and heading to Keswick this month for the town’s famous Mountain Festival.

It is based in Crow Park and runs from May 19-22 and thousands will be attracted by outdoor activities, well-known speakers, such as broadcaster Julia Bradbury and Olympian James Cracknell, sporting events, camping and live music in the evenings.

There will be several hikes, such as Blencathra by Moonlight, gorge scrambling, rock climbing, fell racing, open water swimming and triathlons

Keswick Mountain Festival and the National Trust are raising £25,000 for urgent work on Cat Bells which suffered extensive damage to its paths in Storm Desmond.

To find out more go to www.keswickmountainfestival.co.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ever wondered how Clitheroe Castle got that huge hole in its tower? John Lenehan might have the answer after this walk from Sabden.

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks

Overseas royalty and fashion designers have fallen in love with a not so humble Lancashire horse blanket made on the moors above Darwen.

Read more

While many people head north towards the Lake District for walking, the city of Lancaster has plenty on offer for ramblers.

Read more
Lancaster Canals
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The trail of storm devastation wreaked on Lancashire’s Beacon Fell has cleared the way for a new era of care for our countryside, writes Cathy Darby.

Read more
Friday, June 1, 2018

You don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy a perfect summer holiday. Here’s a round-up of some fantastic destinations across the region.

Read more
Thursday, May 31, 2018

Children now spend less time playing in nature than their parents did, The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Molly Toal discusses

Read more
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

There are few finer thing than exploring the countryside surrounding the many rivers situated across the county.

Read more
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hearty breakfasts and delicious dinners are just two reasons for walking in this stunning area, as John Lenehan discovers

Read more
Bowland Walks
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Victoria Smith always loved horses but her high pressure job meant she had little time to ride – until she met a deer in the Forest of Bowland

Read more
Equestrian
Monday, May 14, 2018

Developments underway and planned around the city are celebrating its proud heritage and building for the future

Read more
Preston
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

For almost 25 years, outdoor writers and photographers Dennis and Jan Kelsall have produced guides and articles covering many of the country’s popular walking destinations. Here, Dennis picks five of his favourites.

Read more
Lancaster
Friday, May 4, 2018

Ramsbottom is well known for its food and drink scene, but Rebekka O’Grady meets some arty residents that will inspire your creative side.

Read more
Ramsbottom
Thursday, May 3, 2018

A devastating riding accident may have saved Katherine Beaumont from a life of anxiety and stress. Now she is sharing her experience.

Read more
Equestrian

A unique community musical in Wigan is taking one of George Orwell’s most famous works from the page to the stage and making a song and dance about social inequality.

Read more
Wigan
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search