Even by Lake District standards Borrowdale is blessed with more than its fair share of places to enjoy water sports. For its enduring beauty across the seasons Derwent Water has gained the title “The Queen of the Lakes”, while the rivers and becks that feed it are rich and diverse in their nature. All this adds up to a perfect playground for those that like to either paddle or swim.
For canoeists there are lots of bays and islands on the lake to explore, or on moving water the River Derwent from Grange oﬀers an easy descent. For swimmers the lakes bays oﬀer the best option, while for those with a sense of adventure the plunge pools at Stonethwaite Beck are the place to head.
Canoeing around Borrowdale
River Derwent canoe descent | Grade 1
Start: Grange Bridge, GR NY253174.
Finish Options: Kettlewell, GR NY267195, Great Wood Car Park GR NY271214.
If you have your own canoe or kayak, you can launch at: Kettlewell GR NY267195 & Great Wood Car Park GR NY271214 (involves short portage).
Hire a Canoe or Kayak:
NT Shop, Derwent Water, tel. 017687 73780
Keswick Canoe and Bushcraft
Derwent Water Marina, Portinscale, tel.017687 72912, Derwent Water Marina
Nichol End Marine, Portinscale, tel.017687 73082 or visit Nichol End Marine
Plattyplus, Lodore, tel.017687 76572, Plattyplus
Wild Swimming around Borrowdale
Wild Swimming in the Lake
Calfclose Bay (shallow) or the narrow, steeply shelving beaches under Falcon Crag, are good swimming places. The lake bed shelves so it’s easy to get in and out of the water. Access on foot from Great Wood car park or layby under Falcon Crag.
Wild Swimming in rivers
There are lots of options around the valley but the two best locations to explore ﬁrst are Smithymire Island and Blackmoss Pot in the Langstrath valley.
Both require a bit of a walk to reach but both are set in stunning locations:
Smithymire Island | Langstrath, GR NY272131
Alight bus or park at Stonethwaite, walk past the Langstrath Hotel, follow the path SE along the river and through the campsite to the waterfall and pools.
Blackmoss Pot | Langstrath, GR NY267113
Blackmoss Pot lies a further 2km along Langstrath. To reach it, follow the Langstrath beck south into the wide open valley. The pool is on your left as you come through the last wall-gate.
Borrowdale is home to some fantastic wildlife. Spot red squirrels in Johnny Wood, situated between Rosthwaite and Seatoller, and make sure you bring your binoculars to catch up with the Peregrines at Falcon Crag (just above the B5289 south of Keswick). Borrowdale is also home to incredible views, popular walks and of course the National Trust Shop at the northern end of Derwent Water.
Visit Keswick.org for places to stay in the north Lakes.