We know we are biased but Derwentwater is a lovely valley, the best. If you choose to explore it by car we would suggest that you drive along the north shore. To do this leave Hazelmere turning right and then at the road junction turn left. Just after the Co-Operative store on the left as you get towards the town centre there is a small mini roundabout and you go right there (on the B5289 signed to Borrowdale) and follow the road on around the corner, past the car park and past the sign for the Theatre by the Lake. Go right at the next junction (it is, in fact the only way you can go here!). The road goes along the shore of Derwentwater and you can, perhaps, stop to stroll by the Lakeshore at Great Wood (a favourite walk when the bluebells are out in Walla Crag Woods). Take time to go up to Ashness Bridge, turn left when you reach the section where the road is beside the lakeshore, immediately before Barrow House Youth Hostel. The road is narrow and steep in places. Ashness Bridge has a car park just beyond; the view from the bridge towards Keswick is a classic one and can be found on many postcards. A little further up the road there is another car park by Surprise View, again well worth a stop. The view is magnificent as you stand on a cliff top over the Lodore Woods looking out over Derwentwater and towards Bassenthwaite in the West.
Keep on driving up through the woods (where some massive ant hills can be found in the summer months) and the land opens out again into the lovely valley of Watendlath. At the far end of the valley there is a lovely little tarn from which you can walk on up into the hills or just relax in the tea gardens where, on sunny days, you can sit outside and share delicious home baked rock cakes with a variety of small birds who will feed from the table, and sometimes from your hand. We love coming up here in the evenings when you can often see deer in the fields near the road.
Returning back down to the road continue your journey along the lake shore, possibly stopping at Kettlewell Car Park to walk to the Lodore Falls – awesome after heavy rain. You can also pay a small amount to park at the Lodore Hotel and walk to the falls which is much closer. From here, if you’ve not much time, you may turn into the village of Grange over the double pack horse bridge, and return to Keswick on the Cat bells terrace road.
However you can continue past the village of Grange on through the “Jaws of Borrowdale” stopping next at the car park at Quayfoot on the left of the road. Just a few hundred yards from this car park is the Bowder Stone a huge boulder weighing about 1,300 tons and laid to rest balanced precariously on its edge. It too is the subject of local postcards and countless people make their way to see it and climb the small ladder to stand on its top.
It is supposed to bring good luck if you shake hands underneath it!