Newest Review: ... town felt safe and even late on a Friday and Saturday night I was there, there was no real sight of trouble in the town centre. The touri... more
Keswick, town to visit in Cumbria
Keswick in general
Member Name: julwhite
Keswick in general
Advantages: Friendly and welcoming to tourists
Disadvantages: No rail link, few hotel chains (for those that like them)
Keswick is a town in Cumbria, near to Derwent Water and nearly entirely surrounded by hills. I stayed here for three days during the off-peak season, and so this review is written from a tourist's point of view.
I stayed in a guest house in the town, which was near to the centre. Car parking for the large number of tourists that visit the small town can be quite difficult in busy periods in the residential areass near to the guest houses, but is more tolerable if you're shopping in the town and can park a little further out.
The local population is swelled considerably in the peak months with tourists, who come to explore the Lake District, whether it be cycling, walking, caving, or just to visit the beautiful lakes themselves. The town is very tourist orientated, there are lots of restaurants and pubs in the town centre as well as a good number of outdoor clothing and accessories shops.
The local population, who must by now be very used to tourists, seemed from my experience to be very friendly and welcoming. The town felt safe and even late on a Friday and Saturday night I was there, there was no real sight of trouble in the town centre.
The tourist trade means that the restaurants and pubs can be quite busy, and I found that the quality was generally consistently good. Although there is a good choice of pubs, the Packhorse was one to be noted, as although they did run short on real ales during my visit, down to just one from their usual three, the pub was friendly and had a good ambience.
There are food outlets and restaurants to suit most tastes, from cheap and cheerful fish and chip shops with seating areas, through to pub meals, cheap restaurants through to more expensive dining establishments. There is also, I'm happy to report, a Greggs in the town centre to provide some day-time snacks!
There is a market in the town, which was operating on the Saturday i visited, which is in the centre. This was a relatively bustling affair, with a range of both local, and some rather more generic, offerings. There are areas in the market place to sit, and there are easily accessible and generally well looked after toilets just off the market place.
The weather that I experienced during my time in Keswick was very sunny, despite the time of year, and this certainly made the views of the hills and mountains near the town all the more special. Derwent Water is just outside of the town, and there are some lovely walks in the area, ranging from both easy to more challenging.
Although I suspect that most tourists use Keswick just as a base to explore the Lake District from, there are a few museums in the town that are of interest, which include the Optical Illusion museum, the James Bond museum and the pencil museum. Although I didn't visit these, the reports back where that they were interesting and well worth a visit, especially if the weather isn't so good!
In terms of place to stay in the town, this is predominantly a town where guest houses, bed and breakfasts and small hotels are the best place to stay. There are very few national chains of hotel either in the town or nearby, and the abundance of guest houses does seem to add to the character of the town.
If you do want to book accommodation in the town, it is best to do so as soon as you can, especially if you wanted to book in the peak season. Lots of the bed and breakfasts are booked well in advance, so you may struggle trying to book at short notice. There is also a three week Christian conference in the town in the summer each year, which adds further pressure to the town's range of accommodation.
Getting to the town is relatively easy by car, and the routes in an out of the town seemed to be well marked. I didn't use the bus services, but they seemed to be quite frequent, and gave passengers access to the walking centres of the Lake District as well as local towns. Unfortunately there is no train access, as the station closed during the railway cut-backs around forty years ago.
Overall, this is a very friendly town and I enjoyed my three day stay. The locals seemed welcoming to tourists, the town is geared up for tourists and there is a good choice of places for visitors and locals in the town to go. I will definitely consider returning to continue my exploration of the Lake District!
Summary: Beautiful town, lots of history and very friendly