Things to do around Bassenthwaite – a gem-hunter’s guide

Bassenthwaite Lake
Bassenthwaite Lake

Just a short distance north of Keswick you’ll come across Bassenthwaite Lake, a four-mile long lake, and the most northerly major stretch of water in the Lake District.

Things to do around Bassenthwaite

On the eastern shore, the Forestry Commission’s Dodd Wood is famous for its ospreys and woodland walks at the foot of Skiddaw, and you can also enjoy lunch at the Old Sawmill Tearoom, which I really enjoyed when I visited recently.

The Old Sawmill Tearoom at Dodd Wood
The Old Sawmill Tearoom at Dodd Wood

Mirehouse, a stately home situated on the opposite side of the road to Dodd Wood, is also really worth a visit. It opens on selected days, but the grounds and gardens are open every day, with adventure areas suitable for youngsters of all ages, and magnificent walks around the grounds and to the shores of Bassenthwaite and St Bega’s Church.

Mirehouse stately home, Bassenthwaite Lake
Mirehouse, as stately home with fabulous grounds and intriguing gardens
St Bega's Church on the shores of Bassenthwaite
St Bega’s Church on the shores of Bassenthwaite

On the western shore of Bassenthwaite Lake lies Whinlatter Forest, managed by the Forestry Commision, and England’s only true mountain forest. Here you’ll find walking and cycling routes and, for the really adventurous amongst us, one of two Go Ape centres in the Lake District.

From the edge of the Whinlatter Forest from the Whinlatter Pass
From the edge of the Whinlatter Forest on the Whinlatter Pass

A walk from Braithwaite along the Coledale valley (external link) brings you to the Force Crag Mine processing mill, which shut down in 1990 following a collapse underground – you can take a tour of the processing mill with the National Trust on just five dates each year.

National Trust Force Crag Mine processing mill at the head of the Coledale valley above Braithwaite, Keswick
The Force Crag Mine processing mill, which belongs to the National Trust and is situated at the head of the Coledale valley

On your way along the Whinlatter Pass from the village of Braithwaite, you’ll come across the Noble Knott car park on your left-hand side and viewpoint looking back over Bassenthwaite on your right. There’s often an ice cream van here, and it makes a stunning photo opportunity while you’re passing

From Noble Knott car park overlooking Bassenthwaite, Dodd Wood and Skiddaw
From the viewpoint opposite Noble Knott car park, overlooking Bassenthwaite, Dodd Wood and Skiddaw

At the northern tip of Bassenthwaite you’ll come across a more recent edition to the Lake District’s visitor attractions, the Lakes Distillery. The distillery was once a Victorian cattle farm, which has been stunningly redeveloped.

Here you can take a choice of guided tours with an additional optional tutored tasting experience. You can also buy a ‘Meet the Alpacas‘ experience, and stop for lunch, afternoon tea or an evening meal at the Bistro at the Distillery.

Vodka and gin products from the Lakes Distillery, Bassenthwaite Lake
Vodka and gin products from the Lakes Distillery

I’m still exploring Bassenthwaite, so hope to add more detail to this particular guide in the future. If I’ve missed one of your favourite Lake District gems around Bassenthwaite, do leave your recommendation in the comments below and I’ll do my best to include it in future revisions of this information!