Six reasons to visit Derwent Bank, Northern Lake District

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The stunning setting

Adored by poets, painters, and literary giants for centuries, the Lake District has always had an irresistible pull.The location of Derwent Bank couldn’t be more perfect; to the west is Cat Bells, to the east is Keswick, Walla Crag, and Latrigg, and to the south is the entrance to the Borrowdale valley.


The walking opportunities

Big-name walking attractions within easy reach include Blencathra, Helvellyn, and Ullswater. Also visit-worthy for walkers is the 73-mile-long Cumbria Way for its rugged peaks and plentiful supply of picnic stops, plus Scafell Pike – the highest peak in England at 978 metres above sea level.  

If you’re planning a big family get-together, long overdue catch-up with friends, or company away days, you can exclusively hire Derwent Bank to make the most of being able to spend time together and in the great outdoors, too.

The fascinating history

Originally known as Finkle Street House, the property was built in 1785 for Joseph Pockington Senhouse, the former High Sheriff of Newark. While it is unknown whether he lived here, he was insistent on drawing up his own architectural plans and arranging buildings in rather unsuitable positions. This led his neighbour, the romantic poet Robert Southey, to mock ‘that ugly house opposite’.   

Later renamed Derwent Bank, it was sold in 1824 to Lady William Gordon and again in 1847 to physician Dr David Ross Leitch, a close friend of American writer Ellis Yarnall who remarked on how the mountains ‘seemed to put one in the mood for the poetry’. Derwent Bank had several owners prior to 1925 when it was purchased by Mrs Edmunsen who employed contractors to build the stables, the coach house, and two cottages. It has been part of our HF Holidays lineup since 1937. 

Derwent Bank garden rooms

The rooms with a view

Some of the guest rooms overlook Derwentwater lake (hint: room 12 has extra space and gorgeous views of the gardens and lake) while others face Cat Bells and Grisedale Pike. The designated garden rooms are more relaxing spaces, especially the rooms on the first floor that assure superb views of the lake and the carefully-manicured lawns. All come with balconies that are perfect for those wanting a front-row seat to the scenery.

The superb facilities

Open from February to November and during the festive season, Derwent Bank has 40 well-appointed guest rooms available in three categories: Classic, Premium, and Superior. You’ll also find a comfortable lounge, a licensed bar, an attractive orangery, and a dining room for a wide range of dishes made with fresh and seasonal ingredients. Full-board comes as standard and includes a cream tea on arrival and a hearty breakfast on departure day.   

Elsewhere, the house has a boot and drying room and a Discovery Point offering a wide range of easy-to-follow routes, maps, and local information for self-guided walks. There’s also books and games to borrow during your stay, an outdoor terrace for summer drinks and snacks, and beautiful formal gardens with a putting green, croquet lawn, and mature trees. 

The local sightseeing

Whether you’re enjoying one of our guided or self-guided walking holidays, there’s plenty to see and do within easy travelling distance of Derwent Bank. Here’s some of our favourites:  

Whinlatter Forest: England's only true mountain forest offers nine walking trails, three cycling trails, and unrivalled views across Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater, and Keswick. It’s also home to a Go Ape centre with a high ropes course and an all-terrain segway trail.  

Grasmere: Best known for its William Wordsworth connections, this impossibly pretty village is a 30-minute drive away. Highlights include Grasmere Lake, Allan Bank, and the 17th century Dove Cottage - home to the Wordsworth Museum.  

Ullswater: A 30-minute drive away, this watery wonder is the second largest in the Lake District. Highlights include exploring the lake on foot or by steamer, marvelling at the Aira Force waterfall, and visiting Dalemain Mansion and its beautiful gardens.  

Keswick: Approximately two miles away, this market town is the most northern Lake District town and has a large selection of shops, bars, and restaurants. Don’t miss the community-run Keswick Museum & Art Gallery for objects and exhibits that that reflect life in the local area.  

Theatre by the Lake: Home to Cumbria’s leading professional theatre company, this lottery-funded performance space is located between Hope Park and Derwentwater. The Main House seats 400 while the Studio Theatre is set up for an audience of up to 100. Bookings are recommended.  

Derwentwater Launch Company: Departing every 30 minutes during the summer and regularly throughout the rest of the year, this 50-minute boat trip around Derwentwater is a must. There are various landing stages to disembark. The nearest stop to Derwent Bank is Nichol End, a few minutes’ walk away.  

Honister Slate Mine: A 30-minute drive away, England’s last working slate mine is located at the top of the Honister Pass in Borrowdale. You can watch slate being riven (meaning split or torn apart) using 300-year-old processes and learn about the history of underground mining.  

Derwentwater Marina: Just a five-minute walk away, this is a great spot for hiring canoes, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, rowing boats, and windsurfing equipment. Tuition is also available for individuals and groups.  

Lake District Wildlife Park: Just a 10-minute drive from Keswick, this 24-acre park is home to over 100 species of animals including anaconda, zebra, mandrills, meerkats, otters, gibbons, monkeys, and more. There’s also bird of prey flying displays, reptile encounters, and keeper talks.  

Carlisle: Of all the historic attractions in Cumbria’s county city, the 900-year-old castle where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner is the most famous. Further must-see spots include Carlisle Cathedral, Tullie House Museum, and Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life. 

Our favourite Lake District holidays

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walking holidays in the Northern Lake District, but from Derwent Bank our top picks are the 7-Night Guided Walking and Sightseeing holiday, which takes you to beauty spots like Buttermere and Aira Force and features a boat trip on Ullswater. It’s also the perfect landscape to challenge yourself. On our Scafell Pike Challenge you'll conquer England’s highest summit. Or you can take advantage of Wainwright Fells bagging opportunities, complete with soul-stirring views.

Feeling inspired to explore the picturesque Northern Lake District in 2024? Discover our pick of our fabulous holidays based at Derwent Bank below.

4 Night Gentle Guided Walking

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

7 Night Self-Guided Walking

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

Helvellyn via the Edges Challenge

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

3 Night Guided Walking

Book now or call 020 3974 8865