Derwentwater, or Derwent Water, is one of the principal bodies of water in the Lake District National Park in north west England. It lies wholly within the Borough of Allerdale, in the county of Cumbria.

Derwentwater is located in Lake District
Location in the Lake District
LocationLake District, England
Coordinates54°35′N 3°09′W / 54.583°N 3.150°W / 54.583; -3.150Coordinates: 54°35′N 3°09′W / 54.583°N 3.150°W / 54.583; -3.150
Primary inflowsRiver Derwent, Watendlath Beck, Brockle Beck
Primary outflowsRiver Derwent
Basin countriesUnited Kingdom
Max. length4.6 km (2.9 mi)[1]
Max. width1.91 km (1.19 mi)[1]
Surface area2 sq mi (5.2 km2)
Average depth5.5 m (18 ft)[1]
Max. depth22 m (72 ft)[1]
Water volume29 million cubic metres (1.0×10^9 cu ft)[1]
Residence time55 days[1]
Shore length19.6 mi (15.4 km)
Surface elevation75 metres (246 ft)
Islands4 plus 9 small (13)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

The lake occupies part of Borrowdale and lies immediately south of the town of Keswick. It is both fed and drained by the River Derwent. It measures approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) long by 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and is some 72 feet (22 m) deep. There are several islands within the lake, one of which is inhabited. Derwent Island House, an 18th-century residence, is a tenanted National Trust property open to the public on five days each year.

Derwent Water on a 1925 Ordnance Survey map

Derwentwater is a place of considerable scenic value. It is surrounded by hills (known locally as fells), and many of the slopes facing Derwentwater are extensively wooded. A regular passenger launch operates on the lake, taking passengers between various landing stages. There are seven lakeside marinas, the most popular stops being Keswick, Portinscale and the Lodore Falls, from which boats may be hired. Recreational walking is a major tourist activity in the area and there is an extensive network of footpaths in the hills and woods surrounding the lake.

The Keswick—Borrowdale road runs along the eastern shore of the lake and carries a regular bus service. There is a lesser, or unclassified, road along the western shore connecting the villages of Grange and Portinscale.

Derwentwater gave its name to the Earldom of Derwentwater.

The lake is believed to be the last remaining native habitat of the vendace (Coregonus vandesius) fish from the four originally known sites: Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwentwater in the Lake District, and the Castle Loch & Mill Loch in Lochmaben.[2]


'Derwent' is " '(River) with oak trees', traditionally explained from Brit." (i.e.: Brythonic Celtic) or Cymric Old Welsh, hence Cymria " 'derwā' 'oak' plus suffixes, hence of the same origin as other English rivers named Derwent, Darwen, Darent and Dart...The river gave its name to Derwent Water (which was also known as the 'Lake of Derwent', 'Keswick Lake', or 'Keswick Water' in the 18th-19th centuries)...".[3] Plus "OE 'wæter', with the meaning probably influenced by its ON relative 'vatn'."[4]

Derwentwater's islandsEdit

There are numerous islands in Derwentwater, the largest being Derwent Island, Lord's Island, St Herbert's Island, Rampsholme Island, Park Neb, Otter Island, and Otterbield Island. St. Herbert's Island is named after a C. 7th priest hermit, St. Herbert of Derwentwater.

National Trust centenary stonesEdit

At Calfclose Bay on the shore of the lake is a sculpture by Peter Randall-Page,[5] commissioned by the National Trust in 1995 to commemorate the centenary of its founding. It was made from a large boulder of volcanic Borrowdale stone, sawn in half with each face carved into ten segments in a fan arrangement.[6]


Derwentwater from the northern shore near Keswick
A panoramic view of Derwentwater from Cat Bells on the western side

Image galleryEdit

In LiteratureEdit

Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poetical illustration Derwent Water is attached to a plate of Derwent Water, from the Castle Head, Cumberland (artist Thomas Allom) in Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book, 1837.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g McNamara, Jane, Table of lake facts, Environment Agency of England and Wales, archived from the original on June 28, 2009, retrieved 2007-11-13
  2. ^ "Ice Age fish thrives in new home". BBC News. 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  3. ^ Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx, 423 p.95. ISBN 0904889726.
  4. ^ Whaley, 2006, p.422
  5. ^ "Hundred Year Stone". Peter Randall-Page. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  6. ^ "The National Trust Centenary Stone from Keswick". WalkLakes. Retrieved 7 August 2019.

External linksEdit