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Our first epic rowing boat hire on Derwent Water from Keswick

Rowing on Derwent water from Keswick

We knew we had wanted to try a rowing boat on Derwent Water for a while. But we’d been too busy climbing the Wainwrights around the Lake District. So rowing on the Lake, gazing at the towering Fells as we rowed beneath them. This was something we’d leave for a cloudy day. Or a more relaxed day to try it, and boy did we find the perfect cloudy day.

We’ve never been in a rowing boat on Derwent Water before

So we’d climbed the Wainwrights around Derwent Water before. From Cat Bells, Skiddaw, Latrigg, Barrow, to Castle Crag. And from the tops of each, we’d taken in the beautiful sight of the Lake of Derwent Water. Each time looking upon the glistening waters and wondering when the day would come when we’d finally be rowing amongst them all.

We’d walked numerous times around the Lake of Derwent Water. And watched as the couples and families rowed their way across the lake. And we’d heard laughter as people had fumbled about trying to get to grips with the rowing process after they had hired a boat from Keswick.

We’d watched happily at couples going off into the low sun gazing into each other’s eyes. We knew this was a different experience for everyone and we wanted to give it a go ourselves. Especially while we were in the Lake District.

Check the weather in the Lake District

Our rowing boat hire experience on Derwent Water or any other water

Haha, so our experience of rowing on any kind of water was a big fat zero. Absolutely no experience previous at all. But hey, life is for living and so living we shall do. So let me share with you our own experience of hiring a rowing boat on Derwent Water.

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Starting our day climbing Latrigg, then heading down towards Derwent Water

As we stood at the peak of Latrigg and looked down that morning over Derwent Water we both had a thought. Maybe today was that day in the Lake District. We could see the clouds coming in and the views disappearing. We knew we wouldn’t be climbing any more. So what better thing to do. It was still incredibly warm without the sunshine and we didn’t want to go back to the flat any time soon. So that was the decision made. With every step coming down off Latrigg our excitement grew for the rowing boat experience on Derwent Water to commence.

We were both talking about how we are going to row (absolute beginners in the field). And doing hand movements to see if it matched what we thought in our heads. After some good giggles and some dodgy looks from passers-by, we were well on our way back into Keswick.

Looking down to Derwent Water from Latrigg Fell in the Lake District
Looking down to Derwent Water and Keswick from Latrigg

Making our way down to Derwent Water to hire our rowing boat

Keswick is such a beautiful town that seems to hold everything you might need. For this day itself, we didn’t need any further supplies. And so we continued to head straight down to the lake of Derwent Water. For anyone that doesn’t know the way, either keep looking for the signposts, grab a map of Keswick itself (which there are places you can pick one up), or simply follow the hoards of other people.

Map from Latrigg to Keswick - Derwent Water
Map of our route from Latrigg through Keswick to Derwent Water

We passed Hope Park and hit the car park at Derwent Water. This is also where the Theatre By The Lakes is located. From there we knew we weren’t far off from the most nervous part of our break in the Lake District so far. Could this be the day when we didn’t even move from the shoreline in the rowing boat that we were about the hire? Can you actually flood out the rowing boats on Derwent Water? We weren’t sure if we were going to be laughed at. Could we in fact be pros at rowing in little boats on random bodies of water? Let’s find out, shall we?

How much to hire a rowing boat on Derwent Water

Once past the Theatre by the Lakes and the gate for the lakeside views over Derwent Water. We continued down towards the lake itself. If you are in need of toilet facilities then there are some public toilets just at the side of the Theatre. Ahead though were the jetties and the rowing boats sat ready to be hired by the next wandering tourist. We have actually bought a picture of this very scene in the Lake District. As it is, without a doubt, one of the most majestic places we have been.

Lake Derwent at Keswick Launch, ready to get rowing
Lake Derwent at Keswick Launch, taken on a different day

We’ve spent many an evening sat either down at the lakeshore of Derwent Water watching the sunset. Or at Friars Crag (just keep walking past the rowing boats for hire and you’ll hit it). Whenever we head back to the Lake District for a holiday, this is always the first place we go. It’s like a calling for us. And I’m sure once you’ve been or if you’ve already been, then you’ll appreciate why.

So after seeing the usual geese and ducks around the entrance to the Lake of Derwent Water we went into the little wooden hut. Here we paid for the hour, £15, and we had a whole hour to get to grips with the rowing boat that was now hired and ready to go. OK, we can do this we thought.

Realised we were rowing backwards in our hired boat

As we nervously waited to be called forward into the rowing boat that we had just hired, we looked across Derwent Water. Towards the island in the middle with the house on. It’s always looked like a lovely house from what we can see from the shore but we were excited to see it in a closer light. Could we row all the way around it in time?

Then we were waved at and given life jackets to wear and helped into our very own hired rowing boat at Keswick. As it rocked about it matched our nerves at that very second. We looked at each other with trepidation on our faces and couldn’t wait to be out of view from the onlookers. The man wished us a good hour and pushed us out onto Derwent Water as we held the oars out of the water.

Zoe rowing On Derwent Water
Zoe rowing on Derwent Water, near Keswick in the Lake District

The waves bounced around the sides of the rowing boat we’d hired and we got into places with the oars. Placing them back into the water and trying to find a rhythm that worked. We were moving, if slowly but we were moving. And who cares how quick or slow when you’ve got those views around the Lake District.

The clouds moving in on Derwent Water

From the offset of rowing our little boat on Derwent Water, we could see the Fells around us. Although they were starting the disappear into the cloud that seemed to be coming in thick and fast.

Rowing on Derwent water in our hired rowing boat. Looking across the Lake District
Looking over Derwent Water and South over the Lake District.

It wasn’t long before we realised we were in fact rowing backwards haha, and when this was re-organised we were flying. It is an absolutely wonderful experience to be floating on the Lake of Derwent Water. The clouds were really coming in now and the temperature was dropping slightly but it was still mild. Luckily Zoe had her coat at the ready. Unluckily, I didn’t haha.

Fantastic views from our rowing boat on Derwent Water

Towering above us we could just see Walla Crag (another fantastic small Wainwright to climb with views to die for), and of course, Latirgg where we’d been just an hour beforehand. It still amazes us how far you can travel in such a small amount of time, especially in the Lake District.

Views back up to Latrigg while we were rowing on Derwent Water
Views back up to Latrigg while we were rowing in our hire boat on Derwent Water

We could briefly see Catbells in amongst the clouds. You’ll have to take our word that on a good day you’d see the Wainwrights much clearer.

But where was Castle Crag at the end of Derwent Water?

As we rowed further into the midst of Derwent Water the views from behind closed up. Where Castle Crag should be standing at the very far end was in fact nothing. The weather was taking a real turn for the worst and most of all it wasn’t just behind us any more. Everywhere was disappearing into a mist that once hit us, soaked us. Zoe’s coat did in fact come in very handy here.

True Freedom Seekers enjoying their time in the Lake District
Hazel and Zoe rowing on Derwent Water in their hire boat from Keswick, in the rain.

We were so keen to see Castle Crag and the other surrounding Fells but they were all but gone in the blink of an eye. And we weren’t sure quite what to do with ourselves. Keep rowing or stop. I mean we weren’t going to out row the rain that had already hit us. We were on Derwent Water getting absolutely soaked and yet we found this truly hilarious. We were having the best of times and our smiles weren’t fading like the Wainwright’s around us.

Can't see anything from the rain in the Lake District
Raining on Lake Derwent Water, can’t see anything….

Alfred Wainwright on Castle Crag

Castle Crag is a strange little Fell in the Lake District. It stands at just below 300m in height and many get confused as to why it is even written about in Alfred Wainwrights Pictorial guide to the Lakeland Fells. Although when you read the below quote by the man himself, it’s clear to see why he loved this little Fell so much.

Castle Crag is so magnificently independent, so ruggedly individual, so aggressively unashamed of its lack of inches.”

Alfred Wainwright

Once the rain had passed, which was only for a couple of minutes everything burst back into life. The summits from the surrounding Fells attempted to look down on us again and the house in the middle of the island was in view. We were coming around it and making our way back to the jetty point. Between the two of us swapping around with the oars we were making good progress and thoroughly enjoying our first time on Lake of Derwent Water in our hired rowing boat.

Arriving back at the Lakeshore of Derwent Water in our rowing boat

Hazel rowing on Derwent Water in our hire boat
Hazel rowing on Derwent Water in our hire boat

Our backpacks were soaking wet but luckily the rain hadn’t lasted all that long at all. The man took control of the hired rowing boat as we rowed it back in and he steadied it for us to get out. You could tell from the wide smile on his face he was thinking the same as us. What a time to get onto Derwent Water and row into the middle of the lake, just in time for a power shower to come down on us.

We walked away with some very soggy bottoms and onwards towards the car. We wanted to get back to the flat to dry off properly. Of course, you can always stop in at the cafe by the Lakes in Keswick where they do delicious cakes and hot drinks. But for us, drying off and moving was the top priority.

A perfect rowing boat hire trip for anyone

All in all, it was a truly unforgettable experience and the rain made it even more fun. Next time a sunny experience would be nice (and no soggy bottoms). But we’ll take what we were indeed given, and put it in the memory bank. Whenever we’re together it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s always eventful somehow.

Zoe still happy in our rowing boat
Zoe on Derwent Water, Rowing

Go on, put rowing on your list of things to do in the Keswick area. Derwent Water will firstly amaze you and then add on this unforgettable experience too.

And if you ever walk past the jetties and the Lakeside of Derwent Water and are thinking about rowing. Then do, give it a go and see how far you can get in an hour or so. You can always stop off at some of the other islands if you want to, and explore them too. It’s a good laugh and passes the time if you’re even looking to spend an extra hour here or there.

If you have any photo’s or experiences to share then please feel free to drop us a comment. Speak soon. Also check out our gallery to see some more photos of our adventure in the Lake District, including attempt two of rowing on Derwent Water.

Other rowing boats for hire in the Lake District

And if you enjoyed that one then why not check out some other areas to row in. The Lake District offers a huge range of rowing experiences on many of its Lakes. The photo below is at Ullswater Steamers, Glenridding.

Getting on the Steamer at Glenridding Ullswater

See all the other Lakes you can have a rowing experience on

WindermereSelf drive boat hireCruises

AmblesideRowing boat hire

ConistonRowing boat hireCruises

GrasmereRowing boat hire

UllswaterRowing boat hireSteamers

Derwent WaterRowing boat hireCruises

Or if you’re really into sailing then why not check out Bassenthwaite Sailing Club for a fun family day out on the Lakes. Above all, most have the steamers or cruises that will take you across the Lakes too. No rowing required if you’d rather sit back and enjoy the views. Just check the timetables out and arrive with plenty of time to enjoy the views and get comfortable. Some also have stopping off places where you can then walk back around their Lake. Either way, it’s an extremely fun way to see the surrounding areas and a different way to travel.

Photo of True Freedom Seekers in the Lake District for earnings disclosure page

True Freedom Seekers

Hazel and Zoe

We hope you find our walks and adventures in the Lake District helpful. And we wish you much fun and success on bagging the Wainwrights yourself. If you want to share any stories with us then please feel free to. Have a super day.

5 thoughts on “Our first epic rowing boat hire on Derwent Water from Keswick”

  1. Yikes, crazy Julianna. Frustrating to say the least but you go! Love your attitude. Inspiring. And hopefully the last of it all for a good long time. Laurel Inglis Hayden

    1. Thank you for your comment. Glad you liked the post and feel free to check out the other ones or subscribe to see our latest blogs 😀 Take care.

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