Cycle route from Borrowdale Club site

A relatively flat – by Lake District standards anyway! – cycle route around Derwent Water and Keswick from Borrowdale Club site.

When the legendary guidebook writer, Alfred Wainwright, described the Jaws of Borrowdale as “the loveliest square mile in Lakeland”, it pays to listen. Squeezed between Castle Crag and Grange Fell, the valley at the southern tip of Derwent Water marks the start of this spectacular Lake District ride. 

Plotting cycling routes in the notoriously hilly national park that don’t involve heart-stopping climbs is a tough task. The lakes aren’t man-made reservoirs with convenient perimeter trails, and pedalling from one valley to the next typically involves a gruelling battle against gravity. 

This ride does feature some ascents but remains well within the bounds of the achievable and its rewards are rich as it circumnavigates Derwent Water. The whisper-quiet road along the west of the lake offers spellbinding views over St Herbert’s Island, Lord’s Island and Derwent Isle to Keswick and the brooding lump of Skiddaw on the northern horizon. To the west towers the heavenly ridge of Cat Bells, one of the finest walks in the Lake District. 

Potential refreshment stops (and shelter from the elements) are plentiful, including in the bustling town of Keswick, before the return route along the busier B5289 follows the eastern shoreline. There may be more traffic on the east side of the lake but the waterside views across Derwent are just as beautiful, while the panorama to the rocky flanks of Castlerigg and Ashness fells is utterly captivating. If there’s any space left in your phone’s memory for more photos and selfies, the small stone bridge over the River Derwent at Grange is achingly pretty. 

At just over 10 miles this isn’t a long or unduly challenging ride and for a taste of Lakeland without heading off road it’s hard to beat. 

You can download this route from our dedicated Strava page here.


1 From Borrowdale Club site turn right and start a steady uphill climb. When the road levels out the views over Derwent Water are terrific. Continue for almost 3km. 

2 2.8km – Follow the road around a hairpin bend to the right, following signs for Portinscale and Keswick. Continue towards Portinscale, passing Derwent Water Marina on the right. 

3 5.6km –When the road bends left about 300m beyond the marina, turn right following the C2C 71 sign. The road is signalled as a dead end but it’s open to cyclists. Continue past the Derwent Water Hotel and Derwent Manor to the end of the road and cross the white pedestrian suspension bridge over the river (dismount on the bridge) to reach a T-junction. 

4 6.3km – Turn right at the junction towards Keswick and enter the town along Main Street. At the first roundabout there’s a choice of two routes: A) For refreshments and a potter around Keswick, go straight ahead at the roundabout. When the road turns 90 degrees left, go straight ahead into the pedestrianised market area of the town. To rejoin the route turn right along Derwent Close, then left at the T-junction signposted to Borrowdale B5289. Continue to a roundabout. B) To avoid stopping, turn right at the first roundabout and stay on the B5289 as it bends left around the centre of the town. Continue to a roundabout. 

5 7.9km – Go straight over the roundabout to reach a second roundabout in 200m. Turn right at the roundabout, signposted to Borrowdale and Grange. Stay on this road for almost 6km. After passing the Leathes Head Hotel on the left, continue for another 600m and look out for a bridge on the right, opposite a bus stop.

6 14.3km – Turn right across the bridge, signposted to Grange and Newlands, and follow the road for almost 2km to return to Borrowdale Club site on the right. 

About the route 

  • Start/finish: Borrowdale Club site, Manesty, Keswick CA12 5UG.
  • Distance: 10 miles/16km.
  • Time: 90 minutes (plus time to visit Keswick). 
  • Level: Suitable for adult cyclists. This is a short route but it does climb a total of 290m along the way, including one steepish hill. The traffic on the B5289 can be busy in peak season. 
  • Terrain: Asphalt all the way. A road bike, e-bike or hybrid is ideal. 
  • Landscape: In a word – stunning! Lake District fells, Derwent Water, Atlantic oak forest and the beautiful Jaws of Borrowdale valley. 
  • Refreshments: Lingholm Kitchen, Portinscale; Derwent Water Hotel, Portinscale; lots of pubs and cafés in Keswick; Borrowdale Hotel; Grange Bridge Cottage Teashop, Grange. 

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