Keswick Boat Landings and Friars Crag

For Lake District photographers, both Keswick boat landings and Friars Crag are two of those iconic must visit places. John Ruskin, the Victorian art critic, social thinker and philanthropist described the view from Friars Crag as one of the 3 most beautiful in Europe. With easy access from the town, it’s an ideal place to visit and re-visit to capture those fleeting moments when the light turns a beautiful scene into an extraordinary one.

How To Get Here

On foot: From the Moot Hall in the town centre follow Lake Road to Fishers outdoor shop. Turn right before the shop and go down the street. Follow the footpath through the underpass towards the lakeshore.

By car: there is a pay and display car park close to the lakeshore for the Theatre by the Lake.

Parking

What to Shoot and Viewpoints

Opposite the theatre entrance there is a gate leading onto the grassy hill of Crow Park.

Viewpoint 1

The views from Crow Park are exceptional. From the top of the hill you can look back over town with the bulk of Skiddaw looming behind. From the lakeshore there are great views down the lake past the islands to Borrowdale and Newlands Valleys. Use the gate and fenceline to draw the viewer into the scene. Panoramas work well here, especially when there is no wind and good reflections. On a still autumn morning you can’t go wrong here.

Viewpoint 2

Below the theatre on the lakeshore you will find a line up of rowing boats and the jetties used by the launches for tours around Derwentwater. This is a good place to visit at sunset, the rich evening light enhancing the colour of the beautiful wooden rowing boats. The launches themselves, named Lady Derwentwater and Annie Mellor, make great subjects too with a backdrop of Catbells or Causey Pike. Try taking a symmetrical photograph looking straight down the jetty with the mountains behind. From the farthest jetty there is a great view down Borrowdale, some old jetty posts add foreground interest.

Viewpoint 3

A short walk beyond the boat landings takes you past a monument to John Ruskin and brings you to the rocky promontory of Friars Crag. The outlook from here is stunning, a bench overlooks the lake and view up Borrowdale. Try a wide angle shot with the pines framing the composition and the bench in silhouette by metering off the background. On a still morning look for reflections.

Viewpoint 4

The classic view of Friars Crag is taken from just beyond as you continue along the lakeshore. On the far side of the small sheltered bay, the shallow water here is great for reflections of Friars Crag with Catbells and Causey Pike behind. A fence festooned with lake weed makes a great foreground looking straight down to the Jaws of Borrowdale.

Accessibility

Launches sail alternate directions every half hour. There is a reduced timetable from November to March so check timetables online or collect a leaflet from the lakeshore ticket office or Tourist Information Centre in Keswick. The launches were typically built in the 1930s so do not have facilities for loading or carrying wheelchairs. The walk around the lake is on good footpaths, only the part from the boat landings to Friars Crag is wheelchair-friendly.

Best Time of Year/Day

The best time to visit is the autumn for the colours or during a very cold and snowy wintry spell but any time of year is good here. More important is the time of day. Because you are primarily looking south, in the middle of the day the sun will be directly in front. Better to come here early or late in the day when the light is from the side and shadows are longer.