Dec 13

Friar’s Crag: A perfect Lake District view

by in Cumbria, Outdoors, Walking

“The first thing which I remember as an event in life was being taken by my nurse to the brow of Friar’s Crag on Derwentwater.”  Victorian art critic and philanthropist John Ruskin described this view as one of the three most beautiful in Europe.  Friar’s Crag is a one of the most popular places to visit in the Lake District, and it really is easy to understand why. It’s a small and perfectly-formed promontory floating out above one of Cumbria’s loveliest lakes, Derwentwater.

 Friar's Crag Derwentwater

A short, easy stroll to Friar’s Crag from Keswick town centre takes only 15 minutes; no problem for pushchairs and wheelchairs.  Wandering by the shore, huge swans demand to be fed and graceful old rowing boats wait to be taken out for a ride. The Crag may be familiar to Arthur Ransome fans as Darien, the children’s lookout point in ‘Swallows and Amazons’. It’s said to have got its name because monks used to leave from this point to get to St. Herbert’s Island where a hermit lived. There are old trees and a seat to give protection when it rains.  On a bright day the sunlight glitters across to lake in a shattering of diamonds.

 Derwent Isle

There are stunning views across the lake to Derwent Isle, once owned by the very eccentric 18th century entrepreneur Joseph Pocklington, who used to hold mock battles and horse races on rafts around the lake.

Regular ferries taking passengers around the lake; Brandlehow Woods can be seen across the water; it was the very first property acquired by the National Trust in the Lake District. Canon Rawnsley, vicar of Crosthwaite and one of the founders of the National Trust, ensured that this area was not developed. On his death in 1920 Friars Crag, Lords Island and Calf Close Bay were given to the Trust as his memorial. A plaque, unveiled by Ruskin, commemorating this is set into a wall beside the Friar’s Crag Path.

The curiously named Catbells undulates in the distance; the name is believed to come from the Old Norse ‘Cat Bields’ meaning ‘shelter of the wild cat’. It’s one of the Lake District’s most popular easy walks – on a summer’s day a steady stream of hikers can be seen wending their way along its spine.

Derwentwater & Cat Bells

Through the overhanging pine branches, the end of the lake shimmers in the mist towards the Jaws of Borrowdale, a rocky ravine leading into a beautiful valley of white-washed villages, high passes, majestic mountains and yet more lakes, tempting the visitor to explore yet more Lake District delights …

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19 Responses to “Friar’s Crag: A perfect Lake District view”

  1. From Jane Hafren:

    Great to remember why I loved living in the Lakes so much. One of my absolute favourite views! And I love the walk there and the coffee and cake afterwards – that’s standard isn’t it?!!! Thanks Zoe…:)

    Posted on December 13, 2011 at 6:00 pm #
  2. From Zoë Dawes:

    Always good to have coffee & cake Jane! It’s definitely a must-see for all Lake District visitors. I expect you know Surprise View which looks down on the lake & Friar’s Crag – with the sound of Lodore falls crashing down nearby …

    Posted on December 13, 2011 at 7:16 pm #
  3. From Barry:

    Certainly one of my favorite lakes and home to the Earls of Derwentwater, the last of whom was executed in 1715 for treason. It is said that some nights after the execution, there was a display of Aurora Borealis in the sky, which became known as Lord Derwentwater’s lights.

    Posted on December 13, 2011 at 7:27 pm #
  4. From Linda:

    My aunt and uncle married at the end of WW2 and went to Keswick for their honeymoon. They had a picture of Friar’s Crag in a frame when I was a small child, and it fascinated me. I so wanted to see it for myself. Some years later they went to live in Bowness (my cousin went to the local school, where there was only one class, of all ages, because there simply weren’t that many children there!), and on my summer holidays spent with them my love affair with the Lake District was born – although, oddly, Keswick and Derwent Water didn’t feature much in those early years. I very, very rarely feel homesick, but reading this I really do feel it. Thanks, though. It’s not a bad feeling!

    Posted on December 13, 2011 at 11:29 pm #
  5. From Zoë Dawes:

    Oh, I’d never heard of Lord Derwenwater’s lights Barry – now that is just the kind of quirky tale we love!

    Posted on December 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm #
  6. From Zoë Dawes:

    Thanks so much for sharing your family memories Linda. I hope the homesickness means you will soon tear yourself away from the sunshine and come back for another visit to the wet and wonderful Lake District 😉

    Posted on December 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm #
  7. From Alvina Labsvirs:

    Hi Zoe, I agree, Friar’s Crag is wonderful and one of many perfect views of the Lakes. Yesterday I walked up Wansfell Pike from Ambleside with my son who is up from London for the weekend. The views were amazing over the snow covered tops as far as Morecambe Bay.

    I had never heard of Lord Derwentwater’s Lights either, there is so much to learn and discover.

    Posted on December 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm #
  8. From Zoë Dawes:

    When the weather is good Alvina this has got to be one of the loveliest places on earth hasn’t it. Glad you were able to get out and enjoy the scenery.

    Posted on December 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm #
  9. From IsabellesTravel:

    It`s been years since I`ve been to the Lake District, but I have fond memories of it. It truly is beautiful.

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm #
  10. From Zoë Dawes:

    Hope you will come back one day soon Isabelle – it’s not changed much 🙂

    Posted on March 25, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

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