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Reviewed on 6 Aug 2020
Reviewed on 19 Mar 2020
Reviewed on 7 Aug 2020
The hunched peak of Skiddaw – England's sixth-highest – looms overhead and clouds gather on the primeval ridges that spread out to form the wild northern reaches of the Lake District, all while sleepy, sloshing Derwentwater meanders through the valley below. This is the stunning backdrop to hostels in Keswick, which could be your ticket to a stay in wild, romantic countryside for less, this year. Steeped in vernacular Cumbria styles, they pop up in historic homes with views over rolling farm fields and forests. They fringe babbling riverways by the slate-topped cottages of the town itself, offering cosy tearooms and alehouses near the main museums and literary exhibits. What's more, with a mix of dorms and private options, in-house eateries and common spaces, hostels in Keswick cater to all sorts passing through this corner of the UK, from hikers to couples to families.
There's something endearingly down to earth and authentic about hostels in Keswick. Channelling the centuries-old architecture of the region, they come with whitewashed exteriors and steeply sloping slate roofs, all topped with chimney stacks and punctuated by quaint bay windows. Go inside and you can find large dining rooms lit by dangling lights, filigreed ceiling roses and lounges where Victorian-era log fires still sit between the alcoves. The rooms themselves range from modern doubles for couples coming off the Lake District trails to multi-bed dormitories that can sleep up to six or eight at any one time.
It's common to find hostels in Keswick with their own cafe or gastropub attached. That's where you can start and end the day – perhaps with a full English of Cumbrian sausages, scrambled eggs and baked beans in the morning, maybe with a frothy Lake District beer and hearty roast dinner come evening. There are also hostels with dedicated reception desks that can help you plan any adventures throughout the region. They will usually have informative walking maps that highlight the best trekking routes up Skiddaw and beyond, along with pamphlets on horse riding, canyoning, boating on Derwentwater – the list goes on.
Hostels in Keswick are a ticket to the wilder northern half of the Lake District National Park. In fact, they sit right in the shadow of Skiddaw mountain. It's one of the highest in England, and a great trek up shale ridges and slatestone slopes for any budding hikers hoping for sweeping views of the stunning reserve. As you head to the summit, it's possible to drop by the Castlerigg Stone Circle, which is surely among the most mystical and haunting in the UK, thanks to its dramatic setting between grass-green hills and a history that goes back more than 3,000 years. For exploring all that, the YHA Keswick, boasting a location in Keswick town itself, is the hostel to choose. A stay at the country manor-cum-hostel that is the Derwentwater Independent Hostel takes you south along the banks of the lake. That's the spot to home in on if you're keen to see the gushing Lodore Falls or tread the stone-clad bridges of ancient Grange village.