Keswick lies to the East of the Copeland boundary and is within the Lake District National Park.
It is a market town that is surrounded by a backdrop of beautiful mountains such as Skiddaw and skirted by the vast splendour of Derwentwater to the north and Bassenthwaite lake just 4 miles away. Skiddaw itself is part of the ‘Skiddaw Group’, the oldest group of rocks in the Lake District. These fells were formed during the Odovician period, over 450 million years ago] Together they form a triangle sheltering the town, reaching a maximum height of 931m on Skiddaw itself.
In 1276 Edward I granted the town it’s market charter and this continues to this day. Every Thursday and Saturday visitors will be able to visit the local market and in the centre of Market Square is situated Moot Hall, which is now home to the Tourist Information Center.
There is considerable evidence of Prehistoric occupation within the area, such as the Castlerigg Stone Circle, dated between 3000 and 2500 BC and one of the most visited stone circles in Cumbria. After his study of it Archaeologist, John Waterhouse described it as ‘ one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Great Britain’. From within the stone circle it is possible to see some of the highest peaks in Cumbria. Those of Helvellyn, Skiddaw, Grasmoor and Blencathra. During the 19th Century neolithic stone tools were unearthed inside the circle as well as within the center of Keswick.
In the later half of the 18th Century Keswick became famous for it’s making of pencils. The area had already being found to contain graphite so this could be sourced locally. Pencil making was the town’s most important manufacturing industry by the mid 19th century as textiles and leather good went into decline. Today the Derwent Pencil Museum is home to the world’s ‘ biggest colouring pencil’ being 7.91 metres (26 ft) long, and weighs 446.36 kilograms (984.1 lb. This tourist attraction is visited by thousands each year.
Fitz Park on the banks of the River Greta is the home to the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery. This Victorian museum holds such items as the ‘Musical Stones of Skiddaw’ ( a group of lithophones built across two centuries from around the town and using ‘hornfels’ rocks from Skiddaw). There are also Southey Manuscripts and a collection of sculptures and paintings of regional and wider importance, including work by Epstein and John Opie.