Bassenthwaite Lake, known locally as Bass Lake, lies to the north of Keswick. At four miles long and about three-quarters of a mile across at its widest, it is one of the National Park’s largest lakes. To the east, it is flanked by Skiddaw’s steep, scree-covered slopes, while the dark forests of Whinlatter rise up to the west.
Sailors and paddlers are allowed to launch their boats on the lake, but first have to get a permit from the Tourist Information Centre in Keswick’s Moot Hall. Fishing permits are also available here, and anglers can expect to catch pike, roach, brown trout and eels.
At the northern end of the lake, at Dubwath, is Bassenthwaite Sailing Club. Privately run, only club members or members of Royal Yachting Association-affiliated clubs, can use its facilities or launch from its grounds.
For walkers, there is a lakeside path along much of the western shore, running parallel with the busy A66. Public access to the eastern shore, where farmland runs right down to the water’s edge in places, is limited. Since 2001, trees along the lakeshore have become the summer home to ospreys, a bird that became extinct in the UK in the early part of the twentieth century but slowly started recolonising in the late 1950s. Having spent the winter in Africa, these huge, fish-eating birds of prey normally return to the area in April and stay until the end of the summer. They can be seen from staffed viewing platforms, equipped with telescopes, in Dodd Wood.