Often quoted as being the UK's most dog-friendly town, we went over to see whether Keswick still lives up to its name, and what there is to do there with the dog. We live in Cumbria and to be honest usually avoid Keswick and the summer crowds because it's such a faff to find anywhere to park. This time we were staying in one of the campsites close to the town and really enjoyed the relaxed walk to the shops.
Our first port of call was the excellent Podgy Paws petshop. As well as normal pet store ranges they are specialists in outdoor safety gear for active dogs. We needed a life-jacket for the pup before her first kayaking experience and soon had her fitted out with a stylish Hurtta model in bright pink. Like many collies, ours isn't a fan of clothes and we definitely needed a coffee after the changing room tussle.
Just around the corner on Main Street we got a fine welcome at Mrs F's Fine Food Emporium and cafe. The dog enjoyed a fuss from other customers and we love the slighty homespun atmosphere here. It's also really close to the excellent Bookends bookshop. Absolutely the place to get books on local walks and history.
Also on Main Street and dog-friendly is the Java Coffee Shop and at the far end is Kat's Kitchen, with Fairtrade coffee and vegan/veggie meals and snacks. You'll also find that all the inns and pubs are dog-friendly in the bar at least. The Skiddaw Hotel has a conservatory that's pawfect for people-watching. The Wainwright pub on Lake Road is a traditional pub and named after the great walker himself. The Dog and Gun, also on Lake Road, is our favourite and the pup loves the special dog menu of snacks and treats.
Activities for you and your dog
On the water
Derwentwater is popular for watersports and if you have a canoe or boat it's a great place for a paddle. Remember that your dog should have a lifejacket and be happy on the water.
Boat hire. You can hire a rowing boat or cabin cruiser from the Keswick Launch Co and dogs are allowed on board. No experience needed and dogs go free. They provide lifejackets and a safety briefing for people, you should take a lifejacket for the dog.
On the ground
The Keswick to Threlkeld old railway route is easy access and hard surfaced. It's a multi-user path for walkers, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, bikes and horses. It's 5km one way, and 10km there and back. Start point is the P&D car park at Keswick Leisure Centre.
For more walks take a look at the dog walk listings on Driving with Dogs, and also check out the Bookstore for the best walking guide books for dog walkers and maps. We're big fans of Peter Naldrett's Lake District dog walks to get you started, and we love the inspired idea of Dog Walks from dog-friendly tea rooms and cafes in the Lake District. Both books were published pre-lockdown and you may need to adapt.
When it's raining
The Pencil Museum is dog-friendly and quirkily interesting. And the Puzzling Place is definitely worth a visit to see things in a different way! Both are dog-friendly and suitable for people of all ages.
Where to stay
If you're staying in a caravan, tent or motorhome the Caravan and Camping Club sites are very good value and definitely dog-friendly. They have two sites in Keswick. You'll also find small independent campsites listed on UKCampsites and most, but not all, welcome dogs.
Self-catering cottages are available in the town and nearby villages. The big marketing agencies all seem to list the same cottages, so it's worth shopping around for deals.