Derwentwater – Celebrated in Poetry and Photographs


Derwentwater is the crowning glory of the Lake District town of Keswick.

Derwentwater – home to the famous Derwent Island (and the odd goose or two). Photograph by Sarah Wilkinson.

3 miles long, a mile wide and bordered by fells and woodland, it’s a place of stunning natural beauty from any angle. At the south end, it is surrounded by the impressive Borrowdale Valley.

Derwentwater and its snow-topped neighbours. Photograph by Sarah Wilkinson.

It also holds literary significance, inspiring writers such as William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, who spent her summer holidays at both the Lingholme and Fawe Park estates on the north side of Derwentwater.

Catbells, Robinson and Causey Pike overlooking Derwentwater. Photograph by Sarah Wilkinson


I think London poet Letitia Elizabeth Landon (1802 – 1838) captures the picturesque beauty of the lake in her poem, Derwent Water, perfectly. Or, as she puts it, ‘that fairy scene’:

Derwent Water by Letitia Elizabeth Landon

I knew her—though she used to make
Her dwelling by that lonely lake.
A little while she came to show
How lovely distant flowers can go.
The influence of that fairy scene
Made beautiful her face and mien.
I have seen faces far more fair,
But none that had such meaning there.
For to her downcast eyes were given
The azure of an April heaven;
The softening of those sunny hours,
By passing shadows, and by showers.

O’er her cheek the wandering red,
By the first wild rose was shed.
Evanescent, pure, and clear,
Just the warm heart’s atmosphere.
Like the sweet and inner world,
In that early rosebud furled.
All whose rich revealings glow
Round the lovelier world below.
Light her step was, and her voice
Said unto the air, rejoice;
And her light laugh’s silvery breaking
Sounded like the lark’s first waking.

Return to that fair lake, return,
On whose green heathlands grows the fern;
And mountain heights of dark gray stone,
Are bright with lichens overgrown.
Thou art too fay-like and too fair
For our more common clouded air.
Beauty such as thine belongs
To a world of dreams and songs;
Let thy image with us dwell,
Lending music to farewell.

Derwentwater shrouded in mist. Photograph by Sarah Wilkinson.

The photographs in this post were taken by Sarah Wilkinson. Sarah lives in Keswick and photography is her hobby; her Instagram page has some of the most beautiful and clever pictures of the Lake District I have ever seen, check it out!

Photograph by Sarah Wilkinson

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