Bassenthwaite Lake is part of the Derwent River System and is a National Nature Reserve, a special place for wildlife. The Cumbria Derwent & tributaries form one of the finest large river systems in Europe. The quality and importance of the wildlife and habitats along the river is widely recognised and they are protected under European law as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The river is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Birds from Africa to the Arctic migrate here and fish like Atlantic salmon and sea lampreys ascend the river to spawn. Britain’s rarest fish, the Vendace lives in the lake. The ‘Still Waters, Bassenthwaite Lake Restoration Programme’ is in place to deal with threats from pollution, silt build-up and invasive plant and fish species.
The lake is about 5 km by 1 km and 19 m deep. There is no open right of navigation here so to take any craft on Bassenthwaite Lake you must have a permit (£3 per day) available from Keswick Information Centre, FSC Blencathra Centre, Threlkeld 017687 79601 or Derwentwater Marina, Portinscale, Keswick 017687 72924.
The Lake District National Park Authority produces free leaflet, ‘A lake User’s Guide’, which shows the access and egress locations. Canoeists entering the lake from the River Derwent (between Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite) are required to pass through the no-boating zone as quickly and quietly as possible, keeping along the eastern shore. Paddlers can then leave the lake at Peel Wyke, near Dubwath (small “harbour” and public launching site), or Blackstock Point. Both are accessed from the A66 main road.
Canoeists, please click on the following link for detailed information about navigation and paddling restrictions through the Derwent System:
Peel Wyke “harbour” is the official public launching site for small craft. It is accessed from the A66 where the old road branches (signed The Pheasant Inn), then turn into an area of trees where a free car park meets the water at this miniature harbour tucked under the main road.
The A66 has several lay-bys on the western shore of the lake. Blackstock Point (the largest tree-covered headland) is popular with osprey watchers and also provides easy access to the water after a short walk.
The valley of the lake acts as a wind funnel in certain wind conditions. Caution is advised in a strong SE or NW winds. These can produce difficult short, steep wave patterns and whitecaps. The Northern third of the lake is used for sailing by Bassenthwaite Sailing Club, so may be busy, particularly at weekends. Paddlers are asked to stay outside the racing marks and buoys when club sailing is taking place. Rescue Services are available by dialling 999 (Mobiles 112) and informing the police.
Maps: OS Landranger 89 West Cumbria or 90 Penrith & Keswick; Harveys Superwalker Lakeland N.
Clubs and Societies:
Bassenthwaite Sailing Club. The Clubhouse, Dubwath, Bassenthwaite Lake.
Tel: 017687 76341
Bassenthwaite Sailing Club is a member’s club with a well appointed and magificently located clubhouse. There are full changing and shower facilities and a self-catering galley; also, of course, a well-stocked bar. There is organised sailing and racing on weekends and bank holidays the year round and thursday evenings though the summer. Regatta week (Bass-Week) is over the first week of August. On-site camping is permitted over bank holidays and Bass-Week.
Members of the RYA, or RYA Affiliated Clubs, are invited to use the club’s facilities and launch from the grounds at a cost of just £10 per day. Boats sailed from the club or kept there are limited to 20 feet overall length and may not have cabins.
The jetty and slips are next to the clubhouse and ferry services to boats on moorings operate on racing days. There is a tractor service for the retrieval of boats after racing. Mainly dry sailing with some moorings for day use only.
Fleets includes: Flying-fifteen, Mirror, GP 14, Lazer etc.
West Cumbria Canoe Club: http://www.wccc.org.uk/