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Learning programmes for schools
and youth groups.

"I was hesitant as my kids have never stayed at a hostel before, but when we first parked the car and I saw children running around, I had a feeling it would work out fine. Fine, it did! The self-catering kitchen was a great hangout place for the family and to make a simple meal. At first, my teenage son was disappointed that the free wifi did not extend to the bedroom, but the kids made up their own games and it turned out to be one of the best nights we had as a family."

August 2019


The Victorian era, from 1837 to 1901, was a period of great change throughout England, and Cumbria was no exception. 

The Cockermouth-Keswick-Penrith Railway opened for passenger traffic in 1865 and this brought many more visitors to the Lake District. Tourism grew significantly, and the popularity of the area with artists and writers, combined with the work that their experiences inspired, contributed further to the attractions of the Lake District. There is a proposal to restore the railway line to Keswick, renewing its Victorian-era attraction and boost to travel and tourism.

Many hotels and B&Bs in the Lake District are in beautiful Victorian buildings, built by wealthy industrialists, particularly in the South Lakes. The Victorian legacy can also be seen in the steamer boats on several of the lakes in the National Park.

The photography pioneer, William Henry Fox Talbot, rented Barrow House for several months of the year in 1850 and 1851, and his family continued to visit the house throughout the nineteenth century. His inventions allowed images of the Lake District to circulate more widely.

As well as learning about Cumbrian life during the Victorian times, we will investigate the legacy of the Victorians on the landscape of the Lake District, examining positive and negative impacts on the local community and its visitors.

Sample activities

  • Visit Keswick Museum and Art Gallery: the museum was founded in 1873 and it is known as a Victorian Cabinet of Curiosities. It underwent a major refurbishment in 2013 and contains lots of interesting artefacts, art work, and information.
  • Walk through Dodd Wood: the Old Sawmill Tearoom and coach park contain information about the Victorian period. Dodd Wood caught fire when a hot air balloon from Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebrations came too close to the trees! 
  • Go on the Victorian steam-powered yacht on Coniston Water
  • Visit the Pencil Museum: in 1851 there were four pencil factories recorded in Keswick - a boom time for pencil manufacturing in Keswick!
  • Walk or cycle along the old railway line, and look at the bridges over the River Greta.
  • Learn about Victorian mining and mining-family life at Honister Slate Mine.
Derwentwater Independent Hostel
Barrow House
CA12 5UR
Telephone: 017687 77246

Thank you to Geoff Williams, Rebecca Laff, Fiona McCarthy, John and Sam Snyder, and KTA for generously providing inspiring photographs.
Thank you to Lisa Bamford at Stoats and Weasels for designing our website, and to Sam Snyder for building it.
© 2013 Derwentwater Independent Hostel. All rights reserved. Registered charity: 1145368