Bassenthwaite Lake, England, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - England - England's Northwest -

Also known as:  Bass Lake, Bassenwater, Broadwater, The Lake District

Bassenthwaite Lake is a scenic peaceful lake located in England’s Lake District. In this land of many lakes, Bassenthwaite Lake is the only body of water to actually be called a lake. Neighboring water bodies are called waters, meres, tarns or reservoirs. A protected National Nature Reserve and designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, Bassenthwaite Lake is home to over 70 species of birds and Britain’s rarest fish and plants. Much of the lakeshore is privately owned or held by various trusts, making this a safe haven for wildlife and a quiet retreat from the pace and stress of city life.

Set in England’s Cumbria County, glacially formed Bassenthwaite Lake is fed and drained by River Derwent. Believed to originally have been one lake, Bassenthwaite Lake and neighboring lake, Derwentwater, remain connected by River Derwent. The names Bassenwater and Broadwater have been used in historical references to Bassenthwaite Lake, but today local residents often shorten the name to Bass Lake.

Covering 1310 acres, Bassenthwaite Lake is one of the larger lakes in the Lake District National Park. The 11-mile shoreline runs a length of four miles and is 3/4-mile across its widest point. Despite its size, it is a shallow lake with a maximum depth of 70 feet and mean depth of 17 feet. The beautiful water, changing winds and spectacular scenery make sailing a popular sport on Bass Lake – if you are a member of the private club. The general boating public is allowed only with a purchased permit. Canoes and kayaks should avoid the protected wildlife areas in the southern and northeastern portions of the lake, with all posted no-boating zones to be observed. Paddlers coming from River Derwent are asked to pass through no-boating zones quickly and exit the lake at Peel Wyke or Blackstock Point. No motorized boats are permitted.

Vendace, one of Britains rarest fish, lives in Bassenthwaite Lake along with salmon, trout, roach, pike, perch, minnow, dace, ruffe, and eel. A valid lake permit and Environment Agency (EA) rod license are required to fish the shallow waters. Most of the lakeshore is privately held and accessible only with permission from landowners. The protected shoreline and private properties are not open to camping.

Bassenthwaite Lake is also a favorite fishing area for nesting ospreys. After 150 years of absence from the Lake District, a pair of ospreys nested for the first time along the woods of Bassenthwaite Lake in 2001. Usually nesting between April and August, a nesting viewpoint has been built at Dodd Wood, about a 10-minute hike from the eastern shore. For those who cannot make the hike, a live video feed from the nest can be viewed at the Whinlatter Visitor Centre. Hundreds of birds migrate to Bass Lake, making it one of the best sites for birdwatching. Bird species include the great spotted woodpecker, tawny owl, common dipper, common redstart, European pied flycatcher and Eurasian treecreeper.

A combination of woodland, marshy grassland, swamp and open water along the shore offers refuge to many rare and interesting plants like purple loosestrife, globeflower and saw wort. In turn, plant life serves as home to local insects including butterflies and a snail-eating fly. While observing local flora and fauna, be sure to keep an eye out for the most elusive of creatures – Eachy, a human-like creature with a “gruesome and slimy appearance” said to live in the depths of Bassenthwaite Lake.

Bassenthwaite Lake is the most northerly of the larger lakes in the Lake District National Park. Owned by the National Park Authority, a 2002 study revealed that Bassenthwaite water quality was deteriorating. The Bassenthwaite Lake Restoration Programme is now in place with a partnership of eight organizations sharing in the care of Bassenthwaite Lake and its 92 square mile catchment area, the largest of the Lake District.

The Lake District and Bassenthwaite Lake’s surrounding land hold a hiker’s paradise. Over 2,000 miles of “rights of way” are open to hiking and bicycling throughout the park. Trails and country lanes near Bassenthwaite Lake lead into Thornwaite Forest on the west side of the lake and into Dodd Wood where conifers and native broad-leafed trees provide the habitat for red squirrels, roe deer, otter, badger and other wildlife. At 3,053 feet, Skiddaw is the fourth highest mountain (or fell) in the Lake District. It towers over the eastern shore and provides an easy three-hour walk with photo-ready views changing with the seasons from summer’s green fields to winter’s snow covered fells.

As with much of the Lake District, there are strong literary connections to Bassenthwaite Lake. Illustrious visitors to Mirehouse estate, which sits near the eastern shore, include Edward Fitzgerald, Thomas Carlyle, William Wordsworth and Lord Alfred Tennyson who is said to have written “Idylls of the King” after being inspired by the lake’s surroundings. Today, references to Excalibur and the Arthurian legend are as numerous as the lakes that inspire the tales.

There are no communities built along the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, but when you are looking for a bed & breakfast, guest house, hotel, self-catering cottage, or real estate property you need not go far. The small rural village of Bassenthwaite lies about one mile east of the lake. This tiny town boasts at least one pub and multiple guest houses tucked into the quiet countryside. The market town of Keswick is approximately six miles to the southwest on the shores of Derwentwater. Filled with appealing little shops, intriguing art galleries and food offerings to suit every palate, Keswick is a fine example of the hospitality to be found among the villages and towns in the Lake District. Whether you come to explore villages, legends and lore or savor Mother Nature’s abundance along the unspoiled shores, Bassenthwaite Lake will welcome you and leave you with the memory of a well-spent holiday.

Things to do at Bassenthwaite Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Bassenthwaite Lake

  • Bass
  • Carp
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Vendace

Bassenthwaite Lake Photo Gallery

Bassenthwaite Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,310 acres

Shoreline Length: 11 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 223 feet

Average Depth: 17 feet

Maximum Depth: 62 feet

Water Volume: 22,619 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 30 days

Drainage Area: 92 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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