In and Around Borrowdale

Quick Facts about Borrowdale

Population – 417 (2011)
District – Allerdale
Landmarks – Lodore Falls, Bowderstone, Honistor Slate Mine & Ashness Brdge

In 1752 William Gilpin once described Borrowdale as ‘a wild country south of Keswick’ but today Borrowdale is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Cumbria, with sheep grazed uplands and extensive tracks of oak woodland draping the hillsides. The flat valley pastures are divided into neat fields by massive stone walls.

The valley of Borrowdale penetrates deeply into the central massif of the Lake District and is a favoured starting point for ascents of Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Glaramara.

The hanging valley of Watendlath is approached by a single track road from Derwent Water over the much-photographed Ashness Bridge and the hamlet of the same name is now owned by the National Trust.

Walk, Sail and Cycle

Borrowdale is a fabulous base for exploring the high fells and the lovely paths or bridleways on foot. Robinson and Dale Head in the Newlands Valley provide challenging ascents and stunning views of the district, while England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, is often tackled from Seathwaite. The Lodore Falls are an impressive sight after rain, and the Bowderstone, a massive boulder balanced on one corner, can be reached by wheelchair and buggy friendly path. But one thing not to miss is the ride on Derwent Water with Keswick Launches, they have frequent services calling at a number of different stages along the lake shore.

Off-road cyclists can take on the challenge of the bridleway sections of the Cumbria Way and the Allerdale Ramble, which wind their way through Borrowdale.

Why not take a look at this film ‘The Foundations’

In the early 1900s, outdoor pioneer Millican Dalton quit his conventional 9-5 routine in London to pursue a life in the open in Borrowdale Valley, in the English Lake District. He lived life in his own way, chasing romance and freedom from his cave on Castle Crag.

Millican Dalton chose experience over material gain and inspired us to do the same.

They have made this film to share the story that changed our journey for good.

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Borrowdale’s Past

It’s hard to imagine that the beautiful, pastoral Borrowdale was once a hive of industrial activity.

In the 16th century, an uprooted tree on the fell side at Seathwaite exposed an outcrop of graphite (known locally as ‘Wadd’) Wadd was highly desirable commodity, being used for mould casting and black leading, and it gave rise to the pencil industry in Keswick.

In the early 18th century, slate quarrying developed. A narrow band of Lakeland Green Slate running through Borrowdale and up to Honister became the primary building material for Victorian Keswick. Honister Slate Mine, re-opened in 1996, continues to mine slate commercially and offers fascinating underground tours to visitors.

Also take in Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum and the Cumberland Pencil Museum both bring to life Borrowdale’s long industrial heritage.


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Did you know?

The Borrowdale Sop is a small cloud that develops at the head of Borrowdale near Styhead Tarn. Weather watchers monitor its movements to predict the weather. If it goes towards St John’s in the Vale, the weather will continue to be fair; but if it heads towards Langdale, rain will follow within a day.


There is great choice of accommodation from hotels and family run b&b’s toto Holiday cottages in the Lake District and campsites. Combined with its historic roots, Borrowdale Valley is an ideal place to spend your holiday. To view all the accommodation providers CLICK HERE


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