Borrowdale Valley

: Grange Village

Borrowdale is 3 miles south of Keswick, extending from the south shore of Derwentwater to Honister Pass.


image of an aerial view of Derwentwater and the Borrowdale valley
Derwentwater and the Borrowdale valley. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

The Borrowdale area includes the National Trust’s first aquisition in the Lake District,  Brandlehow Woods on the shore of Derwentwater.
Total Trust ownership in the area amounts to 11,806 ha (29,173 acres), including 11 farms, half of Derwentwater (including the main islands), the hamlets of Watendlath and Stonethwaite, and well-known sites such as The Bowder StoneFriars Crag and Ashness Bridge. Borrowdale also includes the hamlets of Grange and Rosthwaite.
When King Edward VII died in 1910, his sister Princess Louise, President of the National Trust, determined to purchase the view-point of Grange Fell in Borrowdale, and make it, through the National Trust, a gift to the public in memory of the late King.
It is hard to believe that this valley, now part of the National Park, was once a hive of industrial activity with iron smelting, charcoal burning, and mining for copper and graphite.  Scattered hamlets reflect the Nordic influence in their names, while stone walls and vernacular buildings chronicle centuries of farming.  Today farming struggles to make a living and visitors play an important role in sustaining the local community.

image of an aerial view of the Jaws of Borowdale
The Jaws of Borowdale. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

There is much of historical and literary interest in the area, including the late Neolithic  Castlerigg Stone Circle just east of Keswick, and the medieval pack horse bridge at Ashness.  It has long been a favourite haunt of writers and artists.  Friars Cragg at the Keswick end of the lake and one of the most favourite view points in the Lake District, is where John Ruskin awoke to aesthetic experience as a child, and St Herbert’s Island, sanctuary of the hermit in the seventh century, was Beatrix Potter‘s ‘Owl Island’ in the Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.
Leading south from Derwent water, Borrowdale is surrounded by rugged crags, inviting fells, old mine workings and wooded valleys with clean rivers.  The fine sessile oak woodlands are of particular ecological interest, and the damp, western climate supports internationally important lichens, mosses and insects.  An alder woodland and marsh along the shores of Derwentwater provide an ideal nesting site for wildfowl and waders.  Brandlehow, on the west shore of Derwentwater, was the first large ‘property’ to be bought by the Trust in 1902.

image of Derwentwater lake from the Borrowdale Valley
Derwentwater from Borrowdale. Aerial photo by Simon Ledingham

Borrowdale splits into 3 valleys, Watendlath, Stonethwaite and Seathwaite, each with it’s own distinctive character.  The National Trust’s estate also includes the Western half of Derwentwater and half the western shore with the fells behind, the eastern shore up to the watershed with Thirlmere, and the land around Seatoller up to Honister pass, with Seathwaite and Stonethwaite.  There are a number of National Trust farms within the three valleys, managed by tenant farmers.
The Flock In Tearoom at Yew Tree Farm (grid ref 257148) in Rosthwaite offers several items containing locally farmed ‘Borrowdale Herdwick’ lamb – herdie-burgers and sausage rolls.  Herdwick meat is vacuum packed and ready to take home.  It is from source and fully traceable.
At the Stonethwaite end of the valley is the small church of St Andrew, and in Grange village is the small church of Holy Trinity.
See also Grange in Borrowdale

Go to Borrowdale photo gallery >>

Borrowdale Accommodation links :

    Hazel Bank Hotel – country house hotel in Borrowdale set amongst four acres of beautiful countryside.
    Holiday Cottages
    Stay in Borrowdale – 2 pet friendly cottages set in wooded countryside, sleep 4 each.

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Grid Ref : NY 260150