introduction to borrowdale...
Borrowdale - ‘a wild country south of Keswick' wrote William Gilpin in 1752 and so it must have seemed to the first Victorian tourists to venture through the ‘Jaws of Borrowdale'. But today Borrowdale is regarded as one of the most beautiful places in Cumbria, with sheep-grazed uplands and extensive tracts of oak woodland draping the hillsides. The flat valley pastures are divided into neat fields by massive stone walls; ancient packhorse tracks wind their way through the landscape and through it all runs the clear, sparkling water of the River Derwent and its tributaries.
The valley of Borrowdale penetrates deeply into the central massif of the Lake District (Scafell Pike, Great Gable, Bow Fell and Glaramara). Here the mountains create their own rain, with Seathwaite recorded as the wettest inhabited place in England. Seatoller, a cluster of white and grey cottages at the foot of the Honister Pass, once housed miners from the graphite mine and quarrymen from Honister Slate Mine.
The Langstrath Valley leads through the hamlet of Stonethwaite to the open fells where flocks of Herdwick sheep graze on the common pastures. Rosthwaite, in the heart of Borrowdale, clusters around a rocky outcrop called The How. Grange, once owned by Furness Abbey, is accessed over a double-arched bridge dating from 1675.
The hanging valley of Watendlath is approached by a single-track road from Derwentwater over the much-photographed Ashness Bridge. The neighbouring valley of Newlands is predominantly sheep pasture, admired by Coleridge for its ‘greenness and pastoral beauty'.