Borrowdale is a valley and civil parish in the English Lake District in the Borough of Allerdale in Cumbria, England. It lies within the historic county boundaries of Cumberland. It is sometimes referred to as Cumberland Borrowdale to distinguish it from another Borrowdale in the historic county of Westmorland.

Borrowdale - Rosthwaite.jpg
Borrowdale is located in Allerdale
Location in Allerdale, Cumbria
Borrowdale is located in Cumbria
Location within Cumbria
Population417 (2011)
Civil parish
  • Borrowdale
Shire county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townKeswick
Postcode districtCA12
Dialling code017687
AmbulanceNorth West
UK Parliament
List of places
54°31′45″N 3°08′45″W / 54.529167°N 3.145833°W / 54.529167; -3.145833Coordinates: 54°31′45″N 3°08′45″W / 54.529167°N 3.145833°W / 54.529167; -3.145833
Derwent Water in Borrowdale at dusk
Southern aspect of Derwent Water and fells


The valley rises in the central Lake District, and runs north carrying the River Derwent into the lake of Derwentwater. The waters of the river have their origins over a wide area of the central massif of the Lake District north of Esk Hause and Stake Pass. These origins include drains from the northern end of Scafell, Great End, the eastern side of the Dale Head massif, the western part of the Central Fells and all the Glaramara ridge. Near Rosthwaite the side valley of Langstrath joins the main valley from Seathwaite before the combined waters negotiate the narrow gap known as the Jaws of Borrowdale. Here it is flanked by the rocky crags of Castle Crag and Grange Fell. The valley then opens out around Grange before the river empties into Derwentwater, overlooked by Catbells, Skiddaw and Walla Crag.

Most of the mountains at the head of Borrowdale, including Scafell Pike and Great Gable, are part of the Borrowdale Volcanic Group, a geological development from the Ordovician period.

The B5289 road runs down the full length of the valley, and at the southern end crosses the Honister Pass to Buttermere. At the heart of the valley is the village of Rosthwaite, other Borrowdale villages include Stonethwaite, Seatoller, Seathwaite, and Grange.


Borrowdale is within the Copeland UK Parliamentary constituency and the North West England European Parliamentary constituency. Trudy Harrison is the Member of parliament.

Before Brexit for the European Parliament its residents voted to elect MEP's for the North West England constituency.

For Local Government purposes it is in the Keswick Ward of Allerdale Borough Council and the Keswick Division of Cumbria County Council.

Borrowdale has its own Parish Council; Borrowdale Parish Council.[1] The civil parish of Borrowdale covers a considerable area around the valley, including the southern half of Derwent Water. It includes the settlements of Grange, Rosthwaite, Seathwaite, Seatoller, Stonethwaite and Watendlath. It lies entirely within the Lake District National Park.

At the time of the 2001 census, the parish had a population of 438 people, living in 137 households.[2][3] The 2011 Census showed that the population had declined to 417 residents among 128 households.[4]


The valley is currently a tourist location with hotels, guesthouses, holiday cottages, bed and breakfasts, youth hostels and campsites. It caters to lowland visitors as well as hill-walkers.

Sometime before 1565 (some sources say as early as 1500), a major deposit of graphite was discovered near the Seathwaite hamlet in Borrowdale parish.[5][6] The locals found that it was useful for marking sheep. The graphite was pure and solid, and it could easily be sawn into sticks; the pencil industry was born in nearby Keswick. The graphite find remains unique.[7][8][9][10][11]

In literatureEdit

In the first of Sir Hugh Walpole's series of four novels Rogue Herries about the Herries family, Borrowdale is the site of a fictional house called Herries, the home of Francis Herries, the protagonist of the novel. Subsequent novels in the series are also largely set in Borrowdale. The valley and its surrounding mountains are described in sympathetic detail.

Walpole himself had a house at Brackenburn, Manesty, overlooking Derwent Water from 1924 until his death in 1941. Hazel Bank Country House was the fictional home of Rogue Herries and birthplace of Judith Paris. Walpole was a friend of the Simpson family, who owned Hazel Bank. This is where Walpole found the inspiration for the "Herries Chronicles".

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

  • Cumbria County History Trust: Borrowdale (nb: provisional research only – see Talk page)


  1. ^ "Borrowdale Parish Council".
  2. ^ "Election Maps". Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 2 January 2010.
  3. ^ "Census 2001 : Parish Headcounts : Allerdale". Office for National Statistics. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2009.
  4. ^ "Parish population 2011". Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  5. ^ Martin Norgate & Jean Norgate (2008). "Old Cumbria Gazetteer, black lead mine, Seathwaite". Retrieved 19 May 2008.
  6. ^ Alfred Wainwright (2005). A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Western Fells. ISBN 978-0-7112-2460-5.
  7. ^ Parnell, J. (2009). "Genesis of the graphite deposit at Seathwaite in Borrowdale, Cumbria". Geological Magazine. 119 (5): 511–512. doi:10.1017/S0016756800026868.
  8. ^ Strens, R. G. J. (2009). "The Graphite Deposit of Seathwaite in Borrowdale, Cumberland". Geological Magazine. 102 (5): 393–406. doi:10.1017/S0016756800053668.
  9. ^ Weis, P; Friedman, I; Gleason, J (1981). "The origin of epigenetic graphite: evidence from isotopes". Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 45 (12): 2325–2332. Bibcode:1981GeCoA..45.2325W. doi:10.1016/0016-7037(81)90086-7.
  10. ^ Ortega, L.; Millward, D.; Luque, F.J.; Barrenechea, J.F.; Beyssac, O.; Huizenga, J.-M.; Rodas, M.; Clarke, S.M. (2010). "The graphite deposit at Borrowdale (UK): A catastrophic mineralizing event associated with Ordovician magmatism" (PDF). Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta. 74 (8): 2429–2449. Bibcode:2010GeCoA..74.2429O. doi:10.1016/j.gca.2010.01.020.
  11. ^ Barrenechea, J. F.; Luque, F. J.; Millward, D.; Ortega, L.; Beyssac, O.; Rodas, M. (2009). "Graphite morphologies from the Borrowdale deposit (NW England, UK): Raman and SIMS data" (PDF). Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. 158 (1): 37–51. Bibcode:2009CoMP..158...37B. doi:10.1007/s00410-008-0369-y. S2CID 53976864.