Borrowdale is a picturesque valley in the north west of the Lake District. At the northern mouth of the valley, there is the Vale of Keswick and the scenic lake of Derwent Water. On the north side of the valley overlooking the lake is Cat Bells, one of the lower Lakeland fells, and subject of one episode of Julia Bradbury's Wainwright Walks. She mentions in one of her programs how Wainwright considered the area known as the 'Jaws of Borrowdale' to be the "loveliest square mile in Lakeland" (Wainwright 1964), but also how Borrowdale happens to be the wettest in terms of annual rainfall. That is, of course, why it is so green.

castle crag in borrowdale

Looking towards the "Jaws of Borrowdale". Photograph by Ann Bowker

South of the Lake, the first village you come to is Grange just off the B5289, built on the side of the River Derwent. It is from Grange that Julia Bradbury started her walk to Castle Crag in her first series of Wainwright Walks. Wainwright recommends this low Lakeland fell for people with only a couple of hours to spare in the Lake District.

castle crag and the river derwent

View of Castle Crag and the "Jaws of Borrowdale" seen from the River Derwent. Photograph by Ann Bowker

Castle Crag also forms the western side of the gorge known as the Jaws of Borrowdale on account of its jagged tooth-like appearance in the centre of the valley. The B5289 and River Derwent squeeze through the valley at this point. Past here the valley floor opens out into a wide plane of green pastures on the southern side. In the middle of this wide open space, surrounded by fells, is the village of Rosthwaite. Although small and quiet, it is the largest village in Borrowdale, and is considered the valley's capital.

Further south, the valley forks into two directions, separated by Rosthwaite Fell and Glaramara. To the south-east, is the Langstrath Valley where Langstrath Beck and Greenup Gill join to form Stonethwaite Beck. Between Stonthwaite Beck and Rosthwaite Fell is the small picturesque village of Stonethwaite.

South-west of Rosthwaite Fell, the Borrowdale Valley continues to the village of Seatoller. Here the valley forks again to the west where the B5289 crosses the Honister Pass going down to the next valley of Buttermere, and south to the valley head high up in the fells past the hamlet of Seathwaite. This is where the streams of Grains Gill and Styhead Gill flow down from the Scafell Pike Range of Fells to form the River Derwent.

castle crag and the river derwent

Glaramara and Grains Gill at the head of Borrowdale. Photograph by Ann Bowker