Higher education right here at Borrowdale

Students from the University of Oxford at Ashness Bridge © Maurice Pankhurst

Students from the University of Oxford at Ashness Bridge

Borrowdale hosts visits from numerous colleges and universities including Aberdeen and Oxford- the latter has now been visiting Borrowdale for the last 16 years.

Oxford University visit us on the last day of their internationally renowned MSc in Environmental Management. The visit is now an integral part of this course.

Rich geology and biodiversity

The valley has a wealth of educational opportunities; it is one of the most wooded valleys in the Lake District overlying some of the oldest geology in Britain, dominated by rocks from the Silurian and the Ordovician periods (around 500-400 million years ago). The woodlands are either semi-ancient or ancient in character and support internationally important bryophyte and lichen communities. Borrowdale is notable for its bryophytes and lichens, first reported by botanist Francis Rose MBE and Derek Ratcliffe, who was Chief Scientist at the Nature Conservancy Council before his death.

Agricultural and industrial heritage

The valley has a rich mining history dating back a thousand years and an equally ancient agricultural history that arose during the monastic period. The geomorphology of the Lake District results from a collision of fire ice and water and presents numerous geological features worthy of study. Dominating the Borrowdale valley is Derwentwater, once an oligotrophic system (low in nutrients, high in oxygen) now regarded as mesotrophic (a moderate amount of nutrients) as the issue of human impacts continues to cause concern.

Layers of archaeology

The valleys of Borrowdale, Buttermere and Ennerdale also possess multi-period archaeology present in over 2,600 sites, including Mesolithic cave sites; Neolithic production activity and stone monuments; Bronze Age funerary monuments; an Iron Age hill fort and Roman marching camp; medieval industrial activity and modern archaeology seen in tourism and further industrial development. Previous work includes the 3D laser recording at Castlerigg Stone Circle by Newcastle University students.