The Atlantic Oakwoods of Borrowdale

A misty looking Castle Crag © Simon Fraser

A misty looking Castle Crag

Upland oak wood, western oak wood, hanging oak wood are just some of the many names for our Atlantic Oakwoods, which make up Europe's temperate rainforests. But who would have thought there were rainforests in Borrowdale?

These woodlands only survive on the western seaboard of Britain and Ireland and receive an incredible 11 feet (3.5m) of rainfall per year. They are one of the most important habitats in Europe for mosses and liverworts (Bryophytes), and lichens, especially 'old forest species'. As a result of their rarity and diversity, all of the Borrowdale rainforest is protected as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It also gets international recognition as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), the latter being the highest tier of protection afforded to habitats in Europe.

Borrowdale forestry facts:

  • We look after around 500 hectares of Atlantic Oak woodland with SAC protection
  • Great Wood, near Keswick, is nationally important for its old forest lichen communities
  • Red and Roe Deer are present throughout the forest
  • Bird species include peregrine falcon, barn owl, tawny owl, little owl, pied flycatcher and redstart, greater spotted woodpecker and Dipper
  • Otters often visit our woodland streams and gullies
  • Borrowdale is home to a thriving population of red squirrels
  • The forests slow down the flow of water from the fell-tops to the valleys, acting as giant sponges, reduce flooding that would result from huge amount of rainfall each year
  • We retain as much dead wood as we can, both fallen and standing. 80% of British beetle species make their home in dead wood
  • Glow worms are present in the valley close to Watendlath

If you fancy a campfire in Borrowdale

Please help us look after these special woodlands by following these simple guidelines:

  • Bring your own firewood, leave the rainforest for the next generation of plants, animals and humans to enjoy
  • Select a site for your fire that won't damage plant life - e.g. the shingle lakeshore
  • Take care that overhead trees and branches won't be damaged by the heat
  • Be a 'no trace' camper - remove any sign that you were ever there