Wildlife at Borrowdale and Derwent Water

An owl in Great Wood, Keswick, Derwentwater, Cumbria

Borrowdale provides a home to many creatures, big and small, on land and in the lake. Here are some facts about wildlife in the area

Did you know?

  • Borrowdale is one of the most wooded valleys in the Lake District
  • we manage around 500 hectares of protected Atlantic Oak wood
  • we have incredibly rare lichens and mosses in the valley's woodland
  • over recent years otters have returned to the valley
  • Peregrine Falcons nest at Falcon Crag
  • Vendace, ice age relict fish, survive only here and in Bassenthwaite
  • Borrowdale is the 'front line' of defence for red squirrels

Ancient woodland

A remarkable landscape supporting remarkable wildlife, dominated by its ancient woodlands that cling to steep and craggy mountain sides; these are the Atlantic Oakwoods, the temperate rain forests that once cloaked much of the Western Seaboard of Europe, and as with other rain forests its wildlife is secretive and unobserved.


Soaring above you, you might hear buzzards and peregrine falcons. The raven is relatively common throughout the valley and during the summer months the striking pied flycatcher takes up residence in the forest. Roe Deer are often seen in the woodlands and the larger Red Deer can be found on the high fells above the tree line.

Red squirrels have inhabited Cumbria for the past 6,000 years. Today, their grey cousins are pushing them close to extinction.


Look down to the forest floor, up to the fell tops, across the ancient pastures to discover an incredible diversity of plants, particularly ferns, and a dazzling array of mosses and liverworts. The Borrowdale valley has a nationally significant collection of outstanding rare lichens and a rich variety of fungi in the autumn.