Foreshore timeline

HerdwicksVikings and the arrival of the Herdwick.

Vikings began to settle in Borrowdale in the 10th Century. You can still find many Scandinavian place names in the valley. These usually end in either ‘thwaite’ meaning clearing or ‘keld’ meaning spring.

It was these Norse settlers who are said to have introduced Herdwick sheep to the valley. This hardy breed of sheep is able to live on the high fells through out the year.

Copper mine1500 – Prosperity arrives at the foreshore

During the reign of Elizabeth I there was a demand for copper for the production of arms and the strengthening of warships. This precious metal was found at various sites throughout the Borrowdale Valley.

In 1564, due to a lack of skilled workforce in the area, expert miners arrived from Germany to fulfill both the demand for copper and provide royalties for the Queen. As you walk along the foreshore you can see the scars from these mines on the side of Catbells and the surrounding fells.

Black leadBlack Lead

Black lead or graphite, the raw material for Keswick’s pencil making industry, was possibly discovered by a shepherd in Seathwaite in 1550.

It was initially used to brand sheep, leading to Borrowdale’s claims to have made the first pencils in the world. Vast amounts of graphite were transported across the lake from the 1600s onwards.


In the late 18th Century the first visitors began to arrive. They were encouraged by the connections with famous writers such as Coleridge, Ruskin and Wordsworth and the popularity of artists such as Turner and Constable.

In 1783 a Travelers’' Guide stated 'Keswick receives great benefit from the resort of gentry to see the romantic lakes and mountains that surround it'.

The Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith railway line, built in 1860, lead to a dramatic increase in visitors to Keswick. Tourists arriving at the railway station would be transported by horse and cart down Lake Road towards the foreshore.

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