Day out: Borrowdale, Cumbria

This broad, mountain-lipped valley in the heart of the Lake District contains fragments of woodland that once spanned the entire west coast of Britain

Valley and mountains in autumn

Most who visit Borrowdale will tell you two things: it is one of Britain’s most spellbinding landscapes, and it’s wet.

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Both are true. In fact, the valley receives an average of 3.5m of rainfall every year, making it one of the wettest places in the UK.

Borrowdale, Lake District in autumn
Looking north through Borrowdale’s larch, horse chestnut, beech and oak trees to Derwent Water, the ‘Queen of the Lakes’
Alamy

The spectacular results of such dampness are everywhere. Rivers churn, falls tumble and ancient Atlantic oakwoods, largely lost elsewhere in Northern Europe, survive. Broad-canopied and cloaked with lush mosses, liverworts and lichens, these oakwoods are regarded as temperate rainforests, akin to those of the Pacific Northwest, Tasmania and the Valdivian coastline of South America.

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In autumn, the rain seems to fall with particular gusto, breaking through the tawny canopies and rushing down grimacing trunks to feed the mosses and ferns below.