The district as a whole is grooved by a main depression, running from north to south along the valleys of St John, Thirlmere, Grasmere and Windermere, surmounting a pass (Dunmail Raise) of only 783 ft.; while a secondary depression, in the same direction, runs along Derwentwater, Borrowdale, Wasdale and Wastwater, but here Sty Head Pass, between Borrowdale and Wasdale, rises to 1600 ft.
The river Derwent, rising in the tarns and "gills" or "ghylls" (small streams running in deeply-grooved clefts) north of Sty Head Pass and the Scafell mass flows north through the wooded Borrowdale and forms Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite.
Borrowdale is joined on the east by the bare wild dale of Langstrath, and the Greta joins the Derwent immediately below Derwentwater; the town of Keswick lying near the junction.
From Seatoller in Borrowdale a road traverses Honister Pass (1100 ft.), whence it descends westward, beneath the majestic Honister Crags, where green slate is quarried, into the valley containing Buttermere (94 ft.
Other localities which have yielded the mineral in large amount are the Alibert mine in Irkutsk, Siberia and the Borrowdale mine in Cumberland.