Buttermere from the air, looking south towards the central fells
Many of the books listed here are now out of print, but can usually be found on ebay or through second-hand book outlets. Books in each category listed by publication date.
General Lakeland Geology
Lakeland Rocks by Alan Smith, Crowood Press, 2019
Excellent illustrated descriptions of the region’s different rock types.
Geology in the Lake District National Park by Phil Davies, Otley’s Steps 2018
A guide to 32 key geological location in the National Park.
British Regional Geology: Northern England. Fifth edition by Stone, P, Millward, D, Young, B, Merritt, J W, Clarke, S M, McCormac, M and Lawrence, D J D, British Geological Survey, 2010
Detailed geology of the region for more advanced readers.
Earth, Water, Ice and Fire: Two Hundred Years of Geological Research in the Lake District by
David Oldroyd. Geological Society Memoir No. 25. The Geological Society, 2002.
A scholarly account of the history and development of Lake District geology.
The Geology of the Lake District, by F. Mosely (editor), Yorkshire Geological Society, 1978
A detailed overview of key aspects of Lake District geology aimed at relatively advanced readers. Some details now rather dated.
The Coast-to-Coast walk: Rocks and Scenery, by Butler & Gunner, 2qt Publishing, 2017.
The first chapter (Cleator to Shap) covers much interesting Lakeland geology along C2C route.
Rock Trails Lakeland by Paul Gannon, Pesda Press, 2009. Useful general geological introduction, with geological trails for the experienced fell-walker.
Exploring Lakeland Rocks and Landscape by Susan Beale & Mervyn Dodd (editors), The Cumberland Geological Society, 2008
A successor to the 1992 volume (see below), this time in colour, with seventeen new geological excursions.
Lakeland Rocky Rambles by Bryan Lynas, Sigma Leisure, 1994
Lake District rocks and how they formed introduced in 10 well-chosen ‘rambles’.
Lakeland Rocks and Landscape: A Field Guide by Mervyn Dodd (editor), The Cumberland Geological Society, Ellenbank Press, 1992
Eighteen field excursions to key geological localities, still relevant today.
Geology of the Lake District by Frank Moseley (editor) The Geologist’s Association, 1990
Geological excursions to 25 key localities for more advanced readers.
Lakeland Geology: Where to Go and What to See by E.H. Shakleton, Dalesman Publishing 1987
A beautifully written introduction to the region’s geology, with 13 excursions.
Mines, minerals, and quarries
The Red Earth Revisited: An Introduction to the Iron Mines and Iron Industry of Furness by Cubbon, Sanbach and Woollard, CATMAS, 2021
Industrial history rather than geology, but very well researched.
Slate Mining in the Lake District by Alastair Cameron, Amberley Publishing, 2016
Ore Mining in the Lake District by Alastair Cameron & Liz Withey, Amberley, 2017
Companion volumes giving brief histories of mining and quarrying in Lakeland with excellent location photos.
The Lakes and Mines Guide by Ian Tyler, Blue Rock Publication, 2006
A brief but comprehensive catalogue of Lakeland mine locations.
Goldscope and the Mines of Derwent Fells by Ian Tyler Blue, Rock Publications, 2005
Carrock and the Mines of Skiddaw and Blencathra by Ian Tyler, Blue Rock Publications, 2003
The above two books provide the most detailed and comprehensive accounts of the history of these important mining regions of northern Lakeland.
Mines of the Lake District by John Adams, Dalesman Books, 1998
Probably the best non-specialist guide to the region’s mines and their history.
Minerals of the English Lake District: Caldbeck Fells by Cooper & Staley, British Museum (Natural History), 1990.
A beautifully illustrated catalogue of minerals from the world-famous Caldbeck mines.
Coniston Copper Mines: A Field Guide by Eric Holland, Cicerone Press, 1981
A brief guide with hand-drawn sketch maps to the mines of Tilberthwaite and Coniston
Industrial Archaeology of the Lake Counties by Marshall & Davies-Shiel, Michael Moon, 1979.
Has an excellent overview chapter on mining and quarrying.
Mining in the Lake Counties by W.T. Shaw, Dalesman Publishing, 1970
An account of Lakeland mining history, with details of some the region’s key mines written by a local mining engineer living when some of the mines were still active.
Burlington Blue-Grey by Stanley Geddes, Published by the author, 1975.
The definitive history of Burlington’s Kirkby-in-Furness quarries.
Mines and Mining in the Lake District by John Postlethwaite 3ed 1913, Moss & Sons, Whitehaven.
Perhaps the most celebrated account of the region’s mines and quarries in their heyday. Copies can still be found on ebay, including the 1976 re-issue by Michael Moon’s bookshop.
Glacial geology and geomorphology
The Quaternary of the Lake District Field Guide Edited by McDougall & Evans, Quaternary Research Association 2015
Good (but advanced) guide to Quaternary processes and landforms in some key Lake District localities.
Lake District Mountain Landforms by Pete Wilson, Scotforth Books, 2010
An excellent, well-illustrated, general introduction to Lakeland geomorphology with an emphasis on glacial features.
Classic Landforms of the Lake District by John Boardman, The Geographical Association 1996
Brief but well-illustrated introduction to Quaternary landforms and processes, suitable for A-level geography students.
The Ice Age in Cumbria by Alan Smith, Rigg Side Publications 2008
An excellent introduction to how the Ice Age helped created Lakeland’s landscape features.
Hows & Knotts: A Guide to Lakeland Views by Guy Richardson, Redshank Books, 2019
Lakeland landscape and history as seen from 22 prominent viewpoints.
The Lake District: A Landscape History by Pearsall & Pennington, Bloomsbury Books (The New Naturalist Series). 1973
A classic work, the first to summarize the interactions between the post-glacial ecological and landscape history of Lakeland for a non-specialist readership.
Cumbria by Millward and Robinson, Macmillan (Landscapes of Britain Series) 1972
A good general introduction to Lakeland physical geography, with detailed accounts of 11 particular localities.
History and Archeology
Cumbria’s Prehistoric Monuments by Adam Ibbotson The History Press 2021
A well-illustrated general (non-specialist) guide to Cumbria’s rich Neolithic and Bronze Age heritage.
The Language of the Landscape by Angus Winchester, Handstand Press, 2019
A masterful account of history, language and landscape in a Lakeland valley.
Dry Stone Walls: History and Heritage by Angus Winchester, Amberley Publishing, 2016
A general history of UK dry stone walls, but very relevant to Lakeland landscapes.
Cairns, Fields, and Cultivation: Archaeological Landscapes of the Lake District Uplands by Quartermaine & Leech, Oxford Archaeology North (Lancaster Imprints) 2012
A specialist but well-illustrated compilation of human impact on the pre-historic landscape in a selection of significant localities.
Prehistoric Cumbria by David Barrowclough, The History Press 2010
A learned but very readable overview of the pre-Roman archaeology of Cumbria
Jonathan Otley: Man of Lakeland by Thomas Fletcher, Bookcase, 2007
A study of the ‘Father of Lakeland Geology’.
The Rock Men: Pioneers of Lakeland Geology by Alan Smith, Cumberland Geological Society, 2001
A very readable account of some of the key figures in the history of Lake District geology.
The Lake District by Millward & Robinson, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1970
Arguably the finest overview of Lake District history and landscape ever written.
Elizabethan Copper: The History of the Company of Mines Royal 1568-1603 by M.B. Donald, Red Earth Publications 1994
A scholarly account of the rise and fall of German mining in Keswick and Coniston, based on contemporary letters and documents.
Elizabethan Keswick by W.G. Collingwood, Titus Wilson, Kendal 1912
Fascinating extracts and author's commentary from the original account books 1564-1577 of the German miners in the archives of Augsburg.
Cilve Boulter has produced an excellent, up-to-date, overview of Lake District geology for those with a geological background, with particular emphasis on the Borrowdale Volcanic Group.
The CumbriaGeoconservation Group has a useful website, including a map of Cumbria with placemarks for Local Geological Sites, and other Sites of Special Scientific Interest, as well as summaries of the features of each site. They have also published a variety of useful Geotrails.
The Lake District National Park website has some useful geological information here.
Chris Wilson has produced a nicely illustrated set of .ppt slides dealing with the geology of the Keswick area , including a useful guide to the town’s building stones.
For those with a geological background, the British Geological Survey hosts plentiful on-line resources, such this general introduction to the geology of Northern England.
Michael Hambrey’s brief introduction to the glacial history of the Lake District written for the Cumberland Geological Society (see also Societies).
The Lake District National Park’s latest landscape character assessment document.
UNESCO’s web pages for the Lake District World Heritage Site
Societies and organisations
Local museums with geological collections
Descriptions reproduced from the museums' websites
Cumbria is one of the richest mining areas in Britain, and so we hold a significant minerals collection, including specimens from the world-renowned Caldbeck Fells. Among our 6,000 fossils, there is material collected by people such as Professor Robert Harkenss and Lady Mabel Howard, as well as fossils representing the varied stratigraphy of Cumbria, including footprints, fish and reptiles.
Our minerals cover a rang eof igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, including material from teh Borrowdale and Skiddaw areas. Together, the collection tells the story of more than 5 million years of Cumbria's changing landscapes.
The Local Minerals collection is of considerable quality, and contains some 2,000 specimens. This reflects the fact that Cumbria is one of the richest mining areas in Britain. In particular, the Caldbeck Fells near Carlisle are renowned world-wide for their mineral wealth and have produced some of the finest mineral specimens ever found.
The Museum collection holds a good range of Caldbeck, Pennine and West Cumbrian minerals, and many of these are of superb quality. Many of the minerals were collected during the last century and most of the mines are now closed.
Additions to the collection continue to be made through the gifts of local amateur and professional mineralogists. Important recent acquisitions include the J.D. Ingham collection.
In addition, the museum houses a collection of around 1,000 examples of foreign minerals.
The fossil collection of around 6,000 specimens includes "Type" and "Figured" material. The collection contains material from the Professor Robert Harkness Collection. Other collections are those of Alexander Colvin, Lady Mabel Howard and M.H. Donald (including Jane Longstaff, née Donald).
The fossil collection derives from a wide stratigraphic range of rocks from the Cambrian to Pleistocene. Most specimens are from the British Isles. The stratigraphy of Cumbria is well illustrated and includes fossils from one of the few Cumbrian exposures of the Lower Lias, near Carlisle.
The bulk of the collection consists of Invertebrates and most groups are well represented. Vertebrate material includes fossil fish, reptile remains and footprints of Permian reptiles from the sandstones of the Eden Valley. Several of these footprints have been described and figured in publications on the geology of the area. Plant fossils are mainly from the Upper Carboniferous Coal Measures of West Cumbria with some specimens from the Permian A-bed of the Eden Shales (Hilton Plant Beds) near Appleby.
The rock collection of just over 1,000 specimens contains a comprehensive range of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.
The collection contains a good range of the many different types of rocks found in the Lake District. These include samples of Ordovician rocks from the Skiddaw, Eycott and Borrowdale Groups. Some of the material from Carrock Fell and the Skiddaw area was collected by the well known Lake District geologist, Clifton Ward. The collection also contains material from the Pennines, the Solway Basin and Southern Scotland.”
The geology collection has circa 3,000 items and contains a good balance of rocks, minerals and fossils.
These are mostly from local sites and well representing the complex local geology, industrial activity and the work of important 19th Century collectors. A large proportion of the minerals and rocks are from named collections, including that of James Clifton Ward, Robert Harkness, John Postlethwaite and Jonathan Otley; all early geological pioneers.
The Museum also holds a small collection of minerals collected by John Ruskin, the great Victorian author, artist and social reformer and has specimens donated by 20th Century geologists such as Edgar Shackleton. Cumbria has the greatest number of mineral species in the country and the minerals of the Caldbeck Fells, an internationally important mineralogical area, now collecting restricted, are well represented, including many irreplaceable specimens. Local commercial exploitation and use of stone is also documented in the collections.
Graptolites and other marine fauna of the Skiddaw Slates are well represented in the fossil collection, with some type and figured material of national importance. Plant fossils of the Coal Measures are also well represented and the Museum has one specimen of footprints in Eden Valley Sandstone.”
A fascinating collection of rocks, minerals and fossils from Cumbria, the UK and abroad, including the Hamer and the Shaw mineral collections, will be on display in Kendal’s Museum. This event will give you a rare opportunity to see and examine some of the specimens usually kept in the stores. The museum also has two lithophones for you to try out.
There has been a Ruskin Museum in Coniston since 1901, when W.G. Collingwood, a local artist and antiquarian who had been Ruskin's secretary, set it up both as a memorial to Ruskin and a celebration of the area's heritage.
Therefore, although the museum has a Ruskin collection, there are also exhibits relating to the coppermines, slate, geology, lace, farming and Donald Campbell.
…..includes material dating from antiquity to the recent past, some of it of 'Curiosity' interest. It includes the geological collection of Vice-Admiral Wauchope of Dacre Lodge and the herbarium collections donated by Dr. Michael W Taylor, the Museum's first Honorary Curator.
The Mining Room
The Mining Room contains artefacts, plans and photographic records of explorations of many local mines, which, in this area, exploited copper, iron, lead, zinc, tungsten, graphite, barites and fluorite. A representative display of local minerals can be seen and there is a section on lighting, drilling and explosives.
The Quarry Room
The Quarry Room explains the relationship between the geology of the Lake District area and the quarrying of local limestone, sandstone, granite and slate. Samples of rocks from all the important local formations are keyed to a large table map. Photographs and rock samples from more than fifty old and more recent quarries are displayed to illustrate the special features of each.