Bootle is located on the coastal plain at the south-west corner of the National Park, with the bulk of Black Combe dominating to the east and the coast a mile and a half to the west. The whole area has a rather different feel to most of the Lake District, dominated by the sea and the smooth bulk of Black Combe (the fell with the biggest ground area in the Lakes and the southern end of a large area of smooth grassy fells dominated by Skiddaw slate). The village is rather larger than most people passing through on the main road will realise, running west between two parallel lanes to form a triangle with the shortest edge on the main road.
Bootle was granted a market charter in 1347, and at one point was said to be the smallest market town in England. The market faded away as Millom grew, but the market cross still survives.
The area has been inhabited for thousands of years. A Mesolithic (middle stone age, c.8,500-4,000 BC) settlement has been found at Eskmeals, while Black Combe and the surrounding hills are covered by around 10,000 Bronze Age cairns. The area also boasts a number of stone circles, the best known being the Sunkenkirke circle on the far side of Black Combe near Swinside.
The Church of St. Michael and All Angels has some Norman elements, and much of it dated to the thirteenth century, at least until the major nineteenth century reworking, which started in 1837. The tower was completed much later, in 1882. The thirteenth century also saw the foundation of the Benedictine Nunnery of Seaton, one mile to the north of the village. The remains of the nunnery buildings can now be seen from a public footpath that runs just to the east of the main road. After the dissolution of the monasteries Seaton Nunnery was given to Sir Hugh Askew. He was a remarkably adaptable figure who was knighted for his actions at the Battle of Pinkie (or Musselburgh) in 1547. Until 1533 he had been the cellarer for Queen Katherine of Aragon, but he lost this post after her divorce from Henry VIII in that year. In an attempt to regain his status Askew served as a charcoal carrier at court, where he made sure that he was seen by Henry performing this dirty job while in his best cloths. Henry was suitably impressed, and Askew resumed his job as cellarer. Askew retained this post after Henry's death in 1547, also serving under his son Edward VI. A memorial to Askew can be found in the village church.
Bootle sits at the point where Kinmont Beck and Crookley Beck merge to form the River Annas. This is one of the shortest rivers in the Lake District, flowing into the sea two miles to the west of Bootle, although the river follows a very circuitous three and a half mile long route to get to that point, running north parallel to the coast for most of the last mile!
The village used to contain a large number of businesses, and still has an excellent butchers shop on the main road and a good café and small shop on its northern edge.
Wordsworth spent three weeks in the village during the summer of 1811 and wrote a poem complaining about the experience, and in particular the noise from the beach, which he characterised as 'Ocean's ceaseless roar'.
The road west out of the village leads to Bootle Station (at Hycemoor) and then to the coast at Stubb Place. The road then turns north and runs towards the Eskmeals Gunnery Range, with the beach to the left. There are a number of parking places along the first part of this road, starting at the sharp corner.