Rosthwaite sits in the heart of Borrowdale, where the valley is at its widest, and is the biggest of the three villages south of the jaws of Borrowdale.
Rosthwaite is somewhat bigger than it seems from the road, when it passes in a flash of unnerving stone walls. Two parallel streets run west from the main road – the northernmost road running past the NT car park and on to the River Derwent, while the southern road runs around a small hill known as The How.
The two most interesting short walks from Rosthwaite are both on the far side of the Derwent – to the north is Castle Crag, to the south is Johnny Wood, an oak woodland on the slopes of High Doat. Paths also climb up east to Watendlath and south east to Stonethwaite and beyond that to Langstrath.