Journal of A Visit to the Lake District in 1769 (1971), ed. H.W. Starr
30 Sept: 1769. Wd at N:W. clouds & sunshine. a mile & ½ from Brough on a hill lay a great army encamp'd. to the left open'd a fine valley with green meadows & hedge-rows, a Gentleman's house
peeping forth from a grove of old trees. on a nearer approach appear'd myriads of horses & cattle in the road itself & in all
the fields round me, a brisk stream hurrying cross the way, thousands of clean healthy People in their best party-color'd apparel, Farmers & their families, Esquires & their daughters, hastening up from the dales & down the fells on every side, glittering in the sun & pressing forward to join the throng: while the dark hills, on many of whose tops the mists were yet hanging, served as a contrast to this gay & moving scene, wch continued for near two miles more along the road, and the crowd (coming towards it) reach'd on as far as Appleby.
On the ascent of the hill above Appleby the thick hanging wood & the long reaches of the Eden (rapid, clear, & full as ever) winding below with views of the Castle & Town gave much employment to the mirror: but the sun was wanting & the sky overcast. oats & barley cut every where, but not carried in. passed Kirby-thore, Sr W: Dalston's house at Acorn-bank, Whinfield-park, Harthorn-oaks, Countess-pillar, Brougham-Castle, Mr Brown (one of ye six Clerks) his large new house, cross'd the Eden & the Eimot (pronounce Eeman) with its green vale, & at 3 o'clock dined with Mrs Buchanan, at Penrith on trout & partridge, in the afternoon walk'd up the Beacon-hill a mile to the top, saw Whinfield and Lowther-parks, & thro' an opening in the bosom of that cluster of mountains, wch the Doctor well remembers, the Lake of Ulz-water, with the craggy tops of a hundred nameless hills. these to W: & S:, to the N: a great extent of black & dreary plains, to E: Cross-fell just visible thro' mists & vapours hovering round it.
Oct: 1. Wd at S:W: a grey autumnal day, air perfectly calm & gentle, went to see Ulz-water 5 miles distant. soon left the Keswick-road & turn'd to the left thro' shady lanes along the Vale of Eeman, wch runs rapidly on near the way, ripling over the stones. to the right is Delmaine, a large fabrick of pale red
stone with 9 windows in front & 7 on the side built by Mr Hassel, behind it a fine lawn surrounded by woods & a long rocky eminence rising over them. a clear & brisk rivulet runs by the house to join the Eeman, whose course is in sight & at a small distance.
Farther on appears Hatton St John, a castle-like old mansion of Mr Huddleston. approach'd Dunmallert, a fine pointed hill, cover'd with wood planted by old Mr Hassle beforemention'd, who lives always at home & delights in planting. walk'd over a spungy meadow or two & began to mount this hill thro' a broad & strait green alley among the trees, & with some toil gain'd the summit. from hence saw the Lake opening directly at my feet majestic in its calmness, clear & smooth as a blew mirror with winding shores & low points of land cover'd with green inclosures, white farm-houses looking out among the trees, & cattle feeding. the water is almost every where border'd with cultivated lands gently sloping upwards till they reach the feet of the mountains, wch rise very rude & aweful with their broken tops on either hand. directly in front at better than 3 mile's distance, Place-Fell, one of the bravest among them, pushes its bold broad breast into the midst of the Lake & forces it to alter it's course, forming first a large bay to the left & then bending to the right.
I descended Dunmallert again by a side avenue, that was only not perpendicular, & came to Barton-bridge over the Eeman, then walking thro' a path in the wood round the bottom of the hill came forth, where the Eeman issues out of the lake, & continued my way along it's western shore close to the water, & generally on a level with it. Saw a cormorant flying over it & fishing. ... (to be continued)
1 Oct: 1769. The figure of Ulz-water nothing resembles that laid down in our maps: it is 9 miles long, & (at widest) under a mile in breadth, after extending itself 3 m: & ½ in a line to S: W: it turns at the foot of Place-Fell, almost due West, and is here not twice the breadth of the Thames at London. it is soon again interrupted by the roots of Helvellyn, a lofty & very rugged mountain, & spreading again turns off to S: E:, & is lost among the deep recesses of the hills. to this second turning I pursued my way about four miles along its borders beyond a village scatter'd among trees & call'd Water-malloch, in a pleasant grave day, perfectly calm & warm, but without a gleam of sunshine: then the sky seeming to thicken, the valley to grow more desolate, & evening drawing on, I return'd by the way I came to Penrith.
Oct: 2. Wd at S: E:, sky clearing, Cross-fell misty, but the outline of the other hills very distinct. set out at 10 for Keswick, by the road we went in 1767. saw Greystock-town & castle to the right, wch lie only 3 miles (over the Fells) from Ulz-water. pass'd through Penradock & Threlcot at the feet of Saddleback, whose furrow'd sides were gilt by the noon-day Sun, while its brow appear'd of a sad purple from the shadow of the clouds, as they sail'd slowly by it. the broad & green valley of Gardies and Low-side, with a swift stream glittering among the cottages & meadows lay to the left; & the much finer (but narrower) valley of St John's opening into it: Hill-top the large, tho' low, mansion of the Gaskarths, now a Farm-house, seated on an
eminence among woods under a steep fell, was what appear'd the most conspicuous, & beside it a great rock like some antient tower nodding to its fall. pass'd by the side of Skiddaw & its cub call'd Latter-rig, & saw from an eminence at two miles distance the Vale of Elysium in all its verdure, the sun then playing on the bosom of the lake, & lighting up all the mountains with its lustre.
Dined by two o'clock at the Queen's Head, & then straggled out alone to the Parsonage, fell down on my back across a dirty lane with my glass open in one hand, but broke only my knuckles: stay'd nevertheless, & saw the sun set in all its glory.
Oct: 3. Wd at S: E:, a heavenly day. rose at seven, & walk'd out under the conduct of my Landlord to Borrodale. the grass was cover'd with a hoar-frost, wch soon melted, & exhaled in a thin blewish smoke. cross'd the meadows obliquely, catching a diversity of views among the hills over the lake & islands, & changing prospect at every ten paces, left Cockshut & Castle-hill (wch we formerly mounted) behind me, & drew near the foot of Walla-crag, whose bare & rocky brow, cut perpendicularly down above 400 feet, as I guess, awefully overlooks the way: our path here tends to the left, & the ground gently rising, & cover'd with a glade of scattering trees & bushes on the very margin of the water, opens both ways the most delicious view, that my eyes ever beheld. behind you are the magnificent heights of Walla-crag; opposite lie the thick hanging woods of Ld Egremont, & Newland-valley with green & smiling fields embosom'd in the dark cliffs; to the left the jaws of Borodale, with that turbulent Chaos of mountain behind mountain roll'd in confusion; beneath you, & stretching far away to the right, the shining purity of the Lake, just ruffled by the breeze enough to shew it is alive, reflecting rocks, woods, fields, & inverted tops of mountains,
with the white buildings of Keswick, Crosthwait-church, & Skiddaw for a back-ground at distance. oh Doctor! I never wish'd more for you; & pray think, how the glass played its part in such a spot, wch is called Carf-close-reeds: I chuse to set down these barbarous names, that any body may enquire on the place, & easily find the particular station, that I mean. this scene continues to Barrow-gate, & a little farther, passing a brook called Barrow-beck, we enter'd Borodale. the crags, named Lodoor-banks now begin to impend terribly over your way; & more terribly, when you hear, that three years since an immense mass of rock tumbled at once from the brow, & bar'd all access to the dale (for this is the only road) till they could work their way thro' it. luckily no one was passing at the time of this fall; but down the side of the mountain & far into the lake lie dispersed the huge fragments of this ruin in all shapes & in all directions. something farther we turn'd aside into a coppice, ascending a little in front of Lodoor water-fall. the height appears to be about 200 feet, the quantity of water not great, tho' (these three days excepted) it had rain'd daily in the hills for near two months before: but then the stream was nobly broken, leaping from rock to rock, & foaming with fury. on one side a towering crag, that spired up to equal, if not overtop, the neighbouring cliffs (this lay all in shade & darkness) on the other hand a rounder broader projecting hill shag'd with wood & illumined by the sun, wch glanced sideways on the upper part of the cataract. the force of the water wearing a deep channel in the ground hurries away to join the lake. we descended again, & passed the stream over a rude bridge. soon after we came under Gowder-crag, a hill more formidable to the eye & to the apprehension than that of Lodoor; the rocks atop, deep-cloven perpendicularly by the rains, hanging loose & nodding forwards, seem just starting from their base in shivers: the whole way down & the road on both sides is strew'd with piles of the fragments strangely thrown across each other & of a dreadful bulk. the place reminds one of those passes in the Alps, where the Guides tell you to move on with speed, & say nothing, lest the agitation of the air should loosen the snows above, & bring down a mass, that would overwhelm a caravan. I took their counsel here and hasten'd on in silence.
Non ragioniam di lor; ma guarda, e passa!(to be continued)
Oct: 3. The hills here are cloth'd all up their steep sides with oak, ash, birch, holly, &c: some of it has been cut 40 years ago, some within these 8 years, yet all is sprung again green, flourishing, & tall for its age, in a place where no soil appears but the staring rock, & where a man could scarce stand upright.
Met a civil young Farmer overseeing his reapers (for it is oat-harvest here) who conducted us to a neat white house in the village of Grange, wch is built on a rising ground in the midst of
a valley. round it the mountains form an aweful amphitheatre, & thro' it obliquely runs the Darwent clear as glass, & shewing under it's bridge every trout, that passes. beside the village rises a round eminence of rock cover'd entirely with old trees, & over that more proudly towers Castle-crag, invested also with wood on its sides, & bearing on its naked top some traces of a fort said to be Roman. by the side of this hill, wch almost blocks up the way, the valley turns to the left & contracts its dimensions, till there is hardly any road but the rocky bed of the river. the wood of the mountains increases & their summits grow loftier to the eye, & of more fantastic forms: among them appear Eagle's-cliff, Dove's-nest, Whitedale-pike, &c: celebrated names in the annals of Keswick. the dale opens about four miles higher till you come to Sea-Whaite (where lies the way mounting the hills to the right, that leads to the Wadd-mines) all farther access is here barr'd to prying Mortals, only there is a little path winding over the Fells, & for some weeks in the year passable to the Dale's-men; but the Mountains know well, that these innocent people will not reveal the mysteries of their ancient kingdom, the reign of Chaos & old Night. only I learn'd, that this dreadful road dividing again leads one branch to Ravenglas, & the other to Hawkshead.
For me I went no farther than the Farmer's (better than 4 m: from Keswick) at Grange: his Mother & he brought us butter, that Siserah would have jump'd at, tho' not in a lordly dish, bowls of milk, thin oaten-cakes, & ale; & we had carried a cold tongue thither with us. our Farmer was himself the Man, that last year plunder'd the Eagle's eirie: all the dale are up in arms on such an occasion, for they lose abundance of lambs yearly, not to mention hares, partridge, grous, &c: he was let down from the cliff in ropes to the shelf of rock, on wch the nest was built, the people above shouting & hollowing to fright the old birds, wch flew screaming round, but did not dare to attack him. he brought off the eaglet (for there is rarely more than one) & an addle egg. the nest was roundish & more than a yard over, made of twigs twisted together. seldom a year passes but they take the brood or eggs, & sometimes they shoot one, sometimes
the other Parent, but the surviver has always found a mate (probably in Ireland) & they breed near the old place. by his description I learn, that this species is the Erne (the Vultur Albicilla of Linnaeus in his last edition, but in yours Falco Albicilla) so consult him & Pennant about it.
Walk'd leisurely home the way we came, but saw a new landscape: the features indeed were the same in part, but many new ones were disclosed by the mid-day Sun, & the tints were entirely changed. take notice this was the best or perhaps the only day for going up Skiddaw, but I thought it better employ'd: it was perfectly serene, & hot as midsummer.
In the evening walk'd alone down to the Lake by the side of Crow-Park after sunset & saw the solemn colouring of night draw on, the last gleam of sunshine fading away on the hill-tops, the deep serene of the waters, & the long shadows of the mountains thrown across them, till they nearly touch'd the hithermost shore. at distance heard the murmur of many waterfalls not audible in the day-time. wish'd for the Moon, but she was dark to me & silent, hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Oct: 4. Wd E:, clouds & sunshine, & in the course of the day a few drops of rain. Walk'd to Crow-park, now a rough pasture, once a glade of ancient oaks, whose large roots still remain on the ground, but nothing has sprung from them. if one single tree had remain'd, this would have been an unparallel'd spot, & Smith judged right, when he took his print of the Lake from
hence, for it is a gentle eminence, not too high, on the very margin of the water & commanding it from end to end, looking full into the gorge of Borodale. I prefer it even to Cockshut-hill, wch lies beside it, & to wch I walk'd in the afternoon: it is cover'd with young trees both sown & planted, oak, spruce, scotch-fir, &c: all wch thrive wonderfully. there is an easy ascent to the top, & the view far preferable to that on Castle-hill (wch you remember) because this is lower & nearer to the Lake: for I find all points, that are much elevated, spoil the beauty of the valley, & make its parts (wch are not large) look poor & diminutive. while I was here, a little shower fell, red clouds came marching up the hills from the east, & part of a bright rainbow seem'd to rise along the side of Castle-hill.
From hence I got to the Parsonage a little before Sunset, & saw in my glass a picture, that if I could transmitt to you, & fix it in all the softness of its living colours, would fairly sell for a thousand pounds. this is the sweetest scene I can yet discover in point of pastoral beauty. the rest are in a sublimer style.
(to be continued without end.)
Oct: 5. Wd N:E: Clouds & sunshine. Walk'd thro' the meadows & corn-fields to the Derwent & crossing it went up How-hill, it looks along Bassinthwaite-water & sees at the same time the course of the river & a part of the Upper-Lake with a full view of Skiddaw. then I took my way through Portingskall village to the Park, a hill so call'd cover'd entirely with wood: it is all a mass of crumbling slate. pass'd round its foot between the trees & the edge of the water, & came to a Peninsula that juts out into the lake & looks along it both ways. in front rises Walla-crag, & Castle-hill, the Town, the road to
Penrith, Skiddaw & Saddleback, returning met a brisk and cold N: Eastern blast, that ruffled all the surface of ye lake and made it rise in little waves that broke at the foot of the wood. After dinner walked up the Penrith-road 2 miles or more & turning into a corn-field to the right, call'd Castle-Rigg, saw a Druid-Circle of large stones 108 feet in diameter, the biggest not 8 feet high, but most of them still erect: they are 50 in number, the valley of St John's appear'd in sight, & the summits of Catchidecam (called by Camden, Casticand) & Helvellyn, said to be as high as Skiddaw, & to rise from a much higher base. a shower came on, & I return'd.
Oct: 6. Wd E: Clouds & sun. went in a chaise 8 miles along the east-side of Bassingth: Water to Ouse-Bridge (pronounce Ews-bridge) the road in some part made & very good, the rest slippery & dangerous cart-road, or narrow rugged lanes but no precipices: it runs directly along the foot of Skiddaw. opposite to Widhope-Brows (cloth'd to the top with wood) a very beautiful view opens down the Lake, wch is narrower & longer than that of Keswick, less broken into bays & without islands, at the foot of it a few paces from the brink gently sloping upward stands Armathwate in a thick grove of Scotch firs, commanding a noble view directly up the lake. at a small distance behind the house is a large extent of wood, & still behind this a ridge of cultivated hills, on wch (according to the Keswick-proverb) the Sun always shines. the inhabitants here on the contrary call the vale of Derwent-water the Devil's Chamber-pot, & pronounce the name of Skiddaw-fell (wch terminates here) with a sort of terror & aversion. Armathwate-House is a modern fabrick, not large, & built of dark-red stone, belonging to Mr Spedding, whose Gr:father was Steward to old Sr Ja: Lowther, & bought this estate of the Himers. so you must look for Mr Michell in some
other country, the sky was overcast & the wind cool, so after dining at a publick house, wch stands here near the bridge (that crosses the Derwent just where it issues from the lake) & sauntering a little by the water-side I came home again. the turnpike is finish'd from Cockermouth hither (5 miles) & is carrying on to Penrith. several little showers to-day. A Man came in, who said there was snow on Cross-fell this morning.
Oct: 7. Market-day here. Wd N:E: Clouds & Sunshine. little showers at intervals all day. yet walk'd in the morning to Crow-park, & in the evening up Penrith-road. the clouds came rolling up the mountains all round very unpromising; yet the moon shone at intervals. it was too damp to go towards the lake. tomorrow mean to bid farewell to Keswick.
Botany might be studied here to great advantage at another season because of the great variety of soils & elevations all lieing within a small compass. I observed nothing but several curious Lichens, & plenty of gale or Dutch myrtle perfuming the borders of ye lake. this year the Wadd mine had been open'd (which is done once in 5 years) it is taken out in lumps sometimes as big as a man's fist, & will undergo no preparation by fire, not being fusible. when it is pure soft, black, & close-grain'd, it is worth sometimes 30 shillings a pound. there are no Charr ever taken in these lakes, but plenty in Butter-mere-water, which lies a little way N: of Borrodale, about Martlemas, wch are potted here. they sow chiefly oats & bigg here, wch are now cutting, & still on the ground. the rains have done much hurt; yet observe, the soil is so thin & light, that no day has pass'd, in wch I could not walk out with ease, & you know, I am no lover of dirt. Fell-mutton is now in season for about six weeks; it grows fat on ye mountains, & nearly resembles venison: excellent Pike & Perch (here called Bass) trout is out of season. partridge in great plenty.
Oct: 8. Left Keswick & took the Ambleside-road in a gloomy morning. Wd E: & afterwds N:E:. about 2 m: from the Town mounted an eminence call'd Castle-rigg, & the sun breaking out discover'd the most enchanting view I have yet seen of the whole valley behind me, the two lakes, the river, the mountains all in their glory! had almost a mind to have gone back again. the road in some few parts is not compleated, but good country-road thro' sound, but narrow & stony lanes, very safe in broad day-light. this is the case about Causeway-foot & among Naddle-Fells to Lanewaite. the vale you go in has little breadth, the mountains are vast & rocky, the fields little & poor, & the inhabitants are now making hay, & see not the sun by two hours in a day so long as at Keswick. came to the foot of Helvellyn along wch runs an excellent road, looking down from a little height on Lee's-water (call'd also Thirl-meer, or Wiborn-water) & soon descending on its margin. the lake from its depth looks black (tho' really clear as glass) & from the gloom of the vast crags, that scowl over it: it is narrow & about 3 miles long, resembling a river in its course. little shining torrents hurry down the rocks to join it, with not a bush to overshadow them, or cover their march. all is rock & loose stones up to the very brow, wch lies so near your way, that not half the height of Helvellyn can be seen. (to be continued, but now we have got franks)
Past by the little Chappel of Wiborn, out of wch the Sunday-congregation were then issuing.
Past a beck near Dunmail-raise, & enter'd Westmoreland a second time. now begin to see Helm-Crag distinguish'd from its rugged neighbours not so much by its height, as by the strange broken outline of its top, like some gigantic building demolish'd, & the stones that composed it, flung cross each other in wild confusion. just beyond it opens one of the sweetest landscapes, that art ever attempted to imitate. (the bosom of ye mountains spreading here into a broad bason) discovers in the midst Grasmere-water. its margin is hollow'd into small bays with bold eminences some of rock, some of soft turf, that half conceal, and vary the figure of the little lake they command, from the shore a low promontory
pushes itself far into the water, & on it stands a white village with the parish-church rising in the midst of it, hanging enclosures, corn-fields, & meadows green as an emerald with their trees & hedges & cattle fill up the whole space from the edge of the water & just opposite to you is a large farm-house at the bottom of a steep smooth lawn embosom'd in old woods, wch climb half way up the mountain's side, & discover above them a broken line of crags, that crown the scene. not a single red tile, no flaring Gentleman's house, or garden-walls, break in upon the repose of this little unsuspected paradise, but all is peace, rusticity, & happy poverty in its neatest most becoming attire.
The road winds here over Grasmere-hill, whose rocks soon conceal the water from your sight, yet it is continued along behind them, & contracting itself to a river communicates with Ridale-water, another small lake, but of inferior size & beauty. it seems shallow too, for large patches of reeds appear pretty far within it. into this vale the road descends. on the opposite banks large & ancient woods mount up the hills, & just to the left of our way stands Rydale-hall, the family-seat of Sr Mic: Fleming, but now a farm-house, a large old-fashion'd fabrick surrounded with wood & not much too good for its present destination. Sr Michael is now on his travels, & all this timber far & wide belongs to him. I tremble for it, when he returns, near the house rises a huge crag call'd Rydale-head, wch is said to command a full view of Wynander-mere, & I doubt it not, for within a mile that great Lake is visible even from the road, as to going up the crag one might as well go up Skiddaw.
Came to Ambleside, 18 m: from Keswick meaning to lie there, but on looking into the best bed-chamber dark & damp as a cellar grew delicate, gave up Winandermere in despair & resolved I would go on to Kendal directly, 14 m: farther, the road in general fine turnpike, but some parts (about 3 m: in all) not made, yet without danger.
Unexpectedly was well-rewarded for my determination. the afternoon was fine, & the road for full 5 m: runs along the side of Winder-mere with delicious views across it & almost from one end to the other. it is ten miles in length, & at most a mile over, resembling the course of some vast & magnificent river, but no flat marshy grounds, no osier-beds, or patches of scrubby plantation on its banks. at the head two values open among the
mountains, one that by wch we came down, the other Langsledale, in wch Wreenose & Hard-Knot, two great mountains, rise above the rest. from thence the fells visibly sink & soften along its sides, sometimes they run into it (but with a gentle declivity) in their own dark & natural complexion, oftener they are green & cultivated with farms interspersed & round eminences on the border cover'd with trees: towards the South it seem'd to break into larger bays with several islands & a wider extent of cultivation. the way rises continually till at a place call'd Orrest-head it turns to S:E: losing sight of the water.
Pass'd by Ings-Chappel, & Staveley, but I can say no farther, for the dusk of evening coming on I enter'd Kendal almost in the dark, & could distinguish only a shadow of the Castle on a hill, & tenter-grounds spread far & wide round the Town, wch I mistook for houses. my inn promised sadly having two wooden galleries (like Scotland) in front of it. it was indeed an old ill-contrived house, but kept by civil sensible people, so I stay'd two nights with them & fared & slept very comfortably.
Oct: 9. Wd N:W: clouds & sun. air mild as summer. all corn off the ground, sky-larks singing aloud (by the way I saw not one at Keswick, perhaps because the place abounds in birds of prey). went up the Castle-hill. the Town consists chiefly of three nearly parallel streets almost a mile long. except these all the other houses seem as if they had been dancing a country-dance & were out: there they stand back to back, corner to corner, some up hill, some down without intent or meaning, along by their side runs a fine brisk stream, over which are 3 stone-bridges. the buildings (a few comfortable houses excepted) are mean, of stone & cover'd with a bad rough-cast. near the end of the Town stands a handsome house of Col: Wilson's, & adjoining to it the Church, a very large Gothick fabrick with a square Tower. it has no particular ornaments but double isles, & at the east-end 4 chappels, or choirs. one of the Pars, another of the Stricklands, the 3d is the proper choir of ye church, & the 4th of ye Bellingcams, a family now extinct. there
is an altar-tomb of one of them dated 1577 with a flat brass, arms & quarterings. & in the window their arms alone, Arg: a hunting-horn, sab: strung Gules. in the Strickland's chappel several modern monuments, & another old altar-tomb, not belonging to the family: on the side of it, a Fess dancetty between 10 Billets (Deincourt?) in the Parr-chappel is a third altar-tomb in the corner, no fig: or inscription, but on the side cut in stone an escutcheon of Roos of Kendal (3 Water-Budgets) quartering Parr (2 bars in a bordure engrail'd). 2dly an escutcheon, Vaire, a Fess (for Marmion). 3dly. an escutcheon. three Chevronels braced & a Chief (wch I take for Fitzhugh) at the foot is an escutcheon surrounded with the Garter, bearing Roos & Parr quarterly, quartering the other two beforemention'd. I have no books to look in, therefore can not say, whether this is the Ld Parr of Kendal (Queen Catharine's Father) or her Brother, the Marquis of Northampton. it is a Cenotaph for the latter, who was buried at Warwick in 1571. the remains of the Castle are seated on a fine hill on the side of the river opposite to the Town. almost the whole enclosure of walls remains with 4 towers, 2 square & 2 or 3 round, but their upper part & embattlements are demolished. it is of rough stone & cement, without any ornament or arms, round enclosing a court of like form & surrounded by a mote, nor ever could have been larger than it is, for there are no traces of outworks. there is a
good view of the town & river with a fertile open valley, thro wch it winds.
After dinner went along the Milthrop-turnpike 4 m: to see the falls (or force) of the river Kent. came to Siserge (pronounce Siser) & turn'd down a lane to the left. Siser, the seat of the Stricklands an old Catholick family, is an ancient Hall-house, with a very large tower embattled: the rest of the buildings added to this are of later date, but all is white & seen to advantage on a back ground of old trees: there is a small park also well-wooded. opposite to this turn'd to the left & soon came to the river. it works its way in a narrow & deep rocky channel o'erhung with trees. the calmness & brightness of ye evening, the roar of the waters, & the thumping of huge hammers at an iron-forge not far distant made it a singular walk, but as to the falls (for there are two) they are not 4 feet high. I went on down to the forge & saw the Daemons at work by the light of their own fires: the iron is brought in pigs to Milthrop by sea from Scotland &c. & is here beat into bars & plates. two miles farther at Levens is the seat of Ld Suffolk, where he sometimes passes the summer. it was a favourite place of his late Countess: but this I did not see.
Oct: 10. went by Burton to Lancaster. Wd N:W: clouds & sun. 22 m: very good country well enclosed & wooded with some common interspersed. pass'd at the foot of Farlton-Knot, a high fell. 4 m: N: of Lancaster on a rising ground call'd Bolton (pron: Bouton)-Wait had a full view of Cartmell-sands with here and there a Passenger riding over them (it being low water) the points of Furness shooting far into the sea, & lofty mountains partly cover'd with clouds extending North of them. Lancaster also appear'd very conspicuous & fine, for its most distinguish'd features the Castle & Church, mounted on a green eminence, were all, that could be seen. woe is me! when I got thither, it was the second day of their fair. the Inn (in the principal street) was a great old gloomy house full of people, but I found tolerable quarters, & even slept two nights in peace.
Ascended the Castle-hill in a fine afternoon. it takes up the higher top of the eminence on wch it stands, & is irregularly
round, encompassed with a deep mote. in front towards the Town is a magnificent Gothick Gateway, lofty & huge, the overhanging battlements are supported by a triple range of corbels, the intervals pierced thro' & shewing the day from above. on its top rise light watchtowers of small height. it opens below with a grand pointed arch: over this is a wrought tabernacle, doubtless once containing the Founders figure, on one side a shield of France semy quarter'd with England, on the other the same with a label ermine for John of Gant D: of Lancaster. this opens to a court within, wch I did not much care to enter, being the County Gaol & full of Prisoners, both Criminals & Debtors. from this gateway the walls continue & join it to a vast square tower of great height, the lower part at least of remote antiquity, for it has small round-headed lights with plain short pillars on each side of them, there is a third tower also square & of less dimensions. this is all the castle, near it & but little lower stands the Church, a large & plain Gothic fabrick, the high square Tower at the West-end has been rebuilt of late years, but nearly in the same style. there are no ornaments of arms, &c: any where to be seen. within it is lightsome & spacious, but not one monument of antiquity, or piece of painted glass is left. from the Church-yard there is an extensive sea-view (for now the tide had almost cover'd the sands, & fill'd the river) & besides greatest part of Furness I could distinguish Peel-Castle on the isle of Fowdrey, wch lies off its southern extremity. the Town is built on the slope & at the feet of the Castle-hill more than twice the bigness of Aukland with many neat buildings of white stone, but a little disorderly in their position ad libitum like Kendal. many also extend below on the keys by the river-side, where a number of ships were moor'd, some of them three-mast vessels deck'd out with their colours in honor of the Fair. here is a good bridge of 4 arches over the Lune, wch runs (when the tide is out) in two streams divided by a bed of gravel, wch is not cover'd but in spring-tides. below the town it widens to near the breadth of ye Thames at London, & meets the sea at 5 or 6 m: distance to S:W:
Oct: 11. Wd S:W: clouds & sun. warm & a fine dappled sky. cross'd the river & walk'd over a peninsula 3 miles to the village of Pooton wch stands on the beach. an old Fisherman mending his nets (while I enquired about the danger of passing those
sands) told me in his dialect a moving story, how a brother of the trade, a Cockler (as he styled him) driving a little cart with two daughters (women grown) in it, & his Wife on horseback following, set out one day to pass the 7 mile sands, as they had frequently been used to do, for nobody in the village knew them better than the old Man did. when they were about half way over, a thick fog rose, & as they advanced, they found the water much deeper than they expected. the old man was puzzled, he stop'd, & said he would go a little way to find some mark he was acquainted with. they staid a little while for him, but in vain. they call'd aloud, but no reply. at last the young women press'd their mother to think, where they were, & go on. she would not leave the place, she wander'd about forlorn & amazed, she would not quit her horse, & get into the cart with them. they determined after much time wasted to turn back, & give themselves up to the guidance of their horses. the old Woman was soon wash'd off and perish'd. the poor Girls clung close to their cart, & the horse sometimes wading & sometimes swimming brought them back to land alive, but senseless with terror & distress & unable for many days to give any account of themselves. the bodies of their parents were found soon after; that of the Father a very few paces distant from the spot, where he had left them.
In the afternoon wander'd about the town & by the key till it grew dark. a little rain fell.
Oct:  Wd N:E: sky gloomy, then gleams of sunshine. set out for Settle by a fine turnpike road, 29 miles.
Rich & beautiful enclosed country diversified with frequent villages & churches, very unequal ground, & on the left the river Lune winding in a deep valley, its hanging banks clothed with fine woods, thro' wch you catch long reaches of the water, as the road winds about at a considerable height above it. pass'd the Park (Hon: Mr Clifford's, a catholick) in the most picturesque part of the way. the grounds between him & the
river are indeed charming: the house is ordinary, & the park nothing but a rocky fell scatter'd over with ancient hawthorns. came to Hornby a little Town on the river Wanning, over wch a handsome bridge is now in building. the Castle in a lordly situation attracted me, so I walkd up the hill to it. first presents itself a large but ordinary white Gentleman's house sash'd. behind it rises the ancient Keep built by Edward Stanley, Lord Mounteagle (inscribed Helas et quand?) he died about 1524 in Henry the 8th's time. it is now a shell only, tho' rafters are laid within it as for flooring. I went up a winding stone-staircase in one corner to the leads, & at the angle is a single hexagon watch-tower rising some feet higher, fitted up in the tast of a modern Toot with sash-windows in gilt frames, & a stucco cupola, & on the top a vast gilt eagle by Mr Charteris, the present Possessor. but he has not lived here since the year 1745, when the people of Lancaster insulted him, threw stones into his coach, & almost made his Wife (Lady Katherine Gordon) miscarry. since that he has built a great ugly house of red stone (thank God it is not in England) near Haddington, wch I remember to have pass'd by. he is the 2d Son of the Earl of Wemyss, & brother to the Ld Elcho, Grandson to Col: Charteris, whose name he bears.
From the leads of the Tower there is a fine view of the country round, & much wood near the castle. Ingleborough, wch I had
seen before distinctly at Lancaster to N:E: was now compleatly wrap'd in clouds all but its summit, wch might have been easily mistaken for a long black cloud too, fraught with an approaching storm. now our road begun gradually to mount towards the Apennine, the trees growing less, and thinner of leaves, till we came to Ingleton 18 m: it is a pretty village situated very high & yet in a valley at the foot of that huge creature of God Ingleborough. two torrents cross it with great stones roll'd along their bed instead of water: over them are two handsome arches flung. here at a little ale-house were Sr Bellingcam Graham & Mr Parker, Ld of ye Manour (one of them 6 feet ½ high, & the other as much in breadth) come to dine.
The nipping air (tho' the afternoon was growing very bright) now taught us, we were in Craven. the road was all up & down (tho' no where very steep), to the left were mountain-tops (Weryside), to the right a wide valley (all inclosed ground) & beyond it high hills again. in approaching Settle the crags on the left drew nearer to our way, till we ascended Brunton-brow, into a chearful valley (tho' thin of trees) to Giggleswick a village with a small piece of water by its side cover'd over with coots. near it a Church, wch belongs also to Settle & half a mile farther having passed the Ribble over a bridge arrived at Settle. it is a small market-town standing directly under a rocky fell. there are not a dozen good-looking houses, the rest are old & low with little wooden portico's in front. my inn pleased me much (tho' small) for the neatness & civility of the good Woman that kept it, so I lay there two nights, & went
Oct:  to visit Gordale-Scar. Wd N:E: day gloomy & cold. it lay but 6 m: from Settle, but that way was directly over a Fell, & it might rain, so I went round in a chaise the only way one could get near it in a carriage, wch made it full 13 m: & half of it such a road! but I got safe over it, so there's an end, & came to Malham (pronounce Maum) a village in the bosom of the mountains seated in a wild & dreary valley. from thence I was to walk a mile over very rough ground, a torrent rattling along on the left hand. on the cliffs above hung a few goats:
one of them danced & scratched an ear with its hind-foot in a place where I would not have stood stock-still
for all beneath the moon.as I advanced the crags seem'd to close in, but discover'd a narrow entrance turning to the left between them. I followed my guide a few paces, & lo, the hills open'd again into no large space, & then all farther way is bar'd by a stream, that at the height of about 50 feet gushes from a hole in the rock, & spreading in large sheets over its broken front dashes from steep to steep, & then rattles away in a torrent down the valley. the rock on the left rises perpendicular with stubbed yew-trees & shrubs, staring from its side to the height of at least 300 feet, but these are not the thing! it is that to the right, under wch you stand to see the fall, that forms the principal horror of the place. from its very base it begins to slope forwards over you in one black & solid mass without any crevice in its surface, & overshadows half the area below with its dreadful canopy. when I stood at (I believe) full 4 yards distance from its foot, the drops wch perpetually distill from its brow, fell on my head, & in one part of the top more exposed to the weather there are loose stones that hang in air, & threaten visibly some idle Spectator with instant destruction. it is safer to shelter yourself close to its bottom, & trust the mercy of that enormous mass, wch nothing but an earthquake can stir. the gloomy uncomfortable day well suited the savage aspect of the place, & made it still more formidable. I stay'd there (not without shuddering) a quarter of an hour, & thought my trouble richly paid, for the impression will last for life. at the alehouse where I dined, in Malham, Vivares, the landscape-painter, had lodged for a week or more. Smith & Bellers had also been there, & two prints of Gordale have been engraved by them. return'd to my comfortable inn. night fine, but windy & frosty.
Oct: . Went to Skipton, 16 miles. Wd N:E: gloomy,
at one o'clock a little sleet falls. from several parts of the road, & in many places about Settle I saw at once the three famous hills of this country, Ingleborough, Penigent, & Pendle, the first is esteem'd the highest. their features are hard to describe, but I could trace their outline with a pencil.
Craven after all is an unpleasing country, when seen from a height. its valleys are chiefly wide & either marshy, or enclosed pasture with a few trees. numbers of black Cattle are fatted here, both of the Scotch breed, & a larger sort of oxen with great horns. there is little cultivated ground, except a few oats.
[...] Went thro' Long-Preston & Gargrave to Skipton [...] it is a pretty large Market-Town in a valley with one very broad street gently sloping downwards from the Castle, wch stands at the head of it. this is one of our
good Countesse's buildings, but on old foundations: it is not very large, but of a handsome antique appearance with round towers, a grand Gateway, bridge & mote, & many old trees about it, in good repair, & kept up, as a habitation of the Earl of Thanet, tho' he rarely comes thither. what with the sleet & a foolish dispute about chaises, that delay'd me, I did not see the inside of it, but went on 15 miles to Ottley. first up Shodebank, the steepest hill I ever saw a road carried over in England, for it mounts in a strait line (without any other repose for the horses, than by placing stones every now & then behind the wheels) for a full mile. then the road goes on a level along the brow of this high hill over Rumbald-moor, till it gently descends into Wharldale: so they call the Vale of the Wharf, & a beautiful vale it is, well-wooded, well-cultivated, well-inhabited, but with high crags at distance, that border the green country on either hand. thro' the midst of it deep, clear, full to the brink, & of no inconsiderable breadth runs in long windings the river. how it comes to pass that it should be so fine & copious a stream here, & at Tadcaster (so much lower) should have nothing but a wide stony channel without water, I can not tell you. I pass'd through Long-Addingham, Ilkeley (pronounce Eecla) distinguished by a lofty brow of loose rocks to the right, Burley, a neat & pretty village among trees. on the opposite side of the river lay Middleton-Lodge, belonging to a Catholick Gentleman of that name; Weston, a venerable stone-fabrick with large offices, of Mr Vavasor, the meadows in front gently descending to the water, & behind a great & shady wood. Farnley (Mr Fawke's)
a place like the last, but larger, & rising higher on the side of the hill. Ottley is a large airy Town, with clean but low rustick buildings, & a bridge over the Wharf. I went into its spatious Gothic Church, wch has been new-roof'd with a flat stucco ceiling. in a corner of it is the monument of Tho: Ld Fairfax, & Helen Aske, his Lady, descended from the Cliffords & Latimers, as her epitaph says. the figures not ill-cut particularly his in armour, but bare-headed, lie on the tomb. I take them for the Grand Parents of the famous Sr Tho: Fairfax.
[...] there was little more worth your notice: [...] Kirstall-Abbey 3 mile from Leedes. [...]
[...] Kirstall is a noble ruin in the Semi-Saxon style of building, as old as K: Stephen toward the end of his reign, 1152. the whole Church is still standing (the roof excepted) seated in a delicious quiet valley on the banks of the river Are, & preserved with religious reverence by the Duke of Montagu. adjoining to the church between that & the river are variety of chappels & remnants of the abbey, shatter'd by the encroachments of the ivy, & surmounted by many a sturdy tree, whose twisted roots break thro' the fret of the vaulting, & hang streaming from the roofs. the gloom of these ancient cells, the shade & verdure of the landscape, the glittering & murmur of the stream, the lofty towers & long perspectives of the Church, in the midst of a clear bright day, detain'd me for many hours & were the truest subjects for my glass I have yet met with any where. as I lay at that smoky ugly busy town of Leedes, I drop'd all farther thoughts of my journal, & after passing two days at Mason's (tho' he was absent) pursued my way by Nottingham, Leicester, Harborough, Kettering, Thrapston, & Huntington to Cambridge, where I arrived, 22 Oct:, having met with no rain to signify, till this last day of my journey, there's luck for you!
|Journal of A Visit to the Lake District in 1769
|[Day 1] 30 Sep. [Brough to Penrith]
|[Day 2] 01 Oct. [Dunmallet and Ullswater]
|[Day 3] 02 Oct. [Penrith to Keswick]
|[Day 4] 03 Oct. [Borrowdale]
|[Day 5] 04 Oct. [Crow Park and Cockshut Hill]
|[Day 6] 05 Oct. [Derwentwater and Castlerigg]
|[Day 7] 06 Oct. [The East Side of Bassenthwaite]
|[Day 8] 07 Oct. [Crow Park and the Penrith Road]
|[Day 9] 08 Oct. [Keswick to Kendal by Grasmere]
|[Day 10] 09 Oct. [Kendal and Sizergh]
|[Day 11] 10 Oct. [Kendal to Lancaster]
|[Day 12] 11 Oct. [Poulton and the Sands]
|[Day 13] 12 Oct. [Lancaster to Settle]
|[Day 14] 13 Oct. [Gordale Scar]
|[Day 15] 14 Oct. [Settle to Otley]
|[Conclusion of the Journal]
|Digital Library ID:
|Journal of A Visit to the Lake District in 1769 [e-text]
|Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
|Correspondence of Thomas Gray. Ed. by Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, reisssued by H. W. Starr, in 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], vol. 3, 1074-80, 1087-90, 1094-1110, 1125-26.
|Vol. III: fronts., illus., plates, fold. maps, fold. plan; 23 cm.
|English Faculty Library, University of Oxford
|EFL Main Libr L 44.6<Let>
|30 pages: OCR, proofreading, and markup by the Thomas Gray Archive, 05/08/2011. Headings for the table of contents taken from Thomas Gray's Journal of His Visit to the Lake District in October 1769, ed. by William Roberts. Liverpool: Liverpool UP, 2001.
|Copyright of the
|Copyright © 1971 Oxford University Press; access to digitized documents is granted strictly for non-commercial educational, research and private purposes only.