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Title: Beautiful Lakeland
Author: Ashley P. Abraham (Ashley Perry)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                        “Who comes not hither
                          Ne’er can know,
                         How beautiful
                          The world below.”

                        By Ashley P. Abraham.

               [Illustration: Near Ferry Nab, Windermere

                        “An August Afternoon.”]


                         By ASHLEY P. ABRAHAM

            Nature I’ll court in her sequestered haunts,
            By mountain, meadow, streamlet, grove or dell,
            Where the poisèd lark his evening ditty chants,
            And health, and peace, and contemplation dwell.

        With 32 full page Monogravure Illustrations (copyright)
                 By G. P. ABRAHAM, F.R.P.S., Keswick.

                             published by
                        G. P. ABRAHAM, KESWICK.



CHAPTER I. An appreciation: The cause and history of Lakeland          5

  ”    II. Windermere and Ambleside                                   12

  ”   III. Grasmere and Rydal                                         19

  ”    IV. Thirlmere, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite                  24

  ”     V. The Buttermere Round                                       32

  ”    VI. Ullswater, Helvellyn and Kirkstone Pass                    39

  ”   VII. Coniston, Wastwater and Furness Abbey                      45

List of Illustrations

    The Head of Buttermere and High Crags--(_Cover_)
    Near Ferry Nab, Windermere--(_Frontispiece_)
    The Island, Grasmere
    The Old Mill, Ambleside
    The Middle Reach of Ullswater--“After Rain”
    Windermere from Orrest Head
    The Langdale Pikes
    Windermere from Furness Fell
    Waterhead and the Langdale Pikes, Windermere
    Ambleside and Wansfell
    Stock Ghyll Force, Ambleside
    Grasmere Lake and Village
    Grasmere Church
    Rydal Water and Nab Scar
    Thirlmere and Helvellyn
    Keswick and Derwentwater
    Derwentwater from Friar’s Crag--“A Rift in the Clouds”
    Friar’s Crag, Derwentwater
    The Head of Derwentwater
    Derwentwater and Skiddaw
    Borrowdale and the Bowder Stone
    Buttermere and Crummock Lakes
    Crummock Water--“Solitude”
    “The Devil’s Elbow”
    The Head of Ullswater
    Ullswater from Silver Point
    Stybarrow Crag, Ullswater
    Striding Edge, Helvellyn
    Kirkstone Pass and Brothers’ Water
    Coniston Water and the Old Man
    Wastwater--“A Gathering Storm”
    An Ascent of the Needle, Great Gable
    Furness Abbey

Beautiful Lakeland.


An Appreciation: The Cause and History of Lakeland.

It may be fearlessly asserted that those portions of the counties of
Cumberland, Westmoreland and Lancashire known as the Lake District,
contain more natural beauty, more literary associations and more
diversity of charm than any other similar area of the whole of the
Earth’s surface.

Within the small space of thirty square miles, scenes of the wildest
grandeur and the most tranquil beauty exist side by side. From the grim
recesses of Scawfell and Great Gable one can pass in two or three hours
to the placid haunts of Windermere. The stern solitudes of Wastwater can
be visited upon the same day as the peaceful shores of Derwentwater,
“set like a gem amid the encircling hills.”

The moors and bare corries of Scotland, the foliage-clad slopes and
llyns of North Wales, the lakes and valleys of Switzerland, all have
their counterpart and seem to meet in Lakeland. Indeed, the diversity of
the landscape in so small a tract of country is nothing short of
marvellous. This diversity is perhaps the feature that first impresses a
stranger, but almost at the same time the compactness of the whole
claims his notice. Here one picture succeeds another without pause.
Half an hour’s walk will accomplish as great a change as would half a
day’s walk in most of the other beauty spots of the country.

It is no doubt a fact that there are isolated prospects elsewhere which
are as beautiful and impressive as these, but in most cases they are
separated by tracts of intervening country which are deadly dull. Here
is no dulness. The feasts of beauty are as great on the way from
Derwentwater to Ullswater, or between Coniston and Windermere, as they
are at these prospects themselves. The indefinable line of beauty is
omnipresent. From end to end and from side to side of this favoured spot
there is scarcely an unlovely feature, if we except the quarries and
mines which mar some few localities.

It may be thought that because the higher mountains barely top three
thousand feet the sense of space and immensity will be lacking. But
really this is not so. The truth is that the proportions of a mountain
are determining factors of greater moment than its mere height in feet
or its bulk. Who that has traversed Kirkstone Pass or skirted the edge
of Buttermere on a hazy August day, can doubt this? The atmospheric
conditions of Lakeland lend a sense of altitude and suggestiveness such
as the clearer air of great mountain ranges rarely conveys. This
exquisiteness of proportion impressed Wordsworth so greatly that he
actually compared the beauties of Lakeland with those of Switzerland,
and, needless to say, our homeland lost very little in the comparison.
Wordsworth may be thought to be a biassed authority, yet it is the
repeated testimony of a very great number of travellers that, whilst
they have seen wilder, more sublime and grander scenes elsewhere, they
have seen nothing so beautiful as Lakeland.

And such is my own impression. My vocation takes me for a month or two
every year to Switzerland, yet not a summer passes but I return from the
glacier world of the great Alps feeling, as Penrith is neared and
glimpses of the Langdale Pikes and the sweep of St. Sunday’s

[Illustration: Grasmere and the Island

“At Evening.”]

Crag over Ullswater are caught, that I have seen nothing better in all
my wanderings abroad. Indeed, it ought to have been Lakeland’s own poet,
and not Kingsley, who wrote

    “While we see God’s signet
      Fresh on English ground,
     Why go gallivanting
      With the nations round?”

It is hardly the province of a work like the present to treat of the
geology of this beautiful district, but it may prove of interest to
touch concisely upon the processes which have conduced to the formation
of such a wonderful whole.

Why are Skiddaw and several of the hills in the north of Lakeland
rounded in contour and possessed of no precipices worthy the name? What
accounts for the cliffs and jagged outlines of the Langdale Pikes, the
Pillar, or Scawfell? Wherefore all the various beautiful and retiring
dales and side valleys, and, most pregnant question of all, whence came
the Lakes themselves? No appreciative or thoughtful visitor but must
have pondered upon these things and been somewhat puzzled. Many, I know,
have dismissed the matter by concluding that the whole district is due
to some vast upheaval of bygone ages. No such simple explanation will
cover all the facts.

The earliest causes of Lakeland were complex and various. It has several
times been submerged beneath the sea, when layer upon layer of mud and
sediment was deposited to the thickness of thousands of feet. Skiddaw,
Saddleback and others of our Northern fells are composed of these layers
of soft rock. Weathering processes have rounded their contours and left
to them the graceful flowing outlines which we now admire. Volcanoes
also have played no unimportant part. Violent eruptions took place near
Keswick and to the south of it and ejected material--boulders, huge
masses of rock and fine dust--the greater part of which fell again
almost vertically and deposited rock to the depth of at least twelve
thousand feet. This has since been exposed to climatic influences, and
been greatly reduced in bulk. The mountains of Borrowdale, Scawfell and
Great Gable, amongst others, are formed of this volcanic _débris_; hence
their hard, jagged and precipitous nature. A great part of them was
ejected from Castle Head, the favourite view-point above Keswick, which
is beyond doubt the crater of an extinct volcano.

Thus we see that the Lake District is mainly composed of two different
kinds of rocks, one of a clayey and easily-moulded nature, the other of
an unyielding volcanic type, jagged and angular. It is very greatly due
to the juxtaposition of these two different types that the Lake District
possesses such diversity of outline. So much for the rocks of which the
mountains are formed. But how came they to assume their present shapes?
The answer is fairly simple. The Lake District, as we know it to-day,
was quite recently, that is in a geological sense (a little matter of
ninety-three million years ago!) a vast dome-like tract situated about
four-thousand feet above the level of the surrounding country. After it
had finally emerged from the sea, rain in torrents fell upon this dome.
Rivers were formed. These followed the usual downward course of water,
and as they flowed they slowly wore definite channels for themselves.
Down these channels they swept, carrying with them small pebbles and
earth which wore away the softer rocks underneath. This went on for
millions upon millions of years. Hundreds of streams flowing in various
directions, eating the rock out and bearing it in minute particles to
the sea, left the higher grounds untouched and it is these higher
grounds which we now know as the mountains of Lakeland.

And now as regards the Lakes themselves. Influences into

[Illustration: The Old Mill, Ambleside]

which it would be tedious to enquire led to the warm winds and waters of
the Gulf Stream being cut off from the district. The atmosphere became
intensely cold. Instead of warm rain as heretofore, snow fell. This
heaped up thicker and thicker until it compressed into ice which, in the
form of glaciers, began to slide down the valleys previously hollowed
out by the streams. The great Glacial Period set in. The glaciers tore
up stones, earth and rocks and carried them along in their course. These
great file-like masses of rock-embedded ice scooped out huge hollows in
the river beds beneath.

Then the Gulf Stream again brought its benignant influence to bear upon
the district. Warmth came and rain fell again. The glaciers began slowly
to melt and disappear: the rivers resumed their normal flow. At once the
great hollows were filled with water and it was these water-filled
hollows which first constituted our lakes. Since that time the lakes
have in many cases been altered in shape. For instance, Derwentwater and
Bassenthwaite were in times past one lake, but the _débris_ brought down
and deposited by the river Greta has divided it into the two beautiful
sheets of water with which we are now familiar. Incidentally, the
glaciers had a great influence upon the shape and contours of our
mountains, rounding, polishing and smoothing them into their present

Such is a very incomplete _resumé_ of the happenings of by-gone æons
which have given to us our lovely district.

It would be pleasing could we follow its history with such certainty,
but this is where Lakeland falls short. Of legend, folklore and historic
records it possesses comparatively little. In early times this wildly
secluded corner of England was given over for the most part to swamps,
wild beasts and dense forest. Its earliest inhabitants were the
Brigantes, one of the tribes of aboriginal Britons. Tacitus mentions
them in a half-hearted uncertain manner and their dealings with the
Romans, but as to the extent to which they occupied the district, or in
what numbers, is not known. Several of the local names of villages and
mountains were given by them, and these place-names, together with some
few relics, are the strongest confirmation we have of the existence here
of these early Britons.

The Romans who followed after them left numerous proofs of their
occupation--bridges, roads, stations and various articles of household
use. What the Romans did in Lakeland is not clear. Perchance they were
enticed here by the suspected mineral wealth of the mountains, or were
engaged in subduing the savage Brigantes. Perhaps, being cultivated
people, they rowed about on Windermere, held pic-nics on Belle Isle or
lazed about the countryside admiring the beauties of nature! All this is
the merest conjecture.

After the Romans had left Britain, and the Danes and Saxons had usurped
the rest of England, the Lake District was probably held by the Lakeland
Britons as one of their last strongholds and places of refuge. The
tourist passing over Dunmail Raise--the high pass between Grasmere and
Thirlmere--is shown to this day the heap of stones marking the grave of
Dunmail, the last of the Cumbrian Kings. Near here, in the year 945, he
and his gallant band gave battle to the Saxon King Edmund. Dunmail held
the high ground for some considerable time, fighting valiantly until he
was treacherously attacked in the rear and ultimately cut down. Thus
disappeared the Britons from Lakeland. So goes the story, and the heap
of stones on Dunmail Raise certainly gives local confirmation. It is
said, also, that Dunmail’s crown was sunk in Grisedale Tarn, but here
corroborative evidence is lacking for it has not yet been recovered.

Under the Heptarchy, Cumberland and Westmoreland no doubt witnessed
their share of border warfare, but at this time, and for long after the
Norman Conquest, the Lake District itself appears to have

[Illustration: The Middle Reach of Ullswater

“After Rain.”]

been the abode of outlaws and was practically unvisited. Later, the
Abbots of Furness allotted great portions of land in their domain to
their “villeins.” This gave a lead to the Feudal Lords who gradually
followed suit, and thus the outlying parts of the district became dotted
with farms and homesteads. These ultimately encroached further and
further into the mountains.

With nobody to dispute their ownership, these “small holders” built
stone walls up the mountain sides to mark the boundary of their claim
and to form enclosures for their stock. These walls, hundreds of years
old and apparently meaningless to us to-day, still form a very
characteristic feature of the scenery. It may be thought by some that
they are a disfigurement, but if so this is due to the cutting down of
much timber and woods which no doubt formerly hid them from view. In any
case they are grey, lichen-covered, and in entire keeping with the
district. From this period onward, whilst guarding their homes and
possessions from predatory bands of freebooters, the Lakeland yeomen or
“statesmen” steadily improved their holdings, cleared the forests,
reclaimed the marshes and gradually gave to the countryside the aspect
it wears to-day.

It was about the year 1700 that people first began to take an interest
in its scenery, the poet Gray being, in 1767, the first person of note
to visit it. His writings and descriptions of the scenery did much to
make it known to the outside world. Indeed, he was the real discoverer
of Lakeland, the precursor of those bands of tourists who, in yearly
increasing numbers, visit it for the sole purposes of feasting upon its
beauty and drinking in its elevating and healthful influences.


Windermere and Ambleside.

Windermere recalls the name of one who made it peculiarly his own--that
genial-hearted philosopher, Christopher North (Professor Wilson), who
has left on record that “the best time to visit it is from January 1st
to December 31st.” A true lover of our largest lake, he also said that
“it has the widest breadth of water, the richest foreground of wood, and
the most magnificent background of mountains, not only in Westmoreland,
but, believe us, in the whole world.”

Although perhaps some of us may consider that the worthy Professor’s
enthusiasm carried him too far, few will deny that as a combination of
wood, mountains and water, Windermere, when surveyed from certain
aspects, would be difficult to surpass. It is probably the most famous
of all the lakes. Many people, upon being asked if they know the Lake
District answer in the affirmative, but further questioning often
elicits the fact that they have only been to Windermere. Yet they have
not been disappointed; and little wonder, for this lake and its
surroundings form a good summary of Lakeland. Here we have sylvan beauty
in perfection, dignity lent by some of our shapeliest mountains, the
peculiar impression of “ancient homeliness” that most of the lakes
convey, wooded islands and seductive creeks and bays, a wealth of
colouring and, to complete the summary, many associations of the Lakes

The best way to see Windermere, and indeed to enter Lakeland at all, is
to board one of the Furness Railway Company’s comfortable

[Illustration: Windermere

Looking south from Orrest Head, with Furness Fells behind, and Lake
Side, the entrance to Lakeland from the south, in the far distance. On
the left is the village of Windermere.]

[Illustration: The Langdale Pikes

And the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.]

steam yachts at Lakeside. This is the entrance to the district from the
south. The pastoral, comparatively tame country hereabouts is a fitting
introduction to the more impressive scenery which meets us as we sail up
the lake towards Bowness and Waterhead. The steamers run in connection
with the trains and the pier is alongside the railway station. The view
up the lake gives promise of the good things to come. A wide expanse of
water, with luxuriant woods running down to its very edge, and in the
distant blue the fells of Lakeland! Hereabouts the lake is very narrow;
in fact it is literally “Wooded Winandermere, the river-lake” of the

For a mile or so after starting, the scene changes but little and then
gradually it unfolds itself like the opening petals of some gorgeous
flower. The shoulder of the “mighty Helvellyn” thrusts its bare mass
above the trees on the left; further round is the flat-topped Fairfield
mountain, then the rounded back of Red Screes dominated by the High
Street Range and the conical spur of Ill Bell. These are the dim blue
fells we noticed from Lakeside. If we keep a sharp eye above the wooded
ridge on our left, Finsthwaite Heights, we shall catch a glimpse of the
top of Coniston Old Man. This has hardly disappeared before, looking up
to our left front, the Langdale Pikes are momentarily seen--an elusive
little peep which causes us to keep a look out for them as we sail
further up the lake. They are the shapeliest and most distinctive
mountains to be seen from Windermere; indeed, it is the opinion of many
that Lakeland itself has nothing more beautiful to show than these Twin

On our right the white walls of Storrs Hall gleam through the trees. It
is now a hotel, but it will always be reminiscent of the historic
occasion when Wordsworth, Southey and Christopher North foregathered
here to welcome Sir Walter Scott and Canning to a yachting regatta held
in honour of the “great Northern Minstrel.” Ere long the islands claim
our attention and then we touch at the Ferry, “one of the sweetest spots
on Windermere.” The steam ferry-boat which plies all day long from shore
to shore, carrying objects of all possible descriptions--pedestrian and
otherwise--motor cars, carts and char-a-bancs, possesses an antiquity
that renders it in keeping with the surroundings.

After leaving the Ferry pier we pass the largest of the islands, Belle
Isle, with the cupola of a residence peeping through the trees. The
islands, apart from their picturesqueness, supply one of the few
“stirring incidents” that have happened hereabouts. On Belle Isle, Major
Robert Philipson, locally known as “Robin the Devil,” withstood for
eight months a siege carried on by a certain Colonel Briggs, an officer
in Cromwell’s army and a magistrate of Kendal. Briggs ultimately failed
to apprehend the gallant major and tiring of his job, withdrew to
Kendal. Major Philipson followed him with a small body of picked men.
They reached Kendal on a Sunday and all its inhabitants had gone to
church. Not quite all, however, for Philipson went to church and, to the
surprised horror of the congregation, rode his horse up one aisle and
down the other in quest of his enemy; but Briggs was not there, a
defection which no doubt saved his life. Philipson had reached the door
again in safety when someone, plucking up courage, made a grab at his
girth and succeeded in unhorsing the daring intruder. Him the major
killed on the spot, succeeded in regaining his girthless saddle, mounted
and was away through the church porch without further hindrance, and
thence to Windermere. His head violently struck the top of the doorway
as he dashed out, however, and his helmet was knocked to the ground.
This was all his assailants secured, and until quite recently it hung,
as a voucher for the truth of the story, in one of the aisles of Kendal

To resume our sail, the pretty little village of Bowness and the

[Illustration: Windermere from Furness Fell

The large island is Belle Isle, Bowness being on the far shore, with the
village of Windermere on the hill above.]

ivy-clad, but in every way modern and first-class Old England Hotel are
now in sight, with the town of Windermere above it on the hillside. As
we near the pier the view opens out wonderfully and distracts our
attention from the red-cushioned rowboats, electric launches, yachts,
promenade and other paraphernalia that go to make up the bustling
foreshore of Bowness. From the steamer deck will be noticed, peeping
over the top of the boathouses, the tower of Saint Martin’s Church, an
ancient structure well worth a visit, if only to see the remains of a
chancel window which originally graced Furness Abbey--

    “All garlanded with carven imagerie
     And diamonded with panes of quaint device.”

The village itself is not lacking in distinctive qualities, the
juxtaposition of the antique and the modern in architecture being
certainly very quaint. Its up-to-date and well-kept shops and hotels and
general air of cleanliness, are features of the place. It is a favourite
“excursion” centre and rightly so, for most of the outlying districts
are within easy reach--a remark that applies also to Windermere village.
They are now-a-days almost one town, although the nucleus of each is
over a mile apart. Houses and shops line the connecting road,--a steady
climb up the hill, almost continuously, to Windermere Railway Station.
Above the station is the eminence of Orrest Head, one of the most
excellent view-points in the whole of Lakeland. It was this prospect
that inspired the words which introduce this chapter. Those who walk up
Orrest Head on a fine summer’s day will certainly condone, and some will
endorse, this description by Christopher North.

The natives of Windermere are the direct descendants of those sturdy
independent sons of the soil, the Westmerian statesmen. They perpetuate
many of the best qualities of their forebears, and in spite of contact
with a polyglot tourist element they also retain much of their original
dialect. Only the other day I ventured to ask the opinion of one them
regarding the weather. The old dalesman looked knowingly to windward and
then delivered himself as follows: “Weel, it’ll mappen donk an’ dezzle a
la’al bit, mappen kest a snifter, but there’ll be neah gurt pelt,” which
was his way of saying that it would perhaps drizzle a bit, perhaps throw
a shower, but there would be no great downpour!

But our steamer does not stay long enough to permit of much divergence,
and we are soon out on the quiet water again, making for the head of the
Lake. Every hundred yards now enhances the beauty of the scene. The
mountains draw nearer, the details of the craggy shoulders of Wetherlam
and the fine crest of Bowfell can be well seen. With the Langdale Pikes
beyond, and the slopes of Wansfell Pike and the Troutbeck Hundreds
a-head, they rivet one’s attention almost entirely until, after rounding
a promontory, we come in sight of the Scotch firs and pier of Low Wood.
The signal to call is lacking, so our vessel keeps steadily on up the
lake passing Wray Castle, a picturesque, but not historical building, on
our left, and on our right the tree-embowered cottage called “Dove
Nest.” This was for some time the home of the gentle Mrs. Hemans who,
having visited Wordsworth in 1830, could not resist the call of the
beauty and solitude of Lakeland. Her descriptions of Windermere and
“Dove Nest” are amongst the most spontaneous and charming word-paintings
which even Lakeland has evoked, and of course this is saying a good
deal. All too soon now we realize that we are at our journey’s
end and that the jetty on the right, past the row of somewhat
pretentious-looking lodging houses, is Waterhead. It is worth
remembering that there is only one thing better than this first sail up
Windermere and that is ... to repeat the performance! Certain it is that
some fresh beauty, some added interest will disclose itself on the
occasion of each trip.

A mile from the head of the lake is the thriving little town of

[Illustration: Waterhead, Windermere

In the foreground is the Furness Railway Company’s steamer pier, whence
passengers are landed for Ambleside, about one mile distant. The
Langdale Pikes and Bowfell show to advantage in the background.]

[Illustration: Ambleside

From the shoulder of Loughrigg, showing Wansfell Pike behind.]

Ambleside. Beautifully situated on the hillside above the murmuring
Rothay, it is one of the best places for the tourist to “pitch his
tent,” as the Romans undoubtedly did many centuries ago. Several remains
of a Roman station have been unearthed in the fields at the head of
Windermere--urns, coins and fragments of tesselated pavement, amongst
other things--but the traces to be found now-a-days are very slight.

Ambleside has considerable claims to beauty, not only in itself and the
irregularity and picturesqueness of its buildings, but in its immediate
surroundings. The short walks to be made from it are unsurpassable, that
through Rothay Park, past Fox Howe, the home of Dr. Arnold, of Rugby
School memory, and across the old stepping stones near by, being simply
charming. To those of a more strenuous turn of mind the walk up to
Sweden Bridge affords a variety of scenery, “from gay to grave, from
lively to severe,” difficult to surpass even in this land of quick
transitions. Then there is Loughrigg, the ridgy fell on the opposite
side of the Rothay, which commands the whole sylvan length of Windermere
Lake to the south, with the wild recesses of Langdale, enclosed by the
Pikes, Crinkle Crags and the massive buttressed peak of Bowfell away to
the west. There are several other walks of equal beauty and interest,
and Stock Ghyll Force, in the beautiful glen above the little town, must
not be forgotten.

Many coaching excursions start from the Queen’s and Salutation Hotels at
Ambleside; the scene in the Market Square on any morning in the season
at about ten o’clock is one of great bustle and stir. Coniston,
Ullswater and Derwentwater, with intermediate beauty spots, are within
easy driving distance. The congregated vehicles range from the
six-horsed char-a-banc for Kirkstone Pass, and the old-world
stagecoaches to the more pretentious and hackneyed landau; to say
nothing of motors of all sorts and sizes. That calm, introspective
frame of mind which people seek and often find at the Lakes will be
wooed in vain in Ambleside Market Square when the excursionists are
getting “under way.”

[Illustration: Stock Ghyll Force, Ambleside]

[Illustration: Grasmere Lake and Village

The “Peaceful Vale” of Wordsworth, seen from Hunting Stile, with Seat
Sandal and Rydal Fell behind.]


Grasmere and Rydal.

Grasmere has been called the heart of the Lake District, and not without
good reason. As a centre for driving or walking it is ideal, for it is
situated within an easy day’s march of nearly all the lakes. The summits
of most of the higher mountains can be attained and Grasmere again be
reached by nightfall.

In itself the vale of Grasmere, a happy mixture of beauty and
domesticity, with its pretty little lake and surrounding mountains
dotted here and there with farmsteads, cottages and villas, has strong
claims upon the tourist. In addition to its innate beauty, it possesses
the distinction of being the home of Lakeland’s richest literary
associations. Not a nook or corner in it but breathes the memory of the
Lake Poets, for it was here that the greatest of them lived, worshipped
and died. William Wordsworth chose this spot for his home. First at the
cottage at Town End, then at Allan Bank and ultimately at Rydal Mount,
but a very short distance away, he “communed with solitude” and gave to
the world the beautiful poems which have done so much to immortalize
both Lakeland and himself.

To the tourist who passes through on the main road in the day’s
excursion, Grasmere and Rydal are beautiful--perhaps delectable is a
better word--but to see them properly and rightly to appreciate them, it
is necessary to stroll along the fellsides by which they are overlooked.
At the northern end of Rydal a wooden bridge crosses the stream--Rothay
Beck, which joins Grasmere and Rydal--and gives access to a path known
as Loughrigg Terrace. This was one of Wordsworth’s favourite walks, and
as we follow along the breast of Loughrigg Fell and gaze down upon
Grasmere, with its rich cordon of mountains and woods, we can easily
realize the influences which chained a man of his temperament to this
vale. Away at the far end of the lake is the little village with its
square-towered church, in whose God’s Acre he is laid to rest. Beyond
and above it is the gap in the mountains called Dunmail Raise, the
entrance to Grasmere from the north. To the right of it rise the bare
shoulders of Helvellyn and Seat Sandal; to the left Helm Crag--with its
shattered rock summit--and further round the wildly secluded valley of
Easedale, bounded by the wooded slopes of Silverhow. Truly a scene of
singular charm!

Grasmere Church is the chief object of attraction in the valley. A
quaint old edifice, its once time-weathered beauty has now been greatly
marred by a coating of cement, rendered necessary by the ravages of time
and a congregation which prefers to worship in a dry building. The
inside of the church is quite old-time, however, and Wordsworth’s lines
are still true in every detail,

    “Not raised in nice proportions was the pile,
     But large and massy for duration built,
     With pillars crowded and the roof upheld
     By naked rafters intricately crossed.”

The rest of the description is in the fifth book of “The Excursion.” On
the north side of the nave is a tablet to Wordsworth which contains a
portrait by Woolner with an appreciative inscription underneath. Out
from the gloomy church we pass into the sunshine and, whether we have
read his poetry or not, visit the sheltered corner under the yew-trees
where a simple slate slab bears the plain inscription, and nothing more,
“William Wordsworth, 1850,” “Mary Wordsworth, 1858,”--a tombstone in
keeping with his simplicity of character and freedom from all that
pertained to artificiality. The yew-trees were brought

[Illustration: Grasmere Church

On the banks of the River Rothay.]

across the lake from Loughrigg Tarn and planted here under Wordsworth’s
own directions. Hartley Coleridge, the genial-hearted and brilliant son
of the author of “The Ancient Mariner,” is buried a few yards away under
the more elaborate headstone with a circular top.

The picturesque hamlet itself contains little of interest beyond perhaps
the fact that the palatial but comfortable Rothay Hotel was originally
built by the late Lord Cadogan, and was his home for many years. After
the church, no doubt Dove Cottage claims attention. It was here that
Wordsworth lived from 1799 to 1808, and to it he brought his bride, Mary
Hutchinson, in 1802. De Quincey also occupied it for many years after
Wordsworth left it; indeed it may safely be said that no other cottage
has been visited by so many brilliant literary and artistic people of
bygone times. The names of Sir Walter Scott, the Coleridges, Southey,
Charles Lamb, Humphrey Davy, Charles Lloyd, Ruskin, Christopher North,
Matthew Arnold and many others rise unbidden to the mind as one stands
at the back door and gazes upwards to the summer house above the little
rock-garden which Wordsworth designed, aided by his gentle sister
Dorothy. This little natural rock-garden has been immortalized in the
following farewell lines, written when the poet was leaving it for an
absence of two months--his honeymoon:--

    “Farewell, thou little nook of mountain ground,
      Thou rocky corner in the lowest stair
     Of that magnificent temple which doth bound
      One side of our whole vale with grandeur rare.
     Sweet garden-orchard, eminently fair,
      The loveliest spot that man hath ever found,
     Farewell! we leave thee to Heaven’s peaceful care,
      Thee and the cottage which thou dost surround.”

Dove Cottage has now been purchased by a number of Wordsworth’s admirers
and is preserved as a permanent memorial. The quaint rooms contain many
priceless relics of the Lakes Poets; much of the furniture is as
Wordsworth and his sister used it and, to a person with even the most
superficial knowledge of their writings, a visit must prove of absorbing

Dove Cottage is situated just off the main road, a few yards from the
Prince of Wales Hotel, the name of which reminds one that Royalty has
visited Grasmere. As quite a boy, our late King Edward VII. stayed at
this magnificent and beautifully-situated hotel, and during his stay was
rowed across to the Island. He wandered away from his attendants and
happened upon some sheep grazing. Boylike, he collared one of them and
treated himself to a ride, whereupon the old woman tending the sheep
appeared round a corner, quickly collared His Royal Highness and gave
him what she considered he richly deserved. Just then the attendants
hove in sight and rescued the prince, explaining to the old woman the
enormity of such an offence as thrashing the future King of England.
With true rustic independence, she attached little importance to the
exalted rank of her annoyer, and exclaimed, “King or nea King, he’s a
badly browt up brat an’ if ah hed his mudder here ah’d tell her t’
seam!” Such is the incident as I had it the other day from one who knew
well the old woman herself.

If we keep along past Dove Cottage and climb the hill between it and
Rydal Water, we soon come to a gate in the wall on our right. This is
Wordsworth’s “Wishing Gate” and from it Grasmere and Silverhow look
their best. We must not linger here, however, but keep along the road
until Rydal Water lies at our feet, with Nab Scar sweeping down to it on
the left. This is the smallest of the lakes and at the same time one of
the prettiest. “We admire great things, but love small ones”: this is
one of the latter. Whether seen through the trees from the main road
near Wordsworth’s Rock, or from its margin, the reedy foreshore and
pretty islands, with gentle background of hills, give Rydal a place
apart in Lakeland’s scheme of beauty. On the road

[Illustration: Rydal Water

And Nab Scar, with Nab Cottage, Coleridge’s home, across the lake.]

side near the Grasmere end of the lake is Nab Cottage, for many years
the home of Hartley Coleridge--“Lile Hartley” of genial memory, loved by
the dales-folk, a rare hand at a tale, and a “poet every inch o’ im,” as
one of his local contemporaries voiced it to me the other day.

A couple of hundred yards further along on the road is a natural
pedestal of rock with rough hewn steps leading to its top. This is
supposed to have been used by Wordsworth as a view point and seat where
he wrote many of his poems. What with the dust of motors and the hooting
of their horns, and the rattling of char-a-bancs, one cannot help
feeling that the poetry to-day would resolve itself into “a curse and a
hasty descent.” However this may be, the hundred yards of main road on
either side of the rock must surely be the most beautiful in all England
to-day, and motorists and coaching-folk have as much right upon it, and
perhaps enjoy it as much, as some of those who are so “down” on the
wheeled traffic in Lakeland. The little village of Rydal, with its
church, beech trees and old houses, leads us thence to Pelter Bridge and
the walk through the beautiful park of Rothay.


Thirlmere, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite.

The main road running North from Grasmere to Thirlmere, over Dunmail
Raise, rises to a height of eight hundred and fifty feet. On a hot
summer’s day it is a long sultry grind, whether one be walking or
driving in a char-a-banc, for the two things are much the same here.
About half-a-mile out of Grasmere the coachman pulls up his horses and
intimates that if any of the gentlemen would like to walk, the horses
would not object. This procedure led a humorous American gentleman, who
had paid the usual fare from Windermere to Keswick, to exclaim when he
reached the top “Wa’al, I guess I never walked so far for 7/6 in all my
life before”!

But this walk up Dunmail Raise is a blessing in disguise, for the
pedestrian has thus more opportunity of studying the country-side and
particularly of drinking in the lovely retrospect to “Grasmere’s
peaceful vale.” He will have time also to stop near the foot of the last
steep bit and see the Lion and the Lamb on top of Helm Crag, mentioned
in Wordsworth’s verse. The curious rocks up there bear a striking
resemblance to these animals, but if your driver should ask if you saw
the Lion and two Lambs, be very wary, for when you say “No” he will
chuckle, crack his whip and exclaim “No? and no wonder for t’ other
lamb’s inside of t’ lion”! At the top of the Raise, marked by the huge
pile of stones over King Dunmail’s grave, we pass from Westmoreland into
Cumberland and get our first glimpse of Thirlmere. A long easy gradient
takes us merrily downward until we see the full length of the lake and
realize once more what a wonderful country we

[Illustration: Thirlmere and Helvellyn

From the “new road” on the western side of the Lake.]

are in. The change in the character of the prospect is most striking;
the sylvan scenery of Grasmere and Rydal is replaced by a loneliness and
sombre beauty that might belong to another part of the world. And still
we are less than four miles from Grasmere! The bare flank of Helvellyn
on our right and the stony slopes of Steel Fell opposite have a charm of
their own, as also have the interspersed rock and wood of Fisher and
Raven Crags ahead, with the cone of Skiddaw peeping over them to the

Ere long we pass the end of a road leading off to the left. This trends
along the western side of Thirlmere and was built by the Manchester
people after they decided to use the lake as their reservoir. It was
feared that the necessary damming and flooding of the mere, together
with other engineering work, would mar its beauty, and for a short time
ugly scars were certainly left. But the hand of time has now almost
hidden these, and the “new road” on the western side of the lake is an
ample recompense for any temporary spoliation. Moreover, it has opened
up some beautiful scenery. Now-a-days, the tourist can gaze across at
Helvellyn and obtain an adequate idea of its beautiful curves and
outline--an impossibility from the “old road,” for it runs along the
mountain’s breast too closely.

At the south end of Thirlmere we come upon the little township of
Wythburn--a few houses and farmsteads, tended by one of the many
“smallest churches in England.” It is locally know as “the Cathedral.”
Our coach stops by the church-yard wall and we, at least some of us,
stroll inside the sacred edifice. Others stroll inside an edifice of a
different kind which is on the opposite side of the road! We are of the
church party, however, and are well repaid by following the “narrow
path.” Not because of the appointments of the church itself, although
they are seemly enough, but because of the topical verses by various
poets which are framed at the entrance. They savour somewhat of a
poet’s competition, from which perhaps Hartley Coleridge emerges at the
top with the following terse, but beautifully human, description of the
church itself:--

    “Humble it is and meek and very low,
      And speaks its purpose with a single bell;
     But God Himself, and He alone, doth know
      If spiry temples please him half so well.”

The main road continues towards Keswick level and straight for some
distance. The view across the lake is almost unchanged until we top Park
Brow and gaze down the beautiful Vale of St. John, with the carven front
of Blencathra hemming it in at the far end. The jutting crag on its
right is the famous Castle Rock, the scene of Sir Walter Scott’s “Bridal
of Triermain.” He describes a knight approaching it at twilight and
“reining in his steed,” alarmed because he saw “airy turrets and a
mighty keep and tower” in front. The resemblance to a castle is
difficult to trace; perhaps Sir Walter’s knight had called at the Inn at
Threlkeld before he set out!

We do not go down St. John’s Vale, but leave it on our right and
traverse the parallel Vale of Naddle. This debouches upon the Greta
Valley lower down, but our road climbs the steep hill to the moor, and
soon overlooks the fertile plain of Keswick. Bassenthwaite Lake is in
the far distance, with the majestic mass of Skiddaw guarding it on the
north. Whatever disappointments the Derwentwater scenery may have in
store for us (and I do not think it will have any) the first glimpse we
obtain of it to the west, with the lovely outlines of Causey and
Grisedale Pikes beyond, will be voted but little short of perfection.
This approach to Keswick is one of the “tit-bits” of Lakeland and I know
many people who have gone home cherishing this as the most memorable
view they have seen.

The market town of Keswick, situated on the south bank of the

[Illustration: Keswick and Derwentwater

Viewed from Latrigg, looking south to Borrowdale and Scawfell.]

[Illustration: Derwentwater from Friars’ Crag

“A rift in the Clouds.”]

river Greta, has often been called the metropolis of the Lake District.
It is certainly the largest town in Lakeland, but as there are much
larger elsewhere and because visitors do not come here for the sake of
the towns, we can dismiss it in a few words. It should be said that as a
centre for the tourist it has no rival in the North of Lakeland. It
possesses ideal accommodation for visitors, from the magnificent and
first-class Keswick Hotel, beautifully situated on the banks of the
Greta, to the homely temperance hotel and comfortable private
apartments. Char-a-bancs leave Keswick daily by the dozen during the
summer for all parts, and, although it is then a busy place, the rowdy
tripper element is lacking. Its staple industry is that of lead-pencil
making, but the days are gone when the famous Borrowdale plumbago was
found and worked locally, and the pencil industry now employs but few
hands. Keswick is better known as the _venue_ of the parent convention.
From it have sprung all the other religious conventions at home and
abroad and during the end of July people congregate here from all parts
of the world. The little town is filled to its utmost capacity and at
this time it is a place to be avoided by all but conventioners.

Whilst by no means ugly in itself, Keswick is not remarkable for beauty.
What it lacks in this way, however, is more than atoned for by its
surroundings. A mile to the north of it is the impressive Skiddaw and
Blencathra group, a perfect blaze of colour when the heather blooms or
when the dying bracken catches the sunlight and splashes their breasts
with molten gold. “A great camp of single mountains, each in shape
resembling a giant’s tent” bounds it on the west and south, with
Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite nestling snugly at their base. Out to the
eastward is the fertile valley of the Greta with the spur of Helvellyn
overlooking it--truly a galaxy of interest and beauty of which
Keswickians may be passing proud.

But Derwentwater itself, and its wonderful setting, will rightly claim
our first attention. An imposing sheet of water roughly oval in shape
and about three miles long by a mile across, with shores indented and
cut up into dozens of secluded creeks; a surface dotted with richly
wooded islands, possessing the charm of personal and historic
associations; the whole surrounded by an amphitheatre of mountains
“rocky but not vast, broken into many fantastic shapes, peaked and
splintered” and with narrow valleys opening up between them; reflecting
faithfully stern precipice, velvet-like meadow, foliage-draped hillside,
with here and there a white farmstead showing through, and mountain
ghylls that “pour forth streams more sweet than Castaly”--such is

Ruskin, in his “Modern Painters,” has said in effect that this lake as
seen from Friar’s Crag affords one of the three finest prospects in the
whole world. And as we stand on the fir-grown rocky promontory, but five
minutes’ walk from Keswick, on a still summer morning and gaze up
between the islands to the “Jaws of Borrowdale” and the Scawfell
mountains shimmering in the blue haze; or upon a sullen day in March
when the fell-tops are obscured by clouds and the sun sends long
streamers of light through the rifts to the disturbed surface of the
water; or when a southerly gale sweeps down from Lodore, staggering the
Scotch firs, dashing the breakers against the crag and recoiling in
spindrift and foam--under whatever conditions this view is regarded it
will be generally conceded that Ruskin was justified in his opinion. The
island quite close at hand on the left is Lord’s Island, once the home
of the Earls of Derwentwater. The precipice above it is Walla Crag and
it was up a steep rift in its face--the one marked by the white stone
near its top--that Lady Derwentwater fled with the family jewels. Her
lord was lying under sentence of death in London for espousing the cause
of the Pretender, and this desperate, but, alas, unavailing climb was
undertaken with the object of journeying to ransom his life.

[Illustration: Friar’s Crag, Derwentwater

With Walla Crag and Lord’s Island.]

[Illustration: The Head of Derwentwater

From Castle Hill, a quarter of an hour’s walk from Keswick. Borrowdale
and Scawfell Pike are well seen in the middle background; the islands
from left to right, are Rampsholme, Lord’s Isle, and St. Herbert’s

That was in 1715. A thousand years before, the large island far up the
lake was the home of Saint Herbert, the _fidus Achates_ of the venerable
Saint Cuthbert who often visited him here. So great was their mutual
love and esteem that they expressed a desire that both should die at the
same time “so that their souls might wing their flight to Heaven in
company.” And although on Saint Herbert’s Island,

    “The hermit numbered his last day
     Far from Saint Cuthbert, his beloved friend,
     These holy men both died in the same hour.”

The splash of white in the gorge to the left of the island is the Fall
of Lodore, rendered famous by Southey, the Keswick poet laureate. But a
detailed description of Friar’s Crag and its surroundings is beyond the
scope of this book, as well as of the writer’s ability, so perhaps we
had better pass on to fresh scenes.

The best general view of Derwentwater is to be obtained from the
eminence Castle Head, and indeed, for the amount of effort entailed,
this is perhaps the best view in all Lakeland. From the actual top, the
whole of the lake with its beautiful islands is visible. It occupies the
place of honour in the foreground and is surrounded by mountains of
almost every shape and variety. The craggy group at the head of
Borrowdale--Scawfell and its satellites--the long grassy sweep of Maiden
Moor, Catbells, and, round to the right, the double hump of Causey Pike
rising above Barrow and Swinside, with Grisedale Pike beyond; and thence
away to pointed Skiddaw, Blencathra and the Dodds of Helvellyn, present
a diversity of form and colour that it would be difficult to surpass.
Gilpin (no relation, by the way, to John of that ilk) described the lake
as “Beauty lying in the lap of Horror.” That was in the eighteenth
century. Just the other day an old Keswick woman expressed the opinion
that “there’s nowt to mak’ sec’ a fuss about, for efter aw its nobbut a
mix up of t’ fells, wood and watter.” Our attitude towards the mountains
has undoubtedly changed in the last two hundred years and familiarity
has, in some cases, bred contempt. If the tourist has not yet attained
to the latter stage, he ought not to leave the district until he has
seen Derwentwater from Castle Head.

The Druid’s Circle, on the hill about two miles above Keswick, is well
worth a visit. However mistaken these ancients may have been in their
ideas of worship, there can be no gainsaying the fact that they knew
what they were about when they chose the site of their Temple. How much
better and more inspiring this rude circle of stones high up on the
mountain, surrounded by the everlasting hills and purified by all the
winds of Heaven, than the often stuffy edifices of latter-day
worshippers! However, to those whose tastes lie in the direction of more
modern sanctuaries, Crosthwaite Church cannot but appeal. It is somewhat
singular that its strongest charms should be those of antiquity and
situation. Its square weather-beaten tower, sheltered by the mighty
Skiddaw, is in wonderful harmony with its surroundings. As regards its
antiquity, there is evidence that a church occupied the present site
before the Conquest, but it has been restored more than once since then.
It was given by Richard Coeur-de-Lion to the care of Fountains Abbey, in
1198--quite a respectable time ago. The recumbent marble memorial of the
poet Southey, momentoes of the Derwentwater family, and the old
fourteenth-century font are amongst the chief objects of interest inside
the church, while in the church-yard is a horizontal slate tomb marking
the poet’s last resting-place.

Bassenthwaite Lake lies to the north-west of Derwentwater and is only
separated from it by low-lying alluvial ground which, after heavy rain,
is sometimes flooded to such an extent that the two lakes are joined.
The drive around Bassenthwaite occupies half a day and is well worth
taking, if only to obtain a proper idea of Skiddaw. Seen from the west
side of the lake the mountain is most shapely and amazingly

[Illustration: Derwentwater, looking North

On the right is Skiddaw (3054 feet), with Keswick at its foot, whilst in
the distance is seen Bassenthwaite Lake.]

rich in colour, but perhaps is more imposing when “shrouding his double
front among Atlantic clouds”--a not unusual occurrence. The ride along
the margin of the lake through Wythop Woods, over Ouse Bridge and back
across the breast of Skiddaw, is one of singular beauty. The prospect
from Applethwaite Terrace on the return journey was one of which Southey
ever spoke with delight; it was his favourite view and indeed when seen
at sunset, with Grisedale Pike outlined against a golden sky, and the
intervening level spaces suffused with a rich afterglow, it is one that
will survive in the memory after others are forgotten.


The Borrowdale Valley, Buttermere and Crummock Lakes.

The Buttermere Round (as the famous drive through Borrowdale, over
Honister Pass to Buttermere, and back by the Vale of Newlands, is
called) will always be an out-standing feature of a Lakeland holiday.
The rapid changes in the character of the scenery are so dramatic, the
various types of beauty seen are all so distinctive and so perfect in
their own way, and the drive itself is so full of incident, not to say
excitement, that this could not well be otherwise.

Our char-a-banc leaves Keswick at ten o’clock, upon any morning
throughout the summer, and follows the road past Castle Head and along
the eastern margin of Derwentwater. Ravishing glimpses of the lake and
opposing mountains are caught through the foliage of Great Wood, as we
drive along under an avenue of oak and fir trees. High up on our left is
the forbidding escarpment of Walla Crag, reminiscent of Lady
Derwentwater’s wild escapade; this rises sheer over us until we emerge
from the forest and see the face of Falcon Crag towering perpendicularly
in front. It is one of the many features of our drive that we get a
glimpse for a few seconds and then we lose it, to be introduced almost
immediately to a scene of an entirely different character. The lake
again arrests our attention and displays all its beauties for a full
mile until the roar of Lodore Falls is heard in the narrow gorge in

Perhaps the glowing description by Southey and the glimpses of white we
catch through the trees will leave us with a better impression of the
falls than if we alighted and came to close quarters. Truth to tell,
they will be found disappointing in normally dry weather. The American
gentleman who searched for an hour up and down the gorge, and at last
sat down in despair, merits our sympathy. For it was unkind of a local
worthy to reply, in answer to a query as to the whereabouts of the
waterfall, “Why, man, ye’re sittin’ on it”!

A mile further along we enter the “Jaws of Borrowdale,” not such a
fearsome proceeding as it sounds. The “Jaws” are formed by the
mountains, Maiden Moor and Brund Fell--the retaining walls of the
rapidly narrowing valley. Rising from its side is the “Tooth of
Borrowdale,” Castle Crag, a rocky pyramid commanding the approaches of
the valley in all directions. For this reason it was occupied by the
Romans as a military station. It forms a fitting background to the
little village of Grange, with its picturesque, double-span bridge (over
the river Derwent) which we soon pass on our right. At the far side of
the bridge is unmistakable evidence of the long past Glacial Period. A
large rounded slab of rock is here exposed and on its surface are to be
plainly seen the scratches and long indentations made by the glacier as
it slowly ground its huge mass westward towards the sea. It must have
been about this period--or, at all events, very long ago, for the
incident lacks confirmation--that the folk of Borrowdale built their
famous wall. It is on record that the natives thought that if they could
keep the cuckoo always with them, they would have eternal summer. So,
early one spring they began to build a wall across the valley, just
beyond Grange, but in the autumn the unappreciative migrant flew over
the top of it and the good people of Borrowdale gave up their project in

After climbing a gentle gradient and rounding the corner past a slate
quarry, we come upon the most lovely bit of valley scenery in England.
Such at least is my humble opinion. The defile is here so narrow that
there is only space for the road and the river running alongside it.
Silver birches overhang our heads. Larch, oak and fir clothe the hills
low down, while, above the belt of foliage, heather and bracken, the
stony fellside is dominated by gaunt, grey crags, around which the
ravens circle. At our feet flows the Derwent; its bed is of green slate
peculiar to the neighbourhood. This has the effect of imparting to the
water a brilliant emerald tinge, the splash of vivid colouring that is
the key-note of the whole beautiful combination. The huge isolated rock,
up on the small plateau ahead, is the famous Bowder Stone, claimed to be
the largest detached boulder in England. More remarkable than its size,
however, is the small space upon which it rests. So narrow is this that
directly under the greatest bulk of the stone two persons, one on each
side, may shake hands, and we are told that whatever they wish for at
the time they are sure to get. Perhaps, this is why one so often
observes a man at one side and a lady of similar age at the other!

Lack of space renders it impossible to dwell in detail upon this
wonderful valley. The green, hill-girt pastures of Rosthwaite;
picturesque Langstrath, guarded by the square shoulder of Eagle Crag,
leading over Stake Pass into Langdale; the wild valley of Seathwaite,
famous for its old plumbago mines and enclosed by the grandest and
highest fells in Lakeland, and the moss-covered, old-world farmsteads
and overhanging eaves of Seatoller, must be dismissed with bare mention.
The steep grind up Honister Hause above Seatoller has compensation for
us in the lovely woodland glen below it, with Horse Ghyll singing
lustily out of the depths. Another twenty minutes finds us, after having
traversed a stretch of moorland worthy of the Scottish Highlands, on the
top of Honister Pass, gazing at one of the grandest cliffs in Lakeland.
Honister Crag presents its almost perpendicular sweeping outline in

[Illustration: The Bowder Stone

And the Valley of Borrowdale.]

[Illustration: Buttermere and Crummock Water

From the top of Honister Crag, showing Loweswater in the distance.]

front of us; but one’s admiration is divided between this and the
startling scheme of the fell-side colouring--great tracts of dark grey
interspersed with streamers of brilliant emerald and white. This is the
same beautiful colouring as we noticed in the Derwent below Bowder
Stone, but whereas the latter is caused by the gently flowing stream,
Honister Crag owes its vivid tints to the refuse thrown from the slate
quarries near its summit ridge. Which makes enthusiasm somewhat

The iron skid is attached and our char-a-banc ploughs its way down the
pass a few hundred yards, until suddenly the road in front of us seems
to go almost perpendicularly over. Soon we are on the brink. The view
downward, with the stream away below us in front and an unguarded
precipice on our left, strikes terror into the hearts of nervous lady
passengers; many of them prefer to alight and walk down this bit. Many
of the gentlemen too, with lordly unconcern, express a desire to
“stretch their legs” and they also get out and walk! The danger is only
fancied, however, for thousands of char-a-bancs and other conveyances
come over here every season and no accident, nor anything approaching an
accident, has occurred--surely a tribute alike to the care and skill of
the drivers, the excellence of their horses and the vigilance of the
hotel proprietors, who see that all wheels, harness and other trappings
are of the very best, and in perfect order. Thence the pass runs along
the valley bottom, with Honister towering above on the one hand and the
almost equally bare declivities of Yew Crag on the other--the wildest
bit of coach road in the district--until, after passing through a
gateway we come quite suddenly upon the gem of the “round,” Buttermere
Lake itself. A small sheet of water as regards size, it is nevertheless
very imposing. Set deep amongst mountains descending almost sheer into
the lake and traversed by gloomy ghylls and water slides, bare of
foliage except for a few localized larch and oak trees, which seem to
emphasise its quality of sombreness, Buttermere cannot fail to secure a
lasting place amongst our memories of Lakeland. From the grand square
shoulder of Honister Crag, now seen “end on,” with Great Gable peeping
over its flank, followed by High Crags, the massive wedge of High Stile
and the cone of Red Pike, to the distant form of Melbreak beyond
Crummock Water, the mountain grouping leaves nothing to be desired--not
even height or vastness; indeed, these qualities are quite features of
Buttermere. Yet the lake is only a little over a mile long and the
mountains less than three thousand feet above sea-level! Truly, form,
proportion and atmosphere are wonderful deceivers.

The little village of Buttermere, with its hotels, church and
farmsteads, lies ten minutes drive along, between the lake and Crummock
Water. Here we “outspan,” lunch and then walk down through the pastures
to our boat waiting to take us across the lake to Scale Force. Although
this row over the lake does not form the best introduction to Crummock
Water, it brings us into contact with its most typical and charming
view-point. Our boat grounds a few yards away from Ling Crag, at the
base of which is a veritable “silver strand” of white shingle. This
forms a beautiful foreground to the still lake and massive mountain
forms beyond. The black shadow of Rannerdale Knott, silhouetted against
the more distant breast of the double-topped Whiteless Pike, inspires
us, not with awesomeness or gloom, but with the less repulsive, indeed,
often welcome, sense of solitude. The great bulk of mountain facing us
as we land is Melbreak and we skirt the end of this for nearly a mile
until the roar of Scale Force can be heard in a ravine to our left. This
is the highest of the Lakeland waterfalls. Perhaps also it is the best
worth seeing. The water comes down sheer in a single leap from a height
of over a hundred feet, and is nicely set in a rocky frame, draped with
mosses, ferns and undergrowth. It is worth

[Illustration: Crummock Water, and Whiteless Pike


while to climb to the bank near the head of the cascade. As we lie
stretched on the grassy hummocks, we overlook a magnificent view of the
lake and mountains, with Honister Crag and Buttermere away at the head
of the valley. This is an ideal spot, but the exigencies of the drive
back to Keswick prevent over-indulgence and before long we must rejoin
our char-a-banc at Buttermere.

The story of Mary of Buttermere and the specious scoundrel who married,
and then deserted her, will be recalled--a sordid tale of imposture and
only worthy of mention because of its unusual setting. One does not
associate this kind of thing with the mountains. More interesting and
amusing was this man’s career in Keswick, where, as the Honourable
Augustus Hope, he hobnobbed with the “gentry” and fooled and fleeced
them to a fine tune. More in keeping with Buttermere is the incident of
the parson who refused to consummate the marriage service of a brother
clerical, his reason being that a herdwick sheep stood in the doorway
when the banns were called, and cried “Baa” very loudly. This, to the
parson, sounded like an objection and “just cause” why the marriage
should be stopped!

There are other tales told of Buttermere, but our coach is now ready and
before long we swing off the main road by the little church and breast
the steep pull up the fellside to Buttermere Hause. The more energetic
members of the party are mutely requested to walk by the sight of the
straining backs of the horses. If this is ineffectual, as I have
sometimes known it to be, the driver explains the seductive delights
afforded by a contemplation of the bracken and heather slopes of Sail
and Eel Crags when seen “_pied à terre_”. Whatever the inducement, the
upshot is a steep walk of about a mile until the hause, or top of the
pass, is attained. A fine waterfall in the breast of Robinson--Robinson
being the unromantic name of the mountain across the valley--diverts our
attention from the moor intervening between us and the Vale of
Newlands, with distant Blencathra beyond. A “nervy” hill, surfaced with
shale in which the wheel-skids grip finely, leads us down into the
valley bottom and thence follows a long stretch of moorland--a fitting
preparation for the pretty wooded scenery more in evidence as we near
our journey’s end. We bowl merrily along, happy in meditating on the
beauties through which we have passed, when suddenly we become aware
that the roadway has vanished. There is no time to protest before we
find ourselves overlooking a steep brow and bating our breath as the
coach tilts at an alarming angle. This is the famous “Devil’s Elbow,” an
awe-inspiring hill, the descent of which is rather like a tooth
extraction--pleasant enough in retrospect. The proceeding is a perfectly
safe one, however, and before long we find ourselves in the heart of
Newlands Vale, whence three miles of excellent going takes us through
the village of Portinscale, past Crosthwaite Church to Keswick and our

[Illustration: “The Devil’s Elbow”

Showing the coaches returning from Buttermere to Keswick, on the
“Buttermere round.”]

[Illustration: The Head of Ullswater

As seen from Place Fell, and looking across to Stybarrow Crag and
Helvellyn, with the village and vale of Glenridding.]


Ullswater and Helvellyn.

Ullswater is at once the finest and the tamest of all the lakes. This
seeming paradox is explained when one realizes that it is formed of
three distinct reaches, all of which are hidden from the others. The
lowest reach stretches out in a thin wedge of water to the confines of
the mountains at Pooley Bridge; the higher fells are away at the other
end. In its length of nine miles the lake stretches further and further
into the recesses of the hills, until, at its head or upper reach, it
nestles amongst the most beautiful and impressive combination of
mountains and woods in Lakeland. The middle reach also, has a beauty of
its own, a mixture of the sublime and the ordinary. Its chief charm lies
in its loneliness, evidence of human habitation being almost entirely

As we sail up from the foot of the lake there is ever present the
feeling that we are working up to a climax, and this is attained when
the top reach bursts on our view in a way that is quite dramatic and
which exceeds our most sanguine expectations. The richly wooded slopes
on our right descend to the water’s edge, whilst above they merge into
the craggy fellsides, in many places overgrown by purple heather and
golden bracken, with sombre Scotch firs interspersed in lavish style.
Beyond this front array stretches the long, lean flank of Helvellyn,
glimpses of which are caught away at the heads of all the side valleys.
In front of us the fine sweep of St. Sunday’s Crag, one of the most
perfect outlines in the district, forms a centre-piece. Its beautiful
curve sweeps gracefully down towards the Grisedale Valley, like a
high-born lady acknowledging the existence of a humbler presence.
Further round still is the deep valley of Kirkstone, bounded on the left
again by the High Street range and its dependencies. Place
Fell--variegated with masses of dark gorse and crag, but almost devoid
of trees--fills in the scene on the left, an excellent foil to the
luxuriance which is the dominant note of the opposite shore.

Ullswater is more reminiscent of the lakes of Switzerland or Scotland
than any of the others, and no doubt those visitors who award the palm
of beauty to it have previously formed their ideals in these two
districts. Perhaps these are the people whose opinion is the soundest
and most discriminating; however this may be, Ullswater certainly
disputes the sovereignty of beauty with Windermere and Derwentwater.

After the sail up the lake on one of the comfortable steam yachts which
run continuously throughout the season, the best idea of Ullswater is to
be obtained by walking from Howtown Bay to Patterdale, along the western
margin of the water. A rough, unobtrusive path leads us past the flank
of Hallin Fell, whence the full sweep of the lowest reach is in full
view with the rounded form of Dunmallet, an old Roman fort, away in the
distance. After ten minutes stroll through knee-deep bracken, with its
fragrant scent in our nostrils and the song of birds in our ears, we
reach the tree-covered rocky point known as Kailpot Crag. This gets its
name from a curious water-wrought rock basin, near the water’s edge,
known as the “Devil’s Kailpot,” which is about a foot deep and eighteen
inches across. There is a common local tradition that it brings luck to
those who drop money into it. And this proceeding does undoubtedly bring
luck--to the knowing ones who collect the coppers after the credulous
tourist has taken his departure!

[Illustration: Ullswater

From Silver Point, showing the head of the lake and St. Sunday’s Crag,
with Helvellyn to the right.]

Across the lake from here are the Mell Fells, and a short distance
farther up, also on the opposite side, Gowbarrow Park, recently
purchased by the National Trust. This is now open to the public for ever
and a debt of gratitude is undoubtedly due to those sixteen hundred
public spirited persons who subscribed the necessary funds. Long after
our district has been bought up by private owners and their
notice-boards stare one in the face at every turn, this, the most
beautiful, wooded glen in Cumberland, will be open for ever to the
nature lover without let or hindrance--a great national infirmary where
hard workers can come and drink in Nature’s own medicine. Not only is
this Gowbarrow Park beautiful in itself, with its wealth of parkland,
its glorious foliage, under which the red and fallow deer feed, and its
torrent-filled glen, but the views of Ullswater as seen from here impart
to it a character possessed by no other park in the length and breadth
of the land.

The gorge down which dashes the waterfall, Aira Force, is the most
beautiful spot in the park and the fall itself, a single leap of about
sixty feet in height, is one of the finest in Lakeland. Gowbarrow Park
and the fell above it were opened by the Speaker in 1906, when he
felicitously recalled the mountain in labour which brought forth a
mouse--“but,” to quote his words on this occasion, “it is the mice that
have been in labour and brought forth a mountain.” More “mice” are
needed. Lakeland estates are constantly coming into the market and it
would be a fine thing if funds were always in readiness to secure them
for the nation. Canon Rawnsley, of Keswick, is the honorary secretary of
the National Trust, and will always be glad to receive donations to this

It was on the margin of the water below Gowbarrow that Wordsworth saw
the daffodils which inspired his poem, ridiculed by the critics of his
time but now recognised as a glory of our national literature. The last
verse is so typical of Wordsworth’s conception of nature that I take the
liberty of quoting it:

    “For oft when on my couch I lie,
     In vacant or in pensive mood,
     They flash upon that inward eye,
     Which is the bliss of solitude:
     And then my heart with pleasure fills
     And dances with the daffodils.”

After rounding Kailpot Crag the path winds along the side of Hallin Fell
and Birk Fell for a couple of miles until it crosses Silver Point, and
we come into full view of the upper reach of the lake. Ullswater looks
magnificent from here. Right across from us, seen over the little island
of House Holm, is richly wooded Glencoin, above which the bleak Dodds of
Helvellyn stand out in distinctive contrast. Further up the lake the
arrangement of the mountains and valleys is that already described from
the steamer: reference to the two accompanying photographs, which are
taken hereabouts, will afford a better idea of the scene than any amount
of verbal description. It is well to continue our walk as far as the
little village of Patterdale, for every step is a delight, and variety
of scenic effect nullifies the distance marvellously. A glance into the
quaint little church is well worth while, and then we follow the main
road along through Glenridding village to Stybarrow Crag, a jutting
promontory beneath which the road has barely room to wind because of the
nearness of the lake. It was at this narrow pass that the dalesmen once
made a successful stand against a band of Scottish Mosstroopers.
Nowadays, it witnesses nothing more stirring than parties of picnickers
and it must be admitted that it is an ideal place for the purpose.

Helvellyn, the second highest mountain in England, affords a grand
scramble from Glenridding or Patterdale. Although its ascent involves no
hand to hand climbing, all true mountaineers must enjoy the

[Illustration: Stybarrow Crag

And Ullswater, with Gowbarrow Fell in the background.]

[Illustration: Striding Edge, Helvellyn

On the right is Red Tarn, and above it Swirrel Edge, the highest point
seen being the top of Helvellyn.]

fine walk along the twin edges, Striding Edge and Swirrel Edge, between
which lies the wild mountain lakelet, Red Tarn. Much has been written
about the terrors of Striding Edge and I have met nervous people who
have been vastly pleased with themselves for having crossed it in
safety. In reality it is merely a rough traverse of a rocky ridge along
which, be it spoken low, a path runs! The central position of Helvellyn
and its great height render the view from its top one of the finest in
Lakeland. The prospect Eastward over the twin edges, with Ullswater
beyond, and away on the far horizon the Pennines, dominated by Cross
Fell, vies in interest and beauty with that in the opposite direction
where all the chief lakeland heights, from Coniston Old Man to Scawfell
and Skiddaw, show to great advantage.

Ullswater has its chief communication with the southern Lakeland over
Kirkstone Pass, a high mountain coach road crowned at the top by the
inevitable “highest house in England.” I wonder how many there are
altogether. About a couple of miles beyond the head of Ullswater the
road skirts the minor lake, Brother’s Water, and almost immediately
afterwards climbs the steep gradient between Red Screes and Caudale
Moor. A large block of stone,

    “Whose churchlike frame
     Gives to the savage pass its name,”

stands on the slope of Red Screes near the top of the pass. This is the
Kirk Stone. The road forks beyond the “Travellers Rest”--the highest
house. The descent to Ambleside by the right-hand road is short, but
appallingly steep. When taken in the opposite direction six horses are
necessary to haul up a large char-a-banc and even then it well deserves
its local name, “the struggle.”

The other road diverges to the left and runs down through the beautiful
Troutbeck Valley, a distance of seven miles, to Windermere. It was in
the little village of Troutbeck that the uncle of William Hogarth, the
most truly English of all our great painters, lived. The genius of the
uncle, “Auld Hoggart,” as he was locally called by his fellow yeomen,
evidenced itself in a wonderful facility for composing rhymes, short
dramas in verse and cynical epitaphs. Particularly satirical is the
following, and typical of much that he wrote

    “Here lies a woman, no man can deny it,
     She died in peace, although she lived unquiet.
     Her husband prays if e’er this way you walk,
     You would tread softly--if she wakes, she’ll talk.”

[Illustration: The Kirkstone Pass

And Brothers’ Water, with Place Fell behind.]


Coniston, Wastwater and Furness Abbey.

“This,” said John Ruskin, speaking of the Vale of Yewdale, “is the most
beautiful valley in England.” And it is by Yewdale that Coniston is
usually approached. Wherefore let all pay a visit to Coniston, if only
for the sake of passing down that charming vale.

The drive from Ambleside along the banks of the Brathay, across Skelwith
Bridge and thence over Oxenfell to Yewdale and down to Coniston, is
typical of many of the day excursions in Lakeland--the changing scenes
of beauty _en route_ are so entrancing in themselves that even without a
chief object in view, the drive is well worth taking. For whether it is
the rich lichen-covered boulders over which the Brathay gently murmurs,
the pastoral enclosures on its banks, with the old boundary walls
climbing up the steep fellsides beyond, the feast of colour presented by
the river and dark fir trees as we cross Skelwith Bridge, the wild
moorland scenery of Oxenfell with that delicious glimpse across Colwith
of the Langdale Pikes and Helvellyn, or the larch trees, heather and
bracken slopes of Yewdale, interspersed with grey craggy patches, or
whether, finally, it is Coniston Lake itself that most impresses us
would be impossible to decide with any certainty.

But Coniston Lake alone is one of the sights of Lakeland and holds a
high place in the esteem of many lovers of the beautiful in nature,
beside Ruskin, who loved it so well that he made his home by its

The lake is about five miles long and not more than half a mile in
width. On its Western side it is bounded by low, wooded slopes not
unlike those at the lower end of Windermere, while on the opposite side,
in great contrast, is seen the fine mountain--Old Man, whose peculiar
name is a corruption of the Gaelic, Alt Maen, the High Rock. Below its
rugged escarpments nestles the village of Coniston with its church,
railway-station and other signs of a thriving tourist centre.

In the church-yard, beneath the fine runic cross, carved with figures
symbolical of his writings, is laid to rest John Ruskin, whose name will
for all time be most closely associated with this lovely spot. His home,
Brantwood, is on the east side of the Lake, about two miles from the
village and a mile from Tent Lodge, where Tennyson once resided.

The Furness Railway Company, under the management of Mr. Alfred Aslett,
a veritable genius of organization and enterprise, has placed a
comfortable steam yacht on Coniston, as well as a most picturesque
gondola, and these ply continuously throughout the summer months from
Waterhead to Lake Foot. The sail down the lake is one of great beauty,
affording magnificent near views of the Old Man, and Dow Crags, with
Fairfield, Helvellyn, Red Screes and other Lakeland giants peering over
the coronal of wood at the head of the lake. Brantwood, Tent Lodge, the
ivy-covered Coniston Hall and other farmsteads are in sight from the
water and lend to the scenery an air of domesticity. The view from
Beacon Crags, the eminence overlooking the foot of Coniston, commands
the entire length of the lake with its glorious background of mountains
and is second to none in the district.

If we take the main road past the head of Coniston, in an easterly
direction, and follow it up the steep rise to High Cross,

[Illustration: Coniston Lake

And the mountain Old Man, on the breast of which is situated the village
of Coniston. The view is taken from near Brantwood, Ruskin’s home.]

beautiful peeps of Coniston are seen through the woods. Above us on the
moor is the romantic sheet of water, Tarn Hows, the favourite stroll of
all Coniston _habitués_. The main road continues over the hill, however,
and in another mile reaches the quaintest and most old-world village
imaginable. This is Hawkshead. Its old market square, pillared houses
with outside stairs, quaint nooks entered by roadways passing under the
houses, to say nothing of the centuries-old church, and the grammar
school, with the actual desk at which Wordsworth learnt his lessons, are
at once interesting and amusing. An old epitaph in the Church-yard,
visited from far and near, ran as follows:--

    “This stone can boast as good a wife
     As ever lived a married life,
     And from her marriage to her grave
     She was never known to misbehave.
     The tongue which others seldom guide
     Was never heard to blame or chide,
     From every folly always free,
     She was what others ought to be.”

It is sad to reflect that the above was erased by the lady’s
sons-in-law, for the prosaic reason that “it wasn’t true”! To Hawkshead
belongs Esthwaite Water, a reposeful sylvan lakelet, quite different
from the more northerly meres, but nevertheless very alluring in its own
way, with distant Langdale Pikes and Bowfell a shimmering, almost
unreal, background.

In actual distance it is not far from Hawkshead to Wastwater, but there
is an entire contrast in the character of their scenery. Wastwater is
the grandest of the lakes and is possessed of a wild, sombre beauty.
Grouped around its head are Scawfell, Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Yewbarrow
and the wild mass of the Pillar, the highest and most rugged of
Lakeland’s mountains while--rising directly from the very edge of the
water--the boulder-strewn slopes of the Screes, crowned at a height of
1,000 feet by magnificent bastions of rock, confine the southern side of
the lake in almost its entire length. It is a very weird sensation to
row along the lake under these Screes and see them plunge straight down
into the water, until they merge into the blackness of its depths. This
is the deepest of the lakes, and the steep angle of the mountain is
continued under water for two hundred and fifty-eight feet. Wastwater is
open to the west, whence an excellent road leads from Seascale, on the
Furness Railway, up to Wastdale Head, the small village about a mile
beyond the head of the lake.

Wastdale Head is almost entirely enclosed; indeed Will Ritson, the
erstwhile landlord of the hotel and a great character, used to say that
“t’ view frae Wastdale Heed was ’tpoorest he knew, for yan could see
nowt for t’ mountains”! Many famous men have foregathered here in times
past; it has appealed to natures as different as those of Darwin and
Ruskin, Sir Walter Scott and Turner, Wordsworth and Professor Sedgwick,
all of whom visited it many times. Will Ritson was the contemporary of
these visitors and many are the tales told of the jovial times they had.
Christopher North and Auld Will, as he was called, wrestled together and
the Professor got the worst of three falls, but Auld Will owned that he
was “a verra bad ’un to lick.” Christopher North got even with his
conqueror next day, however, when, with some other dalesmen, they went
on the lake together. When they were well away from the shore, the
Professor fell overboard and sank like a stone. Auld Will was terribly
upset and, with his companions, did all he could to rescue him when he
came to the surface. But the Professor plunged about to such an extent
that for long they could not get hold of him. At last one of them seized
him round the neck and held him up, whereupon

[Illustration: Wastwater and Great Gable

“A Gathering Storm.”]

the drowning man burst into laughter and climbed over the side of the
boat. He was an excellent swimmer and the whole business was just a
prank to get even with Auld Will!

There were merry times at Wastdale in those days, and although the old
figures have departed, their place is nowadays taken by another and
vastly increased generation of mountain lovers. These are the rock
climbers and mountaineers, whose Mecca is the Wastwater Hotel. At
Christmas, Easter and other holiday times, the valley is full to
overflowing, and climbing enthusiasts, who include ’Varsity Dons,
Members of Parliament and distinguished Barristers, are glad to get
accommodation on the billiard table, in the bath room, or even in the
barn. Early in the morning, they set out with ropes intent upon their
various climbs, Scawfell Pinnacle, the famous Pillar Rock or the Needle
on Great Gable.

A very favourite climb is this latter, short but exceedingly difficult
and only for those of long experience. The way lies up the crack seen in
the illustration and it is climbed by wedging the knee in this crack,
whilst the hands grasp its rough edges above one’s head. The leader, who
should be an uncommonly good cragsman, attaches the rope round his waist
and when he has attained the top of the crack, rests there and takes in
the rope as the next climber ascends. It is just kept taut so that in
case of a slip the second man comes to no harm. When he has joined his
leader, the latter climbs a stage higher to the next platform, and the
performance is repeated. Then comes the crux of the climb. The top
boulder overhangs considerably on one side, and the way lies up the
almost vertical right-hand outline seen in the photograph. The hand- and
footholds are very small, the situation is most exposed and it demands
not only great gymnastic skill, but a perfectly cool and daring nerve to
lead up this last bit. Once there the leader sits down--the top is
about a yard square and by no means level--and takes in his companion’s
rope. The descent can be made by reversing this route or by a more
exposed ridge on the other side.

I recall a very unpleasant experience of my own on the Needle. It was on
the bitterly cold Christmas day of 1897, that a party of three of us
climbed to its apex. We had no sooner arrived there than it came on to
rain and as the rain fell it froze immediately on the rock; the Needle
became almost like a huge inverted icicle. I essayed the descent, but
the small handholds near the top were veneered with ice. It was quite
impossible, so, with great difficulty, I regained my companions on the
top. By this time a driving wind had sprung up and it behoved us to
descend at once, or else be frozen and then blown off. It was an
unpleasant dilemma, but we got out of it in the following manner. The
strongest man of the party lowered first one and then the other of us,
swinging round and round on the rope end like a spider at the end of its
clew, until we reached the neck between the Needle and the mountain,
seen in the illustration. Then the last man tied his rope round the top
of the rock and came down hand over hand for about twenty feet, when off
slipped the rope from the top and he came tumbling down on to us.
Fortunately he retained his grasp of the rope and, as we were tied to
the other end, we were able to arrest his fall before he had gone far.
Beyond a severe shaking he was no worse, and this, with a bruised
shoulder where his boot struck me as his body flew through the air, was
all the damage sustained in our escapade.

For those whose ideas of exercise lie in a milder direction, the walk up
Great Gable or Scawfell Pike, the highest English mountain, will suggest
itself. The views from these summits are magnificent in every direction
and embrace the wild fastnesses of the Pillar, the silvery light over
the sea, where the Isle of Man glimmers in the

[Illustration: An ascent of The Needle Rock, Great Gable]

[Illustration: Furness Abbey

General View showing the entrance to the Chapter House and the

distance, the soft beauties of Windermere, Derwentwater and Skiddaw,
with Wastwater, “abode of gloom and congregated storms,” in the valley
at our feet. Auld Will used to do a bit of guiding when business was
slack at the inn, and one day he accompanied a parson up Scawfell Pike.
The fell side was stony and the going so rough that this gentleman was
led to indulge in language that quite disgusted Auld Will, who had
always a great respect for “the cloth.” He said nothing in reproof,
however, until he had seated his charge safely on the top of Scawfell
Pike, when he stood back, mopped his brow and delivered himself to the
parson as follows: “Theer, me man, thoo can mak t’maist o’ that, for
it’s as near Heaven as thoo’ll ivver get!”

No description of Lakeland could pretend to completeness without some
reference, however brief, to the monastic ruins of Furness Abbey. From
Wastwater to Seascale Station is twelve miles by road and thence the
Furness Railway takes one in a very short time to the secluded Vale of
Beckans Ghyll--a fitting retreat for an edifice which had for its chief
object complete withdrawal from every-day life. This charm of aloofness
and sequestration still hovers around the spot where the Abbots of
Furness centuries ago, for the Abbey was founded by Stephen, in 1127,
eschewed all dealings with “the world, the flesh and the devil.”

It ranks second to Fountain’s Abbey in opulence and extent, but if we
add beauty of detail, the ruins of Furness are equal to any in Great
Britain. It was originally a filiation from the monastery of Savigny, in
Normandy, which belonged to the order of Benedictines, but before many
years had passed, the brethren entered the Cistercian order, changing
grey for white habiliments. The chief abbot was endowed with great
civil, as well as ecclesiastical influence. In his criminal courts, the
power of life and death was his; he had control of the militia; every
mesne lord was bound to contribute his quota of armed men at the Abbot’s
summons, and, save to the King, he was answerable to no man.

The hand of time has lain heavily upon some portions of the abbey, but
sufficient can be deduced from “the roofless pile of ruins” to enable us
to gather some conception of its original beauty and importance. Amongst
its finest features are the deeply recessed trio of Transitional Arches;
the Sedilia, with well-preserved canopies in the richest style of the
Decorated Period; the northern gate of the Abbey, a really beautiful
Gothic arch; the Chapter House, one of the most exquisite bits of early
English architecture preserved to us, and the great East Window of the
Choir or Chancel.

In addition to the Abbey itself, the little dell in which it is situated
contains the hotel and railway station, and it redounds greatly to the
credit of their designers, that neither of these mars the scenic effect
of the landscape. In the hotel, amongst other topical mementoes, are
some beautiful and very ancient _bas reliefs_ and the Abbot’s Room, an
apartment which revives in all who visit it the atmosphere of Furness
Abbey as it was in the days of its pristine glory.

Much remains to be said. Many picturesque spots have barely been
mentioned, Haweswater, Loweswater and Ennerdale Water among others, and
even if the tourist should spend six months in this wonderful district,
his position will be very much that of mine in compiling this book. He
will by no means have exhausted all its beauties.

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