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have continued well, been so favoured by the weather, that my walks have never once been hindered till yesterday (that is, a fortnight and three or four days, and a journey of more than three hundred miles). I am now at Aston for two days. To-morrow I go to Cambridge. Mason is not here, but Mr. Alderson receives me. According to my promise I send you the first sheet of my journal, to be continued without end.
Sept. 30. A mile and a half from Brough, where we parted, on a hill lay a great army* encamped: to the left opened a fine valley with green meadows and hedgerows, a gentleman's house peeping forth from a grove of old trees. On a nearer approach appeared myriads of cattle and horses in the road itself, and in all the fields round me, a brisk stream hurrying cross the way, thousands of clean healthy people in their best partycoloured apparel: farmers and their families, esquires and their daughters, hastening up from the dales and down the fells from every quarter, glittering in the sun and pressing forward to join the throng. While the dark hills, on whose tops the mists were yet hanging, served as a contrast to this gay and moving scene, which continued for near two miles more along the road, and the crowd (coming towards it) reached on as far as Appleby. On the ascent of the hill above Appleby, the thick hanging wood, and the long reaches of the Eden, clear, rapid, and full as ever, winding below, with views of the castle and town, gave much employment to the
be greatly disappointed. When Mr. Gray described places, he aimed only to be exact, clear, and intelligible; to convey peculiar, not general ideas, and to paint by the eye, not the fancy. There have been many accounts of the Westmoreland and Cumberland lakes, both before and since this was written, and all of them better calculated to please readers, who are fond of what they call fine writing: yet those who can content themselves with an elegant simplicity of narrative, will, I flatter myself, find this to their taste; they will perceive it was written with a view, rather to inform than surprise; and, if they make it their companion when they take the same tour, it will enhance their opinion of its intrinsic excellence; in this way I tried it myself before I resolved to print it.
There is a great fair for cattle kept on the hill near Brough on this day and the preceding.
mirror: but now the sun was wanting, and the sky overcast. Oats and barley cut every where, but not carried in. Passed Kirbythore, Sir William Dalston's house at Acorn Bank, Whinfield Park, Harthorn Oaks, Countess Pillar, Brougham Castle, Mr. Brown's large new house; crossed the Eden and the Eimot (pronounce Eeman) with its green vale, and dined at three o'clock with Mrs. Buchanan at Penrith, on trout and partridge. In the afternoon walked up Beacon-hill, a mile to the top, and could see Ulswater through an opening in the bosom of that cluster of broken mountains, which the Doctor well remembers, Whinfield and Lowther Parks, &c. and the craggy tops of a hundred nameless hills: these lie to west and south. To the north a great extent of black and dreary plains. To the east, Cross-fell, just visible through mists and vapours hovering round it.
Oct. 1. A gray autumnal day, the air perfectly calm and mild, went to see Ulswater, five miles distant; soon left the Keswick road, and turned to the left through shady lanes along the vale of Eeman, which runs rapidly on near the way, ripling over the stones; to the right is Delmaine, a large fabric of pale red stone, with nine windows in front and seven on the side, built by Mr. Hassle, behind it a fine lawn surrounded by woods, and a long rocky eminence rising over them: a clear and brisk rivulet runs by the house to join the Eeman, whose course is in sight and at a small distance. Farther on appears Hatton St. John, a castle-like old mansion of Mr. Huddleston. Approached Dunmallert, a fine-pointed hill covered with wood, planted by old Mr. Hassle before-mentioned, who lives always at home and delights in planting. Walked over a spongy meadow or two, and
* Mr. Gray carried usually with him on these tours a plano-convex mirror of about four inches diameter on a black foil, and bound up like a pocket-book. A glass of this sort is perhaps the best and most convenient substitute for a camera obscura, of any thing that has hitherto been invented, and may be had of any optician.
began to mount the hill through a broad straight green alley among the trees, and with some toil gained the summit. From hence saw the lake opening directly at my feet, majestic in its calmness, clear and smooth as a blue mirror, with winding shores and low points of land covered with green inclosures, white farm-houses looking out among the trees, and cattle feeding. The water is almost every where bordered with cultivated lands, gently sloping upwards from a mile to a quarter of a mile in breadth, till they reach the feet of the mountains, which rise very rude and awful with their broken tops on either hand. Directly in front, at better than three miles' distance, Place Fell, one of the bravest among them, pushes its bold broad breast into the midst of the lake, and forces it to alter its course, forming first a large bay to the left, and then bending to the right. I descended Dunmallert again by a side avenue that was only not perpendicular, and came to Barton-bridge over the Eeman; then walking through a path in the wood round the bottom of the hill, came forth where the Eeman issues out of the lake, and continued my way along its western shore close to the water, and generally on a level with it. Saw a cormorant flying over it and fishing. The figure of the lake nothing resembles that laid down in our maps it is nine miles long; and at widest under a mile in breadth. After extending itself three miles and a half in a line to south-west, 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 root of Helvellyn, a lofty and very rugged mountain, and spreading again turns off to south-east, and 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 scattered among trees, and called Water-Mallock, in a pleasant grave day, perfectly calm and warm, but without a
gleam of sunshine; then the sky seeming to thicken, and the valley to grow more desolate, and evening drawing on, I returned by the way I came to Penrith.
Oct. 2. I set out at ten for Keswick, by the road we went in 1767; saw Greystock town and castle to the right, which lie about three miles from Ulswater over the fells; passed through Penradoch and Threlcot at the foot of Saddleback, whose furrowed sides were gilt by the noon-day sun, whilst its brow appeared of a sad purple from the shadow of the clouds as they sailed slowly by it. The broad and green valley of Gardies and Lowside, with a swift stream glittering among the cottages and meadows, lay to the left, and the much finer but narrower valley of St. John's opening into it: Hilltop, the large though low mansion of the Gaskarths, now a farm-house, seated on an eminence among woods, under a steep fell, was what appeared the most conspicuous, and beside it a great rock, like some ancient tower nodding to its fall. Passed by the side of Skiddaw and its cub called Latter-rig; and 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, and lighting up all the mountains with its lustre. Dined by two o'clock at the Queen's Head, and then straggled out alone to the Parsonage, where I saw the sun set in all its glory.
Oct. 3. A heavenly day; rose at seven and walked out under the conduct of my landlord to Borrowdale; the grass was covered with a hoar-frost, which soon melted and exhaled in a thin bluish smoke; crossed the meadows, obliquely catching a diversity of views among the hills over the lake and islands, and changing prospect at every ten paces. Left Cockshut (which we formerly mounted) and Castle-hill, a loftier and more rugged hill behind me, and drew near the foot of Wallacrag, whose bare and rocky brow cut perpendicularly
down about four hundred feet (as I guess, though the people called it much more) awfully overlooks the way. Our path here tends to the left, and the ground gently rising and covered with a glade of scattering trees and bushes on the very margin of the water, opens both ways the most delicious view that my eyes ever beheld; opposite are the thick woods of Lord Egremont and Newland-valley, with green and smiling fields embosomed in the dark cliffs; to the left the jaws of Borrowdale, with that turbulent chaos of mountain behind mountain, rolled in confusion; beneath you, and stretching far away to the right, the shining purity of the lake reflecting rocks, woods, fields, and inverted tops of hills, just ruffled by the breeze, enough to shew it is alive, with the white buildings of Keswick, Crosthwaite Church, and Skiddaw for a back ground at a distance. Behind you the magnificent heights of Walla-crag: here the glass played its part divinely, the place is called Carfclose-reeds; and I chose to set down these barbarous names, that any body may inquire on the place, and easily find the particular station that I mean. This scene continues to Barrowgate; and a little farther, passing a brook called Barrow-beck, we entered Borrowdale: the crags named Lawdoor-banks begin now to impend terribly over your way, and more terribly when you hear that three years since an immense mass of rock tumbled at once from the brow and barred all access to the dale (for this is the only road) till they could work their way through it. Luckily no one was passing at the time of this fall; but down the side of the mountain, and far into the lake, lie dispersed the huge fragments of this ruin in all shapes and in all directions: something farther we turned aside into a coppice, ascending a little in front of Lawdoor waterfall; the height appeared to be about two hundred feet, the quantity of water not great, though (these three days