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on the contrary, call the vale of Derwentwater, the Devil's Chamber-pot, and pronounce the name of Skiddawfell, which terminates here, with a sort of terror and aversion. Armathwate house is a modern fabric, not large, and built of dark-red stone, belonged to Mr. Spedding, whose grandfather was steward to old Sir James Lowther, and bought this estate of the Himers. The sky was overcast and the wind cool; so, after dining at a public-house, which stands here near the bridge, (that crosses the Derwent just were it issues from the lake), and sauntering a little by the water-side I came home again. The turnpike is finished from Cockermouth hither, five miles, and is carrying on to Penrith: several little showers to-day. A man came in, who said there was snow on Cross-fell this morning.
Oct. 7. I walked in the morning to Crow-park, and in the evening up Penrith road. The clouds came rolling up the mountains all round very dark, yet the moon shone at intervals. It was too damp to go towards the lake. To-morrow I mean to bid farewell to Keswick.
Botany might be studied here to great advantage at another season, because of the great variety of soils and elevations, all lying within a small compass. I observed nothing but several curious lichens, and plenty of gale or Dutch myrtle perfuming the borders of the lake. This year the Wadd-mine had been opened, which is done once in five years; it is taken out in lumps sometimes as big as a man's fist, and will undergo no preparation by fire, not being fusible; when it is pure, soft, black, and close-grained, it is worth sometimes thirty shillings a pound. There are no charr ever taken in these lakes, but plenty in Butter-mere-water, which lies a little way north of Borrowdale, about Martinmas, which are potted here. They sow chiefly oats and bigg here, which are now cutting and still on the ground; the rains have done much hurt yet observe, the soil is so thin and
light, that no day has passed in which I could not walk out with ease, and you know I am no lover of dirt. Fell mutton is now in season for about six weeks; it grows fat on the mountains, and nearly resembles venison. Excellent pike and perch, here called bass; trout is out of season; partridge in great plenty.
Oct. 8. I left Keswick and took the Ambleside road in a gloomy morning; and about two miles from the town mounted an eminence called Castle-rigg, and the sun breaking out, discovered the most enchanting view I have yet seen of the whole valley behind me, the two lakes, the river, the mountains all in their glory; so that I had almost a mind to have gone back again, The road in some few parts is not completed, yet good country road, through sound but narrow and stony lanes, very safe in broad day-light. This is the case about Causeway-foot, and among Naddlefells to Lancwaite. The vale you go in has little breadth; the mountains are vast and rocky, the fields little and poor, and the inhabitants are now making hay, and see not the sun by two hours in a day so long as at Keswick. Came to the foot of Helvellyn, along which runs an excellent road, looking down from a little height on Lee's-water (called also Thirl-meer, or Wiborn-water), and soon descending on its margin. The lake looks black from its depth, and from the gloom of the vast crags that scowl over it, though really clear as glass; it is narrow, and about three miles long, resembling a river in its course; little shining torrents hurry down the rocks to join it, but not a bush to overshadow them, or cover their march; all is rock and loose stones up to the very brow, which lies so near your way, that not above half the height of Helvellyn can be seen.
Next I passed by the little chapel of Wiborn, out of which the Sunday congregation were then issuing; soon after a beck near Dunmeil-raise, when I entered West
moreland a second time; and now began to see Holmcrag, distinguished from its rugged neighbours, not so much by its height as by the strange broken outlines of its top, like some gigantic building demolished, and the stones that composed it flung across each other in wild confusion. Just beyond it opens one of the sweetest landscapes that art ever attempted to imitate. The bosom of the mountains spreading here into a broad basin discovers in the midst Grasmerewater; its margin is hollowed into small bays, with bold eminences; some of rock, some of soft turf, that half conceal, and vary the figure of the little lake they command: from the shore a low promontory pushes itself far into the water, and on it stands a white village with the parish church rising in the midst of it: hanging inclosures, corn-fields, and meadows green as an emerald, with their trees and hedges, and cattle, fill up the whole space from the edge of the water and just opposite to you is a large farmhouse at the bottom of a steep smooth lawn, embosomed in old woods, which climb half-way up the mountain's side, and discover above them a broken line of crags that crown the scene. Not a single red tile, no flaring gentleman's house, or garden-walls, break in upon the repose of this little unsuspected paradise; but all is peace, rusticity, and happy poverty in its neatest, most becoming attire.
The road winds here over Grasmere-hill, whose rocks soon conceal the water from your sight; yet it is continued along behind them, and, contracting itself to a river, communicates with Ridale-water, another small lake, but of inferior size and beauty: it seems shallow too, for large patches of reeds appear pretty far within it. Into this vale the road descends. On the opposite banks large and ancient woods mount up the hills; and just to the left of our way stands Ridale-hall, the family-seat of Sir Michael Fleming, a large old-fashioned
fabric, surrounded with wood. Sir Michael is now on his travels, and all this timber, far and wide, belongs to him. Near the house rises a huge crag, called Ridalehead, which is said to command a full view of Wy ynander-mere, and I doubt it not; for within a mile that great lake is visible, even from the road: as to going up the crag, one might as well go up Skiddaw.
I now reached Ambleside, eighteen miles from Keswick, meaning to lie there; but on looking into the best bed-chamber, dark and damp as a cellar, grew delicate, gave up Wynander-mere in despair, and resolved I would go on to Kendal directly, fourteen miles farther.* The road in general fine turnpike, but some parts (about three miles in all) not made, yet without danger.
For this determination I was unexpectedly well rewarded for the afternoon was fine, and the road, for the space of full five miles, ran along the side of Wynander-mere, with delicious views across it, and almost from one end to the other. It is ten miles in length, and at most a mile over, resembling the course of some vast and magnificent river; but no flat marshy grounds, no osier-beds, or patches of scrubby plantations on its banks: at the head two valleys open among the mountains; one, that by which we came down, the other Langsledale, in which Wry-nose and Hard-knot, two great mountains, rise above the rest: from thence the
* By not staying a little at Ambleside, Mr. Gray lost the sight of two most magnificent cascades; the one not above half a mile behind the inn, the other down Ridale-crag, where Sir Michael Fleming is now making a path-way to the top of it. These, when I saw them, were in full torrent, whereas Lawdoor water-fall, which I visited in the evening of the very same day, was almost without a stream. Hence I conclude, that this distinguished feature in the vale of Keswick, is, like most northern rivers, only in high beauty during bad weather. But his greatest loss was in not seeing a small water-fall visible only through the window of a ruined summer-house in Sir Michael's orchard. Here Nature has performed every thing in little that she usually executes on her largest scale; and, on that account, like the miniature painter, seems to have finished every part of it in a studied manner; not a little fragment of rock thrown into the basin, not a single stem of brushwood that starts from its craggy sides, but has its picturesque meaning; and the little central stream dashing down a cleft of the darkest-coloured stone, produces an effect of light and shadow beautiful beyond description. This little theatrical scene might be painted as large as the original, on a canvas not bigger than those which are usually dropped in the Opera-house.
fells visibly sink, and soften along its sides; sometimes they run into it (but with a gentle declivity) in their own dark and natural complexion: oftener they are green and cultivated, with farms interspersed, and round eminences, on the border covered with trees: towards the south it seemed to break into larger bays, with several islands and a wider extent of cultivation. The way rises continually, till at a place called Orrest-head it turns south-east, losing sight of the water.
Passed by Ing's-chapel and Stavely; but I can say no farther, for the dusk of evening coming on, I entered Kendal almost in the dark, and could distinguish only a shadow of the castle on a hill, and tenter-grounds spread far and wide round the town, which I mistook for houses. My inn promised sadly, having two wooden galleries, like Scotland, in front of it: it was indeed an old illcontrived house, but kept by civil sensible people; so I stayed two nights with them, and fared and slept very comfortably.
Oct. 9. The air mild as summer, all corn off the ground, and the sky-larks singing aloud (by the way, I saw not one at Keswick, perhaps, because the place abounds in birds of prey). I went up the castle-hill; the town consists chiefly of three nearly parallel streets, almost a mile long; except these, all the other houses seem as if they had been dancing a country-dance, and were out: there they stand back to back, corner to corner, some up hill, some down, without intent or meaning. Along by their side runs a fine brisk stream, over which are three stone bridges; the buildings (a few comfortable houses excepted) are mean, of stone, and covered with a bad rough cast. Near the end of the town stands a handsome house of Col. Wilson's, and adjoining to it the church, a very large gothic fabric, with a square tower: it has no particular ornaments but double aisles, and at the east-end four chapels or choirs: one of the