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Beautiful Lakeland

Beautiful Lakeland
Title: Beautiful Lakeland
Release Date: 2018-05-20
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Near Ferry Nab, Windermere

“An August Afternoon.”




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


ChapterI. An appreciation: The cause and history of Lakeland5
II. Windermere and Ambleside12
III.Grasmere and Rydal19
IV. Thirlmere, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite24
V.The Buttermere Round32
VI.Ullswater, Helvellyn and Kirkstone Pass39
VII. Coniston, Wastwater and Furness Abbey45


List of Illustrations


Beautiful Lakeland.

An Appreciation: The Cause and History of Lakeland.

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

Within the small space of thirty square miles, scenes of the wildestgrandeur and the most tranquil beauty exist side by side. From the grimrecesses of Scawfell and Great Gable one can pass in two or three hoursto the placid haunts of Windermere. The stern solitudes of Wastwater canbe 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 andllyns of North Wales, the lakes and valleys of Switzerland, all havetheir counterpart and seem to meet in Lakeland. Indeed, the diversity ofthe landscape in so small a tract of country is nothing short ofmarvellous. This diversity is perhaps the feature that first impresses astranger, but almost at the same time the compactness of the wholeclaims his notice. Here one picture succeeds another without{6} pause.Half an hour’s walk will accomplish as great a change as would half aday’s walk in most of the other beauty spots of the country.

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

It may be thought that because the higher mountains barely top threethousand feet the sense of space and immensity will be lacking. Butreally this is not so. The truth is that the proportions of a mountainare determining factors of greater moment than its mere height in feetor its bulk. Who that has traversed Kirkstone Pass or skirted the edgeof Buttermere on a hazy August day, can doubt this? The atmosphericconditions of Lakeland lend a sense of altitude and suggestiveness suchas the clearer air of great mountain ranges rarely conveys. Thisexquisiteness of proportion impressed Wordsworth so greatly that heactually 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 therepeated testimony of a very great number of travellers that, whilstthey have seen wilder, more sublime and grander scenes elsewhere, theyhave seen nothing so beautiful as Lakeland.

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

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Grasmere and the Island

“At Evening.”


Crag over Ullswater are caught, that I have seen nothing better in allmy 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 thegeology of this beautiful district, but it may prove of interest totouch concisely upon the processes which have conduced to the formationof such a wonderful whole.

Why are Skiddaw and several of the hills in the north of Lakelandrounded in contour and possessed of no precipices worthy the name? Whataccounts for the cliffs and jagged outlines of the Langdale Pikes, thePillar, or Scawfell? Wherefore all the various beautiful and retiringdales and side valleys, and, most pregnant question of all, whence camethe Lakes themselves? No appreciative or thoughtful visitor but musthave pondered upon these things and been somewhat puzzled. Many, I know,have dismissed the matter by concluding that the whole district is dueto some vast upheaval of bygone ages. No such simple explanation willcover all the facts.

The earliest causes of Lakeland were complex and various. It has severaltimes been submerged beneath the sea, when layer upon layer of mud andsediment was deposited to the thickness of thousands of feet. Skiddaw,Saddleback and others of our Northern fells are composed of these layersof soft rock. Weathering processes have rounded their contours and leftto them the graceful flowing outlines which we now admire. Volcanoesalso have played no unimportant part. Violent eruptions took place nearKeswick and to the south of it and ejected material—boulders, hugemasses of rock and fine{8} dust—the greater part of which fell againalmost vertically and deposited rock to the depth of at least twelvethousand feet. This has since been exposed to climatic influences, andbeen greatly reduced in bulk. The mountains of Borrowdale, Scawfell andGreat Gable, amongst others, are formed of this volcanic débris; hencetheir hard, jagged and precipitous nature. A great part of them wasejected from Castle Head, the favourite view-point above Keswick, whichis beyond doubt the crater of an extinct volcano.

Thus we see that the Lake District is mainly composed of two differentkinds of rocks, one of a clayey and easily-moulded nature, the other ofan unyielding volcanic type, jagged and angular. It is very greatly dueto the juxtaposition of these two different types that the Lake Districtpossesses such diversity of outline. So much for the rocks of which themountains 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 ofninety-three million years ago!) a vast dome-like tract situated aboutfour-thousand feet above the level of the surrounding country. After ithad 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 andearth which wore away the softer rocks underneath. This went on formillions upon millions of years. Hundreds of streams flowing in variousdirections, eating the rock out and bearing it in minute particles tothe sea, left the higher grounds untouched and it is these highergrounds which we now know as the mountains of Lakeland.

And now as regards the Lakes themselves. Influences into

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The Old Mill, Ambleside


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

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

Such is a very incomplete resumé of the happenings of by-gone æonswhich 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 historicrecords it possesses comparatively little. In early times this wildlysecluded corner of England was given over for the most part to swamps,wild beasts and dense forest. Its earliest inhabitants were theBrigantes, one of the tribes of aboriginal Britons. Tacitus mentionsthem in a half-hearted uncertain manner and their dealings{10} with theRomans, but as to the extent to which they occupied the district, or inwhat numbers, is not known. Several of the local names of villages andmountains were given by them, and these place-names, together with somefew relics, are the strongest confirmation we have of the existence hereof these early Britons.

The Romans who followed after them left numerous proofs of theiroccupation—bridges, roads, stations and various articles of householduse. What the Romans did in Lakeland is not clear. Perchance they wereenticed here by the suspected mineral wealth of the mountains, or wereengaged in subduing the savage Brigantes. Perhaps, being cultivatedpeople, they rowed about on Windermere, held pic-nics on Belle Isle orlazed about the countryside admiring the beauties of nature! All this isthe merest conjecture.

After the Romans had left

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