Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 enclosures, 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 Bartonbridge 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 cocmorant 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 the 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 1 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 Threleot at the foot of Saddleback, whose furrowed sides were gilt by the noonday 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 blueish 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 cot perpendicularly down above 400 feet (as I guess, though the people call 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 show 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 1 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 Barrow-gate, and a little farther, passing a brook called Barrow-beck; we entered Borrowdale: the crags named Lawdoor banks begiD 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 water-fall; the height appeared to be about 200 feet, the quantity of water not great, though (these three days excepted) it had rained daily in the hills for near two months before: but then the stream was nobly broken, leaping from rock to rock,vand foaming with fury. On one side a towering crag that spired up to equal, if not overtop, the neighbouring cliffs (this lay all in shade and darkness): on the other hand a rounder broader projecting hill shagged with wood, and illuminated by the sun, which glanced sideways on the upper part of the cataract. The force of the

« PreviousContinue »