Jollie's Cumberland Guide & Directory 1811, Part 2

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CHAP. IX.

Tour through the Lakes, &c.

LED on in the progress of this work by the alluring objects on the sea-coast, where trade and navigation interest the mind so greatly, we have left behind us a large tract of country within the limits of Allerdale Ward above Derwent; where a multitude of scenes form a striking contrast to those we have already traversed. We shall therefore make our further progress from Cockermouth, leaving Bassenthwaite on our left to Keswick, along the Winlater1 road; the alpine passes of which form an ascent of 5 miles up a stupendous height, sweeping around the foot of the mountain, and taking the course of every little valley. In some parts you catch the prospect of small recesses, where stand cottages in a solitary and romantic situation, highly pastured. In other parts you look down from such tremendous precipices, on whose brink you are travelling, that from the windows of the carriage the aspect and appearance are alarming. The lake of Bassenthwaite looks from thence like a goomy2 abyss, and the vale about Keswick, with the lake of Derwent-water, appears as inchanted ground: about 2 miles from Cockermouth, and scarcely a mile to our left, lies the chapel of Embleton. A little further is Setmurthy, a village with a small chapel, which, after being three times augmented, is now worth about 30 a year, before which the curate had a precarious income, not exceeding 20s. a year in money payment. But an actual custom subsisted of allowing the poor minister a whittle-gate: he was privileged to go from house to house in the chapelry, and stay a certain number of days at each place, where he was permitted to enter his whittle or knife with the rest of the household, and share the provisions of the family. This custom is remembered by persons yet living.

We now emerge from this gigantic scene into the vale of Lorton, through which the Cocker runs - a theatre formed of stupendous heights, above 3 miles in diameter, beautified with rich meadow eminences, covered with wood and scattered hamlets, and perpendicular lofty cliffs bursting from the sides of the surrounding mountains. Lorton is a chapelry under Brigham; and Wythop lies to the north east, and has also a small chapel. Brackenthwaite lies on the road to the lakes of Lowes-water and Buttermere. - We first come to the lake of Lowes-water, a long canal, not a quarter of a mile broad, and about a mile long. The margin is chiefly cultivated; the rest clothed with fine herbage, and coppices of young trees. The land ascends on every side, and swells into mountains, of which Carling-knot is the most picturesque. About a mile distant is Crummock-water, - its greatest length 3 miles, and breadth 1 mile, the margin of which is cultivated ground, with coppices of wood, and the scenes are extremely beautiful; and on a narrow scale afford the painter finer lessons than the larger lakes, as they comprehend a great variety of objects drawn within the compass of the eye, without shifting. The bosom of this lake is beautified with three small islands; and there is a fine water-fall3 here, worthy the traveller's attention.

Within less than a mile is Buttermere, the scenes of which have been admired by public writers. It is about a mile and a half long, and a quarter of a mile broad: its situation is very retired; the western side is closed in by a long range of mountains, which fall precipitately almost to the very borders of the water, while the opposite side is woody, forming a beautiful contrast. A cataract, called Low-milk-force, near the bottom of this lake, is computed to fall upwards of 300 yards down a rocky precipice.

About 3 miles to the west lies Ennerdale lake. Its length is about two miles and a half, and breadth half a mile. The eastern shore is bespangled with little fertile farms, swelling into high hills; while the western side presents lofty mountains towering up from the lake in a hasty and abrupt manner.

To the south, about five miles, is Wast-water, about 3 miles long, and half a mile broad, situated toward the west extremity of the mountain. It is of very difficult access, except by way of Egremont. A path leads from the bend of Borrowdale, crossing Stye4 into Wastdale5; but few strangers are inclined to venture over such an Alpine pass. This lake is bordered on the south by Screes, a high shivery mountain6, from the sides of which stones and earth are continually rolling down into the lake; upon the west of which lies the pleasant village of Wastdale, spreading along the margin of file lake.

Two miles south of Wastwater, is Burn-mouth tarn7, a piece of water covering about 250 acres, seated amongst the wildest mountains at the head of Miterdale, and to which there is scarce a shepherd's track to direct the steps of the curious traveller.

Devock lake8 lies about 5 miles south from Wastdale. It occupies about 300 Acres; and its situation is among the hills, about four miles from Ravenglass.

We now return north to Thirlmere, a narrow lake9 resembling a canal, about 3 miles in length skirting the immense base of Helvellyn, and receiving a variety of torrents from the sides of that stupendous mountain. This lake is fordable on horseback at a narrow part opposite Dalehead House, where a wooden bridge is erected for the convenience of foot passengers. It is terminated on the north by a beautiful pyramidal rock, wooded at the top, its base jutting forward to the lake.

We shall notice Ullswater, to the east, distant about 5 miles, partly in Cumberland, and partly in Westmorland - its whole length about 9 miles, and of different breadths, but its greatest not more than one mile. At the head of this lake is Patterdale church and village, in the county of Westmorland, situated in a most romantic vale, and is the residence of J. Mounsey, Esq. which stands pleasantly at the mouth of the dale which opens at the head of the lake. The ancestors of this gentleman have for ages obtained the distinguished appellation of Kings of Patterdale. Here is a tolerably good inn, called the King's Arms. Here is a chaos of most stupendous hills, and in these secluded regions are delightful retreats, embowered by groves, and overhung by shaggy rocks, with the smooth surface of Ullswater in front. On the south side of the lake, the green but rocky mountains rise almost uniformly from its very brink; while on the north side, the prospect is variegated with small farms, gentlemen's seats, and extensive woods, reaching in some places to the summits of the mountains, and perpendicular rocks, with a few trees growing out of the crevices. These picturesque scenes are rendered still more romantic by the frequent noise of tumbling cataracts. Toward the upper end of the lake, a few small rocky islands, like sea-monsters, raise their rugged backs above the surface of the water. Its foot rests in the lap of a cultivated and spreading vale, which opens toward Penrith. - At Pooley10 is a good inn, for the accommodation of travellers. In this neighbourhood are a number of gentlemen' seats, mostly noticed in our account of Penrith. His Grace the Duke of Norfolk has done much to beautify this district by immense plantations, buildings, &c. - We now recross the country to

Derwent-water, the Princess of the lakes, which spreads its clear fluid near the market-town of Keswick. Its length is about 3 miles, and greatest breadth about a mile and a half. Five beautiful wooded islands decorate its bosom. Craggy mountains, some of which are naked; others more or less fringed with trees and brushwood, frown over its margin. Cataracts and mountain torrents pour down their silver streams into the lake in all directions, the water of which is so transparent, that pebbles and pieces of spar may be seen at 20 feet below the surface.

KESWICK is a small, but neat and pleasant market town, and in general well-built, with some good inns for the accommodation of travellers, and a weekly market on Saturdays, chiefly for woollen yarn spun in the adjoining dales, a variety of fish from the lakes, and the finest mutton in the kingdom. A cotton twist-mill has been some time established here; and considerable quantities of flannels, kerseys11, and course woollen goods, and linen, are manufactured here. The town is pleasantly situated on the east side of a verdant vale, near the lower end of Derwent lake; and from its central situation is much frequented by strangers, on their tour to the lakes and other curiosities in this neighbourhood. The distant prospect of the beauties of Keswick must naturally excite the curiosity of the traveller, and render him impatient to take a nearer view of the romantic scenes around this matchless lake.

Amongst the other things worthy of the tourist's observation at Keswick, are Crosthwaite and Hutton's Museums. The former is kept by the family of the late Mr. Peter Crosthwaite, a native of this place; who, after serving his country for twenty years in the navy, returned from the east to the place of his nativity with a collection of curiosities, collected with great diligence. To these he added, until he formed a very respectable Museum, which is now much visited. - That founded by Mr. Hutton is also deserving of notice: - this gentleman has a good knowledge of botany, and is a very careful guide to naturalists.

About a mile and a half north-east from Keswick a druidical temple12 is situated in a field adjoining the road. This remarkable piece of antiquity consists of a rude circle of large stones, some standing upright, some fallen down, and others leaning obliquely. The stones are in a natural and unhewn state, most of them a species of granite, and are 50 in number. The diameter of the circle, or oval, is 30 paces by 32. - At the eastern end, a small inclosure is formed within the circle by 10 stones, making an oblong square, in conjunction with the stones of that side of the circle, seven paces in length and three in width within, where, it is conjectured, the altar was erected.

A great number of gentlemen have pleasant boxes13 for summer residence in these sequestered regions.

We proceed down the river Derwent, past Crosthwaite church, to Bassenthwaite, distant about 3 miles, leaving lofty Skiddaw on the east, and a range of more humble mountains on the west.

Bassenthwaite-water is about 4 miles in length, and generally more than half a mile in breadth. Its margin is indented with several promontories and fine bays. The vale of Bassenthwaite is a fine tract of ground, of considerable width, extending from the north end of Skiddaw to Ouse-bridge. The vicinity of this lake is adorned with white farm houses, embosomed in tufts of trees, pleasant seats, groves, and woods. The adjacent hills have a milder aspect, and do not display that rugged scenery, which the surly guardians of Derwent-water and Ullswater present.

About 4 miles north-east is Over-water, about half a mile in length, and one-fourth in breadth, situated between Binsey and Caldbeck fells. Its situation is naked; but Mr. Gaff, of Whitefield, has erected a pleasant seat in the neighbourhood, reared numerous plantations, and has otherwise adorned and beautified the country around.
Besides these, there are other small pieces of water in this county, such as Tindal Tarn, Talkin Tarn, Tarn Wadling, a Tarn14 in the bosom of the mountain of Saddleback, and others not worthy of further notice.

The quantity of superficies covered by lakes and water is estimated at 8000 acres.

These lakes abound with a variety of fish; but chiefly trout, perch, pike, and eel; and Ullswater and Bassenthwaite are noted for plenty of fine char. Trouts have been caught of the amazing weight of 50 pounds each.

For a description of these and the other lakes in the north of England, we refer the tourist to Housman's most accurate description of all the Lakes, Caves, &c. in the North of England, or Hutchinson's History of Cumberland.

Cumberland can also boast of a number of rivers - well stored with salmon, trout, pike, eels, and other delicious fish; but none of these rivers are navigable, nor has any canal been yet cut; as the rapid descent is such as to forbid the ingress of the sea as well as of vessels to any distance inland.

The Solway Frith admits sloops up the country as far as the mouths of the rivers Eden, Esk, and Sark; but here they must stop. A navigable canal from Newcastle to some part of the Solway, has been lately in agitation, and the project was so far pursued, that a survey was made, and plans and estimates drawn up. The scheme was found practicable, but was abandoned for the present, chiefly from a diversity of interests in the landholders, in the projected line of it. The intended object of carriage was principally coal, lime, and merchant goods.

The SOILS of this county are exceedingly different, often varying in the same parish, and even sometimes in the same field. Districts however may be pointed out with some degree of accuracy, wherein one species of soil is chiefly prevalent.

But as we have a new Map of Cumberland, Westmorland, and principal part of Dumfries-shire, on a large scale, where the varieties of soil, mines, minerals, projected canal, the new roads, and other improvements will be accurately delineated; it is unnecessary for us to say further on the subject here.

The ROADS of this County, in general, are not kept in a good state of repair. This neglect seems principally occasioned by the non-residence of the chief nobility and gentry of landed property in the county; who, both for their own advantage and benefit of the public, ought to be particularly careful that the surveyors of the highways punctually perform their duty. In some places, however, the neighbouring gentlemen have exerted themselves in procuring good roads, which are mostly formed of coble, lime-stone, or rag, according to the situation. These materials are broken, and have sometimes a coat of gravel thrown over them; but the principal error in making our roads, is not breaking the stones small enough, and laying them on too thin; by which means they soon wear into ruts, and are constantly wanting repairs.

One of the principal roads between London and Edinburgh, belonging to this county, runs through the middle of it, by way of Longtown, Carlisle, and Penrith. From Longtown there is another branch, which runs through Solway Moss to Graitney and the West of Scotland, now made a good carriage road.

There is also a good carriage road from Carlisle to Newcastle, through Brampton, kept in a tolerable state of repair: but the roads from Carlisle to the western parts of the county are in general exceedingly bad, - and want both repairs, widening, and new bridges.

Before we quit this subject, we would most earnestly request those who have the management of the high-roads, to put up guide-posts at all the cross roads; and be vigilant in prosecuting those who destroy such useful directors.

The MINES and MINERALS are various, and of great value, particularly lead-ore, copper and iron-ore, and abundance of excellent coal; and that valuable mineral called black-lead, found in the mountains of Borrowdale, which is superior to any thing of the kind ever found in the world. The lead-mines are principally in the parish of Alston, on the south-east border of the County, also in the parishes of Melmerby and Ousby, and formerly a little copper-ore. Caldbeck fells, and those high eminences above Newlands, on the west side of Derwent-water, also produce a little copper and lead-ore; and sometimes large veins of these metals have been found there.

Iron-ore is got toward Egremont, at Crowgarth, being the most singular mine of it supposed to be in Great Britain. The thickness of the band of ore, which is hard solid metal, is between 24 and 25 feet. The annual exportation to the Carron foundry alone, exceeds, we are told, 20,000 tons. It is also got near Harrington, whence about 2000 tons are annually exported.

Coal is found in various places along the eastern mountains; but is easiest of access and in the greatest abundance at Talkin and Tindale-fells, from whence, Carlisle, Penrith, Brampton, and all the intermediate country are chiefly supplied with that useful article. On the other hand, coal appears again on the west side of the river Caldew, near Caldbeck; and is found at intervals from thence to Maryport, Workington, and Whitehaven. It is supposed that the strata of this useful article extend at various depths over most part of the district; and being somewhat of a triangular form, Caldbeck may be considered as one point, Cross Cannonby another, and St. Bees the third. That extensive tract of mountains from St. Bees to Caldbeck, and the southern extremity of the country, is wholly destitute of coal; at least none has hitherto been found. The principal coal-mines in this district are opened near Caldbeck, on the banks of the river Ellen, in the vicinity of Bolton, Weary-Hall, Gilcrux, Dearham, and Maryport; and still in greater abundance near Workington, Harrington, Dissington, and Whitehaven. From the ports on the west immense quantities are exported to Ireland.

Cobalt has been discovered in the parish of Crosthwaite, near Cowdale. It lies S.S.W. from Keswick, distant about four miles. It has not yet been much attended to. The specimens produced do not appear so rich as that got in Germany.

Antimony has been found near Bassenthwaite; and at Caldbeck, manganese has been also discovered. See Cum. vol. 2d, page 220.

FREESTONE, both white and red, but chiefly the latter, for building and slating, and which when wrought is generally very durable, may be had almost every where, except in that large cluster of mountains which occupy the south-west part of the country; and there are few places in which quarries are not opened at convenient and seasonable15 distances. The most general species of stone found among those rocky eminences, are a sort of hard grey flint, and blue rag. From the finest sorts of this last species, the famous blue slate, so universally admired, is formed; the best species of which is found in Borrowdale.

Limestone abounds in the eastern mountains, as well as that triangular tract already described as containing coal. But none is found among the southern mountains. It however appears, on the southern points of the parish of Millum, and also occupies a tract of different breadths, from the parish of Dacre, near the east end of Ullswater, to Caldbeck. It is also got on Broadfield, an extensive common, a little east of Sebergham.

Catscalpe16, a black stone, an article much used in the iron furnaces at Clifton and Seaton, is found at Braithwaite, in the parish of Dean.

Gypsum is found in various parts of the County.

The BUILDINGS of Cumberland are chiefly constructed of stone or brick. Some old clay or mud buildings are yet remaining in country places. Most of the old farm-houses, buildings, and cottages in the country, are thatched with straw, and the stones or the walls laid with clay instead of mortar. But the more modern buildings are covered with slate, and walled with lime. Most of the ancient houses belonging the peasantry in the country are extremely simple, consisting of a kitchen and parlour only: in the former the family sit, eat, and do all the household work; and in the latter they sleep, and sometimes keep the milk, butter, and cheese. In former times, when the incursions of the Moss-troopers were frequent, this part of the country was kept in continual alarm. The inhabitants could scarcely ever retire to rest, without entertaining apprehensions for the safety either of their persons or property; and consequently neither expensive nor comfortable houses; could he thought of; nor a taste for improvement cherished, except in that sort of building in which strength is chiefly considered. The fortified castle and the miserable hovel seem to have been then the almost only distinction of dwellings. The former are now generally in ruins, or converted into more modern mansions; and the latter are daily giving place to more convenient and pleasing apartments. About the north and east confines of the county, a few houses of a singular construction yet remain17; the walls of which are very thick and strong, and besides the little well-secured windows, often contain a sort of port-holes. The cattle and their owners resided under the same roof; the former occupied the ground floor, and the latter the upper storey.

The Buildings in the west of the county are chiefly better and more modem than those in the east; the former being often covered with blue slate, or white-washed with lime on the outside; white the latter are generally covered with thatch or red slate.

The most usual plan now adopted in building farm-houses is to have a kitchen, parlour, back-kitchen, and milk-house on the ground floor, and four bed chambers above. The common dimensions ten or twelve yards by seven or eight. Upon the whole, the stile of building, as well farm-houses and cottages, as of the most elegant dwellings of people in affluent circumstances, continues to improve rapidly; which latter in many instances are elegant and superb.

The SEATS of the Nobility and Gentry are generally interspersed through the county, and are commonly erected on the sites of old castles, or on the castles themselves more or less modern. It is no pleasing reflexion, that a great number of ancient mansions are gone to ruin, from the families becoming extinct, and the properly getting into the hands of absentees.

 

Jollie's Cumberland Guide & Directory 1811

 

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Notes

1. Now Whinlatter.
2. sic.
3. Scale Force.
4. Now Sty Head.
5. Now Wasdale.
6. The Screes is now applied only to the shattered side of the mountain above the lake. The fells of which The Screes are a part of are Illgill Head and Whin Rigg.
7. Now Burnmoor Tarn.
8. Now Devoke Water.
9. The Thirlmere which Jollie described has long gone, the valley having been dammed to provide water for Manchester.
10. Now Pooley Bridge.
11. Coarse woollen cloth.
12. Known as Castlerigg, or The Carles.
13. Presumably some sort of country house.
14. Tindal is now Tindale, and lies east of Brampton; Talkin Tarn is south of Brampton; Tarn Wadling, which lay between Carlisle and Penrith, was filled-in in the 19th century; the tarn on Saddleback, or more properly Blencathra, is Scales Tarn.
15. sic.
16. I've never seen this word used elsewhere.
17. Pele towers.


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman