button to main menu  Gents Mag 1751 p.52

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Gentleman's Magazine 1751 p.52
have the appearance of huge fragments of rock, irregularly heaped on one another; but in the prospect round, nature has lavished such variety of beauty as can scarce be believed upon report, or imagined by the most luxuriant fancy. The plains of Basingthwaite, watered by a fine lake, appear like a paradise to the West; and the islands that lie interspersed among the windings of Darwent, and the lake of Keswic, exceed description; beyond these, to the South, lie the mountains of Barrowdale, which are yet higher than Skiddow: The western seas, the Isle of Man, all the South coast of Scotland, and the mountains of Pennygent and Ingleborough, in Yorkshire, diversify other parts of this delightful landscape. The spot upon which I stood is one intire shiver of slate, and the precipice to the westward is frightful. The plants of Skiddow are the myrtle berries, generally called blackberries, the vitis idaea of Dioscorides, mossberries, great variety of mosses, and among others the muscus squammosus pulcher digitatus of Tournefort.
On Friday morning, pursuant to our appointment, we set out from Orthwaite [1], and our Cockermouth friends fell in with us before we reached Keswic; so that we stay'd there no longer than was necessary to hire a guide, and consequently I had no time for critical examination. It is distant from Orthwaite 7 computed miles, and forms the west side of the base of Skiddow; it is skirted with the lake of Basingthwaite, which is about one mile wide and 5 miles long, and on the opposite side Widehope fells, with their impending woods, form a very pleasing and romantic appearance. The town seems to be ancient, and the poorer inhabitants subsist chiefly by stealing, or clandestinely buying of those that steal, the black-lead, which they sell to Jews and other hawkers.
Near Keswic is also another lake about two miles broad, and 4 miles long, in which several beautiful islands are interspersed, but not inhabited by German miners, as was asserted by a worthy brother of yours lately defunct [2]. When I saw them they were so many Ortygias, or islands of Calypso, covered with beautiful woods, which were then felling.
On one of these, called Lady Island, Ld Derwentwater had formerly a castle, now in ruins, intended to prevent the depredations which were frequently committed by the Scots before the union.
We left Keswic at 9 in the morning, and wou'd have proceeded by water, and sent our horses overland, but this way of travelling wou'd have cost us more time than we cou'd afford. On our left, in the way from Keswic, a ridge of rude craggy rocks extended near 4 miles; on our right was Keswic lake, and beyond it a group of pyramidical hills, which formed an uncommon appearance. At the head of Keswic lake, the Darwent is contracted to a narrow river, and runs between two precipices, covered with wood to the top, the perpendicular height of which is 800 yards. On approaching this place we imagined it to be our ne plus ultra, but our guide soon convinced us that we were mistaken. On the West side of the Darwent in this Herculean streight, and directly under one of these stupendous precipices lies the village of Grange. The white prominent rocks, which were discovered at an immense height, thro' the apertures of the wood, would have filled a poetical imagination with the ideas of the Dryades, the Bacchum in remotis, and other fables of antiquity. Here we were obliged many times to alight, the gut being very rocky, and the mountains would indeed have been impassable, if the river had not made a way.
We had now reached the Bowder stone of Barrowdale, which is much the largest stone in England, being at least equal in size to a first rate man of war; it lies close by the road side, on the right hand, and seems to have been a fragment detached from the impending precipice above, by lightening or some other accident. From hence we had good road thro' groves of hazel, which in this vale, as there is no occasion for hedges, grow very large, and bear excellent nuts.
Before we came to Barrowdale chapel, which is situated on the left, the valley expands, and the two streams divide, which form the Darwent by their union. The area of Barrowdale chapel
[1] Thwait is the Saxon word for pasture, and the preposition is an appellative, sometimes derived from a proper name, and sometimes from a quality; thus Mik-wait, or Mickle-thwait is great pasture, &c.
[2] The writer means the Universal, or London Magazine; for both have given descriptions of this country, so void of truth, that they are, as to those parts, felo de se.- They have not the right number of churches in Carlisle, and both make large and fair towns, where there are not three houses together.
gazetteer links
button -- "Basingthwaite" -- Bassenthwaite Lake
button -- Bowder Stone
button -- Derwent Water
button -- Grange
button -- "Keswic" -- Keswick
button -- "Lady Island" -- Lord's Island
button -- Borrowdale and Buttermere
button -- Skiddaw
button -- Vale of Keswick
button -- "Widehope Fells" -- Wythop Brows
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