button to main menu  Gents Mag 1761 p.72

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Gentleman's Magazine 1761 p.72

Mallerstang Valley

Description of a VALLEY in Westmoreland.
FEW are perhaps acquainted with that dreary part of Westmoreland which borders on Yorkshire. Indeed its forbidding aspect, composed of lofty mountains, whose craggy summits seem formed of rocks thrown together by the hand of discord, and frightful deserts laid waste by the piercing storms of the north, tends to extinguish curiosity, and prevent travellers from seeking the recesses of a country, which promise only labour and fatigue. The roads, or rather paths, between the mountains that lead into those sequester'd retreats, are often frightful beyond description. One particularly, about a mile from Wildbore Fell, deserves notice. The tract which runs along the side of a mountain almost perpendicular, is not above six feet wide. Above, enormous projections of rock hang over the head of the traveller, and threaten to crush him by their fall; while far below, a rapid torrent tumbles headlong into the valley, and with its bellowing noise, excites a terror in the mind that language cannot paint. Not a shrub nor blade of grass enlivens the prospect; the whole side of the mountain appearing as if blasted by lightening, and the place where black despair has fixed her dire aboad.
But notwithstanding the general aspect of the country is so frightful, and the roads in some parts remarkably dangerous, yet between these mountains are valleys equally remarkable for their beauty and fertility. In one of these, a particular friend, who many years since retreaed from the noise and hurry of the world, has fix'd his habitation; and to visit once more that valuable man, before I was overtaken by the night of death, induced me, last summer, to undertake the journey, which occasioned the trouble of this letter.
The valley in which my friend lives, is of a circular form, about a mile in diameter, and surrounded by prodigious mountains, whose tops, except those to the south, are hidden in the clouds. Between these mountains are two breaches, the only passages into this delightful valley, one on the west, the other on the south. Through the latter, a large stream of water flows from a lake situated on the south side of the valley, and supplied by two cataracts, which tumble from rock to rock down the sides of the mountains. The declivity of the northern hills being exposed to the prolific rays of the sun, produces plenty of corn, and the cultivated parts are bounded by trees, whose lovely verdure, contrasted with the golden ears of waving corn, and the glowing blossoms of flowery shrubs in the fences of the corn fields, exhibits the most delightful prospect. The greatest part of the valley itself, is divided into fields of pasture, in which abundance of cattle and sheep are constantly fed. The lake above-mention'd is well stored with fish of various kinds, and the several small islands interspersed in it, add greatly to the beauty of this luxuriant retreat, which affords every thing necessary to render life agreeable.
One of the cascades that supply the lake with water, rushes down the mountain's side, in a fine sheet of water, foaming among the rocks till it reaches the valley, and from thence glides along a stony channel into the lake. The other is much less, and its declivity not so rapid; but its various falls and windings among the rocks, render it more pleasing to the sight than the former. Facing this small cascade, at the foot of the northern mountains, my friend's house is situated; and near it are too (sic) farm-houses, and about a dozen cottages, the dwellings of husbandmen, the only inhabitants of this unfrequented vale. But the declivity of the southern mountains which face north, and thence enjoy the benefit of the solar rays only a small part of the year, exhibit a picture of desolation, a dreary waste of naked rocks and tremendous precipices, whose forbidding spect forms a striking contrast to the luxuriant parts, and renders the prospect more pleasing and delightful.
Perhaps this sequester'd dale exhibits a more pleasing representation of the antient patriarchal life, that can any where else be seen: my friend, who is the sole owner of the valley, is considered as the protector of his tenants, nay more, as their father. They listen with pleasure to his orders, and gladly follow his steps in the paths of virtue. Every Sunday morning all the
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