button to main menu  Clarke's Survey of the Lakes, 1787

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Page 72:-
  Vale of Keswick
Dr Brown says, "Was I to tell you the full perfection of Keswick, I would say it consisted of three circumstances; beauty, horror, and magnificence united. But to give you a compleat idea of those three perfections as they are joined in Keswick, would require the united powers of Claude, Salvator, and Poussin.
"The first should throw his delicate sunshine over the cultivated vales, the scattered cotes, the groves, the lakes, and wooded islands. The second should dash out the horror of the rugged cliffs, the steeps, the hanging woods, and foaming water-falls; while the grand pencil of Poussin should crown the whole with the majesty of the impending mountains.
"So much for what I would call the Permanent Beauties of this astonishing scene. Were I not afraid of being tiresome, I could now dwell as long on its varying or accidental beauties: I would sail round the Lake, anchor in every bay, and land you on every promontory and island; I would point out the perpetual change of prospect; the woods, rocks, cliffs, and mountains, by turns vanishing or rising into view; now gaining on the sight, hanging over our heads in their full dimensions, beautifully dreadful; and now, by change of situation, assuming new romantic shapes, retiring and lessening on the eye, and insensibly losing themselves in an azure mist. I would remark the contrast of light and shade produced by the morning and evening sun: the one gilding the western, and the other the eastern side of the immense amphitheatre; while the vast shadow, projected by the mountains, buries the opposite part in a deep and purple gloom which the eye can hardly penetrate. The natural variety of colouring which the several objects produce is no less wonderful and pleasing: the ruling tincts in the valley being those of azure, green and gold, yet ever various, arising from an intermixture of the Lake, the woods, the grass, and corn fields: these are nobly contrasted by the grey rocks and cliffs; and the whole heightened by the yellow streams of light, the purple hues, and misty tops of the highest hills: at others you see the clouds involving their summits, resting on their sides, or descending to their base, and rolling among the vallies as in a vast furnace. When the winds are high, they roar among the cliffs and caverns like peals of thunder; then too, the clouds are seen in vast bodies sweeping along the hills in gloomy greatness, while the Lake joins the tumult, and tosses like a sea. But in calm weather, the whole scene becomes new; the Lake is a perfect mirror, and the landscape in all its beauty, islands, fields, woods, rocks, and mountains, are seen inverted, and floating on its surface. I will now carry you to the top of a cliff, where if you dare approach the edge, a new scene of astonishment presents itself; where the valley, lake, and islands, seem lying at your feet; where this vaste expanse of water appears diminished to a little pool amidst the vast immeasurable objects that surround it: for here the summits of more distant hills appear beyond those you have already seen; and rising behind each other in successive ranges and azure groups of craggy and broken steeps, form an immense and awful picture, which can only be expressed by the image of a tempestuous sea of mountains.
"Let me now conduct you down again to the valley, and conclude with one circumstance more, which is, that a walk by still moon-light, (at which time the distant water-falls are heard in all their variety of sound) among these inchanting dales, opens a scene of such delicate beauty and solemnity, as exceeds all description."
  Skiddaw, ascent
I am pleased with an evening walk as well as Dr Brown or Mr Gray; yet I had rather be up at four o'clock in a calm morning, and walk about half way up Skiddow, if there is a mist or fog in the valley; for when the mist lyes in the valleys very thick in a morning, the tops of the mountains are quite clear. This is very curious, and no traveller has been acquainted with it, except one, who says thus of it:
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button -- (station, Ashness)
button -- "Skiddow" -- (station, Skiddaw)
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