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viewpoint, Skiddaw
site name:-   Skiddaw
civil parish:-   Underskiddaw (formerly Cumberland)
civil parish:-   Bassenthwaite (formerly Cumberland)
county:-   Cumbria
locality type:-   viewpoint
coordinates:-   NY26032907
1Km square:-   NY2629
10Km square:-   NY22
altitude:-   3053 feet
altitude:-   931m

evidence:-   old text:- Clarke 1787
placename:-  Skiddow
item:-  cloudsmist
source data:-   Guide book, A Survey of the Lakes of Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, written and published by James Clarke, Penrith, Cumberland, and in London etc, 1787; published 1787-93.
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Page 72:-  "..."
"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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Page 73:-  "..."And oft the craggy cliff he lov'd to climb,
When all in mist the world below was lost.
What dreadful pleasure! There to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck'd mariners on desart coast;
And view th' enormous waste of vapour, tost
In billows length'ning to th' horizon round;
Now scoop'd in gulphs, with mountains now emboss'd,
And hear the voice of mirth and song resound;
Flocks, herds, and water-falls, along the hoar profound!""
"About halfway up the mountain, or not quite so high, you will be above the mist, which lyes thick and white below. It is quite level, and appears so strong that you might walk upon it; I can compare it to nothing so much as a vast sheet of ice covered with snow; not a house or a tree can be seen; the voice of extremely distant water-falls is heard perfectly distinct, and not one confusing another. The loud crowing cock at every cottage, joined to the warbling of the smaller-feathered choir, comes with an almost magical sweetness to the ear, whilst the bellowing bulls and cows form a rural bass to the concert; every sound is much more distinctly heard than at any other time. The words of men conversing at two miles distance are perfectly intelligible; the whistling of a shepherd going to his fleecy care seems close to you, though he cannot be seen. Nor is the eye less delighted, for the tops of distant mountains are now as distinctly viewed with the naked eye, as at other times with the help of a telescope: but these pleasures are often of short duration, for as soon as the rising sun gets a little power the mists quickly disperse, and objects relapse into their ordinary state."
"A person unacquainted with philosophy would wonder what became of these vapours; for very little ever ascends higher than the middle of the mountains, and there seems totally annihilated. I once had two French horns placed in the valley, and another time I heard the hounds running a hare; both of these had a very wonderful and pleasing effect. If a traveller should have an opportunity of reviewing this, I would advise him to take a fowling-piece with him, to fire as a signal to his servant (who must remain with another in the valley) that he is above the mist; then let the servant fire his, and the magnified report will be a matter of great curiosity, and exceed any idea that can be formed."

evidence:-   old map:- Otley 1818
placename:-  Skiddaw
source data:-   Map, uncoloured engraving, The District of the Lakes, Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire, scale about 4 miles to 1 inch, by Jonathan Otley, 1818, engraved by J and G Menzies, Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Jonathan Otley, Keswick, Cumberland, et al, 1833.
item:-  JandMN : 48.1
Image © see bottom of page

evidence:-   descriptive text:- Otley 1823 (5th edn 1834) 
item:-  latitudelongitudelat and long
source data:-   Guide book, A Concise Description of the English Lakes, the mountains in their vicinity, and the roads by which they may be visited, with remarks on the mineralogy and geology of the district, by Jonathan Otley, published by the author, Keswick, Cumberland now Cumbria, by J Richardson, London, and by Arthur Foster, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria, 1823; published 1823-49, latterly as the Descriptive Guide to the English Lakes.
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Page 48:-  "A view of the country, from at least one of the eminent mountains of the district, is considered as forming a part of the tour, by those who can muster strength and resolution for the undertaking; and for this purpose Skiddaw is, on several accounts, generally selected. It is nearest to the station at Keswick, most easy of access - as ladies may ride on horseback to the very summit; and standing in some measure detached, the view, especially to the north and west, is less intercepted by other mountains."
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Page 50:-  "The desire of an extensive prospect being the principal motive for ascending a mountain, it is a question frequently asked, 'which is the best time of day for going up Skiddaw?' It is not easy to give a precise answer to this question; the morning is commonly recommended, and generally, the sooner you are there after the sun has fully illumined the mountains the better; whether in an early morning, or on a dispersion of the clouds in any other part of the day."
"During a clear cold night, the vapour is copiously precipitated from the higher into the lower parts of the atmosphere; so that very early in the morning, the summits of the mountains, gilded by the sun, appear in great magnificence; and the contrast of light and shade upon their sides is very interesting. But, at such times, a haziness often prevails in the vallies; which, as the air becomes warmed by the sun, again ascends; and at the same time receives an augmentation by the vapour rising from the ground; the tremulous motion of which may sometimes be perceived, as it exudes from the surface of the earth in places exposed to the most direct action of solar rays."
"After a succession of dry and hot days the air is seldom favourable for a prospect; but between showers, or when clouds prevail - provided they are above the altitude of the mountains - the view is often extended to a great distance. When the atmosphere is loaded with clouds, the middle of the"
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Page 51:-  "day affords the greatest probability of their rising above the mountains; and a mid-day light gives the most general illumination to objects on every point of the horizon. A declining sun may throw a beautiful blaze of light upon some parts of the landscape; but its effects will not be so general; and a person remaining upon the mountain till the sun goes down, especially in Autumn, will find night come on apace as he descends."
"Sometimes, when clouds have formed below the summit, the country as viewed from above resembles a sea of mist; a few of the highest mountain peaks having the appearance of islands, on which the sun seems to shine with unusual splendour. And when the spectator is so situated that his shadow falls upon the cloud, he may observe some curious meteorological phenomena. To those who have frequently beheld it under other circumstances, this may be a new and magnificent spectacle; but a tourist, making his first and perhaps only visit, will naturally wish to have the features of the country more completely developed. It is a grievous though not an uncommon circumstance, to be wrapt in a cloud, which seems to be continually passing on, yet never leaves the mountain during the time appropriated for the stay; but those who are fortunate enough to be upon the summit at the very time of the cloud's departure, will experience a gratification of no common kind; when - like the rising of the curtain in a theatre - the country in a moment bursts upon the eye."
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Page 52:-  "It will always be better to seize on a favourable opportunity for a mountain excursion, than to attempt to fix the time beforehand; other journies where the state of the air is of less importance may be deferred. A telescope may assist in the examination or recognition of a particular building or object; but in viewing the great features of the prospect it can render little assistance; it is only when the air is clear that it can be used with advantage; and then, the field of vision is so extensive, and the objects so numerous, that sufficient time is seldom afforded for individual contemplation."
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Page 53:-  "... [at the top] Here the lake of Derwent and vale of Keswick are hid from us; but our attention is now arrested by more distant objects."
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Page 55:-  "The town of Whitehaven is concealed from our sight, but the headlands of St. Bees beyond it are conspicuous; and the Isle of Man in the same direction. Workington, with its shipping, may be seen due west, and further northwards Maryport, and the fashionable bathing place of Allonby. Cockermouth, with its church and castle, is seen over the foot of Bassenthwaite Lake; and between us and the borders of Scotland lies a large extent of cultivated country, in which the city of Carlisle stands as a central object. Beyond Solway Frith, the mountain Criffel in Kirkcudbrightshire appears near the shore; and on its right is the mouth of the river Nith, on which stands the town of Dumfries. To the left lies the small island called Hasten, at the foot of the water of Orr; and further west, the mouth of the Dee at Kirkcudbright, opening into the large bay of Wigton. Beyond it, the bay of Glenluce, with Burrow Head, and the Mull of Galloway, are sometimes visible. The houses and cornfields on the Scottish coast are often distinguishable; with mountains rising behind mountains to an interminable distance. The Cheviot hills appear in the direction of High Pike;- but it would be in vain to look for the German Ocean, which has sometimes been represented as visible from hence."
"Penrith, with its Beacon, may be seen, and beyond it the lofty Crossfell, with some of the eminences bordering upon Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire. To the right of Penrith are the"
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Page 56:-  "Walls of Brougham Castle, and the mansion of Lord Chancellor Brougham. The hills surrounding Ullswater are in view, and the top of Ingleborough appears beyond the end of High Street. Through the gap of Dunmail Raise, the estuary of the Kent, below Milnthorp, appears in two small portions, separated by the intervention of Yewbarrow, a hill in Witherslack; and the castle of Lancaster may sometimes be discerned with a telescope, beyond the southern edge of Gummershow in Cartmel Fells."
"The superior eminences of Scawfell and Gable have been in full view during our ascent, and we may now discover Black Combe through an opening between the latter and Kirkfell; and part of the Screes mountain beyond Wast Water, between Kirkfell and the Pillar. In the same direction, may Snowdon in Wales possibly be sometimes discerned; but ninety-nine times out of a hundred it would be in vain to look for it; the same may be said of the Irish mountains; and the lake of Windermere, which has so often been included both in oral and written descriptions, cannot be seen at all from Skiddaw."
"It would be superfluous to enumerate more of the objects which on a very fine day may be seen from this mountain; it is the province of the guide to point them out as they rise into view, or as a favourable light renders them most clearly discernible. It is not those objects that are seldom and dimly seen, that ought to receive the greatest atten-"
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Page 57:-  "[atten]tion; but rather such as may be distinctly known and properly appreciated. It must not be expected that objects at fifty miles distance, should appear as distinct as these near at hand; indeed it often happens, that they cannot be seen at all, though the air to a moderate distance seems remarkably clear; yet still, a person who sets out with a disposition to be pleased, will, on any tolerably fine day, be sufficiently compensated for his trouble; and the more the distant objects are veiled from view, the higher will the nearer ones rise in estimation."
"One of the most vexatious circumstances, and which not unfrequently happens, is to meet with a small cap of cloud upon the summit, that entirely excludes all prospect from thence; ..."
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Page 78:-  "STATION II.- SKIDDAW."
"Latitude 54° 39′ 12″ N. Longitude 3° 8′ 9″W. Height 3022 feet."
BEARINGS Distances
in miles
in feet
Wisp Hill, near Mospaul Inn 9° NE 45 1940
Carlisle 26 NE 19
Cheviot Hill, Northumberland 35 NE 70 2658
Cross Fell, Cumberland 82 NE 27 2901
Saddleback 78 SE 4 2787
Nine Standards, Westmorland 68 SE 38 2136
Ingleborough 42 SE 46 2361
Helvellyn 32 SE 10 3070
Black Combe 15 SW 29 1919
Snowdon 19 SW 118 3571
Snea Fell, Isle of Man 64 SW 59 2004
Sleiph Donard, Down 73 SW 120 2820
Bryal Point, nearest in Ireland 82 SW 91
Mull of Galloway 89 NW 69
Burrow Head 84 NW 50
Crif Fell 43 NW 28 1831
Ben Lomond, Stirling 30 NW 120 3420
Ben Nevis, Inverness 28 NW 170 4358
Queensberry Hill 22 NW 48 2259

You might see a Brocken Spectre from the top of Skiddaw, when a low sun casts your shadow on mist lying below. The shadow is exactly your size, but the effect of perspective makes the shadow, at a distance, appear huge.

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