button to main menu   West's Guide to the Lakes, 1778/1821

button title page
button previous page button next page
Page 142:-
From the bridge at the foot of the lake, ascend the road to Brackenthwaite. At the ale-house, Scalehill, take a guide to the top of the rock, above Mr. Bertie's woods, and have an entirely new view of Cromack-water. The river Cocker is seen winding through a beautiful and rich cultivated vale, spreading far to the north, variegated with woods, groves, and hanging grounds, in every pleasing variety. The most singular object in this vale of Lorton and Brackenthwaite, is a high-crowned topt (sic) rock that divides the vale, and raises a broken craggy head over hanging woods, that skirt the sloping sides, which are cut into waving inclosures and varied with groves and patches of coppice wood. To the west a part of Lowes-water is seen, under a fringe of trees at High-cross. Behind you, awful Grasmire (the Skiddaw of the vale) frowns in all the majesty of furrowed rock, cut almost perpendicularly to the centre by the water-falls of ages. The swell of a cataract is here heard, but entirely concealed within the gloomy recess of a rocky dell, formed by the rival mountains, Grasmire and Whiteside. At their feet, lie the mighty ruins, brought down from the mountains, by the memorable water-spout, that deluged all the vale, in September, 1760 [1].
[1] I do not know whether an account of the effects of the storm have been published; but the following description of a similar one which happened in St. John's vale, given as the most authentic that has yet appeared, by a native of the place, may here merit a perusal.
In the evening of 22d of August, 1749, that day having been much hotter that (sic) was ever known in these parts, a strange and frightful noise was heard in the air, which continued for some time, to the great surprise of the inhabitants, sounding over them like a strong wind, though they could not perceive it. This was succeeded by the most terrible claps of thunder, and incessant flashes of lightning breaking over their heads. At the same time the clouds poured down whole torrents of water on the mountains to the east, which in a very little time swelled the channels of their rivulets and brooks, so as to overflow every bank, and overwhelm almost every obstacle in their way. In a moment they deluged the whole valley below, and covered with stones, earth, and sand many acres of fine cultivated ground. Several thousands of huge fragments of broken rocks were driven by the impetuosity of these dreadful cataracts into the fields below, and such was their bulk, that some of them were more than ten horses could move, and one fairly measured nineteen yards in circumference. A corn-mill, dwelling-house, and stable, all under one roof, lay in the tract of one of these currents, and the mill from the one end, and the stable from the other, were both swept away, leaving the little habitation standing in the middle, rent open at both ends, with the miller, who was very old and infirm, in bed, and who was ignorant of the matter till he arose in next morning to behold nothing but ruin and desolation. His mill was no more! and instead of seeing green ground in the vale below, all was covered with large stones and rubbish, four yards deep, and among which one of the mill-stones was irrecoverably lost. The old channel of the stream too was entirely choaked up, and a new one cut open on the other side of the building, through the middle of a large rock, four yards wide, and nine deep. - Something similar to this happened at several other places in the neighbourhood, for the space of two miles, along Legberthwaite, and Fornside, but happily, through the providence of the Almighty, no person's life was lost.
(An account of this inundation is given in the Philosophical Transactions, for the year 1750, No.494.)
button next page
gazetteer links
button -- Cocker, River
button -- "Grasmire" -- Grasmoor
button -- "St John's Vale" -- St John's in the Vale
button -- station, Dob Ley Head

button to main menu Lakes Guides menu.