CUMBERLAND AND WESTMORELAND
I. THE LAKE DISTRICT
 THE lake district lies within the southern half of
Cumberland, the western half of Westmoreland, and the
piece of Lancashire known as Furness.
This is the playground of England, whither the young
men go to climb the mountains, and young and old to be
refreshed by the ever-changing beauty of lake and fell.
In the season there are always tourists about, knapsack
on shoulder, who make their way on foot, or by the
pleasant old stage-coach; railways have only penetrated
into the beautiful valleys in a few-places as yet.
The market-place of Keswick or of Ambleside is a merry
scene on a bright morning, when the coaches are about
to start. There they are: Ullswater coach, Coniston
coach, Windermere coach, Keswick coach—each with its
four fine horses. The gay passengers crowd round,
everybody mounts to the top, ladies and all—happy they
who get the front seats—and, with a merry blast of the
horn, off goes the coach.
Not leaving us in the market-place, though; we have
secured the box-seat on the Keswick coach.
By the way, what a pleasant village, or rather town,
Ambleside is,—built of the dark blue-grey rock of the
slate mountains, and standing in an open valley with
towering mountains round it. Every village nestles in
its own dale in this lake country; and a hardy,
 upright race the dalesmen are. In the rural villages
many of [them are shepherds, for shepherding is the
only kind of farm work possible among the mountains.
The road to Keswick leads between fells fringed with
larch trees, and is bordered by the Eotha river, until
we reach Eydal Water,—a fairy mere, with little, green,
tree-shaded islands dotted over it, and with mountain
shadows, and cloud shadows, and gleaming lights upon
its waters. That rock, looking over the little lake, is
"Wordsworth's Seat," and on the slope of the fell is
Kydal Mount, which was the home of this "Lake Poet."
Mr. Wordsworth was a great walker; he wandered among
the dales, and climbed the fells, and knew every mile
of the beautiful lake country; and the beauty of it all
was the joy of his life, and filled his heart with deep
holy thoughts, some of which he has put into sweet
words for our enjoyment.
Even the musical names of the fells were a delight to
him. He tells us how, when he and a lady friend were
walking forth one day, the lady laughed aloud, and,—
"The rock, like something starting from a sleep,
Tookup the lady's voice, and laugh'd again:
That ancient woman, seated on Helm Crag,
Was ready with her cavern: Hammar Scar,
And the tall steep of Silver How, sent forth
A noise of laughter; southern Loughrigg heard,
And Fairfield answered with a mountain tone:
Helvellyn far into the clear blue sky
Carried the lady's voice; old Skiddaw blew
His speaking trumpet; back out of the clouds
Of Glaramara southward came the voice,
And Kirkstone tossed it from his misty head."
It is not always quite so easy to wake the echoes; but
the report of a gun, or the baying of the hounds,
 or, better still, the pealing thunder, is carried from
hill to hill as was this lady's laugh.
The road leads us on by Grasmere, which lies at the
foot of Silver How. It is another lovely mere, larger
than Eydal, set in a soft green vale, hemmed in by
rugged mountains. The grave of Wordsworth is in the
village churchyard. Under Helm Crag we go; the vale
narrows; the mountains become steep and rugged, with
streams of boulders down their slopes; and, presently,
we are under "the dark brow of the mighty Helvellyn."
Helvellyn is the monarch of the lake mountains: Sea
Fell is a hundred feet higher; Skiddaw, Sea Fell, and
Helvellyn are all over 3000 feet; but neither of the
others is such a big, swelling, giant of a mountain as
We are too close to the Monarch to see his crown: our
road lies under his vast shoulder; but we cannot pass
him by. We must leave our box-seat, and breast the
hill, prepared for two or three hours' hard climbing.
The best way to see the mountain in its grandeur is to
follow the track which leads up by the Bed Tarn. A tarn
is a small mere, or lake, high up among the mountains.
This Bed Tarn lies in a dip about 600 feet from the
summit. It is shut in between two sloping walls of
rock, the Striding Edge, and the Swirral Edge,—edges
indeed, for they are simply steep, narrow, broken
pathways on the top of each wall of rock. If you are a
good climber, and not apt to become giddy,
 you may make your way up by one of these edges; but
beware of a false step on either side of the narrow
pathway; one suoh step, and you are plunged down a
precipice of a hundred feet.
There is a touching tale of a traveller who attempted
the passage on a snowy day and fell. Wordsworth tells
the story in the poem beginning—
"A barking sound the shepherd hears."
On the summit of the mountain there is an awful
stillness; not an insect hums in the air; we no longer
hear the roar of the mountain torrents; not a blade of
grass is to be seen; cushions, or tufts of moss,
parched and brown, appear between the huge blocks and
stones that lie in heaps on all sides; the snow lies
here for half the year.
III. DERWENT WATER
Coming down from Helvellyn, we are again in a "smiling
valley," with its beautiful lake—Thirlmere this time,
from which it has been proposed to bring water to
At the head of Thirlmere the road turns, and we get a
peep down the sweet Vale of St. John's, watered by the
Greta river. We round the fells on our left, and
Derwent Water and Keswick town lie below; and, farther
on, towering Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite Water.
Beautiful Derwent Water!—the fairest of all the lakes,
many people think—with its green shores and
 fringing trees, its islets and its mountain background;
but perhaps Ullswater, on the other side of Helvellyn,
has a wilder beauty.
Southey, another lake poet, less famous than
Wordsworth, had his dwelling at Keswick, the bright
little town which stands on the lake.
He tells us how the waters come down at Lodore, the
waterfall at the head of the lake:—
"Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,
Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,
Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
Recoiling, turmoiling, and toiling and boiling,
And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
And so, never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions for ever and ever are blending,
All at once and all o'er, with a mighty uproar,
And this way the water comes down at Lodore."
And at many another force in
this land of waterfalls,—Airey Force, Sour Milk Force
(white as milk), Stock
Ghyl—for the rivers gather their waters on the high
mountains, and have often to fall down steep walls of
rock before they reach the valleys.
At the head of Borrow-dale, the dale in which Derwent
Water lies, there is a mine of plumbago, or
black-lead—so at least it is called. There is a
pencil-factory there, where you may buy pencils marked
with your own name in gold letters.
But we have no room to speak of half that is to be seen
in this beautiful land of lakes; not of Windermere
itself, the largest of the lakes—eleven miles long, and
about three-quarters of a mile across—which lies
chiefly in Furness; nor of Coniston Water, nor Coniston
 Man, nor of any of the Furness Fells; nor of Wild Wast
Water, nor of Buttermere.
It is very pleasant to know your mountains; to be able
to pick out one giant shape from another; to know that
the Great Gable is something like the gable of a house;
that Saddleback rises like a saddle; that High Street
is a high straight ridge, like a street up aloft; that
the Pillar is rather like a pillar; and that the
Pikes—Sea Fell Pikes and Langdale Pikes—are
giants with rounded heads, that you may always
recognise. But it is the mass, the strength of the
everlasting hills about you everywhere; the purple
haze, the bloom, on the mountains, lit up gloriously at
sunrise and sunset; the valleys, and the lakes, and the
torrents,—these are some of the things that make up the
joy and beauty of a mountain country.
In the distance it is impossible to tell how the
mountain-slopes are covered; they lie, calm and grand,
with their outlines softened by a veil of haze, purple,
or rosy, or soft grey. But draw near, and you find the
slopes fringed with larches, or carpeted with bracken—a
carpet of warm, reddish gold in the autumn. Down many
of the bleaker hills are streams of broken rock, which
look as if a high wind would bring them pouring into
the valleys. The lower slopes are usually covered with
short turf, and divided into pastures by rough stone
walls. The shepherd and his wise dog and the mountain
sheep are, for the most part, the only wanderers on
these lonely hills.
There are fewer people in this Lake District than in
any other part of England of the same size. Men
cannot till the fells, or live upon them; and these
great rugged mountain masses spread over the whole
district. They do not run in chains, but are grouped,
 rising behind and around one another like huge
Between each pair of long mountain ridges is a dale,
long and narrow, with green meadows and trees. The
villages are in these dales, and the lowest part of
each dale, or valley, is usually filled with water,
forming a lake, set like a gem in the green vale,
bright and clear and glittering in the sunshine. A
river brings water to the lake, and a river carries to
the sea what water there is to spare when the bed of
the lake is full; that is, when the wafer in the lake
rises nearly as high as the land of the valley round
it. Thus, the Leven carries off the waters of
Windermere; the Derwent, those of Bassenthwaite and
Derwent Water. The mountain valleys in which the lakes
lie are often at a great height above the surrounding
land, and the rivers which drain them sometimes reach
the lower land by sudden falls or leaps over steep
faces of rock. This is one cause of the numerous falls
or forces of this region, though it more often happens
that the river reaches the level of the lake by a fall
from above. Sometimes, as in Scale Force, the fall is
double; the water reaches a level, and then there is
another break in the rock, and down it pours again.
IV. THE FARMING AND MINING DISTRICTS
There are two fertile valleys in Westmoreland—the Vale
of Eden, in which Appleby, the county town, stands; and
the Yale of Kendal, which is a very old town upon the
Kent, where the wool of the mountain
 sheep is manufactured. The rest of the county is
entirely filled with the Fells, or with the bleak Moors
on the east, the continuation of the Pennine Chain.
Cross Fell, 2900 feet, the highest point in the range,
is in Cumberland. In the dreary moors about Alton,
farther north, there are important lead mines, and
silver is found with the lead. Lead is also found in
the Cumbrian or Lake Mountains, the dark rock of which
is quarried for building purposes.
The Eden, the only considerable river in the two
counties, flows north through a flat farming district,
and winds round the old castle of "merrie Carlisle"—"merrie"
in the days of border warfare, and now a busy
town with glass, cotton, and iron works. It has a very
large railway station, for the lines of four important
companies meet here. Penrith and Wigton are market
A coal-field stretches from Wigton to Whitehaven.
Maryport, Workington, and Whitehaven are all busy towns
among the collieries, which run out in some places two
or three miles under the Irish Sea; the colliers can
hear the sea rolling overhead as they are at work.
A little south of Whitehaven is the red headland of St.
Bees, the finest on this coast, where the clifiEs are
washed by a stormy sea, which has strewn the beach with
huge rock boulders. The Solway Frith, into which the
Eden flows, divides Cumberland from the Scotch county
Like Northumberland and Durham, this county belonged to
the debatable border-land. The border warfare was
carried as far as Appleby, which was twice besieged by
the Scots. Carlisle was often occupied by them, and at
one time, for twenty years, they
 held the whole of Cumberland and Westmoreland
There are still round towers along the border which
remain from those stormy days. Cumberland contains part
of the Roman wall, which ends on the shores of the
Solway Frith. More interesting remains still are those
of three Druid temples, which are circles formed of
huge blocks of stone planted upright in the ground; the
largest of these stone circles, called "Long Meg and
her Daughters," is near Penrith. "Long Meg" is a lady
some six yards high.