In The Lake District
Thomas Gray (1709)
From Correspondence, edited by P Toynbee and L Whibley (1935)

October 3: 3. Wd. at S.E., a heavenly day. rose at seven, & walked out under the conduct of my Landlord to Borrodale. The grass was covered with a hoar-frost, which. soon melted, & exhaled in a thin blewish smoke. crossed the meadows obliquely, catching a diversity of views among the hills over the lakes & islands, & changing prospect at every ten paces, left Cock-shut & Castle-hill (which we formerly mounted) behind me, & drew near the foot of Walla- crag, whose bare and rocky brow, cut perpendicularly down above 400 feet, as I guess, awfully overlooks the way: Our path here tends to the left, & the ground gently rising, & covered with a glade of scattering trees & bushes on the very margin of the water, opens both ways the most delicious view, that my eyes ever beheld. Behind you are the magnificent heights of Walla- crag; opposite lie the thick hanging woods of Ld. Egremont, & Newland valley with green & smiling fields embosomed in the dark cliffs; to the left the jaws of Borodale, with that turbulent chaos of mountain behind mountain rolled in confusion; beneath you and stretching far away to the right, the shining purity of the Lake, just ruffled by the breeze enough to show it is alive, reflecting rocks, woods, fields, & inverted tops of mountains, with the white buildings of Keswick, Crosthwait church, & Skiddaw for a back-ground at distance. Oh Doctor! I never wished more for you; & pray think, how the glass played its part in such a spot, which. is called Carf-close-reeds: I choose to set down these barbarous names, that any body may enquire on the place, & easily find the particular station, that I mean. this scene continues to Barrow gate, & a little farther, passing a brook called Barrow-beck, we entered Borodale. The crags, named Lodoor-banks now begin to impend terribly over your way; & more terribly, when you hear, that three years since an immense mass of rock tumbled at once from the brow, & barred all access to the dale (for this is the only road) till they could work their way through it. Luckily no one was passing at the time of this fall; but down the side of the mountain & far into the lake lie dispersed the huge fragments of this ruin in all shapes & in all directions. Something farther we turned aside into a coppice, ascending a little in front of Lodoor water-fall; the height appears to be about 200 feet, the quantity of water not great, though (these three days excepted) it had rained daily in the hills for near two months before: but then the stream was nobly broken, leaping from rock to rock, & foaming with fury. On one side a towering crag, that spired up to equal, if not overtop, the neighbouring cliffs (this lay all in shade & darkness) on the other hand a rounder broader projecting hill shagged with wood & illumined by the sun, which glanced sideways on the upper part of the cataract. The force of the water wearing a deep channel in the ground hurries away to join the lake. We descended again, & passed the stream over a rude bridge. Soon after we came under Gowder crag, a hill more formidable to the eye & to the apprehension than that of Lodoor; the rocks atop, deep-cloven perpendicularly by the rains, hanging loose & nodding forwards, seem just starting from their base in shivers: the whole way down & the road on both sides is strewed with piles of the fragments strangely thrown across each other & of a dreadful bulk ...

« Death Of Cat » « Gray's Works » « Library » « Our Civilisation »