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sterner than the peregrine whizzing after towering
larks. I well remember assisting to drive a flock
across this upland basin. Of all scenes in dales life,
few are prettier than well-driven sheep passing over
open land. The collies, watchful, obedient to call or
whistle of their master, follow the wings of the mob ;
the shepherd is behind the centre, and the broad front
of grey fleeces and black faces, a thousand or more
strong, steadily, readily, moves to pastures new, and the



Mountain Tarns

delicate green grass, with grey crags and darker stripes
of moss, combines all into an idyllic picture.

From Grisedale, there is Helvellyn to climb on the
way to Red tarn, and to a tiny pool beneath the
northern screes known as Keppel Cove tarn. A tour
further afield would be across the knife-like Edges
of Saddleback to the lonesome tarns immured beneath
their cliffs. We, .however, journey over the ridge
between Fairfield and Seat Sandal for Grasmere's sweet
vale. There are many views across the pass to Helm
Crag, with its uncouth rocks on top, figures of
monsters frozen speechless from the dim twilight of

From Grasmere there is a particularly fine mountain
walk, with a ring of tarns as its objective. Starting
from the tourist village one passes up Easedale, then
begins to ascend the side of Sour Milk ghyll. Come
when there has been rain and a tortured chain of water
flies down four hundred feet of rocks, in a succession
of gleaming spouts. But in the days of drought the
rocky pathway is bare and almost dry, the rivulet drips
noiselessly down the inclined rocks. At the head of
the force you enter the realm of the fell properly.
The true mountain moth flutters by ; the moss beneath
your feet is racemed with fox's tail, least civilised
of plants. The ring-ouzel, the blackbird of the fells,
is often here in the waterworn rocks are its nesting-
places. The bracken throws off its sweetest scent.
The tarn side is a peaceful scene under most conditions,
but when a gale rages you sec the water fly off in

The English Lakes

sheets. The scene is glorious, but the bufferings are
tremendous. Easedale tarn is among the larger in
size, its trout are more easily caught at hours and
seasons when the tourist is unknown. At evening get
out the boat and float toward the outlet. The weeds
here are the nightly haunt of the best fish.

Our next tarn is Codale, perched on a shelf six
hundred feet higher than Easedale tarn a mere rock
pool, but in situation most romantic. Fishing here
well, there are a few trout to be got by the lucky.
"Codale tarn ? Ah, we used to come at it after we
had done Stickle tarn. Old Jonty knew it well. Once
when I was with him it was a blazing June day he
said he could get the fish in Codale. * How ? ' I
asked. ' By minding my own business.' He pro-
duced two lengths of line, and along them fixed the
hooks and baits common to the lath. ' Noo, thee
gang that side o' t' tarn, ah '11 gang this.' The line
was between, and we soon dragged the narrow water
from one to the other. There wasn't a fish missed.
One after another they swum up ; what the baits were
Old Jonty wouldn't say salmon roe most like, for
he was a terrible poacher. We got four pounds of
fish with the single drag, more than I had seen in
a week of tarn fishing in that blazing weather."

A few weird things are told of the wild upland where
lies Codale tarn, stories as wild as the demon hunts
of Dartmoor. Through the mists the wanderer often
fancies a face distraught with pain and toil. It is the
weird of a lost soul. The first time I was a-wandering



Mountain Tarns

in this region I was caught in a dense cloud, and, the
stories still fresh in my mind, I felt rather nervous
that some horror would come to light. It is wonder-
ful what vivid imaginings come when one is astray
in the mist. 1 have a great many times seen visions
in the grey beards so clear, so true, that once I
hailed a comrade whose face I saw, though he himself
was forty miles away. Codale tarn, to my mind, is the
prettiest mere of all : stand back from its outlet and
drink in the picture the narrow dark band of water,
the great pile of rock dabbed with spits of grass,
seamed with moss-laces and with parsley fern. Above
the crags, where a spot of snow oft lingers till June,
is the azure sky, and the dots of winged things.

Over the hills and away ^to the tarn of Stickle.
At clear midnight the hollow is at its finest when
the sky is gemmed with stars and over the jagged
Pavey Ark the northern light pulses and flows, and
the mountains swim in delicate folds of vapour. It
is fairy time the wee folk must survive in this
abode of eternal peace. The crags overhanging the
tarn are full of problems for the rock-climbing cult
one or two of the gullies are almost first-rate. The
"shepherd's path," which few dalesmen ever use, is
dangerous to any one not trained to this severe work
I mention this as a warning. The tarn holds trout
of large size and exceptional quality. In winter this
basin is an awesome place for a ramble. The great
plinth which ends Pavey Ark rises almost without
a patch of white a pillar of darkness. Other parts


The English Lakes

of the fell are plentifully smeared with drifts. When
the snow has lain for a week or two there is snow
craft to be practised here, but things are better further
afield on the Scawfell group.

From Stickle our wanderings should carry us down
past the racing fosse, and away into Little Langdale
where we pause at Blea tarn. This was the haunt
of Wordsworth's " Solitary," chief figure in his poem,
'* The Excursion." Little Langdale tarn, which lies
somewhat further down the glen is a small weedy pool
in a meadow-land. Its waters for long have provided
little sport, for they arc overstocked with tiny useless
trout. A net used with judgment might improve the
fishing here. But Little Langdale tarn has its own
peculiar charm of quietness. It is a haunt of the
heron and otter. And over it stands the grand barrier
of Tilberthwaite fell, from the base of which, in
solemn echoing blasts, " the quarried thunders ring."
The hillsides around are pitted with ugly little scars
of abortive quarries. Still down the glen, we pass
Colwith, where the stream makes a sudden leap into
a lower country. It is a pretty enough spout, but on
enclosed ground, and therefore few wanderers of the
fells confess its beauty. The white farm at the cross
road, as you turn into Great Langdale, of course has
been an inn. One of its old-time landladies was wont
only to brew when there was a prospect of sale. The
water from the spring was good enough for her house-
hold, with milk if they felt dainty. Her customers
chiefly came eastward over Wrynose pass. It was a



Mountain Tarns

long stretch, and a thirsty, from the last tavern in that
direction. The landlady was not accustomed to waste
material, so every morning when she judged that
packmen from Whitehaven were due she walked up
the hill above the farm to watch for their coming. If
but few ponies appeared crawling down the steep, then
the malt was stinted, but if the pass-head was, in her
opinion, " black wi' folk," more ale was prepared.
One morning a traveller, tired of the slow pack-train,
pushed on ahead, and duly came to the inn. Ale he
called for, and was informed : " Oh aye, ye can hae ale,
but it's rayther warm just yet." The traveller had
beaten the new brew down to Col with.

To Elter Water the lane winds through dense coppice,
and emerges into the open just before the village is
reached. Here the chief industry is the making of
gunpowder, with also slate quarrying and the pro-
duction of the famous Langdale linen. John Ruskin
it was whose teaching brought this craft back into
being, and in a quiet way it is doing good to the
valley. I wonder if the dales farmer will ever turn
his attention to the cultivation of flax. At one time
a plot of this staple was more necessary to a farmstead
than a vegetable or even a herbal garden.

Elter Water is a larger picture of the elements
comprised in Little Langdale tarn. Except that it
is at the foot of the Langdales there is little to be said
about it. The pike are so numerous that few perch
even stay with them. Loughrigg tarn, which we visit
before getting over the ridge to Grasmere, is of a


The English Lakes

different class to any we have yet met with. Christopher
North described it as " a diamond set in emeralds,"
and he was not wrong. Where are waters more
sparkling, or meadows greener than these ? In a
secluded corner of the world, Loughrigg does nothing
but look pretty : there is no message to the mind
from its beauty save that of surpassing beauty in

Coniston is a splendid place to start from for another
journey. The nearest point is Gates Water, under
Dow crags. The way is not particularly difficult,
but the scenery is impressive. The great crag rising
sheer almost from the water's edge is a haunt of the
raven, a bird yearly growing scarcer as the wildernesses
become less wild, and as the shepherd gets more
reliable fire-arms. But, says legend, there is one raven
quite impossible to reach. It has dwelt on Kurnal Crag
since the dawn of Britain's history. Yet it failed its
post. It was the Druid's familiar, and when invasion
rolled nor' ward it became a sentry over the settlement
of Torver. u False bird," cried the old Druid, when
from the mystic holly circle he saw the Britons' camp
burning and the Roman legion pursuing the defeated
remnant of his people, " and this is how thy promise
of sleepless day and night is fulfilled. Thou wast to
croak when danger threatened, and instead I wake
to see thee join the invader's rank." " Nay, father
Druid, I went to fight the yellow bird they carry in
their van. It is but a bit of burnished bronze they
hold up, and no bird, and I stayed too long surveying



Mountain Tarns

it." " Venerable- bird, venerable as myself and as old,
I had it in my mind to condemn thee to die, but
instead thou shalt live, live, live on the topmost crag
of Dow, till another army sweep away the Roman,
and the yellow bird is carried southward over
sands." The time came when the Roman legions
hurried south, and the raven, well stricken in years,
hoped for release ; but it did not come, for the last
legion, on a misty morning, became involved in a
swamp on Torver moor, and standard-bearer and
burnished bird were swallowed in deep mud. There
they lie and moulder, and the old story is that unless
they are found and the eagle carried south the raven
of Kurnal Crag may not die. You can hear its aged,
rumbling croak afar off, at times when thunder is in
the air, and you linger in the gulf of Gates Water
to hear the first echoing bellow of the storm.

From Gates Water the wanderer goes over the Old
Man to Low Water, really one of the most elevated
mountain waters. It is splendidly situated, screes
and boulders from forbidding cliffs falling right to its
shores. It is pleasant to be here at sunset and watch
the gloom collect on the summits around. The tarn
is credited with almost diabolically large trout, but no
one catches them now, and anglers are sceptic. The
hillside you traverse to reach Levers Water is almost
honeycombed with the shafts of old copper mines.
" Mines Valley " indeed was once the busiest haunt of
men in the Lake Country. Its copper is now being
exploited afresh, and the prosperity of sixty years


The English Lakes

ago may be repeated. Some of us would rather hear
the skirl of the curlew than the roar of ore-mills, but
if dividends are possible the lover of the untamed
land will once again have to move on. There is
no guarantee, save at Thirlmere, that an unspeakable
hideousness of industry will not suddenly blot out our
remotest haunt. From Levers Water the rambler
climbs the ridge toward Seathwaite tarn, now a reservoir
for the use of warrior Barrow. This tarn the lord
of the manor had the exclusive right to net, and the
annual occasion was always made a picnic. Nets were
shot, and the finny spoil, char, trout and perch, drawn
ashore. Then, as quickly as possible, a tithe of them
was prepared and cooked at fires on the shingly strand.
The merry-making was a splendid break in the silence
of the year here. The tarn also has a small gullery,
though miles from the nearest arm of the sea.

The charms of Tarn Hows I have mentioned in
my chapter on Coniston Water ; it is well worthy an
afternoon's ramble, though if the visitor can put off"
the hour till the last charabanc has rattled down the
glen, he will be the more repaid.

My space limit has long run out, so I must only
indicate the positions of a last knot of tarns. Devoke
Water, within a few miles of Eskdale Green, holds
pink-fleshed trout, the progenitors of which are said to
have been brought by the monks of Furness Abbey
from sunny Italy. Burnmoor tarn lies between lofty
Scawfell and Wastwater Screes. The moor around is
studded with Druid circles and other memorials of



Mountain Tarns

a vanished race. Then in Stye Head pass is a dark
brooding tarn ; on the fell towards Great End is
Sprinkling tarn, near which is the famous rain gauge,
where annually the highest English rainfall is recorded.
In twenty minutes an inch of rain once fell here ; I have
had several quick-time drenchings in this neighbour-
hood. On the fells between Wastwater and Ennerdale
are Scoat and Lowfell tarns, the former of which is
reputed to contain a golden fish, and the latter a
silvery one. Floutern tarn is the furthest away of
the mountain waters, lying on the desolate fell between
Buttermere and Ennerdale.




Accommodation, 5
Adventure in winter, 1 59
Aira Force, 197
Ambleside, 28, 30
Americans, 12
Angle tarn, 204, 214
Angler, 31
Anglers Crag, 103
,, Inn, 100
Angler's yarn, an, 130
Armboth House, 173
Autumn, 44

Badger, tke, 56, 187
Bank boKday, 154
Barley-bread, 154
Barn Scar, 207
Barrow Cascade, 143
Bassenthwaite, 156-164
Belle Isle, 15, 1 8
Benn, the, 175
41 Birds o' passage," 184
Bit-by-bit reform, 42
Blea tarn, 219

Water, 212
"Bloomery," 62, 72
Boating, 101
Bolton, Mr., 14
Borrowdale, 144
Botling, 91
Bowder Stone, 152
Bowness, 20

Bowness Bay, 20

,, landing-place, 21
Bowscale tarn, 207
Brandlehow, 199
Brantwood, 69, 74
Brook trout, 180
Brothers' Water, 207, 214
Burnmoor tarn, 223
Buttermere, 124-136

after series of rain-

storms, 128
Buttermere, fishing of, 132

in winter mist, 132

,, maid of, 125

my first visit to, 127

Butterwort, 182

Calgarth, 24

skulls at, 24
Carrier, country, 40, 57, 58
Carrion crows, 184
Castle Crag, 144
Castle (sham) which Manchester

erected, 173
Cat bells, 146, 151
Causeways, 52
Chant of profit, 146
Char, 26, 61, 66, 91, 101, 190, 192

,, Dub, 101

fishing, 26

pie, 67

potted, 66



Charcoal burning, 73

Cheese, home-made, 154

Civil war, the, 2

Claife, 53

" Clipping," 1 14

Coach-road through Buttermere,


Coaches, 6
Cockermouth, Kesvvick, and Pen-

rith Railway, 7
Cock-fighting, 57
Codale, 217
Coleridge, Hartley, 35
Collies, 215
Colthouse, 53
Col with, 219
Coniston, 221

Old Hall, 66
Water, 60-78
Convention week at Keswick, 153
Copper, 62
Corpse-road, 183
Cottages, old, 152

old-style, 191
Crosthwaite Church, 148
Crozier, John, 157
Crummock Water, 116-123
Cuthbert, 147

Dales, a youngster of the, 1 80

dwelling, 37
Dalesman, a, 156
Dalesman's Keswick, 154
Dalesmen, the, 3
Dancing, 109
Davy, John, 26
Deer, red native, 181, 186
De Quincey, 35
Derwent, the, 144

Isle, 138

vale of, 151

Derwentwater, 137-155

Earls of, 140

Devoke Water, 207, 223
Dialect, Cumbrian, 155
Dipper, the, 130
" Dixon's Three Loups," 213
Dobson, Tommie, 79
Domesday, 49
Dotterel, the, 122
Dove Nest, 27
Dunmail, 2

cairn of, 167

pass of, 1 66

story of, 167
Dunmallet, 200

Eagle, golden, 187
Easedale tarn, 217
Elter Water, 220
English Lakes, history of the, 2
Ennerdale, 98-105
Esthwaite mere, fishing in, 54
Water, 49-59

Fairfield, 201, 215

Fences partly wall, 171

Finsthwaite, 1 1

Fir Island, 69

Fishing in Loweswater, in

Fishing tackle, 20

Floating Island, Derwentwater,


Floutern tarn, 224
Fordendale, 181
Forest laws, 6 1
Fortune-teller, the dumb, I IO
Forty-Five, the, 196
Foumart, the, 187
Fox How, 28
Fox-hunting, 45, 185, 212
" Fraternal Three," 83



Friars Crag, 137
Frost flowers, 48
Furness Abbey, monks of, 223

bluffs, 21

railway, 6
Fusedale, 186

Gale (the wildest), on Coniston,


Gatesgarth, 131, 134
Gates water, 61, 207, 221
German miners, 146
Glencoin, 197
Glenridding, 201
Goat hunt, 78
Goats, wild, 78
Golden eagle, 187
Gondola, 68
Govvbarrow, 197, 199
Grange, 145
Grasmere, 36-48, 216

Lake, 43
Greycrag tarn, 209
G rise dale tarn, 207, 214
Gummers Howe, 10

Harrop tarn, 175
Haweswater, 178-184
Havvkshead, 50

,, Church, burials in
woollen, 50
Hawkshead Grammar School

monks' home, 50

Old, 49-59

Old Hall, 53

two centuries ago, 50
Hay-making, 40
Hayes Water, 213
Hedge-parsons, 127
Helm Crag, 43, 166, 216

Helm wind, 187
Helvellyn, 175
Hemans, Mrs., 27
Hen Holme, 27
Herdvvicks, 89
Heron, the, 35, 54, 1 02, 1 80
High Furness, 49
Hogarth, 25
Holme, Hugh, 182
Home-made cheese, 154
Honister Hause, 125

Pass, 136
Houses, old, 50
Hung mutton, 51
Hunting, 79, 157

Ice roaring, 76
Inn stews, 66

Justice Stone, 173

Kendal, 208
Kentmere tarn, 210
Keppel Cove tarn, 216
Keswick, 153, 154
"King "of Mardale, 182

Patterdale, 196
Kurnal Crag, raven of, 221

Lady Holme, 22

Lady's Rake, 141

Lake Bank, Coniston, 73

Lakeland's wealth of bypaths, 36

Lakeside, 9

Lambing-time, 158

Langdale linen, 220

Larch-tree and Wordsworth, 3/

Launchy Ghyll, 173

Le Fleming, Sir Daniel, 66

Le Flemings, 32, 39



Levers Water, 222
Little Langdale tarn, 219
Lodore, 142

London and North-Western Rail-
way, 6, 7
Loughrigg, 30

tarn, 220
Low Water, 222
Loweswater, 106-115

ancient farms, 108

Lowfell tarn, 224
Lowwood, 26
Lyulph's tower, 197

Maggot, the, 90

Maid of Buttermere, 125

Manchester, sham castle erected

by, 173
Mardale, "King "of, 182

yews, 183
Martindale, 188
Martineau, Harriet, 30
Matterdale, 189
Mcasand, 180
Mellbreak, 106, 119
Midland Railway, 7
Millerground, 23
Miners, German, 146
" Mines Valley," 222
Minstrels, wandering, 109
Monks of Furness Abbey, 223
Motor-traffic, 40
Mounsey, 194
Mountain accident, 135

ponies, 32

tarns, 204-224
Mutton, hung, 51

Nab Scar, 30
Naddle Forest, 179
"Nae land here," 121

National Trust for the Preser-
vation of Places of Natural
Beauty, 199
" New brew," 219
Newby Bridge, 9
New Thirlmere, 172
North, Christopher, 15, 221
North-Eastern Railway, 7

Old Corruption, 42

cottages, 152

Hawkshead, 49-59

houses, 50

Man, 63

Old-style cottages, 191
Old Thirlmere, 165
Old-timers, 162
Orrest Head, 23
Otter, the, 112, 182
Ovens, 153

Parish clerk, 177
Parsons, miserably paid, 99
Patterdale, " King " of, 196
Pavement End, 46
Pavey Ark, 218
Pedlar, the, ill
Peel Island, 61, 73
Pelter Bridge, 32
Philipson, Robert, 19
Philipsons, 19, 24
Picnicking, 121
Place fell, 197
Point of view, 185
Postman, the, 117 .
Priest, the, 108
Priest's Pot, 53

Radical reform, 42
Raven of Kurnal Crag, 221
Ravens, the, 119
Rawlinson's Nab, 22



Red deer, native, 181, 186
Red tarn, 190, 206, 216
Ring-ouzel, 181
" Robert Elsmere's dale," 209
Rock, 102
Rock-climbing, 88
Rossett Ghyll, 205
Rothay, 28, 30-35

,, legends of mighty trout,


Routes of travel, 5
Ruddle or native iron, 87
" Rush-bearing," 46
Ruskin, John, 26, 30, 63, 64, 69,

Ruskin and Carlyle, 7 1

and the gondola, 70
Rydal, 28, 36-48
Rydalmere, 40
Rydal Mount, 37, 39

Park, 27, 31

St. Bee's Head, 98

St. Bega, 104

St. Herbert's Isle, 146

St. Kentigern, 148

Sandwick, 1 88

Sandys family, 50, 53

Santon Bridge, 95

Scale Force, 119

Scales tarn, 207

Scarf Gap, 131

Schoolmaster, the, ic2

Scoat tarn, 224

Scott, Sir Walter, 16

Scottish raiders, 53

Screes, the Wastwater, 87, 95

rockfalls in, 88
Seathwaite tarn, 61, 223
Sheep, 75, 154, 215

" clipping," 1 14

Sheep thatch-eating, 177

walks, 133

washing, 113
Shepherding, 157
Shepherds, 89
Silver Bay, 200

Howe, 35

trout, 190
Skeggles Water, 209
Skidda' hermit, 163
Skiddaw, 148
Skulls at Calgarth, 24
Small Water, 211
Smugglers, 98

Somnambulist, the story of the, 198
Sour Milk Ghyll, 129, 216
Southey, 150, 163
Sprinkling tarn, 224
Squall on a mountain lake, 139
'Statesmen, 106
Stews, Char, at inns, 66
Stickle, tarn of, 218
Stonechat, 179
Storm clouds, 138
Storrs, 13, 14
Striding Edge's top, 189
Sty barrow Crag, 193, 194
Stye Head, 224

Pass (at night), 82-84

tarn, 83, 206
Sunrise, 64
Sunset, 74
Swallow, 181
Swarth fell, 200

Tarn Hows, 76, 223
Tarns, mountain, 204-224
Tennyson, 69, 71
Thirlmere, 165-177

angling hardly per-
mitted, 165



Thirlmere, New, 172
. Old, 165
Thresthwaite Cove, 25
Thunderstorm, 120
Tourists, classes of, 4
Travel, routes of, 5
Trout, great lake, 191
Troutbeck, 25
Trout-fishing, 101, 106

Ullswater, 185-203

night on, 202
yachts, 193

Walker, Steve, trail-hound trainer,


Walla Crag, 179
Wandering minstrels, 109
Wansfell, 26, 27
Wastdale Church, 84
Wastvvater, 79-97

,, in winter, 85
Watendlath, 152
Water he ad, 9

pier, 37
Water-lily, 54
Watson, Bishop, 25
Wetherlam, 77
Whinfell tarn, 207, 208
White Moss, 40, 42
Wildfowl, 118
Windermere, 9-29

char-fishing with

plumb-line, 26

Windermere farmsteadings, 1 1
it ferry, 15

Ferry Hotel, 17

parish church, 20

i, spectral white horse,

Wishing Gate, 45, 47

"Wonderful Walker," 126

Wood-owl, 181

Wordsworth, Dorothy, 197

William, 14, 33-35,

38, 46, 50, 56, 57, 150

Wordsworth describes his " Wag-
goner," 176

Wordsworth's aversion to the
larch-tree, 37

Wordsworth's "The Brothers," 99
cottage, 33

"The Daffodils," 198

home, 36

"Solitary," 219

Wray Castle, 26

\Vrynose Pass, 219

Wythburn, 170, 175
Head, 170
j old rector of, 176

Yacht-racing, 17
Yeoman, the, bell-ringer, 177
Yewbarrow, 95
Yewdale, 77

crags, 67
Yews of Mardale, 183
Youngster of the dales, 180




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Online LibraryWilliam Thomas PalmerThe English lakes → online text (page 14 of 14)