Зображення сторінки


would ;.. they knew I did not take sufficient exercise, for they had heard me sometimes say

One was for Skiddaw Dod, another for Causey Pike, a third proposed Watenlath; and I, who perhaps would more willingly have sate at home, was yet in a mood to suffer violence, and making a sort of compromise between their exuberant activity and my own inclination for the chair and the fireside, fixed upon Walla Crag. Never was any determination of sovereign authority more willingly received: it united all suffrages : Oh yes ! yes ! Walla Crag! was the unanimous reply. Away they went to put on coats and clogs, and presently were ready each with her little basket to carry out the luncheon, and bring home such treasures of mosses and lichens as they were sure to find. Off we set; and when I beheld their happiness, and thought how many enjoyments they would have been deprived of, if their lot had fallen in a great city, I blest God who had enabled me to fulfil my heart's desire and live in a country such as Cumberland.

The walk on which we had agreed has just that degree of difficulty and enterprize wherein children delight and may safely be indulged. I lived many years at Keswick before I explored it; but it has since been a favourite excursion with all my guests and resident friends who have been active and robust enough to accomplish the ascent. You leave the Borrodale road about a mile and half from the town, a little before it opens upon the terrace, and, crossing a wall by some stepping stones, go up the wood, having a brook, or what in the language of the country is called a beck, on the right hand. An artist might not long since have found some beautiful studies upon this beck, in its short course through the wood, where its craggy sides were embowered with old trees, the trunks of which, as well as their mossy branches, bent over the water: I scarcely know any place more delightful than this was in a sultry day, for the fine composition of the scene, its refreshing shade and sound, and the sense of deep retirement;.. but the woodman has been there! A little higher up you cross a wall and the elbow of a large tree that covers it; you are then upon the side of the open fell, shelving down to the stream, which has worked for itself a narrow ravine below. After a steep ascent you reach one of those loose walls which are common in this country; it runs across the side of the hill, and is broken down in some places; the easier way, or rather the less difficult, is onthe inner side, over loose and rugged stones,

the wreck of the crags above. They are finely coloured with a yellow or ochrey lichen, which predominates there, to the exclusion of the lichen geographicus : its colour may best be compared to that of beaten or unburnished gold; it is richly blended with the white or silvery kind, and interspersed with the stone-fern or mountain-parsley, the most beautiful of all our wild plants, resembling the richest point lace in its fine filaments and exquisite indentations.

The wall ends at the ravine ; just at its termination part of it has been thrown down by the sheep or by the boys, and the view is thus opened from a point which, to borrow a word from the Tourist's Vocabulary, is a remarkable station. The stream, which in every other part of its course has worn for itself a deep and narrow channel, flows here for a few yards over a level bed of rock, where in fine weather it might be crossed with ease, then falls immediately into the ravine. A small ash tree bends over the pavement, in such a manner that, if you wish to get into the bed of the stream, you must either stoop under the branches, or stride over them. Looking upward there, the sight is confined between the sides of the mountain, which on the left is steep and stony, and on the right precipitous, except that directly opposite there are some shelves, or rather steps of herbage, and a few birch, more resembling bushes than trees in their size and growth; these, and the mountain rill, broken, flashing, and whitening in its fall where it comes rapidly down, but taking in the level part of its course a colour of delightful green from the rock over which it runs, are the only objects. But on looking back, you behold a scene of the most striking and peculiar character. The water, the rocky pavement, the craggy sides, and the ash tree, form the foreground and the frame of this singular picture. You have then the steep descent, open on one side to the lake, and on the other with the wood, half way down and reaching to the shore; the lower part of Derwentwater below, with its islands; the vale of Keswick, with Skiddaw for its huge boundary and bulwark, to the North ; and where Bassenthwaite stretches into the open country, a distance of water, hills, and remote horizon, in which Claude would have found all he desired, and more than even he could have represented, had he beheld it in the glory of a midsummer sunset.

This was to be our resting-place, for though the steepest ascent was immediately before us, the greater part of the toil was over. My young

[ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »