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Today is   Last update 07-11-2011
 

















WAXING LYRICAL!

'It is good to be out on the road...' the poet told us; and every now and again the writer of an Excursion report lets us glimpse (and even 'feel') the pleasure taken in the scenery passed through and the general atmosphere of the countryside, as well as in the antiquities forming the focus of the ride. Here we go!

In August of 1880, the CWAAS Excursion members made the King’s Arms Hotel in Kirkby Stephen, an interesting old town, their base, and the weather proved very favourable for their purpose.

A fascinating galleried building in the main street of Kirkby Stephen
A fascinating galleried building in the main street of Kirkby Stephen


The Society’s reporter writes:

‘The carriages were then put once more into requisition and the party drove to Wharton Hall. They then went on to Pendragon Castle.…...The scene was so attractive, and the day so fine that it was with great regret the members of the party saw their horses’ heads turned homewards toward Stenkrith Bridge.’ (What a contrast to some of the episodes of very wet and wild weather which members had endured on other outings!)

The dramatic ruin of Pendragon Castle
The dramatic ruin of Pendragon Castle


Then in 1889...

[The previous day's meeting had ended 'at ten minutes to eleven'!] Next day, '...a start was made from the Salutation Hotel at a quarter past [8], by way of Skelwith to Little Langdale, whose soft beauty was enhanced by the morning sun. Lazily, the bits of cloud clinging to the north end of the magnificent form of Wetherlam were rolled upwards, and the warmth of a perfect autumn day was enjoyed during the rest of the route.'

Eskdale, too, inspired the excursion report writer to refer to Cumbria's great beauty:

'The scene here [Hardknott fort] was most glorious. The rich and romantic valley of Eskdale stretched away towards Ravenglass and the sea.......

Hardknott fort dominating Eskdale; view seaward
Hardknott fort dominating Eskdale; view seaward


.....while to the north the monarchs of the lake hills - Scawfell and Scawfell Pike, with Bowfell, Great End, and their big fellows, softened by a silvery haze, stood sentinels over a scene unmatched in the kingom. A steep scramble down from the camp [i.e. Hardknott] landed the party at the foot of the pass where the carriages were again mounted, and a drive past lusciously scented hay-fields and corn hattocks soon landed the company at the Woolpack Inn, in Eskdale'.

The 1892 September Excursion was equally memorable for the weather. The party’s base was at Seascale

Seascale viewed from the Irish Sea
Seascale viewed from the Irish Sea


and members set off, once again, for Eskdale. The destination was Hardknott Castle (the Roman fort), where they were keen to see the results of the ‘recent explorations’.

Afterwards, tea was taken at The Woolpack in Eskdale, after which the party set off for Seascale. The reporter assures us that, ‘On both days’ they had been ‘favoured by the beautiful weather.’.

And there were further treats to come. Our faithful reporter describes the remarkable homeward journey:

‘Although now seen under a totally different aspect, the varying scenes brought into view as the conveyances rattled along the winding road were no less interesting than in the early part of the afternoon. The sombre heads of the hills and mountains stood out boldly beneath the starlit heavens, and the whole scene was most beautiful. The planets Jupiter and Mars shone with great brilliance, and the appearance of a magnificent display of the Aurora Borealis was an additional source of delight; so that, although the evening had brought a chilly air with it, the return journey had its own charms. The Scawfell Hotel was reached about half-past eight.’

Scawfell Hotel, Seascale (no longer in existence)
Scawfell Hotel, Seascale (no longer in existence)


Doubtless this episode would long linger in the explorers’ minds.

Eskdale from Hardknott Pass:
Eskdale from Hardknott Pass: 'Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, And all the air a solemn stillness holds.....'






























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