Wild and romantic: Early guides to the English lake district


A collection of some of the most significant literary work on the English Lake District prior to Thomas West’s A guide to the Lakes (1778). The poet Thomas Gray takes the reader from Brough south to Kendal on his return from a tour in Scotland. An agricultural reformer, Arthur Young, also returning from Scotland, begins his journey in the northern parts of Cumberland with dry descriptions of local farming, but on arriving in Keswick, his account turns to the picturesque scenery around Derwent Water, Ullswater and Windermere. ‘Wild and romantic’ is Young’s phrase, yet the agriculturalist in him comes to the fore as he declares the enclosed landscapes around Kendal and Windermere to be the most picturesque of all. Thomas Pennant’s account of his journey through the district is cursory, and he seems not have noticed the lakes or mountains at all. West’s Guide quotes Gray, Young and Pennant, and its second edition included the full text of Gray’s unpublished letters as an addendum. It also included four short pieces. John Brown’s letter to his former pupil William Gilpin (who would become the foremost exponent of the ‘picturesque’) connects the scenery of the Lakes to European landscape painting. Experimental philosopher Adam Walker provides a note on a local curiosity, the underground passages of Dunald Mill Hole. John Dalton and Richard Cumberland were among the first in a long line of Lakeland poets to be inspired to verse.> - Summary by Phil Benson

Genre(s): Travel & Geography

Language: English

Section Chapter Author Source Reader Time Language
Play 01 Dr. Brown’s letter, describing the vale and lake of Keswick (1741-47) by John Brown John Brown Etext Phil Benson
00:07:57 en
Play 02 Extract from A descriptive poem: addressed to two ladies, at their return from viewing the mines near Whitehaven (1755) by John Dalton John Dalton Etext Phil Benson
00:03:30 en
Play 03 A description of Dunald Mill Hole (1760) by A.W. (Adam Walker) Adam Walker Etext Phil Benson
00:03:33 en
Play 04 Thomas Gray's journal of his visit to the Lake District in 1769 by Thomas Gray Thomas Gray Etext Phil Benson
01:00:43 en
Play 05 Extract from A six month’s tour through the north of England (1770) (pp. 141-188) by Arthur Young Arthur Young Etext Phil Benson
00:45:46 en
Play 06 Extract from A tour in Scotland, 1769 (1772) (pp. 229-233) by Thomas Pennant Thomas Pennant Etext Phil Benson
00:03:52 en
Play 07 Ode to the sun (1776) by Richard Cumberland Richard Cumberland Etext Phil Benson
00:08:29 en