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placename:- Skiddaw
parish:- Underskiddaw , once in Cumberland
county:- Cumbria
parish:- Bassenthwaite , once in Cumberland
hill
Altitude 3053 feet
coordinates:- NY2528
coordinates:- NY22 -- 10Km square

descriptive text:- West 1778 (11th edn 1821)

Guide book, A Guide to the Lakes, by Thomas West, published by William Pennington, Kendal, Cumbria once Westmorland, and in London, 1778 to 1821.
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Mrs Radcliffe's Ride over Skiddaw, 1794
Page 307:-
...
At length, passing the skirts of the two points of Skiddaw which are nearest to Derwent water, we approached the third and loftiest, and then perceived that their steep sides, together with the ridges which connect them, were entirely covered near the summits with a whitish shivered slate, which threatens to slide down them with every gust of wind. The broken state of this slate makes the present summits seem like ruins of others - a circumstance as extraordinary in appearance as difficult to be accounted for.
We stood on a pinnacle, commanding the whole dome of the sky. The prospects below, each of which had been before considered separately as a great scene, were now miniature parts of the immense landscape.- To the north lay, like a map, the vast tract of low country which extends between Bassenthwaite and the Irish Channel, marked with the silver circles of the river Derwent, in its progress from the lake. Whitehaven, and its white coast, were distinctly seen; and Cockermouth seemed almost under the eye. A long blackish line, more to the west, resembling a faintly-formed cloud, was said by the Guide to be the Isle of Man, who, however, had the honesty to confess, that the mountains of Down, in Ireland, which sometimes have been thought visible,
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had never been seen by him in the clearest weather. Bounding the low country to the north, the wide Solway Frith, with its indented shores, looked like a grey horizon; and the double range of Scottish mountains, seen dimly through the mist beyond, like lines of dark clouds above it. The Solway appeared surprisingly near us, though at fifty miles distance; and the guide said, that, on a bright day, its shipping could plainly be discerned.- Nearly in the north, the heights seemed to soften into plains, for no object was there visible through the obscurity that had begun to draw over the further distance; but towards the east they appeared to swell again; and what we were told were the Chevot (sic) hills, dawned feebly beyond Northumberland. We now spanned the narrowest part of England, looking from the Irish Channel on one side, to the German Ocean on the other; which latter was however, so far off as to be discernable only like a mist.- Nearer than the County of Durham, stretched the ridge of Cross-fell, and an indistinct multitude of Westmorland and Yorkshire highlands, whose lines disappeared behind Saddleback, now evidently pre-eminent over Skiddaw, so much so as too exclude many a height beyond it.- Passing this mountain in our course to the south, we saw, immediately below, the fells round Derwent-water, the lake itself remaining still concealed in their deep rocky bosom. Southward and westward, the whole prospect was 'a turbulent chaos of dark mountains:' all individual dignity was now lost in the immensity of the whole, and every variety of character was overpowered by that of astonishing and gloomy grandeur.- Over the fells of Borrowdale, and far to the south, the northern end of Windermere appeared, like a wreath of grey smoke that spreads along a mountain's side. More southward still, and beyond all the fells of the lakes, Lancaster Sands extended to the faintly-seen waters of the sea. Then to the west, Duddon Sands gleamed in a long line among the fells of High Furness.- Immediately under the eye, lay Bassenthwaite, surrounded by many ranges of mountains invisible from below. We overlooked all these dark moun-
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[moun]tains; and saw green cultivated vales over the tops of lofty rocks, and other mountains over these vales, in many ridges: whilst innumerable narrow glens were traced in all their windings, and seen uniting behind the hills with others that also sloped upwards from the lake.
The air on this summit was boisterous, intensely cold, and difficult to be inspired, though below, the day was warm and serene. It was dreadful to look down from nearly the brink of the point on which we stood, upon the lake of Bassenthwaite, and over a sharp and separated ridge of rocks, that from below appeared of tremendous height, but now seemed not to reach half way up Skiddaw; it was almost as if
   ... the precipitation might down stretch / Below the beam of light ...

date:- 1760
period:- 18th century, late; 1760s

descriptive text:- West 1778 (11th edn 1821)

Guide book, A Guide to the Lakes, by Thomas West, published by William Pennington, Kendal, Cumbria once Westmorland, and in London, 1778 to 1821.
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Mrs Radcliffe's Ride over Skiddaw, 1794
Page 304:-
Having engaged a guide, and with horses accustomed to the labour, we began to ascend this tremendous mountain by a way which makes the summit five miles from Keswick. ... a road led to the foot of Latrig, ... A narrow path now wound along steep green precipices, the beauty of which prevented the danger there was from being perceived. Derwent-water was concealed by others that rose above them; but that part of the vale of Keswick which separates the two lakes, and spreads a rich level of three miles, was immediately below; Crosthwaite church nearly in the centre, with the vicarage rising among trees. More under shelter of Skiddaw, where the vale spreads into a sweet retired nook, lay the house and grounds of Dr. Brownrigg - Beyond the level opened a glimpse of Bassenthwaite-water - a lake which may be called elegant - bounded on one side by well-wooded rocks, and on the other by Skiddaw.- Soon after, we rose above the steeps which had concealed Derwent-water, and it appeared, with all its enamelled banks, sunk deep amidst a chaos of mountains, and surrounded by ranges of fells not visible from below. On the other hand, the more chearful lake of Bassenthwaite, expanded at its entire length.- ... we pursued the path, and soon after reached the brink of a chasm
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on the opposite side of which wound our future track; for the ascent is here in an acutely zig-zag direction. The horses carefully picked their steps along the narrow precipice, and turned the angle that led them to the opposite side.
At length, as we ascended, Derwent-water dwindled on the eye to the smallness of a pond, while the grandeur of its amphitheatre was increased by new ranges of dark mountains, no longer individually great, but so from accumulation - a scenery to give ideas of the breaking up of a world. Others (sic) precipices soon hid it again; but Bassenthwaite continued to spread immediately below us, till we turned into the heart of Skiddaw, and were inclosed by its steeps. We had now lost all track, even of the flocks that were scattered over these tremendous wilds. The guide conducted us by many curvings among the heathy hills and hollows of the mountain; but the ascents were such, that the horses panted in the slowest walk, and it was necessary to let them rest every six or seven minutes - An opening to the south, at length, showed the whole plan of the narrow vales of St. John and of Nadale, separated by the dark ridge of rocks called St. John's Rigg, ...
Leaving this view, the mountain soon again shut out all prospect, but of its own vallies and precipices, covered with various shades of turf and moss, and with heath, of which a dull purple was the prevailing hue. Not a tree or bush appeared on Skiddaw, nor even a stone wall any where broke the simple greatness of its lines. Sometimes we looked into
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tremendous chasms, where the torrent, heard roaring long before it was seen, had worked itself a deep channel, and fell from ledge to ledge, foaming and shining amidst the dark rock. These streams are sublime, from the length and precipitancy of their course, which, hurrying the sight with them into the abyss, act as it were in sympathy upon the nerves, and, to save ourselves from following, we recoil from the view with involuntary horror. Of such, however, we saw only two, and those by some departure from the usual course up the mountain; but every where met gushing springs, till we were within two miles of the summit, when our guide added to the rum in his bottle what he said was the last water we should find in our ascent.
The air now became very thin, and the steeps still more difficult of ascent; but it was often delightful to look down into tho (sic) green hollows of the mountain, among pastoral scenes, that wanted only some mixture of wood to render them enchanting.- About a mile from the summit, the way was indeed dreadfully sublime, lying, for nearly half a mile, along the edge of a precipice, that passed with a swift descent, for probably near a mile, into a glen within the heart of Skiddaw; and not a bush nor a hillock interrupted its vast length, or, by offering a midway check in the descent, diminished the fear it inspired. The ridgy steeps of Saddleback formed the opposite boundary of the glen; and though really at a considerable distance, had, from the height of the two mountains, such an appearance of nearness, that it almost seemed as if could spring to its side. How much, too, did simplicity increase the sublimity of this scene, in which nothing but mountain, heath, and sky appeared!- But our situation was too critical, or too unusual, to permit the just impressions of such sublimity. The hill rose so closely above the precipice, as scarcely to allow a ledge wide enough for a single horse. We followed the guide in silence, and, till we regained the more open wild, had no leisure for exclamation. After this, the ascent appeared easy and secure, and we were
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bold enough to wonder, that the steeps near the beginning of the mountain had excited any anxiety.
At length, passing the skirts of the two points of Skiddaw which are nearest to Derwent water, we approached the third and loftiest, and then perceived that their steep sides, together with the ridges which connect them, were entirely covered near the summits with a whitish shivered slate, which threatens to slide down them with every gust of wind. The broken state of this slate makes the present summits seem like ruins of others - a circumstance as extraordinary in appearance as difficult to be accounted for.
The ridge on which we passed from the neighbourhood of the second summit to the third, was narrow, and the eye reached, on each side, down the whole extent of the mountain following, on the left, the rocky precipices that impend over the lake of Bassenthwaite, and looking on the right, into the glens of Saddleback, far, far below. But the prospects that burst upon us from every part of the vast horizon, when we had gained the summit, were such as we had scarcely dared to hope for, and must now rather venture to enumerate then (sic) to describe.
We stood on a pinnacle, commanding the whole dome of the sky. The prospects below, each of which had been before considered separately as a great scene, were now miniature parts of the immense landscape.- To the north lay, like a map, the vast tract of low country which extends between Bassenthwaite and the Irish Channel, marked with the silver circles of the river Derwent, in its progress from the lake. Whitehaven, and its white coast, were distinctly seen; and Cockermouth seemed almost under the eye. A long blackish line, more to the west, resembling a faintly-formed cloud, was said by the Guide to be the Isle of Man, who, however, had the honesty to confess, that the mountains of Down, in Ireland, which sometimes have been thought visible,
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date:- 1760
period:- 18th century, late; 1760s

old map (vignette):- Burrow 1920s

Road strip maps with parts in Westmorland, Cumberland etc, now Cumbria, irregular scale about 1.5 miles to 1 inch, by E J Burrow and Co, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 1920s.
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date:- 1920=1929
period:- 1920s

print:- Pyne 1853

Set of prints, The English Lake District, or Lake Scenery of England, scenes painted by James Barker Pyne, lithographed by W Gauci, published by Thomas Agnew and Sons, Manchester, 1853; published 1853-70.
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Bassenthwaite Lake, Vale and Village
Drawn by James Barker Pyne, 1848-1853, lithographed by T Picken, 1859.
date:- 1848=1853
period:- 19th century, early; 19th century, late; 1840s; 1850s

source:- Otley 1818 map

New Map of the District of the Lakes, in Westmorland, Cumberland, etc, now Cumbria, scale about 4 miles to 1 inch, by Jonathan Otley, engraved by J and G Menzies, Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland, published by J Otley, Keswick, Cumberland now Cumbria, 1818.
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SKIDDAW

placename:- Skiddaw
hill

descriptive text:- Gents Mag 1751

Map of the Black Lead Mines in Cumberland, and area, scale about 2 miles to 1 inch, published in the Gentleman's Magazine, 1751.
... Orthwaite, a small village under mount Skiddow: (See Vol.XVIII. p.292). ... This mountain, which I had visited the year before, and of which I have already given you some account (See V.XVIII. p.4) is a fissile absorbing slate: This slate is flaked off with a kind of wedge, peculiarly adapted to the work, in quarries near the top of the mountain, and is conveyed down to the plain by laborers, in a machine so contrived as to be carried upon the shoulder, the man walking upright: In these machines each man carries as much as would load a Cumberland cart, but having by long use learnt to improve the advantage afforded by the declivity of the mountain, they descend with little labour, and less hazard.
Skiddow is undoubtedly one of the highest mountains in Britain, the declivity from the white-water dash, at the foot, to the summit, measures near 5000 yards, but the perpendicular height cannot be much more then one fourth of that measure. ... in the prospect round, nature has lavished such variety of beauty as can scarce be believed upon report, or imagined by the most luxuriant fancy. The plains of Basingthwaite, watered by a fine lake, appear like a paradise to the West; and the islands that lie interspersed among the windings of Darwent, and the lake of Keswic, exceed description; beyond these, to the South, lie the mountains of Barrowdale, which are yet higher than Skiddow: The western seas, the Isle of Man, all the South coast of Scotland, and the mountains of Pennygent and Ingleborough, in Yorkshire, diversify other parts of this delightful landscape. The spot upon which I stood is one intire shiver of slate, and the precipice to the westward is frightful. The plants of Skiddow are the myrtle berries, generally called blackberries, the vitis idaea of Dioscorides, mossberries, great variety of mosses, and among others the muscus squammosus pulcher digitatus of Tournefort.

placename:- Skiddow
date:- 1751
period:- 18th century, late; 1750s

old map:- Ogilby 1675 (plate 96)

Road book, Britannia, strip road maps, with sections in Westmorland and Cumberland etc, scale about 1 inch to 1 mile, by John Ogilby, London, 1675; and a general map of England and Wales.
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In miles 30 to 37, Cumberland.
Mountains alongside the road on the right for 7 miles
In mile 35, Cumberland.
Turnings right:-
to Skiddow
date:- 1675
period:- 17th century, late; 1670s

photographs
tiny photograph, 
button to large Skiddaw -- Underskiddaw and Bassenthwaite -- Cumbria -- From the north, on a damp day. -- 29.9.2006
tiny photograph, 
button to large Skiddaw -- Underskiddaw and Bassenthwaite -- Cumbria -- From the path up to Walna Crag, on a fine day. -- 23.10.2006

hearsay Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, and their familes had a picnic on Skiddaw to celebrate the Battle of Waterloo; roast beef and plumb pud, 21 August 1815.

hearsay Mrs Ann Radcliffe msn Ward, 1764-1823, novelist, was the first woman to ride to the top of Skiddaw on horseback, 1794. She wrote the Mysteries of Udolpho, 1794.

hearsay You might see a Brocken Spectre from the top of Skiddaw, when a low sun casts your shadow on mist lying below. The shadow is exactly your size, but the effect of perspective makes the shadow, at a distance, appear huge.

Old Cumbria Gazetteer - JandMN: 2006

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©  Martin and Jean Norgate: 2007
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