The Lake District (UK), Part 2

If from the public way you turn your steps/ Up the tumultuous brook of Green-head Gill*,/ You will suppose that with an upright path/ Your feet must struggle; in such bold ascent/ The pastoral mountains front you, face to face./ But, courage! for around that stone bridgeboisterous brook/ The mountains have all opened out themselves,/ And made a hidden valley of their own./ No habitation can be seen; but they/ Who journey thither find themselves alone/ With a few sheep, with rocks and stones and kites**/ That overhead are sailing in the sky….

*Gill– a narrow stream; **kites– small birds of prey

I begin this second part of “The Lake District (UK)” with a quote from William Wordsworth (1770-1850), one of the great Romantics of the English language, for several reasons. Wordsworth lived his life in several homes located in this northern district of England and he knew the place like very few others have. The above lines, quoted from the long poem “Michael,” continue with description of a sheep-fold out of which an intriguing story soon unfolds.

Wordsworth's summer house where he would sit (w/ a 360 degree view in his day) and "boom out his work over the valley"

Wordsworth’s summer house where he would sit (w/ a 360 degree view in his day) and “boom out his work over the valley”

Many of Wordsworth’s poems (and narrative guides) speak for this wild and historic country in a language unequaled by any other English writer. I’ve been drawn to the poet’s work ever since my days in college, and I like to think that the quoted lines from “Michael” mirror the spirit of one who loves a climb into “rivertop country.”

Again, I’m in debt to Alyssa who thought of me (good daughter!) while visiting the Lake District this fall and who was willing to send reflections and photos not only for her friends and family to muse upon, but also for use on this blog. We hope that you’ve enjoyed Part 1 of the series and continue to see some good here in this little “postcard tour” of an old country in the time of holidays.

Beatrix Potter farm

Beatrix Potter farm

holiday postcard from Alyssa,  Jeremy Fisher's big surprise (Beatrix Potter)

holiday postcard from Alyssa, Jeremy Fisher’s big surprise (Beatrix Potter)

stone circle

stone circle


Dove Cottage, home of poet Wm. Wordsworth

Dove Cottage, home of poet Wm. Wordsworth




Reindeer, in time for Christmas

Reindeer, in time for Christmas

About rivertoprambles

Welcome to Rivertop Rambles. This is my blog about the headwaters country-far afield or close to home. I've been a fly-fisher, birder, and naturalist for most of my adult life. I've also written poetry and natural history books for thirty years. In Rambles I will mostly reflect on the backcountry of my Allegheny foothills in the northern tier of Pennsylvania and the southern tier of New York State. Sometimes I'll write about the wilderness in distant states, or of the wild places in the human soul. Other times I'll just reflect on the domestic life outdoors. In any case, I hope you enjoy. Let's ramble!
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6 Responses to The Lake District (UK), Part 2

  1. Brent says:

    There are some wonderful pictures on loan here. As I told Alyssa, the sight of “classic” English villages set amidst wild mountains and gorges is an interesting juxtaposition.

  2. Bob Stanton says:

    “Auld” England lives here!

  3. Les Kish says:

    Didn’t know a “gill” was a small stream. Could that be where the term “gillie” comes from? Thanks for the tour Walt.

  4. Les, I checked into the etymology of “gill” and “gillie” and found, interestingly enough, they have slightly different origins but have a neat convergence in their modern day interpretations. Originally, a “gillie” was a boy servant whose job it was, in part, to carry his master over the streams.

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