Joshua Fulton Writing Assignment C Land of Lakes “I yet/Despair not of our nature; but retain/A more than Roman confidence, a faith/That fails not, in all sorrow my support,/The blessing of my life, the gift is yours,/Ye mountains! . . . Oh! That I had music and a voice,/Harmonious as our own, that I might tell/What ye have done for me.” This beautiful poetry, written by William Wordsworth in his magnum opus, The Prelude, was inspired by the environment in which he was brought up. The natural splendor that surrounded him Wordsworth and his family as he was a child, and then later as an adult, were a constant inspiration to him., one of the greatest poets of the English language. But what kind of wonderful place could so stir the imagination of a man and cause him to contemplate so majestically the beauty and peace that nature inspires? For Wordsworth and several other poets, there was only one location in all of Great Britain that could invoke such an emotional and intellectual reaction; a place filled with natural beauty, distinct culture and tradition, and even a feeling of magic. I’m not talking about any imaginary realm, but an actual stretch of preserved land situated in North Western England. This incredible piece of the country, inspiration to poets and artists, is known as Tthe Lake District.
The Lake District, a National Park of England, incorporates 885 square miles of rolling hills, beautiful lakes, and enchanting woodlands. The area includes some of the highest and lowest points in England. Scafell Peak, the highest peak in England, reaches 3,209 feet and sits just west of the center of the park. Additionally, two picturesque lakes that constitute a good deal of Tthe Lake District’s appeal and natural charm., These lakes are Lake Windermere and Lake Wastwater, the deepest and largest lakes in England, respectively; Wastwater is over 250 feet deep, while Windermere is over 11 miles wide and nearly a mile in width. The Lake District is the wettest part of England, and not just because of the many lakes that rest between its endless hills. Annual rainfall in this region is greater than any other part of the country, —in some places reaching up to 200 inches per year. Although the Lake District region is very wet most of the year, it also experiences very mild temperatures, which is perfect for hiking and sightseeing on those precious sunny days. The rain is also important for the growth of the many miles of forest that carpet the area’s hills and valleys. There are even parts of the forest that are considered ancient, and most of it the forest is inhabited with native wildlife.
Besides these distinctive landmarks, The Lake District is also riddled with hills and valleys, most of which are referred to as “fFells.”. There are eight distinct fFells, ranging from the Northern
and North Western to the Southern. The wonderful thing about all of these areas is that each has distinctive geographic and environmental features. For instance, the Ccentral fFells are generally lower in elevation than the others, so bogs and mist are fairly common. The Eeastern and Wwestern Ffells, on the other hand, are craggy and rocky, high in elevation and with little woodland. Although all of the Ffells contain some forested area, the sSouthern and sSouth Eeastern fFells tend to be less mountainous and feature more woodland. The diverse natural beauty of the fFells lends not only to their inspirational power, but also to their ability to attract tourists from all around the globe.
The inhabitants of Tthe Lake District are quite varied, and don’t only include only people. The lakes, forests, hills, and valleys of the region are filled with wildlife, some of which is rarely seen anywhere else. The red squirrel, an instantly memorable animal with rust-red fur and pointed tufts on its ears, conjures memories of The Sword in the Stone. Red squirrels are very common in the District (it’s one of the last Red Squirrel refuges), although their numbers are dwindling as grey squirrels, brought to England from North America, become ever more common. Several species of bird have also been introduced to Tthe Lake District in hopes that the open space will provide a good habitat for breeding; the Golden Eagle and the Red Kite are among these rare birds. Similarly, the famous lakes of the area are home to several rare species of fish. One such species is the vendace, a type of whitefish found only in a few places in England. Many other common and protected species of animal call the District home, including wild ponies and Barn Owls. The wildlife in the region adds to its natural music and beauty, and to the inspiring and comforting rhythm of nature. No wonder William Wordsworth spoke so reverently of nature, having grown up in such a perfect habitat for the development of an artistic mind. He writes: “Therefore am I still/A lover of the meadows and the woods,/And mountains; and of all that we behold/ From this green Earth; of all the mighty world.”
The wildlife is indeed magnificent, but the human inhabitants of The Lake District, those fortunate few who can daily relish in its tranquil beauty, live in small towns dispersed among the Fells. Four large towns are the centers of the District’s population: Keswick, slightly west of the center of the region; Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere, named for the lake that both towns lay close to; and Ambleside, which lies at the south end of Lake Windermere. These four towns thrive on tourism, and as such boast many cultural and traditional attractions. Keswick hosts jazz, beer, and film festivals (sometime all at once), while Windermere and Bowness-onWindermere have many museums and attractions celebrating the lake and its history. As such a historically important location, The Lake District and its inhabitants have inevitably developed their own distinct and yet wholly British folklore and traditions. While these traditions are important to the current residents of the region, they are also very important to the thousands
of yearly visitors that flock to the Fells and immerse themselves in such a unique culture. Ghost stories and mythical tales abound. One such tale, about the haunting of Calgarth Hall near Lake Windermere, concerns the betrayal of a man and wife by their jealous neighbor, their subsequent trial and execution, and the curse that they place on the house that their screaming skulls would haunt the man’s family for eternity. Although this story sounds morbid and repellant, it actually attracts many tourists. Other legends, such as the sightings of the “Tizzie-Whizie” a legendary creature with the body of a hedgehog, the tail of a squirrel, and the wings of a bee, or a monster similar to “Nessie” inhabiting Lake Windermere, are charming reminders that, although The Lake District is a unique environment with its own customs, it is still very much a part of England and the United Kingdom. Literature, of course, forms an important part of the history and charm of the area, and so many locations are dedicated to famous authors such as Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter, among others. All of the towns are historical, and subsequently host thousands of tourists each year. Tourism has been a boon to the area and its preservation; however, many residents of The Lake District play more traditional roles and contribute to the rustic charm of the region in their own right.
Occupants of the rural areas surrounding the towns and other small picturesque villages in the area participate in a variety of occupations relative to the nature of the land. Agriculture has been the primary industry of the area since ancient times. Sheep farming, in particular, has been vital to the District’s economy, as well as an important part of the appeal for visitors: many tourists prefer to see sheep and shepherds in the fields as a part of the area’s historical tradition. Mining has also been fairly important to the region’s history, although the industry has dwindled since the area was classified as a National Park. The people of The Lake District expect and appreciate the many visitors seeking to commune with the land that inspired their favorite artists and writers; they also reflect the historical value of the District itself by performing many occupations which are as old as England itself. As such a historically important location, The Lake District and its inhabitants have inevitably developed their own distinct and yet wholly British folklore and traditions. While these traditions are important to the current residents of the region, they are also very important to the thousands of yearly visitors that flock to the Fells and immerse themselves in such a unique culture. Ghost stories and mythical tales abound. One such tale, about the haunting of Calgarth Hall near Lake Windermere, concerns the betrayal of a man and wife by their jealous neighbor, their subsequent trial and execution, and the curse that they place on the house that their screaming skulls would haunt the man’s family for eternity. Although this story sounds morbid and repellant, it actually attracts many tourists. Other legends, such as the sightings of the “Tizzie-Whizie” a legendary creature with the body of a hedgehog, the tail of a squirrel, and the wings of a bee, or a monster similar to “Nessie” inhabiting Lake Windermere, are charming reminders that, although The
Lake District is a unique environment with its own customs, it is still very much a part of England and the United Kingdom.
Finally, how can one fail to mention the many great British artists and writers that have taken up residence in The Lake District for its enchanting and moving scenery and culture? William Wordsworth, who wrote such famous poems as Tintern Abbey and The Prelude and helped usher in the Romantic Age of English literature, was raised in a small town in Cumberland, a part of The Lake District near the West coast of England. After moving away from the region for a time to study and write, he made friends with another famous poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and moved back to the District, where he Wordsworth spent most of the rest of his life. He there met yet another poet, Robert Southey, and together they were deemed “The Lake School”. These poets were the founders of the Romantic Age, and have influenced readers and writers of poetry for generations. Another famous writer, Beatrix Potter, who wrote several children’s stories including The Tale of Peter Rabbit, was instrumental in the preservation of much of the land that became The Lake District National park. She frequently visited and finally moved to the District, and was inspired by the wildlife to write many of her stories. Other artists that visited the region because of its inspirational power and historical and literary significance include John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sir Walter Scott, and Lord Tennyson, among others. Inspired by The Lake District, William Wordsworth wrote, “Whate'er its mission, the soft breeze can come/To none more grateful than to me; escaped/From the vast city, where I long had pined/A discontented sojourner: now free,/Free as a bird to settle where I will./What dwelling shall receive me? in what vale/Shall be my harbour? underneath what grove/Shall I take up my home? and what clear stream/Shall with its murmur lull me into rest?/The earth is all before me.” The Lake District is a piece of English culture that cannot be ignored; its rainy bogs, peaceful forests, glistening lakes, and sloping hills have influenced the minds and bodies of too many to count, and offers the respite from the stressful modern life that every artistic soul yearns for. Its beauty stands the test of time, and it will forever be known as the enchanted land of the lakes. -1,761 words
Published on Dec 17, 2013