Friday morning I set out for Longtown, 12 miles down the banks of the Esk. For 7 miles the ground all belongs to the Duke. It is the most rural ride to be met with anywhere, with woody banks on one side and the river on the other. Being a fine morning I was agreeably entertained with songster birds from every tree, but on leaving the wood a drunken sailor and his wife passed, who seemed to have lain out all night. He had struck and abused her terribly. She in return was blackguarding him, and there were dreadful oaths from each. What a contrast, the rational beings and the harmless birds. It gave room to lament fallen man and our state by nature, poor wretches! From thence down the Esk to Longtown the ground is quite level near the river, but to the right very poor ground indeed, with small farms, but still decent houses. Crossed the Esk, now in England 5 miles. Longtown, a neat, clean, regular town as any I ever saw. They have a market where they sell corn, butcher meat, and bacon hams, reported as good as any in England. The whole houses all hold of Graham of Netherby, and many of them his own property. There is one very capital inn, where the mails and other coaches stop, besides some very good ones of inferior note, where riders and others can be very well accommodated. Lord Graham’s house is one of the most delightful situations that can be met with. From Longtown to Carlisle (10 miles) the soil, most part of which is very poor – whins, heather, and bramble, and the road very level. There are some very good lands on the banks of the river Line. On coming near Carlisle the soil is excellent. The banks of the river Eden are the richest grounds in the north of England. It is allowed there is grass here that will feed five heavy sheep per acre. The town is pretty regular, and there are good inns; facing the north there are eighteen stables of different kinds. Most of these depend on drovers; they have a market for live cattle nine months in the year, a new flesh market that has a street and a rowan both sides.
From Carlisle to Penrith (19 miles), a great part of this stage the ground is very poor. I computed some of the moor pastures will take four acres at an average to maintain one sheep, and that is very poor. They have a poorer kind of sheep, one-third of them rams. I could get no reason for this, unless they think them the more hardy.
A LEGEND OF MICHAEL SCOTT.
To the right hand of the road there is a thing that cannot be easily accounted for. There are five stones standing in a piece of bog ground where they never could
grow, and from their size they are past being carried. The credulous people say that in a war between Michael Scott and the devil, the one standing on Skiddaw Fell and the other on a hill to the east, 10 miles between them, they pelted stones at each other, which met in the middle. Even these said stones remain, and will do to the end of time. On asking them who was Michael Scott, the reply was – a warlock. What is a warlock? A witch’s son or brother. They tell wonderful stories about the said Michael Scott, and as firmly believe them. Coming nigh the town of Penrith they have a very fine common piece of ground for holding sheep and cattle markets on, of
which they have a great many in the course of the year. Penrith of itself is a pretty large town, standing very low. Some very good lands all enclosed lie around it. Lakes lie to the south-west about ten miles distant the hills around them go by the name of Skiddaw Fells, and have as rugged an appearance as any hills in the Highlands of Scotland.