Lord Lonsdale’s Faggots: 3rd April

Saturday morning, I went on to Shap, a stage of 10½  miles. On the left hand, after leaving the town alongst the left hand, not far from the road, there are about forty very large stones of a globular shape placed in straight rows, about 100 feet distance. How they have been moved or brought there, from their very great size, must puzzle the brains of a philosopher. Michael Scott or the devil may have done it. Going on for some miles, say three, we come on to Lord Lonsdale’s estate;  for a good many miles he has the grounds all in his own possession, and all in pasture. Here you behold the vestiges of farm steadings, and old irregular stone fences, all in ruins. A great many back-going trees have a most ugly appearance. To see the deserted-like appearance of the country attracts the eye of every traveller. On the very side of the road, he has built a kind of mock garrison, with a few houses within it, but for what purpose I cannot say. Going further still on the road, he has built a row of houses, fifty in number, in order to make voters for himself, when he had the famous dispute with the Duke of Portland, but the matter was settled before he got any to inhabit them, and there they remain a memento of his folly. Of many thousand acres he has in his own hands he makes little or nothing, and the public are deprived of much sustenance of both dead and living stock. But before putting my travelling notes in order, I see he is gone to his place. His will and destiny of his effects is just a piece with his life.


Shap, a small paltry village, one very capital inn, some very poor ones. It stands in a very low piece of ground, and having very little descent to carry off the water and filth, it must be very unwholesome. They at the same time have very fine spring water. In all the road from Langholm have only seen five crows’ nests; the trees seem now all on the decay, and are overgrown with ivy or blindweed, and have a very disagreeable appearance. Leaving Shap, we set out for Kendal, 14 miles. For the first few miles the road and the country is pretty plain, but as you go on, at times mountainous, and the soil perfectly barren; ten acres of some of it would not maintain one sheep. Over these moors, called Shap Fells, the road is steep, but laid out with great judgment to make it as easy as the nature of the ground will admit, and also very well made and kept in repair, but it must be a dangerous stage in stormy weather. After getting to the top of the hill we get as fast down to a small river, where there is a public-house. Waggons go over these hills, which is wonderful. When three miles from Kendal we come to a most fruitful plain, and the town is a delightful place; it stands upon the banks of a river. There are a good many things manufactured here; it is famous for making best bend and other sorts of leather; the cattle in this place are all of the Lancashire breed, and have strong hides. The town is pretty large, ‘twere as large as Hawick or more. They have a fine market, this being the day of it a great concourse of people there. I dined with a Mr Fleming at the inn; he is a clergyman, six miles distant, and a very intelligent farmer at the same time; he is a man of great property, and very patriotic, and has the best breeds of cattle in the country. I never was better pleased with a companion; I wished to accept his invitation, but could not go with him as he was rather behind me. A great part of their haugh ground is used as old meadow ground and  manured yearly.


Leaving Kendal after dinner for Burton, 12 miles, the road is plain and easy. The soil in general is plain and dry with freestone bottom, well cultivated for turnips, but no great quantity shown. The fences and shape of the enclosures are disgusting. The hedges are a medley of hawthorn, sloe thorn, hazel, and ivy. The enclosures are very small and without any regular form. The ridges are in general very broad, and most of the land in tillage in a very miserable state, fallowing very little practised. Burton is a very small town such as Selkirk, but more regularly built. Some pieces of very excellent ground near the town. Went that evening to the village of Ellond, where I stayed all night with a Mr John Milne from this country, who has been farming for Dr Campbell, Lancashire, who has a small estate here. He has shown a very good example, but they have not followed it much. They, in general, draw their horses single, one before the other, even in the harrows and break. They are wedded to their own customs, and will not be easily persuaded out of them. The sea comes in with a creek within two miles of Ellond.


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