A Classic Guide

The Lake Country


It is an astonishing piece of England, the greatest surprise and delight that awaits the English traveller who has not been this way. It has deep solitudes, majestic heights and the solemn beauty of still water, a grouping of natural beauty uncommon in this country  and here seen at its best.

The Lake Mountains of England spring suddenly and loftily from low green valleys, and so abound in swift changes from soft and quiet beauty to rugged grandeur.  They are a medley of hills closely compressed, as if Nature had tried to place as much of her handiwork as possible on a small show ground.

The Lake District
The King’s England

Arthur Mee

The King’s England series was a comprehensive County by County guide to the towns, villages and features of England during the 30s.  I remember seeing these rather dusty and worthy books on the shelves of relatives whom we visited when I was a child.  It seemed each home had but one copy, usually that of the County in which they lived and the pages inevitably fell open at the page relating to their own town or village.

These books have been reprinted several times and I picked up a copy last week of this 1937 classic guide to Cumberland and Westmoreland.  Sadly the book does not contain the old Lancashire section of the Lakes, but it does contain the original photographs taken at the time before the crowds came.

This is not a book to be read in one sitting but to be dipped into, it is, after all a guide.  The places are listed alphabetically and there is a worthy interest in local history however minor and obscure, in monuments and buildings, especially chapels and churches.

Here is a  small excerpt taken from the section on Bassenthwaite

It lies at the foot of Skiddaw, and its lake is the third biggest lake in Lakeland. “This house done by John Grave 1736” says one little house in the village.

Bassenthwaite does not rate high in Lakeland scenery. Its commanding feature is the view of Skiddaw, which at some points shows a clear rise from the lake level to the summit. . . Compared with such lakes as Ullswater, Derwentwater, or Hawes Water, Bassenthwaite is just a quiet exit from the Lake Country.


A quiet exit