button to main menu  Camden's Britannia, edn 1789

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  Westmorland, extent
WESTMORLAND is about 40 miles long by as many broad, and 140 miles in circumference, contains 510,000 acres, four wards, seven market and two borough towns, 32 large parishes, and about 6500 houses. The air is sharp and healthy. The soil in the hills is barren and moory yet affording pasture for store of sheep; the vallies are fertile in corn and near the rivers in grass. [a].
Mr. Camden's description of the county answers only to that part from Lancaster through the barony of Kendal to Workington in Cumberland, which is a mountainous tract. Whereas the barony of Westmorland, commonly called from its low situation the bottom of Westmorland, is a large open champion country, not less than 20 miles long and about 14 broad, affording great plenty of arable land and corn. Nor do mores in the north parts signify wild barren mountains, but generally common of pasture, in opposition to fells or mountains; so that in Kendal barony where they have most mountains, there are few or no mores, their commons being generally called fells, and in the bottom of Westmorland there are few mountains (except that ridge which binds the county like a rampire or bulwark), but many mores which have ridges that still appear and shew to have been formerly plowed, having probably been deserted for situations more favourable to agriculture [b].
Archbishop Usher does not so much controvert the history of king Marius whatever becomes of the derivation of the name of Westmorland from him [c].
  placename, Westmorland
Dr. Burn [d] correcting Mr. Camden's etymology denies that the name of this county is derivable from moors, it being universally written in old records Westmerland. He does not seem to have been aware that it might imply the land or county of the Western mere or boundary between England and Scotland.

Though mountains, or as they are called in the language of the country, fells, compose a large part of it, they are not altogether unprofitable. They feed large flocks of sheep, produce plenty of grouse or moor game, abound with rivulets which water the vallies beneath, and yield a great fund of minerals, lead, and coal, copper, and oker, and Silver-band fell silver; and in the western fells is found fine blue slate which supplies several parts of the kingdom, not to mention the spars and imitations of diamonds, coralloids, fossils, and marbles [e].
  Eden r. Lune r. Kent r.
  Eden, River
  Lune, River
  Kent, River

The rivers of this county are but small, and only three that can properly be called rivers carry their name to the sea: The first river is Eden which springs in Mallerstang, and having in its course received, besides many lesser streams, the conjoined rivers of Lowther and Eamont, enters Cumberland, and running the whole length of that county empties itself into the sea at Rowcliff. The second is Lune or Lon, which has its source in Ravenstondale, and runs down the vale called from it Lonsdale, where it enters the county of Loncaster as it was antiently called, and a little below the town of Lancaster falls into the sea. The 3d is Kent which rises in Kentmere and washes the vale which from thence receives the name of Kendale, and empties itself into the sea below Levens [f].
"Kent river is of a good depth not well to be occupyed with botes for rowlling stones and other moles. Yt risith of very many heddes be likelihood springing within the same shire. A 2 mile about Kendale they come to one good botom and Kentdale town that standeth on the west side of it. Seven or 8 miles from Kendale is a mere commonly called Kenmore [g]." In it is a salmon leap [h].

In the hollows among the mountains are found divers large lakes, having small rivulets running through them, which preserve the water clear, the lakes having commonly a pebbly or rocky bottom.
Of these lakes Windermere, Ulleswater, Haws water, Ridal water, Elter water, Gresmere water, and other lesser lakes called tarns, as Sunbiggin tarn, Ravenstondale tarn, Whinfell tarn, &c. will be noticed in their places. All these bodies of water abound with divers species of fish, as trout, eels, bass, perch, tench, roach, pike, char and divers others. The south coast is pretty well furnished with sea-fish, of which upwards of thirty different sorts have been brought to Kendal market, till by the improvement of the town and port of Lancaster the market for fish is considerably drawn that way [i].
This county long after the Conquest appears to have been covered with wood: but it was probably destroyed on purpose to prevent it affording shelter to the Scotch invaders. Large trunks of oak, fir, birch, and other trees, which shew the mark of the ax, lie near to their respective roots in the mosses which have formed over them by the stoppage of the water [k].
  Helm wind.
  helm wind
The helm wind is a phoenomenon peculiar to this county and the confines of Yorkshire and Lancashire, about Ingleborough, Pendle, and Penigent. A rolling cloud hovers over the mountain tops for three or four days together when the rest of the sky is clear, and continues notwithstanding the most violent hurricane and profound calm alternately succeeding each other [l].
The gentlemen's houses in this county are large and strong, generally built castlewise for security of themselves and their tenants with their goods against the inroads of the Scots.
[a] Burn's History of Westmorland I. 2, 3.
[b] Ib. p.7.
[c] Antiq. eccl. Br. 302.
[d] Ib. p.1.
[e] Burn, 3-6. Robinson's Nat. Hist. of Cumb. and Westmor.
[f] Burn Ib. 6.
[g] Lel. VII. 62.
[h] Stukeley It. Cur. II. 39. Of the salmon in this county and Cumberland see Burn, I. 207, 208.
[i] Burn Ib. 6, 7.
[k] Ib. 7.
[l] Ib. 7, 8.
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button -- Eden, River
button -- Kendal
button -- "Kent, River" -- Kent, River
button -- "Lune, River" -- Lune Valley
button -- Westmorland
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