O Joy for me!: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Origins of Fell-Walking in the Lake District 1790-1802

O Joy for me!: Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Origins of Fell-Walking in the Lake District 1790-1802

by Keir Davidson


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Until the mid-eighteenth century, Britain’s barren mountains were regarded with fear by all thoughtful people. The romantic movement, with its cult of the ‘sublime’ and of the ‘picturesque’, modified this perception, and the mountainous regions of Wales, the Lake District, and even Scotland, became fashionable to visit and to admire for their ‘beauty, horror and immensity’.

But these tourists never left the well-beaten and recommended path. They did not venture into the hills themselves. Only miners and quarrymen, or shepherds with sheep to find, or pack-horse drivers did that. And when the first eccentric visitors asked to be guided to the summits the locals were amazed and bemused.

When Coleridge, wild, unconventional and physically fearless, arrived to join the Wordsworths in the Lakes in 1799, he immediately set out onto the high fells on his own. His records of these explorations, in his notes and in letters, particularly to his beloved but unattainable Sara Hutchinson,
provide a totally new and modern appreciation and understanding of the mountain landscape.

Helvellyn, Skiddaw and most of the now popular summits were visited by him alone, without maps or any equipment beyond his notebook in which he scribbled his impressions and his reactions—‘O joy for me’ he jotted on first seeing Ullswater from the top of Great Dodd. It was not till the very end of the nineteenth century that solitary walking on the fells became acceptable, and then, almost overnight, universally popular and fashionable.

This book explores and explains the experiences of a true pioneer and one of Britain’s greatest and most remarkable creative spirits.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781912242054
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press, Ltd
Publication date: 07/02/2019
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Keir Davidson is a landscape historian and a landscape planner. He has written on Japanese gardens and is the author of ‘Woburn Abbey: the Park and Gardens’

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

1 Establishing the 'Picturesque Tour' of the Lakes: 1755-1769 1

2 Exploring the 'wild scenes of Nature": 1792-1802 31

3 'Pedestrian Tours' and 'Peregrinations': Coleridge's Early Walks, 1794-1799 59

'Pedestrian Tour' of North Wales, July-August 1794

Walks around Nether Stowey, Somerset, June 1797-July 1798

Tour of the Harz Mountains, Germany, May 1799

4 'Gentleman-poet and Philosopher in a Mist': Coleridge in the Lake District, 1799 and 1800 72

The 'pikteresk Toor' with William Wordsworth, October-November 1799

'At Home': Coleridge at Greta Hall, Keswick, 1800

5|'O Joy for me!': Coleridge's Lake District Walks, 1800 101

Dungeon Ghyll Force

Ascent of Skiddaw, June

Saddleback, July/August, and Bannerdale Crags, August

Helvellyn Ridge to Grasmere, August

Coledale Fells, September

'Back o'Skidda' and Carrock Fell, October

6 'To wander & wander for ever and ever': Coleridge's Lake District Walks, 1802 131

Walla Crag, April

Nab Scar, April

Nine-day Walk to the Coast and back via the summit of Scafell, August

7 'That poor, mad poet, Coleridge': The final Walks, 1803 162

The 'Walking Tour' with Southey, September

Walk with Southey and Hazlitt through Borrowdale into Watendlath, October

Coleridge's later reputation and the emergence of Fell-walking as a popular pastime

'The Fellwanderer' : Alfred Wainwright

Notes 179

Bibliography and Abbreviations 187

Index 191

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