Version B of "Ullswater Excursion": Coleorton Manuscript


Editor’s note: The following diplomatic transcription is based on a 16-page fair copy of “Ullswater Excursion” in Dorothy Wordsworth’s hand that seems to have been made for Lady Margaret Beaumont sometime in late 1805 or early 1806. It is known as the “Coleorton Manuscript” both in reference to the Beaumonts’ Leicestershire estate, Coleorton Hall, and its being part of the Coleorton Papers at the Morgan Library in New York City. The manuscript (catalog #MA 1581) bears a descriptive title, “a mountainous ramble by D Wordsworth sister to the poet,” likely added by Lady Beaumont.


This label appears to be in Lady Beaumont’s hand, though the rest of the manuscript is in DW’s own best handwriting.




_________a mountainous ramble       
by D Wordsworth       
sister to the poet.



November 1805

William and Mary returned from Parkhouse by the Patter-       
dale road along with Mr and Mrs Clarkson, having       
made a delightful excursion of three days. They had       
engaged that Wm and I should go to Mr Luff’s       
on Wednesday or Thursday if the weather conti-       
nued favorable. It was not very promising on        
Wednesday; but, having been fine for so long a time,       
we thought that there would not be an entire change       
all at once, therefore on a damp and gloomy morn-       
ing we set forward, Wm on foot, and I upon the       
pony with W.’s great coat slung over the saddle       
crutch and a wallet containing our bundle of       
“needments.” As we went along the mists gathered       
upon the vallies, and it even rained all the        
way to the head of Patterdale; but there was       
never a drop [two illegible deleted words] upon my habit larger       
than the smallest pearls upon a Lady’s ring.       
The trees of the larger Island upon Rydale       
Lake were of the most gorgeous colours, the       
whole Island reflected in the water, as I remember       
once in particular to have seen it with dear

[end page 1]

Coleridge, when either he or William observed that       
the rocky shore spotted and streaked with purplish       
brown heath and its image in the water together       
were like an immense catterpillar, such as when       
we were children we used to call Woolly Boys,       
from their hairy coats. I had been a little coward       
-ly when we left home, fearing that heavy rains       
might detain us at Patterdale; but as the mists       
thickened our enjoyment encreased, and my hopes       
grew bolder; and when we were at the top of        
Kirkstone (though we could not see fifty yards       
before us) we were as happy Travellers as ever       
paced side by side on a holiday ramble. At       
such a time and in such a place every scat-       
-tered stone the size of one’s head becomes a com       
-panion: there is a fragment of an old wall at       
the top of Kirkstone, which, magnified yet ob       
-scured as it was by the mist, was scarcely less       
interesting to us when we cast our eyes upon it       
than the view of a noble monument of anci       
-ent grandeur has been — yet this same pile       
of stones we had never before observed. When       
we had descended considerably the fields of Hartsop       
below Brotherswater were first seen, like a Lake        
coloured by the reflection of yellow clouds, I

[end page 2]

mistook them for the water; but soon after we saw       
the Lake itself gleaming faintly with a grey steely       
brightness; then appeared the brown oaks, and the       
birches of splendid colour, and, when we came still       
nearer to the valley, the cottages under their tufts       
of trees and the old Hall of Hartsop with its long       
irregular front and elegant chimneys. We had       
eaten our dinner under the shelter of a Sheep-fold       
by the bridge at the foot of the mountain,       
having tethered the pony at the entrance, where       
it stood without one impatient beating of a       
foot — I could not but love it for its meekness,       
and indeed I thought we were selfish to enjoy       
our meal so heartily while his poor jaws were       
tethered by the curb bridle. We reached Mr       
Luff’s about two hours before tea-time.

Thursday Novr 8th       
    Incessant rain till eleven o’clock,       
when it became fair, and Wm and I walked to        
Blowick. Luff joined us by the way. The wind       
was strong and drove the clouds forward along       
the side of the hill above our heads; four or       
five goats were bounding among the rocks;       
the sheep moved about more quietly or cowered       
in their sheltering places — the two storm-stiffened

[end page 3]

black Yew Trees on the crag above Luff’s house were       
striking objects, close under or seen through the        
flying mists. I do not know what to say of       
Blowick; for to attempt to describe the place       
would be absurd when you for whom I write have       
been there, or may go thither as soon as you like.       
When we stood upon the naked Crag upon the Com       
-mon overlooking its x woods & bush-besprinkled fields,       
the Lake, Clouds, and Mists were all in motion to       
the sound of sweeping winds — the Church and Cottages       
of Patterdale scarcely visible from the brightness       
of the thin mist. Looking backwards toward       
the Foot of the Water the scene less visionary —       
Place Fell steady and bold as a lion — the whole       
Lake driving down like a great river — waves        
dancing round the small Islands. We walked       
to the house; the Owner was salving sheep in       
the barn — an appearance of poverty and decay       
every where; — he asked us if we wanted to pur :       
-chase the estate. We could not but stop fre -       
-quently both in going and returning to look at       
the exquisite beauty of the woods opposite. The       
general colour of the trees was dark brown,       
rather that of ripe hazel nuts; but towards






x N.B. The fields & woods belonging to the Farm of Blowick.

[end page 4]

the water there were yet beds of green, and, in some of       
the hollow places in the highest part of the woods, the       
trees were of a yellow colour, and, through the glittering       
light, they looked like masses of clouds as you see       
them gathered together in the West, and tinged with       
the golden light of the sun. After dinner we walk       
-ed with Mrs Luff up the Vale; I had never had an       
idea of the extent and width of it in passing thro’       
along the road on the other side. We walked along       
the path which leads from house to house; two or       
three times it took us through some of those copses       
or groves that cover every little hillock in the mid       
-dle of the lower part of the Vale, making an       
intricate and beautiful intermixture of lawn and       
woodland. We left William to prolong his walk; and when       
he came into the house he told us that he had pitched       
upon the spot where he should like to build a house       
better than in any other he had ever yet seen. Mrs Luff went       
with him by moonlight to view it. The Vale looked       
as if it were filled with white light when the moon       
when the moon had climbed up to the middle of the       
sky; but long before we could see her face, while all       
the eastern hills were a black shade, those on the       
opposite side were almost as bright as snow.       
Mrs Luff’s large white Dog lay in the moonshine       
upon the round knoll under the old yew tree,       
a beautiful and romantic image — the dark

[end page 5]

Tree with its dark shadow, and the elegant creature       
as fair as a Spirit.

Friday Nov 9th       
It rained till near ten o’clock, but       
a little after that time, it being likely for a tolera-       
-bly fine day, we packed up bread and cold meat, and,       
with Luff’s servant to help to row, set forward in the       
Boat. As we proceeded the day grew finer — clouds       
and sunny gleams on the mountains. In a grand       
Bay under Place Fell we saw three Fishermen with       
a Boat dragging a net, and rowed up to them.       
They had just brought the net ashore, and hun       
-dreds of fish were leaping in their prison. They       
were all of one kind, what are called Skellies.       
After we had left them the Fishermen continu       
-ed their work, a picturesque group under the       
lofty and bare crags; the whole scene was very       
grand, a raven croaking on the mountain above       
our heads. — Landed at Sanwick — the man took       
the Boat home, and we pursued our journey       
towards the village along a beautiful summer       
path, at first through a copse by the Lake       
side, then through green fields — the Village and       
Brook very pretty, shut out from mountains and       
Lakes — it reminded me of Somersetshire — Passed       
by Harry Hebson’s house — I longed to go in for       
the sake of former times. Wm went up one side

[end page 6]

of the Vale and we the other, and he joined us       
after having crossed the one-arched bridge above the       
Church — a beautiful view of the church with its        
“bare ring of mossy wall” and single Yew Tree. At       
the last house in the Vale we were kindly       
greeted by the Master, who was sitting at the door       
salving sheep — he invited us to go in and see a        
room lately built by Mr Hazel for his accommo       
-dation at the yearly chace of red Deer in his       
Forests at the head of these Dales; the room is fit-       
-ted up in the sportsman’s style, with a single cup-       
-board for bottles and glasses &c, some strong chairs, and       
a large dining-table; and ornamented with the horns        
of the stags caught at these Hunts for many years       
back, with the length of the last race they ran       
recorded under each. We ate our dinner here; the       
good woman treated us with excellent butter and new       
oat bread, and, after drinking some of Mr Hazel’s       
strong Ale we were well prepared to face the       
mountain, which we began to climb almost immedi-       
-ately. Martindale divides itself into two dales       
at the head. In one of these (that to the left)       
there is no house to be seen, nor any building       
but a cattle shed on the side of a hill which       
is sprinkled over with wood, evidently the remains        
of a Forest, formerly a very extensive one. At       
the bottom of the other Valley is the house of which       
I have spoken, and beyond the enclosures of this man’s

[end page 7]

Farm there are no other. A few old trees remain, relicks       
of the Forest, a little stream passes in serpentine wind-       
-ings through the uncultivated valley, where many Cattle       
were feeding — the Cattle of this country are generally       
white or light-coloured; but those were mostly dark       
brown or black, which made the scene resemble ma-       
-ny parts of Scotland. When we sate on the hill-       
-side, though we were well contented with the quiet       
every-day sounds, the lowing of cattle, bleating of       
sheep, and the very gentle murmuring of the valley       
stream, yet we could not but think what a grand       
effect the sound of the Bugle Horn would have       
among these mountains. It is still heard once       
a year at the Chace I have spoken of, a day       
of festivity for all the Inhabitants of this Dis-       
trict except the poor Deer, the most ancient        
of them all. The ascent, even to the top of the       
mountain, is very easy. When we had accomplish-       
-ed it we had some exceedingly fine mountain       
views, some of the mountains being resplendent       
with sunshine, others partly hidden by clouds.        
Ulswater was of a dazzling brightness bordered by       
black hills — the plain beyond Penrith smooth       
and bright, (or rather gleamy) as the sea or sea       
Sands. Looked into Boar Dale above Sanwick,       
deep and bare, a stream winding down it. After       
having walked a considerable way on the tops of       
the hills, came in view of Glenriddin and the

[end page 8]

mountains above Grisdale. Luff then took us aside,       
before we had begun to descend, to a small Ruin       
which was formerly a Chapel or place of worship       
where the Inhabitants of Martindale and Patterdale       
were accustomed to meet on Sabbath days. There       
are now no traces by which you could discover       
that the Building had been different from a com-       
-mon sheep-fold; the loose stones, and the few       
which yet remain piled up are the same as       
those which lie about on the mountain; but       
the shape of the building, being oblong, is not       
that of a common sheep-fold, and it stands East       
and West. Whether it was ever consecrated ground       
or not I know not; but the place may be kept       
holy in the memory of some now living in Pat-       
-terdale; for it was the means of preserving the        
life of a poor old man last summer who, hav-       
-ing gone up the mountain to gather peats, had       
been overtaken by a storm, and could not       
find his way down again. He happened to be       
near the remains of the old Chapel, and, in        
a corner of it, he contrived, by laying turf and       
ling and stones from one wall to the other, to       
make a shelter from the wind, and there he       
lay all night. The Woman who had sent him       
on his errand began to grow uneasy towards

[end page 9]

night and the neighbours went out to seek him.       
At that time the old Man had housed himself in       
his nest, and he heard the voices of the men; but       
could not make them hear, the wind being so loud,       
and he was afraid to leave the spot least he        
should not be able to find it again, so he remained       
there all night, and they returned to their homes       
giving him up for lost; but the next morning the       
same persons discovered him huddled up in the she[l]tered       
work. He was, at first, stupefied and unable to move;       
but after he had eaten and drunk, and recollected       
himself a little, he walked down the mountain, and did       
not afterwards seem to have suffered. As we descend,       
the Vale of Patterdale appears very simple and grand       
with its two heads, Deep-dale, and Brotherswater or Hart       
Hartsop. It is remarkable that two pairs of Bro-       
-thers should have been drowned in that Lake. There       
is a tradition, at least, that it took its name       
from two who were drowned there many years       
ago, and it is a fact that two others did meet       
that melancholy fate about twenty years since.        
It was upon a New-year’s Day. Their Mother had       
sent them to thresh some corn, and they, probably       
thinking it hard to be so tasked when all others       
were keeping holiday, stole out to slide upon       
the ice and were both drowned. A Neighbour who

[end page 10]

who had seen them fall through the ice, though not near       
enough to be certain, guessed who they were, and went       
to the mother to enquire after her sons. She replied       
that they were in the Barn threshing, “Nay,” said       
the Man, they are not there, I am sure, and it       
is not likely today.” The Woman went with       
him to the Barn and the Boys were gone:       
he was then confirmed, and told her that he believ-       
-ed that they were drowned. It is said that they       
were found locked in each other’s arms. I was       
exceedingly tired when we reached home, owing       
to the steepness and roughness of the peat track       
by which we descended. I lay down on the       
Sofa in Mrs Luff’s parlour and was asleep       
in three minutes – – – – –. A fine moonlight       
night — a thick fog in the middle of the       
Vale, which disheartened William about the       
situation of his house. Supped on some of the       
Fish caught by the Fishermen at the foot       
of Place Fell. We thought them excellent.

Saturday Novr 10th       
A beautiful morning. When       
we were at breakfast we heard suddenly the tidings       
of Lord Nelson’s death, and the Victory of Trafal-       
-gar. Went to the Inn to make further inquiries –        
I was shocked to hear that there had been great

[end page 11]

rejoicings at Penrith. Returned by William’s rock and       
grove, and were so much pleased with the spot that       
Wm determined to buy it if possible, therefore we pre-       
pared to set off to Park House that Wm might ap-       
-ply to Thomas Wilkinson to negotiate for him       
with the owner. We went down that side of the        
Lake opposite to Stybarrow Crag: I dismounted,       
and we sate some time under the same rock as       
before, above Blowick. Owing to the brightness of       
the sunshine the Church and other buildings were       
even more concealed from us than by the mists       
the other day. It had been a sharp frost in the        
night, and the grass and trees were yet wet.       
We observed the lemon-coloured leaves of the birches       
in the wood below, as the wind turned them to the        
sun, sparkle, or rather flash, like diamonds. The        
day continued unclouded to the end. We had a de-       
-lightful ride and walk, for it was both to both of        
us. We led the horse under Place Fell, &, though       
I mostly rode when the way was good, William       
sometimes mounted to rest himself. Called at       
Eusemere. Went by Bower Bank, intending to       
ford the Emont at the Mill; but the pony would       
not carry us both, so, after many attempts, I rode       
over myself and a Girl followed me on another       
horse to take back the pony to William. Very cold

[end page 12]

before we reached Park House. Derwent ran to meet       
us. Sate in the kitchen till the parlour fire was       
lighted and then enjoyed a comfortable dish of tea.       
After tea William went to Thomas Wilkinson’s and       
to Brougham.

Monday, November 12th       
The morning being fine, we re-       
-solved to go to Lowther, and accordingly Sara H.       
mounted her Brother’s horse, I the pony, and       
Wm and Miss Green set out on foot; but she       
had not walked long before she took a seat behind       
Sara. Crossed the Ford at Yanworth ––– Found Tho-       
-mas Wilkinson at work in one of his fields;       
he chearfully laid down the spade and walked       
by our side with William. We left our horses at        
the Mill below Brougham, and walked through       
the woods till we came to the Quarry, where the       
road ends, the very place which has been the       
Boundary of some of the happiest of the walks       
of my youth. The sun did not shine when we were       
there; and it was mid-day, therefore if it had shone,       
the light could not have been the same; yet so       
vividly did I call to mind those walks that       
when I was in the wood I almost seemed to see       
the same rich light of evening upon the trees       
which I had seen in those happy hours. My heart

[end page 13]

was full; and I could not but grieve that any stran-       
-gers were with us. At this time the Path was scarce       
-ly traceable by the eye, all the ground being covered        
with withered leaves, which I was very sorry for, Wm       
having spoken of the beauty of it with so much de       
-light after he had been at Lowther in the summer.       
Scrambled along under the Quarry; then came to T.       
Wilkinson’s new path. We spent three delightful        
hours by the River side and in the woods. Called at       
Richard Bowman’s. We had a pleasant ride home;       
Sara and I stopped at Red Hills while William       
went over the Ford to T. Wilkinson’s. The House       
untidy and uncomfortable — a little Girl never       
ceased rocking the Baby in the cradle. We asked        
if it would not sleep without rocking, and the       
Mother said “No, for she was used to it” — Reached       
Park House at ten o’clock — Joanna had waited       
dinner and tea for us.

Tuesday, November 13th       
A very wet morning — no        
hope of being able to return home. Wm read in       
a Book lent him by Thomas Wilkinson. I       
read Castle Rackrent. The day cleared at       
one o’clock and after dinner, at a little before       
three we set forward. The pony was bogged in        
Tom’s field & I was obliged to dismount — Went        
over Soulby Fell. Before we reached Ulswater the

[end page 14]

sun shone, and only a few scattered clouds remained       
on the hills except at the tops of the very highest –       
the Lake perfectly calm – We had a delightful jour-       
-ney. At the beginning of the first Park William       
got upon the pony, and, betwixt a walk and a       
run, I kept pace with him while he trotted to the       
next gate; then I mounted again. We were joined        
by two Travellers; like ourselves, with one white horse       
between them. We went on in company till we       
came near to Patterdale, trotting most of the       
time. The Trees in Gowborough Park were very beau-       
-tiful, the hawthorns leafless — their round heads cover-       
-ed with rich red berries, and adorned with arches of       
green brambles, and eglantine hung with glossy hips       
— Many birches yet tricked out in full foliage of       
bright yellow — Oaks brown or leafless — the smooth       
branches of the ashes bare — most of the alders green       
as in spring. I think I have more pleasure in look-       
-ing at deer than any other animals, perhaps chief-       
-ly from their living in a more natural state. At       
the end of Gowborough Park, A large Troop of them       
were moving slowly, or standing still, among the fern.       
I was grieved when our companions startled them with        
a whistle, disturbing a beautiful image of grave       
simplicity and thoughtful enjoyment; for I could       
have fancied that even they were partaking with       
me a sensation of the solemnity of the closing day.

[end page 15]

The sun had been set some time, though we could only       
just perceive that the daylight was partly gone, and       
the Lake was more brilliant than before. I dismount-       
-ed again at Stybarrow Crag, and William rode till       
we came almost to Glenriddin. Found the Luffs at        
tea in the kitchen. After tea set out again; Luff       
accompanied me on foot and William continued to       
ride till we came to the foot of Brothers-water.        
— A delightful evening — the Seven Stars close to       
the hill tops in Patterdale — all the stars seemed       
brighter than usual. The steeps were reflected in Bro-       
-thers-water, and above the Lake appeared like enormous black       
perpendicular walls. The torrents of Kirkstone had been       
swoln by the rains, and filled the mountain Pass       
with their roaring, which added greatly to the solem-       
-nity of our walk — the stars in succession took their       
stations on the mountain tops. Behind us, when we       
had climbed very high we saw one light in the Vale       
at a great distance, like a large star, a solitary       
one, in the gloomy region — all the cheerfulness of       
the scene was in the sky above us. Found Mary &       
the children in bed — no fire — luckily William was       
warm with walking, and I not cold; having wrap-       
-ped myself up most carefully, & the night being mild.




[end page 16]


1. This label appears to be in Lady Beaumont’s hand, though the rest of the manuscript is in DW’s own best handwriting. [back]

Version B of "Ullswater Excursion": Coleorton Manuscript © 2023 by Romantic Circles, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Paul Westover is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0