Geographical and Geological Description of the County.
Boundaries, Extent, &c. — The county of Cumberland is situated on the
western coast and on the borders of Scotland; being bounded on the west
by the Irish sea, on the north by Scotland, on the east by Northumberland
and Durham, and on the south by Westmorland and Lancashire. Its
extreme length from north-east to south-west, is about 72 miles, its extreme
breadth (from the junction of Crook-Burn with the Tees to the borders of
Scotland, at the end of the Scots-Dyke, in the parish of Kirk-Andrews)
about 38 miles. The circumference is calculated at 224 miles, containing
1516 square miles, or 970,240 acres.
Reckoning the total quantity of acres at 970,000, the editors of the Agricultural Survey, written in 1793, calculate that there were 470,000 acres
of old inclosures, 150,000 of improvable common, that 8000 were occupied
by lakes and waters, and that the remainder, 342,000 acres, were unimprovable wastes in the mountainous districts. Since this period nearly
200,000 acres, comprising a much greater quantity than had been reckoned
of improvable common, have been inclosed under several acts of parliament,
and more than half that quantity within the last ten years.
Soils and Strata. — The principal soils of this county are a rich strong
loam, extending over a small portion of it; dry loams, including the various
degrees from the rich light brown loam to the light sandy soils, which
occupies a larger portion of the county than any other, not only the lower
districts but the sides of some of the mountains; and wet loams and black
peat earth, which prevail chiefly in the mountainous districts, particularly
those bordering on Northumberland and Durham. (fn. 1)
The county of Cumberland (fn. 2) , considered in reference to its physical structure, may be conveniently divided into three districts: the first of them,
including the great mountain range of Cross-Fell, forms the eastern division
of the county; the second comprehends the mountainous tract of the lakes;
the third is the valley, bounded by these ridges, and extending towards the
south into Westmorland, towards the north to Solway-Frith. The first
of these consists of alternate beds of lime-stone, sand-stone, slate, clay, and
coal, dipping gently towards the east, in which direction the mountains
also decline, being very precipitous towards the west. They abound in
veins of lead, &c.
The junction of these strata with the red sand-stone beneath, may be
traced from near Kirkland, in a line nearly parallel to the river Eden, a little
to the east of Brampton, by Stapleton to Kirkshope, on the borders of
The coal, which occurs in considerable quantity on the high ground just
described, is in general of inferior quality; but some beds at Talkin-Fell,
Tindal-Fell, and Cold, or more properly Coal-Fell, are tolerably good.
The city of Carlisle, and indeed all the places on the eastern side of the
county, derive their supply of fuel from these pits.
The second division, including the south-west part of the county, is
bounded by a curve line beginning at the foot of Ulswater, and continued
to Penruddock, Hesket-Newmarket, Uldale, Cockermouth, Ennerdale,
Wastdale, Eskdale, and Black-Comb. It consists of rocks belonging to
the primitive and transition classes; granite, syenite, green-stone, greenstone-slate, clay-slate, compact feld-spar, and porphyry, are abundant. On
the north of Saddleback is a small quantity of gneiss and mica-slate.
Primitive limestone has not been discovered. Hornblend-rock is of rare
occurrence, and it is doubtful whether the rock, which, constitutes the
summit of Skiddaw and Saddleback, can maintain the denomination which
has sometimes been given to it of hornblend-slate.
A thin bed of transition lime-stone occurs at the south-west extremity
of the county, and is covered by slate. Some lead and copper mines are
wrought in this division, but not to any great extent. The graphite or
plumbago of Borrowdale, is well known all over Europe.
The remaining division is occupied partly by red sand-stone, partly by
a series of beds of lime-stone, sand-stone, coal, &c. analogous to those on
the Cross-Fell range. The red sand-stone occupies a considerable extent
of country, appearing along the foot of the range just mentioned,
and extending to about a mile west of Penrith, from whence its western
boundary may be traced near the following places, Blencowe, Skelton, across
the Caldew river, a little below Sebergham, to Westward, Allhallows,
Aspatria, and to the sea near Allonby. In the marl associated with this
sand-stone, gypsum is worked at Newbiggin, Coat-Hill, and St. Bees-Head,
The red sand-stone is known in some places to exceed sixty fathoms in
thickness. No coal has been discovered in it, nor any metallic veins.
It is extremely probable that the tract of red sand-stone in this valley,
comprehends two distinct series of beds, bearing a close resemblance to
each other in mineralogical character, but deposited at very different periods,
the one lying beneath the rocks which form the escarpment on the east
of the county, the other lying upon the coal measures at Whitehaven. (fn. 3)
Between the mountainous district of the lakes and the valley of Carlisle,
occurs a belt of compact lime-stone, slate-clay, sand-stone, and coal, which
rise on every side towards the primitive country.
Magnesian lime-stone intervenes between the coal and red sand-stone at
Whitehaven and the lime-stone on Broadfield, belongs in all probability to
the same formation.
The mountain called Great-Barrock has a cap of basalt, and there is a
hummock called Caer-mote near Bothel, composed of amygdaloid and clay
porphyry, resting upon coal measures.
Surface and Scenery. — The surface of Cumberland is much diversified;
the northern and north-western parts, bordering on the Irish sea, the Solway-Frith, and Scotland, are generally level, and do not afford any interesting scenery, except in the course of the several rivers; of the Caldew, near
Sebergham, Dalston, and Rose Castle (fn. 4) , and of the Eden, the banks of which
are in several places well wooded and very beautiful, especially about Corby
Castle. The walks at Nunnery, upon the banks of the little river Croglin,
which falls into the Eden, exhibit much romantic and beautiful scenery,
produced by a mountain stream, broken by frequent cascades, and accompanied with a great variety of rock and wood.
The eastern and south-western parts of the county are chiefly occupied
by mountains, many of which are of considerable height; between these
and the level part above noticed, are lower ranges of smooth hills, most of
which are distinguished by the appellation of fells. The mountainous district which forms the eastern boundary, is a long continued range of mountains and high ground, called by the names of Cross-fell, Hartside-fell,
Geltsdale forest, and Spadeadam waste; none of these present by any means
a picturesque appearance, their summits being for the most part very little
The numerous mountains in the south-west part of the county, present a
great variety of grand and picturesque forms; and are accompanied by
lakes of considerable extent, and highly cultivated vallies, in many parts
well wooded; forming altogether some of the most remarkable and beautiful
scenery in the kingdom. The principal mountains are known by the names
of Black-Comb, Skiddaw, Saddleback, Bow-fell, Grasmere-fell, Helvellyn,
Hardknott, Wry-nose, High-Pike, Pillar, Sea-fell, and the Screes (fn. 5) : several
of these are very precipitous and rugged.
The largest of the lakes is Ulswater, which for the space of about six
miles forms the boundary between the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland: the whole lake is somewhat more than eight miles in length, and
being in no part quite a mile wide, has much the appearance of a river.
The scenery of this lake is remarkably beautiful and picturesque; its most
prominent feature is the mountain Helvellyn, which with some other subordinate ones, seen over Patterdale with summits sharp and pointed, have
been said to resemble the Alpine forms more than any others in this country:
the beauty of this scene is considerably encreased by an adequate portion of
oak wood in Gobarrow park, and other parts bordering on the lake.
The mountain Helvellyn is also the most conspicuous among those rugged
and barren objects which are seen from the lake of Thirlemeer or Leatheswater, which is long and narrow like Ulswater, but of smaller dimensions,
situated at the entrance into the small but beautiful vale of St. John's.
One of the finest scenes in Cumberland is that of the vale of Keswick,
containing the lakes of Derwentwater, and Bassenthwaite or Broad-water,
communicating with each other by a small stream. The boundaries of
Derwentwater, consisting of fine woods of oak and rich inclosures, over
which are seen the mountain of Skiddaw at the northern extremity, and
Borrowdale at the southern, with what Gray has termed "its turbulent
chaos of mountain behind mountain," present a great variety of magnificent
and beautiful scenes; a considerable addition to these, in rainy seasons, is
Lowdore waterfall, the height of which is said to be not less than 200
Borrowdale, a narrow valley, bounded on either side by steep rocky
mountains, affords a variety of picturesque scenes. The objects which have
attracted most notice, are, the village of Grange, situated on rising ground
near the entrance of the valley; the hill called Castle-Cragg, of a conical
form, covered with wood, and having on its summit traces of a military work;
and the Bowder-stone, thirty-one yards in length and eight in height (fn. 6) .
lying detached upon a rock.
The lake of Buttermere lies to the north-west, at no great distance from
Borrowdale, surrounded by rugged mountains, the most remarkable of
which are, Honister-Cragg, High-Style, and Red-Pike; and a little further
northward lie Crummock-water and Lows-water, connected with each other
and with Buttermere by a small stream.
At the western extremity of this group of mountains are those distinguished by the names of Hardknot, Wry-nose, Sca.fell, and the Screes;
the three first form the eastern boundary of Eskdale, which, viewed from
the richly wooded hills about Muncaster Castle, at the opposite extremity,
exhibits one of the finest views in Cumberland, The precipitous side of
the Screes forms the southern boundary of Wastwater, and by descending
quite into the lake, gives it a different character from any of the others:
the scenery in the neighbourhood of Wastdale is extremely picturesque.
Rivers.—The two principal rivers of this county are the Eden and the
Derwent. The Eden, which rises in Westmorland, after having been a
boundary between the two counties for about two miles, skirting the parish
of Kirkland, enters Cumberland about a mile south of Edenhall, passes by
Edenhall, Langwathby, and Great-Salkeld, to Kirk-Oswald; thence near
Nunnery and Armathwaite Castle, between Corby Castle and Wetherall to
Warwick-bridge; thence near Crosby and Stanwix to Carlisle; and from
thence near Grinsdale, Kirk-Andrews, Beaumont, and Rowcliffe. Not
far from the latter place it falls into the sea; its course in Cumberland being
about 35 miles.
The Derwent rises in Borrowdale, about five miles south-west of
Derwentwater, which it feeds; after merging from the lake, it passes
between Crosthwaite and Portingscales to Bassenthwaite-water, of which
also it is the feeder; issuing thence it passes by Armathwaite-hall, under
Euse-bridge, by Isel to Cockermouth, where it is joined by the Cocker;
thence passing near Papcastle, Brigham, Ribton-hall, Camerton, and Workington, it falls into the sea near the last-mentioned place; its course from
Derwentwater being about 20 miles.
The other principal rivers are here arranged in alphabetical order.
The Bleng rises near Ponsonby fell, passes near Gosforth, and falls into
the Irt between Nether-Wasdale and Santon, about six miles from its rise.
The Calder rises not far from Ennerdale water, passes by Calder Abbey
between Ponsonby and Sella-park, and falls into the sea at Calder-foot, its
course being about eight miles.
The Caldew, called near its source Cald-beck and Caldew-beck, rises on
Caldbeck fell, passes near Sebergham and Rose Castle to Dalston, and falls
into the Eden at Carlisle; its course from Caldbeck to Carlisle being about
The Cocker rises out of Buttermere water (which is fed by some small
streams rising among the hills to the south;) it passes through Crumock
water, to the north of which a pretty large stream connects with Loweswater.
The Cocker passes northward, a little more to the east, and leaving Lorton
on the right, passes to Cockermouth, where it joins the Derwent; its
course from Crumockwater to Cockermouth being about six miles.
The Croglin rises on Thackthorn fell, passes Croglin, contributes to the
beautiful scenery at Nunnery, where it forms several small cascades, and falls
into the Eden near that place.
The Dudden rises near Hardknot, and passing by Ulpha and Thwaites,
becomes for some distance the boundary between Lancashire and Cumberland, and falls into the sea between Kirkby and Millom. There is a ford
over this river at Dudden Sands.
The Eamont, issuing out of Ulsewater, runs to the south of Penrith, and
joins the Lowther about a mile to the west, after a course of about five miles,
during which it divides the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland.
The Ellen or Elne rises upon Caldfell, and passing by Uldale, Ireby,
Bolton, Torpenhow, Whitehall, Harby-brow, Blennerhasset, Aspatria,
Hayton Castle, Outerby, Allerby, Dearham, Ellenborough, and Netherhall,
falls into the sea at Maryport.
The Enn issues out of Ennerdale-water, which is fed by a small stream,
called in the maps Liza, rising about four miles to the south. From
Ennerdale-water it passes by Ennerdale chapel, Clentor, Egremont, and
St. Bride, and falls into the sea at Enn-foot, after a course of about
eleven miles from the lake.
The Esk which gives name to Eskdale ward, rises in the Cheviot-hills.
At Canonby it becomes for a short distance the boundary between England
and Scotland; entering Cumberland it passes by Kirk-Andrews, Netherby,
by the edge of Solway moss, and after being joined by the Leven, falls into
the sea near Rockliffe marsh; its course through Cumberland being about
The Esk in the ward of Allerdale above Derwent, is formed by some
small streams which rise near Bow-fell; it runs through a valley which
takes the name of Eskdale, and passing by Muncaster and Waberthwaite,
falls into the sea at Ravenglas; its course being about thirteen miles.
The Gelt rises in Croglin fell, and passing near Castle-Carrock, falls into
the Irthing near Bridgwood foot; its course being about ten miles.
The Greeta issues out of Thirlmeer, near Threlkeld, and passing near
Keswick, joins the Derwent soon after it emerges from the lake, about seven
miles from Thirlmeer.
The Irt, issuing from Wast-water (which is supplied by several small
streams from above Wastdale-head) passes by Nether-Wasdale, Santon,
Irton, between Drigg and Carlton, and falls into the sea near Ravenglas,
its course being about eight miles.
The Irthing rises on the borders of Northumberland, and for about
sixteen miles forms the boundary of the counties; about a mile after passing
Gilsland Spa, it enters Cumberland, and running by the two Dentons,
Naworth Castle, Lanercost, Brampton Old Church, Irthington, and Newby,
falls into the Eden; its course after it enters Cumberland being about
The Kershope, a small river, is for a course of about six miles from Dove
Craggs to its junction with the Liddell, the boundary between Cumberland
The Kingwater, rising near Side Common, falls into the Irthing at Kellwood (fn. 7) ; its course being about ten miles.
The Leven or Line is formed of the junction of two rivers, called the
Black Line and the White Line. The Black Line, which rises near Dove
Craggs, runs by Trough; the White Line, rising near Christenbury Craggs,
runs by Nixon and Line-holme; after the junction the Line passes near
Shank-Castle, Brackenhill, Kirk-linton, and West-linton, and falls into the
Esk, not far from its embouchure. The two streams join at about ten miles
distance from their respective rise: the course of the Line after the junction
is about twelve miles.
The Liddell is for about eight miles the boundary between Cumberland and
Scotland, from its junction with the Kershope to its junction with the Esk.
The Lowther divides Cumberland and Westmorland from near Brougham
Castle till it falls into the Eden, about a mile south of Edenhall.
The Mite, issuing out of Burnmoor tarn, runs through Miterdale, and
falls into the sea at Ravenglas; its course being about seven miles.
The Nent rises in the south-east extremity of the parish of Alston, and
falls into the town near the town of Alston; its course being about six miles.
The Petterell, which rises in the parish of Greystock, not far from Plumpton, runs by Ellerton, Petterell Crooks, Wreay, Newbiggin, and Upperby,
and falls into the Eden near Rickerby; its course being about twenty miles.
The Sark is the boundary between Cumberland and Scotland for about
five miles, near Solway moss.
The Tees, which rises on Cross-fell, is for nearly four miles the boundary
between Cumberland and Westmorland, at the southern extremity of the
parish of Alston.
The Tyne rises near the southern extremity of the parish of Alston,
runs by Garrigill and near Alston town, about a mile and a half north of
which it leaves the county and enters Northumberland; its course from its
rise having been about nine miles.
The Wampool rises near Gill in Dalston, and having been joined near
Dockwray by the Wiza, which rises near Rosley and runs by Westward,
Old Carlisle, and Wigton. The Wampool, after it receives the Wiza, passes
by Gamblesby and Wampool, and falls into the sea about half a mile west of
Kirkbride; its course being about twelve miles.
The Waver, which rises on Catland fell, runs by Waverton, Dundraw,
and Abbey-Holme, and falls into the sea about half a mile from the latter;
its course being about twelve miles.
Lakes and Tarns. — The principal lakes of Cumberland are Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite, Buttermere, Crumock, Loweswater, Ennerdale,
Wast-water, Thirlmeer, and Devock-lake: Ulswater is partly in Cumberland and partly in Westmorland. The beautiful scenery of some of these
lakes is elsewhere briefly spoken of. The chief of the smaller lakes or tarns
as they are called, are Burn moor tarn at the head of the Mite, two nameless tarns near Sella-field and Bray (in St. Bride's and St. John's parishes);
the Stank near Abbey-Holme; Martin tarn in Aikton; Over-water not
far from Uldale; the lough near Anthorn, in Bowness; a small lough near
Rowcliffe; Tarn-Wadling in Hesket; Talkin tarn, in the parish of Hayton;
and Tindale tarn, near the borders of Northumberland.
Besides the more common river fish, such as pike, trout, eels, &c. salmon
are abundant in the Eden, Esk, and Derwent; sea-trout, branlin, or samlet,
&c. There are lampreys and graylings, shad, and occasionally sturgeon in
the Eden and Esk. The lakes abound in trout, and the gwiniad or schelly;
pike and other common river fish; there are charr in Ulswater, Crummockwater, Buttermere, and Ennerdale water: Tarn-Wadlin abounds with carp.
Roads.—The great road from London to Glasgow enters this county near
the town of Penrith, at the bridge over the Eamont. From Penrith by
Plumpton-wall, Plumpton-street, High and Low-Hesket, and Carleton to
Carlisle, 18 miles. Thence through Stanwix, Blackfbrd, West-linton,
and Arthuret to Longtown, nine miles. About four miles beyond Longtown it reaches the borders of Scotland, where you cross the Sark to Springfield and Gretna-green. The road from Carlisle to Edinburgh branches
off at Longtown, and reaches the borders in three miles, passing through
The road from Carlisle to Newcastle passes through Stanwix, Drawdykes,
and Crosby to Brampton, about nine miles; and leaving Naworth Castle to
the left, about six miles beyond that town enters Northumberland.
The carriage (fn. 8) road from Carlisle to Bowness (thirteen miles) passes
through Kirk-Andrews, Burgh, and Drumburgh.
The road from Carlisle to Cockermouth, Workington, and Whitehaven, is
by way of Wigton, which is nearly eleven miles from Carlisle; passing through
Woodhouses and Micklethwaite, leaving Orton to the right and Crofton hall
to the left; thence by Cockbridge to Cockermouth. From Cockermouth it
continues, leaving Brigham church on the right, by Little and Great
Clifton, and Stainburn, (eight miles) to Workington. At Little-Clifton a
road turns off by Winscales, through Distington and Moresby to Whitehaven;
the distance from Cockermouth to Whitehaven being about fourteen miles.
The carriage road from Carlisle to Allonby and Maryport passes through
Wigton. From Wigton to Allonby is twelve miles, passing through Waverton and West-Newton, and leaving Hayton Castle to the left. From Wigton
to Maryport is sixteen miles, the road branching off from that last described
at Waverton, and passing through Aspatria, Crosby, and Birkby.
The direct road from Carlisle to Keswick is only thirty miles, passing
through Thursby, through Ireby and Bassenthwaite, but there being
no intermediate stage, the usual road is through Penrith (thirty-eight miles),
from that town to Keswick being nearly twenty miles, through Stainton,
Penruddock, and Threlkeld.
The carriage (fn. 9) road from Cockermouth to Abbey-Holme and Skinburness about seventeen miles, leads through Plumbland, Aspatria, West
Newton, and Mealrigg. The road from Cockermouth to Wigton (sixteen
miles) is through Bothel by Shakenbridge, leaving Torpenhow about a
mile to the right, and Allhallows a little to the left, and passes near Old
Carlisle. The road from Cockermouth to Hesket-Newmarket (fourteen
miles) is by Eusebridge and Uldale, leaving Caldbeck a little on the left.
The nearest road from Keswick to Cockermouth, described in the roadbooks as eight miles though in reality twelve, is through Portingscale and
Braithwaite; a more pleasant road is by Bassenthwaite, Hawes, and Eusebridge, leaving Isel to the right; about fourteen miles.
The road from Penrith to Cockermouth is through Keswick. The road
from Penrith to Wigton (about twenty-one miles) passes through Hutton,
Sebergham, and Rosley; the road continues from Wigton to Abbey-Holme,
by Warebridge, six miles. The road from Penrith to Alston-moor (fn. 10) (nearly
twenty miles) passes by Edenhall, through Longwathby and Melmerby, over
Hartside-fell. The road from thence to Haltwhistle enters Northumberland
about two miles and a half beyond Alston. The road from Penrith to
Kirk-Oswald, about eight miles, passes near Salkeld, and through Lazonby.
The road from Whitehaven to Workington (eight miles) is through
Moresby and Distington. From Whitehaven to St. Bees is a carriage road,
four miles and a quarter. From Whitehaven to Dudden sands, on the road
to Ulverston (and through Lancashire to London) is about twenty-nine
miles. It passes through Hensingham to Egremont (fn. 11) five miles; thence
leaving Cleator on the left, St. John's and Ponsonby on the right, to Calder-bridge, nine miles; thence through Gosforth, leaving Drigg on the right
and Irton and Muncaster on the left, to Ravenglass, sixteen miles; from
Ravenglass, leaving Waberthwaite, Corney, and Seaton on the left, to
Bootle; and from thence through Whitbeck, near Whicham and Millom
Church and Castle, to Dudden sands. There is a road from Dudden bridge
over Stonehead-fell to Muncaster and Ravenglass, about eleven miles.
There is a road also from Whitehaven and Egremont by Wastdale to
Hawkshead, &c. in Lancashire, and so to London; and another from
Whitehaven by way of Ennerdale to Hawkshead, &c.