The English Lakes (1908)

William Thomas Palmer
Illus. A. Heaton Cooper

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Roger Wardale observes that the book contains "A very fine description of Windermere in 1895":

In very exceptional years the lake (Windermere) is frozen from end to end, and discovers still another fascination. The white walls and domes of the fells contrast with the blue skies and the dark, almost, as it seems, black, floor of ice. There is brown of larch, polished green of holly, rose-red of pine trunks, and sombre umbrage of the yew. Here and there a patch of oak coppice retaining its dead copper leaves makes a smudge across the rugged country, and there is a sweep of tangled bracken along the wind-swept ridges and hillsides. It is a local belief that the lake never freezes until a dead calm enables the frost to join shore to shore in one night's process. A mere hole, a crevice, in mid-lake will begin to extend as the wind ruffles its free waters, and in a few hours of breeze, the wavelets have broken their way through to the shore, and piled it inches deep in shattered ice. Frozen Windermere is indeed a marvel! The ice, except in the bays, is always harder and smoother than usual, and keen steels add to the pleasure of travel. At such time one feels the expanse of lake more than when boating. (In) The cold atmosphere sound travels slowly and is soon lost. The ringing call which would summon a ferry-boat half a mile away seems choked on the lips, and even at night the skater seems to move in a hushed circle. To persons of nervous temperament or excitable emotions (as you wish), a solitary journey on skates on such an expanse as Windermere is a terrifying experience: to others the moonlight and loneliness and silence act as a spell, a charm, which is full of enjoyment.

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