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Henry Hobhouse's Tour Through Cumbria in 1774

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In the summer of 1774 three young men from Somerset embarked on a tour of England and part of Scotland which included a visit to Cumbria. Henry Hobhouse and his companions spent ten days travelling from Kirkby Lonsdale via Kendal and Ambleside to Keswick, from which they made a detour to Penrith and Ullswater. They then headed west via Cockermouth to industrial west Cumberland, travelling up the Irish Sea coast from Whitehaven to Allonby, then turning inland via Wigton to the city of Carlisle on their way to Scotland. Hobhouse’s journal of the tour includes accounts of their excursions to view the splendours of the Lake District – including boat trips on Derwent Water and Ullswater and an ascent of Skiddaw – but it also contains descriptions of the industrial ‘curiosities’ of the west Cumberland coalfield, the highlight of which was a subterranean tour of the colliery at Whitehaven. Hobhouse’s interests were wide-ranging and he comments throughout not only on aesthetics but on geology, farming and industry of all types. Henry Hobhouse’s account of his time in Cumbria, printed here, is an important addition to the early travel literature concerning the region. It is of particular interest as a hitherto unknown early tour, which took place four years before West’s 'Guide to the Lakes' was published.