The Mountains of Cumbria

“. . .In depth, in height, in circuit, how serene
The spectacle, how pure!. . .”
William Wordsworth in View from the top of Black Combe

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Cumbria's mountains are comprised of three main areas. Rock formed more than 500 million years ago makes up the rounded hills of the northern Skiddaw slate area, Cumbria's oldest mountains. In the center section are the jagged Borrowdale volcanic mountains with their sharp-edged crags. South lies the youngest of the group, limestone hills made of 440/410 million years old rock.

The distant past and the present are ingredients of the mountain landscape of the 21st century. The Ice Age scoured the hills into their present form. More than 5000 years of human interaction-from prehistoric stone chippings to 17th-18th century stone enclosures of the open fells to 19th century mining, quarrying and reservoir building-has further changed the landscape. The mixed oak forest of the lower mountain slopes and the pine and birch of the upper slopes have fallen to the axe. Sheep grazing, except for the highest peaks, altered the vegetation mix.

Whether gazing upwards at a peak, climbing a rocky path, discovering an upland tarn, or reveling in the far-reaching views from a summit, visitors are enchanted by the fells.

The poet Wordsworth said, “. . .every man has a right and an interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy.” Take his words to heart, then, and enjoy these views of the mountains of Cumbria.

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