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18th Century Visitors comments

The reaction of most of the 18th Century visitors when greeted by Gordale Scar or Malham Cove was one of awe, and they describe them in terms of being Romantic, Terrific, Tremendous, Awful, Majestic and Sublime, but their comments about other aspects of the area weren't always as positive, as this collection of comments shows, with their comments about the local accomodation and roads. These were collected together in William Brayshay's "Collectanea Giggleswickiana" Part 2 External Website logo which you can download in a volume by Brayshaw, which combines various other Giggleswick notes.

Thomas Gray (1716-1771)

©The James Smith Noel Collection


The poet and author of the well known Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, visited Malham briefly in 1769, and thought Malhamdale a "dreary valley".

"My inn [at Settle] pleased me much (though small) for the neatness and civility of the good woman that kept it ; so I lay there two nights and went (Oct. 13th) to visit the Goredale Scar, which lay six miles from Settle ; but that way was directly over a fell. and as the weather was not to be depended on, I went round in a chaise, the only way one could get near it in a carriage, which made it a full thirteen miles, half of it such a road ! but I got safe over it, so there is an end, and came to Malham (pronounced maum), a village in the bosom of the mountains, seated in a wild and dreary valley."

The Hon Mrs Sarah Murray Aust (1744-1811)

She was a travel writer and author of A companion and useful guide to the beauties of Scotland, to the Lakes of Westmoreland, Cumberland, and Lancashire ... To which is added, a more particular description of Scotland, especially that part of it, called the Highlands (London: 1799). She was obviously not impressed by the local accomodation when visiting Malham in 1796:

"The Alehouse at the village of Maum affords no entertainment for man, and but little for horses : the people too are the most stupid I have ever met with : I could procure no information; and it was with difficulty I got a guide, who at last was only a lout of a boy, who could just lead the way to the left, a mile to Gordale Scar ; and to the right afterwards, half a mile, to Maum Tor."

Perhaps she chose the same accommodation as Samuel King in 1837, who commented:

"put up at the The Listers Arms for the night where we had poor entertainment, got a very bad night’s rest"

Rev. John Hutton

The travel weary Rev Hutton was indeed awed by the natural curiosities, but less than impressed with the local roads, when he visited in the late 18th Century.


"From Settle we proceeded eastward over the moors and mountains about half a dozen miles, to Malham or Maum, in order to see some other natural curiosities of the precipice and cataract kind. We had indeed seen so many [previously], that our wonder could not easily be excited, except they were more great and terrible. As such we had them represented at Settle, or else we should scarce have left the turnpike road; and when we saw them we were not disappointed, for great and terrible they were."

Read the accounts of other 18th & early 19th century visitors to the Malhamdale area.



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