In c17th, when travel for its own sake was unheard of, Celia Fiennes roamed around England on horseback “to regain my health by variety and change of aire and exercise.” Sometimes she travelled with relatives but she made her “Great Journey to Newcastle and Cornwall” of 1698 accompanied only by one or two servants.
Fiennes took notes to entertain her family and never intended to publish. So it is lovely that we can now all read her frank, vivid and unvarnished opinions in “Through England on a Side Saddle” as her writings provide an entirely unmannered portrait of the Lake District – unlike later Romantic writers.
She talks of “Charr ffish … they pott with sweete spices”, oat Clapbread (easier to digest than the more common rye bread) and the “great Lake Wiandermer” into which trickling springs give “a pleasing sound and murmuring noise.”
A full transcript of her journey can be read at the delightful Vision of Britain website created by the University of Portsmouth’s Geography Department.