OUCC Proceedings 2 (1963)

Dunald Mill Hole

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"A Description of Dunald-Mill-Hole"

by Mr. A.W.

Taken from the Annual Register for 1760. Published as an Addendum, Article V to "A Guide to the Lakes in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire" by A. West (London 1793).

Lancaster, August 26, 1760.

"Last Sunday I visited a cavern about five miles from hence, near the road to Kirby-Lonsdale, called Dunald-mill-hole, a curiosity, I think, inferior to none of the kind in Derbyshire, which I have also seen. It is on the middle of a large common, and we are led to it by a brook, near as big as the new river, which after turning a corn-mill, just at the entrance to the cave, runs in at its mouth by several beautiful cascades, continuing its course two miles under a large mountain, and at last making its appearance again near Carnforth, a village in the road to Kendal. The entrance of this subterraneous channel has something most pleasingly horrible in it. From the mill at the top, you descend for about ten yards perpendicular, by means of chinks in the rocks, and shrubs of trees; the road is then almost parallel to the horizon, leading to the right, a little winding till you have some hundreds of yards thick of rock and minerals above you. In this manner we proceeded, sometimes through vaults so capacious, we could not see either roof or sides; and sometimes on all four, from its narrowness, till following the brook, which entertained us with a sort of harmony well suiting the place; for the different height of its falls were as so many keys of music, which all being conveyed to us by the amazing echo, greatly added to the majestic horror which surrounded us. In our return we were more particular in our observations. The beautiful lakes (formed by the brook in the hollow part of the cavern) realize the fabulous Styx; and the murmuring falls from one rock to another broke the rays of our candles, so as to form the most romantic vibrations and appearances upon the variegated roof. The sides too are not less remarkable for fine colouring; the damp, the creeping vegetables, and the seams in the marble and limestone part of the rock, makes as many tints as are seen in the rainbow, and are covered with a perpetual varnish from the just weeping springs that trickle from the roof. The curious in grottos, cascades, &c. might here obtain a just taste of nature. When we arrived at the mouth, and once more hailed all-chearing daylight, I could not but admire the uncouth manner in which nature has thrown together those huge rocks, which compose the arch over the entrance, but as if unconscious of its rudeness, she has clothed it with trees and shrubs of the most various and beautiful verdure, which bend downwards, and with their leaves cover all the rugged parts of the rock.

"As I never met with an account of this place in any other author. I therefore think it the greater curiosity; but its obscure situation I take to be the reason."