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Dunald Mill Hole, August 1760

Peter Burgess

New member
May I submit a slightly old report on behalf of the long-deceased Lancaster caver, Mr. A.W. reproduced from a newspaper (not the Daily Mail)

Caledonian Mercury, 19th November, 1760

Description of an Extraordinary Cave in Lancashire

Lancaster, August 27, 1760

Sir, Last Sunday I visited a cavern, about five miles from hence, near the road to Kirkby Londsdale, called Dunald Mill-hole, a curiosity I think inferior to none of the kind in Derby-shire, which I have also seen. It is in 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 of the cave, runs in at its mouth by several beautiful cascades, continuing its course two miles under a large mountain, and at last makes its appearance again near Carnford, 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 rocks and mineral, above you. In this manner we proceeded, sometime through vaults so capacious, we could not see either roof or sides; and sometimes on all four, from its narrowness, still 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 parts 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 damps, the creeping vegetables and the seams in the marble, and limestone parts of the rocks, make 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 day light, 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 conscious of its rudeness, she has cloathed 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 author, I therefore think it the greater curiosity; but its obscure situation I take to be the reason.

Yours, &c. A.W.



Well-known member
That's interesting. I thought that the first place this was published was the 1760 Annual Register, but yours may well pre-date it. It was, of course, republished in the second edition of Thomas West's Guide to the Lakes in 1780 along with Adam Walker's (the same A.W. albeit 19 years later?) description of the caves of Ingleborough and the second known version of John Hutton's A Tour of the Caves, published as a separate book in the same year..

The difference between your version and the others  is that yours is dated the 27 August, and the others are dated the 26 August.

Peter Burgess

New member
I think stories like this "did the rounds" of various newspapers. Notice the letter was written in August and published in November.