Dorothy Wordsworth, maps, old guidebooks, TV walks...
Two hundred years ago this month, Dorothy Wordsworth climbed Scafell Pike. Back then, England’s highest peak was not the motorway it is today. There was no path, no Corridor Route, and little in the way of accurate mapping, and only a handful of adventurers had reached the summit before. But none of this prevented Dorothy and her friend Mary Barker from setting out from Seathwaite back in October 1818.
Dorothy’s account of their expedition now forms the centrepiece of an exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere. This Girl Did explores how Dorothy inspired people to find new ways of looking at mountains: not about conquering them, but the journey they offered.
Says historian Dr Joanna Taylor of Lancaster University: “Dorothy’s account is part of a rich tradition of early mountaineering about which we often forget: women’s pioneering roles in advancing mountaineering and upland walking as recreational activities.”
The project also includes a film, Scafell Pike, which will premiere at the Kendal Mountain Festival (November 15-18). It features a group of Dorothy fans recreating her ascent of the pike. And on December 1, Simon Bainbridge presents a talk titled Women in the Mountains
1787-1829 at the Jerwood Centre which adjoins the museum. www.wordsworth.org.uk, www.mountainfest.co.uk
“There, not a blade of grass was to be seen – hardly a cushion of moss, and that was parched and brown; and only growing rarely between the huge blocks and stones which cover the summit and lie in heaps all round to a great distance, like skeletons or bones of the Earth not wanted at the Creation.” – DOROTHY WORDSWORTH ON THE SUMMIT OF SCAFELL PIKE