4 July 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Today was fair but with mist on the highest hills till between 3 + 4. We went up Whiteless Pike1 in the hope that we might manage Grasmoor but the mist on the latter prevented us though some other people continued up. We had lovely views of Crummock + Loweswater + of the deep chasms in the sides of the hills. We were nearly back at 3 when I found I had left my cape where we had been sitting away up on the hillside + I had to toil back. A foxhound called [left blank] went with me all the way. I had a hot bath after tea + did my packing.

1 Whiteless Pike (660m) sits above Buttermere to its north, grid reference NGR NY179,189 while Grasmoor (852m) is further north still

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

3 July 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Poured all morning heavily and I could only read + smoke. Wrote David + Helen that I would be home on Monday. About 3 it faired + I walked up Honister Hause: pulled a bunch of [not identified] Chloranthus + wild roses for Nancy. Finished a novel called “Priests of Progress” an antivivisection tirade1. Mr Oldham, the Ormiston girl + Miss Butcher left this morning + there were some new arrivals.

1 ‘Priests of Progress’ by Gertrude Colmore [Gertrude Baillie-Weaver née Gertrude Renton; pseudonym Gertrude Colmore (1855–1926), writer and feminist]

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

2 July 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

Went for a cycle run today. It was fair when I started but got wet at Loweswater + I hurried back about 1/2 mile. It faired however + I went on + had no more rain. I could hear thunder however + the signs of heavy rain when I got down the country. After Lamplugh the roads were dry. I went through Rowrah, Wath, Frizington, Cleator + Egremont to Calder Bridge + came back by Hale [sic], [illegible], Ennerdale Bridge + Kirkland rejoining my morning route near Lamplugh1. I went right through the centre of the Iron Ore mining2 + although not beautiful it was interesting. Got back in time for dinner. Nancy, Tim [Roberts] + Miss Butcher had gone for a walk [to] Honister + were caught in a thunder spate. Got letter from Helen [Muir].

1 The various grid references are Lamplugh NY088,208, Rowrah NGR NY054,185, Frizington NY033,169, Wath NY027,145, Cleator NY015,134, Egremont NY015,105, Calder Bridge ‪NY042,059‬, Haile NY034,086, Ennerdale Bridge NY070,158 and Kirkland NY072,180

2 There was a substantial iron ore (haematite) mining industry in West Cumbria; according to one source there had been 200-300 mines between Lamplugh and Egremont, some open cast but underground at Egremont [Sources: ‘A Long History of Coal, Iron and Steel in Cumbria’ and ‘The History of iron ore mining in West Cumbria’, Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, Thursday 23 September 2010]

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

1 July 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

A day of incessant rain + the mist was down. I never got outside the door + could only smoke + read. It was really rather slow. Wrote Frank Muir1 to ask if he had got the part of the steering gear of the car from the Swift2 people but before I had closed his letter I got a P.C.3 (Loch Skene4) from him to say he had got it + sent it to Selkirk. Got a letter from Tom Alexander5 offering himself for a week in Sept. + wrote him. Had another interesting talk with the Ornithologist after dinner. Nancy + Tim6 walked up to Newlands Hause + got very wet.

1 Francis ‘Frank’ Muir (1877-1972), electrical engineer and Dr Muir’s nephew

2 The Swift was the car used by the Muir and Graham medical partnership

3 Post card

4 Loch Skene, ENE of Birkhill on the Selkirkshire – Dumfriesshire boundary, grid reference NGR NT171,164; the loch debouches into the Tail Burn above the Gray Mare’s Tail

5 Not identified

6 Agnes Amelia ‘Nancy’ Roberts née Muir (1878-1948), Dr Muir’s daughter and wife of John ‘Jack’ Roberts junior and their son George Edward ‘Tim’ Roberts (1911-2005)

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

30 June 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

A much [sic] mild day + no rain. Wind more to N.W. We had a walk in forenoon through the wood on the far side of Buttermere + round by Gatesgarth1 + Nancy had tea with me at 2.30 instead of lunch + then we walked along to the top of Rannerdale Knott2 [sic] where we had the great pleasure of seeing a buzzard. Miss Butcher, a lady staying here, walked to High Stile + had a rough time coming down some screes. Sent P.C. [postcard] to Evelyn Couper3 + Madge Ogilvie4 who had written me enclosing a specimen of Linnaea borealis5 she had got of Borden [?].

1 Probably referring to Burtness Wood on the south west side of Buttermere, so Dr Muir (and whoever he was with – it is not apparent) went all the way round the lake on this occasion

2 Rannerdale Knotts (355m) sits between Whiteless Pike to the east and Crummock Water and the Loweswater road to the west about a mile north of Buttermere village, see also diary entry for 29 June 1920

3 Evelyn Susannah Couper, sometime Clark Couper (1872-1927), see also diary entry for 29 June 1920

4 Katherine Margaret ‘Madge’ Ogilvie née Scott Anderson (1879-1965) of Kirklea, Ashkirk

5 If this reading is correct it is Linnaea borealis, the twinflower or cinnamon vine, a member of the Caprifoliaceae family

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

29 June 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

A day of terrific wind S. or S.W. + rain which kept us in the house all day. It faired a little about 4 + I walked along to the foot of Rannerdale Knott1 [sic] by the old road, returning by the high road. I wrote several letters, to Dav. [David Graham, co-partner], Helen [Muir], Mrs Mackintosh (who has sent me a humorous P.C). Got letter from Helen enclosing a P.C. from Evelyn Clark Couper2 who is touring in Wales. Had an interesting talk with a man who knows Ornithology + Botany [?]. Sour Milk Gill3 was very full + we could hear its rush. I cleaned my bicycle.

1 Rannerdale Knotts (355m), grid reference NGR NY167,182, sits between Whiteless Pike to the east and Crummock Water and the Loweswater road to the west, about a mile north of Buttermere village

2 A Miss Evelyn Clark Couper made a bequest to the British Museum in 1930 of a decanter, glasses and stand, through Mackenzie, Innes & Logan here; she was Evelyn Susannah Couper, sometime Clark Couper (1872-1927), daughter of David Couper (1839-1913), Church of Scotland minister, and Christina Jane Couper née Clark, married 1871, Blairgowrie; Evelyn was born at Tynron, Dumfriesshire, the family was living at Thornfield, Selkirk in the 1911 Census and she died at Traquair; her maternal grandfather was Thomas Clark (c.1801-1865), law book seller (1851 Census), later a publisher and the founder of T & T Clark of Edinburgh [Sources: Statutory BMDs and Census; Hew Scott (Ed.) ‘Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae; the Succession of Ministers in the Church of Scotland from the Reformation, Vol 2: Synods of Merse & Teviotdale, Dumfries & Galloway’, Edinburgh, 1917; John A H Dempster, ‘The T & T Clark Story’, Bishop Auckland, 1992]

3 Sourmilk Gill runs out of Bleaberry Tarn below Chapel Crags, opposite Buttermere village, NGR NY168,157

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

28 June 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

A fine morning + fair up till about 3 when rain came on + fell heavily till nearly 8. I went for a cycle run across Newlands Pass returning by Whinlatter + Swinside = 21.55 miles1. Newlands is a fair road, very steep to the top but summit = 1.33. On the other side a short rough piece + then all the rest rideable except the Devil’s Elbow2. From top to a road that turns off to Swinside it is 5.27 + the whole distance to Braithwaite will be 7. Went round to Portinscale + Braithwaite + then up Whinlatter, a splendid road but steep for over a mile. Had fine views of Skiddaw3 + Bassenthwaite. It began to rain on my way up + I got very wet. Came back by the other Swinside, a rough + hilly road. Nancy + Tim4 walked to Loweswater. Got P.C. [postcard] from the Lady of the Magic Cave!5

1 Dr Muir went up the Newlands Pass, ascending straight out of Buttermere and dropping into Newlands Valley from whence he cycled to Portinscale and Braithwaite – without diverting to Swinside (grid reference NGR NY242,217) – before ascending the Whinlatter Pass from Braithwaite and returning to Buttermere via Swinside (NY169,246) and Hopebeck (NY163,239)

2 The Devil’s Elbow is the awkward hairpin where the Buttermere – Newlands road crosses Ill Gill adjacent to Keskadale Farm, grid reference NGR NY210,193 and is visible (though not named) on the Ordance Survey 6″ Cumberland Sheet LXIII.SE, published 1900; it would have been one of the last tricky features for the Keswick – Borrowdale – Buttermere – Keswick horse-drawn coach tours noted in Dr Muir’s diary entry of 22 June 1920

3 Dr Muir’s best viewpoint across the valley to Skiddaw was probably above Lanefoot Farm on the ascent of Whinlatter, at grid reference NY223,244

4 Agnes Amelia ‘Nancy’ Roberts née Muir (1878-1948) and George Edward ‘Tim’ Roberts (1911-2005), Dr Muir’s daughter and youngest grandson

5 Agnes Mackintosh, née Watson, formerly Harper (1859-1946), of Elm Park, Selkirk, the house previously referred to by Dr Muir as ‘the Magic Cave’ on account of Mrs Mackintosh’s generosity with gifts of food and drink

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

27 June 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

A lovely bright day + warm till the evening when it became clouded + after dinner there was some thunder + it rained on till I went to bed at 10. I was feeling seedy + dyspeptic probably from the beer I had at dinner last night. I spent the forenoon in the field next the hotel basking in the warm sun + reading. After lunch I wrote May [Lindsay1] + David Ingles2 + Helen + did not go out again. Nancy + Timmy3 just loafing about.

1 If the reading is correct this may be Marion Vassie ‘May’ Lindsay (1886-?1940), sometime V.A.D. and originally from Whitehope, Yarrow

2 David Nicholson Ingles (1888-1943), A.R.H.A., portrait artist, married in 1920 at Selkirk and painting a portrait of Dr Muir, the whereabouts of which the Editor cannot discover

3 Agnes Amelia ‘Nancy’ Roberts née Muir (1878-1948) and George Edward ‘Tim’ Roberts (1911-2005), Dr Muir’s daughter and youngest grandson

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

26 June 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

This has been a very fine day + warmer. Nancy, Timmy1 + I started after breakfast + took a boat down Crummock [Water] to a landing place for Scale Force2 which we inspected. It is a lovely place reminding me of the Bald [?] Crag at Moffat3. Then we had a long uphill tramp to Red Pike, stopping by a burn for lunch. From Red Pike we went by High Stile exactly as I went on Wed.4 + then on by High Crag towards Scarth Gap which we struck below the pass + came home by Gatesgarth + Hassness. We saw the Isle of Man + all the Galloway coast. Timmy did the walk quite well + whistled most of the way. He decorated himself with Stagshorn [?] Moss5. The poor man had developed something like hay fever in the evening! The cook who left today presented me with a stone which he declared was a hammer [?] of some prehistoric lake dweller.

1 Agnes Amelia ‘Nancy’ Roberts née Muir (1878-1948) and George Edward ‘Tim’ Roberts (1911-2005), Dr Muir’s daughter and youngest grandson

2 Scale Force is a high waterfall almost opposite Buttermere Village, tucked away behind Lingcomb Edge below Red Pike and falling 52 metres out of the combe below Little Dodd

3 The Editor would welcome information about this feature near Moffat, its name or location

4 Dr Muir, his daughter and grandson have walked the Red Pike – High Stile – High Crag ridge on the SSW side of Buttermere before apparently dropping off the ridge before the smaller peak called Seat to join the Scarth Gap to Warnscale path; if part of this route is the same as Dr Muir’s on the Wednesday then he must have walked further round Warnscale Bottom than was evident from his description of that day

5 If the Editor’s reading is correct then this is presumably common club moss or stag’s-horn clubmoss Lycopodium clavatum; its distribution makes this feasible [Source: The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland Biological Records Centre ‘Online Atlas of the British and Irish Flora’ here]

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]

25 June 1920 diary of Dr John Stewart Muir (1845-1938) of Selkirk

A day of constant rain till between 5 + 6. Was in the house all day except to walk to the P.O. before lunch + up to Gatesgarth1 before dinner. Wrote Dav. [Graham], Lennies [?], Mary, Agnes Lagan2 , Patrick3, [and] Helen4. A lot of people left the hotel including Mrs Copland5 [sic] + Miss Foster from Carlisle + the Longges + Mrs Wilson from Birmingham. After dinner Mr Cook of Cockermouth made an appeal for the Cumberland Infirmary6 + asked me to say something. £3 1 6 was contributed.

1 Gatesgarth is the Farm at the south west end of Buttermere at the bottom of Honister Pass and below Fleetwith Pike

2 Unidentified

3 Patrick Rodger Stewart ‘Pat’ Muir (1879-1961), Dr Muir’s only son, living in New Zealand since 1902

4 Helen Frances ‘Mousey’ Muir (1880-1963), Dr Muir’s third daughter and sometime housekeeper

5 Susanna Copeland née Foster, widow of the Reverend William Broadbent Copeland (c.1839-1904), M.A., vicar of St James Buttermere Parish 1898-1902 [Sources: his death, Mar 1904, Copeland, William, Whitehaven Registration District 10b 482 and marriage Sep 1862, Copeland, William Broadbent and Foster, Susanna, Islington 1b 473]

6 The Cumberland Infirmary, Carlisle

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/657/23, Dr J S Muir of Selkirk, medical practitioner, journal for 1920]