Posted by: travelrat | February 25, 2018

Lakes and Hills

Bowness Bay

When I was growing up in the Lake District, we passed the offices of a coach tour company on the way to school. They advertised ‘8 Lakes Tours’, and sometimes ’16 Lakes Tours’. But, as our geography master pointed out …. there is, really, only one lake in the Lake District. You see, most bodies of water have the words ‘-mere’ or ‘-water’ in their names; this renders the word ‘Lake’ superfluous. Except in the case of Bassenthwaite Lake.

However, common usage talks of ‘Lake Windermere’ to distinguish it from the town of the same name. But, there are a couple of places where the town, or village does have the same name. Curiously, although Coniston Water is used to describe the lake, and Coniston the village, we used to talk of Grasmere as the lake, and Grasmere Village as the settlement.

Scotland, too, has only one lake; that’s the Lake of Menteith. Every other body of water is ‘Loch Something or Other’.  It’s also home to Mount Keen, the only ‘mount’ in the United Kingdom … (we’ll disregard Mount Batten, for there is no mountain there)

So, is it old-fashioned or pedantic to shudder when I read about, for instance, ‘Mount Snowdon’? Because, the ‘-don’ bit means hill or mountain.

Problem is, Britain has been invaded by so many peoples over the years, each bringing their own language, that we have several words meaning ‘hill’ … and sometimes, they’re combined. When I worked in Yorkshire, I could look out of my window and behold Penhill (or ‘hill-hill’) In Cumbria, there’s a village called Torpenhow (or ‘hill-hill-hill’).  But, the prize must go to the Midlands, where there’s a place called Breedon on the Hill … or ‘hill-hill on the hill’.

Do you know of any more?


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