Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth
Two years after Scott’s visit, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth viewed Lyulph’s Tower on their walking tour of the Lakes. Wordsworth described the view – “deep within the bosom of the lake, a magnificent castle with towers and battlements”. Coleridge later wrote “Lyulph’s gleams like a ghost, dim and shadowy”.
On their trip, Wordsworth and Coleridge heard how the painter, John Glover, had stayed at Lyulph’s Tower and had been awoken by the shriek of a woman. It transpired that a young woman who lived in the house was in the habit of sleep-walking. The story gave Wordsworth the idea for his poem, The Somnambulist, 1835. Set in Arthurian times, it tells how Lady Emma, distraught that her lover, the knight Sir Eglamont, failed to return, took to sleep-walking from her home near Lyulph’s to Aira Force. One night, Sir Eglamont did indeed return and found her walking by the force, but when he touched her, she woke and lost her balance, falling to her death in the force.
List, ye who pass by Lyulph’s Tower
Are eve; how softly then
Doth Aira-Force, that torrent hoarse,
Speak from the woody glen!
Fit music for a solemn vale!
And holier seems the ground
To him who catches on the gale
The spirit of a mournful tale,
Embodied in the sound.