Richard Warner

Detail from Title Page; Warner, Richard, 1801. A walk through Wales, in August 1797

Detail from Title Page; Warner, Richard, 1801. A walk through Wales, in August 1797. Bath: Printed by R. Cruttwell (BUR 00471)

Where Nicholson is helpful and factual and Newell authoritarian, Richard Warner’s prose is both informative and flowery, describing the weather, scenery, people and customs of Wales in poetic and romantic language. The Rev. Richard Warner(1763-1857) was an English clergyman, antiquarian and writer of a considerable number of topographical books which were based on his extended walking tours. Warner spent August 1796 walking in Wales; walking from Bath to Caernarfon, and back, a journey of some 462 miles which he completed at an average of twenty-six miles a day. His tour is described in a series of eighteen letters, first published in 1797 as the popular work A Walk through Wales which ran into several editions.

“N. East View of Snowdon” Pugh, Edward, 1816. Cambria Depicta: a tour through North Wales: illustrated with picturesque views.

“N. East View of Snowdon” Pugh, Edward, 1816. Cambria Depicta: a tour through North Wales: illustrated with picturesque views. London: W. Clowes for E. Williams (PHI 01228) Presented to St. David’s College by Thomas Phillips in 1847

The entries reflect Warner’s passion for antiquarianism but also contain details from the sublime to the more mundane.  While descending Snowdon in high wind, cloud and mist, Warner describes the clouds parting to reveal:

“below us, huge rocks, abrupt precipices, and profound hollow, exciting emotions of astonishment and awe in the mind, which the eye, darting down an immense descent of vacuity and horror, conveyed to it under the dreadful image of inevitable destruction”. 

While in his letter, dated 22nd August, which describes the walk from Caernarvon to Conway along the Menai Strait, Warner was less concerned with the spiritual enlightenment attained through meditating upon awesome landscapes, and more with his physical comfort:

“No man can justly estimate the value of a good bed unless he have (sic.) experienced the discomfort of a very bad one. C. and I were alive to this enjoyment last night, for during the preceding 100 miles, our nocturnal accommodation has been far from tolerable. This circumstance, indeed, is the only draw-back on the pleasure of a Welsh tour; if the country could but boast good beds, Wales would be a paradise”.