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Wild ways and paths of pleasure : access to British waterfalls, 1500-2000

Taylor & Francis
Publication Date
  • 150601 Impacts Of Tourism
  • 120502 History And Theory Of The Built Environment (Excl. Architecture)
  • 040601 Geomorphology And Regolith And Landscape Evolution
  • British Waterfalls
  • Tourism
  • Roads And Footpaths
  • Landscape History.
  • Design


In Britain the rise of tourism, largely associated with the Romantic taste for landscape, encouraged travel to relatively inaccessible areas. Among travellers in search of the Picturesque and the Sublime, waterfalls were particularly popular, but these were commonly difficult and dangerous places to visit. This paper examines the impact of tourism on the evolution of the landscape at waterfall sites over a period during which people travelled to tourist centres on horseback, by coach, by rail and by motor vehicle. Drawing on topographical, travel and tourist literature from the sixteenth century to 2000, together with extensive field observation, this study considers the evolution from the ‘natural’ to the designed landscape created to meet the needs of, and to attract visitors. It demonstrates how, while facilitating visits to natural attractions such as waterfalls, improved access and the provision of amenities have changed valued landscapes and, hence, the visitor’s experience of them.

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