Countrystride #73: MILLICAN DALTON - 'Caveman of Borrowdale'

...in which we follow in the footsteps of one of Lakeland's great characters – and neglected icons – Millican Dalton, the self-styled Professor of Adventure. In the company of researcher and 'M.D.' authority Matthew Entwistle, we wend our way from Rosthwaite into Wainwright's 'loveliest square mile' to consider the early life of the Dalton family, who swapped the big skies of Nenthead for smog in London. Summitting Castle Crag, we trace Millican Dalton north as he quits the nine-to-five and embarks on a lifetime of adventure in the Lake District, where – among other firsts – he pioneers adventure holidays, mixed-sex camping parties, lightweight clothing... and possibly the humble pair of shorts. Seeking out the Borrowdale cave that was his summer home for over 50 years, we learn about fires on Napes Needle, letters to Churchill, the lost chasms of Dove's Nest and finding solace in nature, before pondering two unsolved mysteries: what happened to the book left at Dalton's hospital bedside?; and where is his grave?





Entrance to Millican Dalton's Castle Crag 'Cave Hotel'.


Our guest for the day: Matthew 'M D' Entwistle.

...and our subject, Millican Dalton, Woodbine in mouth, on his raft, Rogue Herries. With thanks to Ralph Mayson of Keswick.

With trademark hat and shorts: Dalton in one of his marketing postcards. With thanks to Ralph Mayson of Keswick.


Track along the Derwent.

The view north from Castle Crag.

Summit memorial on Castle Crag.

Entrance to the upper chamber of Dalton's Cave Hotel.

'Don't waste words!' Punched epitaph to Dalton outside the entrance to the cave's upper chamber.

Trio on the top: from left - Matthew, Mark and Dave.