'WALTON HALL IS A FINE OLD HOUSE and the lake swarms with wild fowl,’ writes
Charles Darwin of his visit in the autumn of 1845, ‘Mr Waterton is an amusing
strange fellow; the strangest mixture of extreme kindness, harshness and bigotry that
ever I saw.’
‘In such foreign periodicals as I have seen,’ Darwin complains, ‘there are no such
papers as White or Waterton would have written; and a great loss it has always
appeared to me.’
‘In my school days,’ he recalls, ‘I took much pleasure in watching the habits of birds.
In my simplicity I wondered why every gentleman did not become an ornithologist.’
Today, using newly opened public footpaths, you can follow in
Darwin’s footsteps and explore Waterton’s greatest creation - what was effectively the
world’s first nature reserve at Walton Park, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England.
Richard Bell's new guide book uses archive photographs, most
of them published for the first time, to give a glimpse of the Park both in its heyday
and at a time when the Hall stood neglected and empty. New drawings made on location
show some of its surviving features.
Waterton's Park, by Richard Bell, is published by Willow Island Editions, ISBN 1-902467-02-7.
Waterton Natural History Association, Alberta
Alberta nature diary
Charles Waterton 1782-1865
Following Historic Trails
material on Waterton and Blakiston (who named Waterton Lakes).
Willow Island Gallery
Wild West Yorkshire home page