Millican Dalton

Millican Dalton, or better known as the Professor of Adventure, was the son of a Quaker mine agent at Nenthead, Alston in Cumbria. He was born on 20 April 1867 and spent his early life in the northwest of England before his family moved to London in search of a better future. Here he became an insurance clerk, however, he developed a love for the outdoor life and as a young man he lead parties on adventure holidays in Scotland and the Lakes.

After he received a small legacy at the age of 36, he gave up his job in the commercial world and went to Switzerland to train as a mountain guide. He spent his summers in the cave in Borrowdale, which he called “The Cave Hotel”, and in winter he lived in a wooden shed in Buckinghamshire. He taught such things as camping, rock climbing, rafting, white water canoeing and ghyll scrambling. Not only was he a Quaker and a pacifist, but he also followed an abstemious vegetarian lifestyle, apart from woodbines and strong coffee.

The Cave Hotel or Millican Dalton’s cave as it is known locally, is on the eastern flank of Castle Crag. Dalton’s legacy can be seen in the upper chamber of the cave where he inscribed “Don’t Waste Words, Jump to Conclusions”. Dalton’s wood hut burned down during the winter of 1947 and he moved into a tent. Unfortunately, he contracted pneumonia and died in Amersham Hospital on 5 February 1947. Millican Dalton lived the life of simplicity – he grew his own food and sewed his own clothes. He did what thousands of others have only dreamt of doing.

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