The Peak District
The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Peak District, by Murray Gilchrist,Illustrated by Ernest William Haslehust
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Title: The Peak District
Author: Murray Gilchrist
Release Date: June 10, 2018 [eBook #57299]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PEAK DISTRICT***
E-text prepared by David E. Brown
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
|Note:||Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See https://archive.org/details/peakdistrict00gilciala|
Text by R. MURRAY GILCHRIST
Pictures by E. W. HASLEHUST
BLACKIE & SON LIMITED
LONDON AND GLASGOW
Blackie & Son Limited
50 Old Bailey, London
17 Stanhope Street, Glasgow
Blackie & Son (India) Limited
Warwick House, Fort Street, Bombay
Blackie & Son (Canada) Limited
|The Heart of London.||Winchester.|
|Canterbury.||The Cornish Riviera.|
|Bath and Wells.||Cambridge.|
|In London’s By-ways.||York.|
|The Peak District.||The English Lakes.|
|Loch Lomond and the|
The Scott Country.
|The Shores of Fife.|
Printed in Great Britain by Blackie & Son, Ltd., Glasgow
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
|The Wye near Cressbrook Dale||Frontispiece|
|High Tor, Matlock||4|
|Bakewell, South Church Street||12|
|Queen Mary’s Bower, Chatsworth||21|
|Dorothy Vernon’s Bridge, Haddon||33|
|Peak Cavern Gorge, Castleton||53|
FROM SPA TO SPA
In Peakland one marvels most at the strangevariety of scenery—illustrations of all English inlandbeauty seem to have been grouped there for man’sdelight. There are tender meadows, streams suchas must have meandered through Arcady, fantasticalhillocks, mountains that cut the skyline with dog-toothedges, moors that change colour every day ofthe year; there are two of the most notable housesin existence—houses famous all over the civilizedworld—and two spas unlike each other and unlikeany spas in England.
The folk are genial and ever willing to pass thetime o’ day; they show themselves, as in the daysof Philip Kinder, the eighteenth-century historiographer,“courteous and ready to show the ways[Pg 6]and help a passenger. The women are sober andvery diligent in their huswifery; they hate idleness,and obey their husband.”
Kinder also asserts that they are much given to“dance after the bagpipe, and almost every townhath a bagpipe in it”. To-day the Peaklanders areas fond of dancing as ever, and although no piperproduces eerie music, at feast times they can stillmake a very pretty show. The hill country has endowedthe youths and maidens with suppleness andthey trip it with exceeding grace.
Peaklanders are shrewd, lovable, and unspoilt,somewhat distrustful of foreigners—all unrelated folkwho dwell on the farther side of the moors areforeigners—yet quite as hospitable as the more reservednatives of Yorkshire. Old customs aretenaciously preserved—in some places the wells aredressed with flowers for the festival of the patronsaint, and in one of the most remote villages everyRoyal Oak Day a quaint and pretty pageant enlivensthe irregular grey streets. At such times the kinfrom far-distant towns return to the old home andspend a few hours of happy merrymaking.
To my thinking the most satisfactory entrance tothe Peak Country is by way of Scarthin Nick, a gapthrough which the old London-to-Manchester coachingroad passes on its way to Matlock Bath.[Pg 7]Throughout the year this valley never fails tosuggest a foreign country: in the blackness of mid-winterone might believe oneself in Norway; in springand summer one is curiously reminded of Switzerland;in autumn, when the foliage glows marvellously,one might be looking upon some fanciful picturedone by a southern painter with a passion for vividcolour. To the right flows the Derwent, with clearwaters tranquil before the crossing of a white weir,or churning merrily between great boulders.
From the Black Rocks near by may be seen oneof the finest views in all Peakland—the Matlock Dalewith its High Tor and its quaintly named Heightsof Abraham, its grotesque sham mediśval castle, itspleasantly situated mansion of Willersley, which wasbuilt by one of Derbyshire’s best-famed men, SirRichard Arkwright. Farther away lie Dethick—witha quaint church that was built by the grandfatherof Mary Stuart’s Anthony Babington—and Lea Hurst,the Peakland home of Miss Florence Nightingale.The Via Gellia, a narrow valley, well-wooded, opensnot far from the old posting house; in May thetraveller is assailed there by rustic children whooffer bunches of greenish lilies of the valley.
Matlock is crowded with holiday-makers in summer-time,and progress along the road becomes somewhatdifficult; nevertheless it is impossible even then to[Pg 8]deny the strange beauty of the place. There is anair of pleasant freedom; life moves briskly; the valleymight be threaded by a great highway. No watering-placehas a greater wealth of lovers’ walks, of caves,of petrifying wells, and other objects of interest well-calculatedto amuse and delight the tripper. Thevisitor is happy, albeit feverish, and there is to beseen little aping of the manners of fine society.
Onward through Darley Dale one sees to the leftOker Hill, with its solitary tree—the survivor of twoplanted by the brothers Shore, collateral ancestorsof the Lady of the Lamp. Wordsworth wrote apathetic sonnet concerning the separation of theseyoung men. In Darley churchyard is one of themost famous yews still existent. Centuries agomuch of the land about here was owned by theDakeyne family, whose motto—“Stryke, Dakyns, theDevil’s in the Hempe!” still puzzles the student ofheraldry. Sir Joseph Whitworth’s Institute—surely aboon to the young countryfolk—rises near the road,as does his Cottage Hospital, and, farther, his house,Stancliffe Hall, now shorn of much of its dignity byrough quarries.
Just beyond Rowsley Bridge may be seen the oldPeacock Hotel, perhaps the most picturesque hostelryin all England. Above the porch of this gabled,creeper-covered house stands a stone peacock in his[Pg 9]pride. This bird is the badge of the Rutland family—onefinds inns bearing the name in many Derbyshire villages.The sheltered garden is well worthseeing; it might be the glory of some ancient well-belovedmansion. Quaint flowers thrive there, andbeside the Derwent stretches a pleasant well-screenedwalk, where one may rest with some “well-chosenbook or friend”, and hear the tranquil susurrus ofthe smoothly gliding stream.
Then, beyond Fillyford Bridge over the Wye,which joins the Derwent not far from the inn, debouchesone of the strangest and most beautifulvales of Peakland. To the left of this is the villageof Winster, with a fine old mansion that was onceoccupied by Llewellyn Jewitt, the well-known Derbyshireantiquarian, and a singular Market Hall withwalled-up windows. The place lies in a backwater.One expects to see naught modern at Winster;the inhabitants should wear eighteenth-century garments,and should carry lanterns and pattens totheir tea parties. Near by are the grotesque RowtorRocks, Robin Hood’s Stride, and Cratcliff Tor.One is continually reminded of the weird and charmingVivares engravings that may be found embellishingthe coffee-rooms of conservative inns.
Then Haddon is passed, and the old story—ill-foundedto be sure—that Mrs. Radcliffe sought[Pg 10]inspiration there for her glowing romances comes tomind. Even in the richest sunlight the wonderfulhouse suggests mystery and romance. The Wyeglides, clear as morning dew, almost level with thegreen surface of the water meadows. There is,within a stone’s throw of the white road, a littlefootbridge of the kind that one crosses in happydreams.
Bakewell, which owes part of its fame to theluxurious pastry known as “Bakewell Pudding”, hasperhaps the most beautiful situation of any Peaklandtown. It is eminently quaint, there is an aristocraticair about the place, and the principal streets arekept wonderfully clean. At fair times may be seencrowds of booths reaching from the “Rutland Arms”,to the post office—booths where are sold gaudy potsfrom Staffordshire, gingerbread flat and curly, friedfish, and the sticky sweetmeats beloved by childrenof country and of town. In the marketplace aregalloping horses, swings, shooting galleries, and everythingthat from long usage appeals to the innocentrustic mind.
There are many handsome old houses here, butthe finest, Holme Hall, is not visible from the highway.The church is a graceful building, admirablyplaced, with a tall slender spire, which looks itsbest when pricking through a golden December mist.[Pg 11]Near the porch is a curious epitaph: “Know,posterity! That on the 8th of April in the year ofgrace, 1757, the rambling remains of John Dale were,in the 86th year of his pilgrimage, laid upon his twowives.
The interior of the church is of great interest,since here is the richly coloured Vernon Chapel,where lie the famous Dorothy and her husband SirJohn Manners, also the lady’s ancestor, Sir GeorgeVernon, King of the Peak, and Sir Thomas de Wendesley,who fell at Shrewsbury. Some of the effigiesare strangely realistic, with appropriate inscriptionsculled from Holy Writ. Perhaps the most interestingto the antiquarian is that of Sir Godfrey Foljambe,the founder of the Chantrey of the Holy Cross, andof his wife Dame Avena. These figures, representedfrom the waist upwards, are carved in alabaster,under a canopy with two shields, the one displayingescallops, the other fleurs-de-lis.
From Bakewell Bridge may be had one of the[Pg 12]most beautiful glimpses of the Wye, which dividesthere to encircle a green eyot. Against the brownbed of the shallow stream, sleepy fish lie with scarcea tremor. The grass of the banks hardly losescolour in the heart of winter.
After leaving the town, the Buxton road soonreaches the village of Ashford-in-the-Water, a strangeold place with a picturesque mill. In the park ofAshford Hall the Wye is artificial but charming, itswaters spreading into emerald-green reaches. Thechurch of Ashford contains some of those funeral adornmentsknown as “maidens’ garlands”, cages of cutpaper which were carried at the funerals of such girlsas died unmarried.
A mile or two beyond this sleepy hamlet, MonsalDale opens to the right. On one hand are osier beds,rich in colour at every season; on the other the Wyerushes happily over a stony bed. Beyond Monsal thewell-wooded valley contracts, and the road climbs tothe grey village of Taddington, in whose churchyardmay be seen one of the oldest crosses in Derbyshire.Taddington is devoid of interest; one leaves it withoutregret, and, after crossing some miles of bleakuplands, begins to descend to Ashwood Dale. Therethe road has several sharp curves, and travellers ofall kinds must go warily. Nearer Buxton the Wyeglides smoothly in an ugly concrete channel, suggestive[Pg 13]of a gutter. To the left, a mile or so beforereaching the town, a wonderful little ravine, knownas Sherbrook Dell, with a