[continued] THE HIGH TOR.
The HIGH TOR, which is unquestionably one of the grandest objects
in Matlock Dale, is, close to the Railway Station, and is a majestic
rock of stupendous grandeur, towering to the height of 396 feet,
and presenting to the surrounding country a massive rampart of
extraordinary beauty and sublimity, whose lofty summit reaches
to the clouds, and whose base is washed by the rushing waters of
the Derwent. It is, as Mr. Croston well describes it, "a vast
and imposing mass of limestone, with a bold convex front, lifting
its precipitous height more than three hundred and fifty feet above
the vale below. The sloping base is covered, for a considerable
way upwards, with a dense tangle of underwood, hazels, honeysuckles,
wild roses, and brambles; from the midst rises a profusion of trees
of different kinds: the elegant mountain ash, the pale drooping
willow, the gnarled and knotted oak, and the delicate pensile birch,
mingling their leafy branches in a density of luxurious verdure;
beneath which the graceful Derwent glides along, frequently hidden
by the overhanging trees,
p.40 THE HIGH TOR
that fling their broad leafy boles over its sparkling waters,
subduing the dazzling brilliance with their sombre shade; at times
it becomes impetuous and even turbulent, as, wasting its strength
in whitened foam, it dashes over the rocky fragments that impede
its course; then again it subsides into a rippling current, and
carols merrily, like a talkative companion, by the side of the
wayfarer." The upper portion of the High Tor, for more than
one hundred and fifty feet, presents one vast mass of naked perpendicular
rock, indented with rents and fissures, from between which peep
out tufts of grass, and shrubs, and flowers, with here and there
a few stunted trees, that seem to have sprung spontaneously from
the openings. Seen in all aspects, the High Tor is grand and impressive,
but in the glimmer of the broad moonlight it is unspeakably beautiful
and picturesque. Opposite to this majestic rock, the river is spanned
by a little wooden bridge, which leads to the HIGH TOR GROTTO.
The roof and sides of this really natural excavation are encrusted
with a profusion of crystallizations of calcareous spar, chiefly
of the scalon dodecahedron and double pyramid or dog-tooth shape.
When lighted up by the guide, the effect of these natural crystals,
glittering like rarest gems, is peculiarly brilliant. There is
no cave which can be examined with more ease and comfort, and there
is none, which from the splendour of its minerals, and the character
of its construction, can be inspected with greater interest and
satisfaction. Near the extremity, the path gently descends, the
roof becomes lower, and a clear pool of water is reached, beyond
which the rocks close in, and further progress is obstructed. The
tunnel of the railway passes through the High Tor, and the effect
of the rolling of the train, as heard in this grotto, resembles
the rumbling reverberations of distant thunder.
The grounds of the High Tor have been latterly enclosed and laid
out for public walks; so that the summit of the stately rock is now
approachable with great ease and enjoyment. The approach is reached
by crossing the railway bridge, turning to the left, and then passing
under the line on the right, when the Entrance Lodge will be seen
to the left of the roadway.
Before leaving Matlock, however, we must not omit to mention, for
the information of inquiring archaeologists, who are desirous of tracing
the footsteps of the ancient invaders of Britain, that some vestiges
of their settlements have been found in this locality.
A Roman pig of lead, 17½ inches long, and 20½ at bottom,
weighing 173 pounds, was found on Matlock Moor , in the year 1787.
The following. inscription appears in raised letters on the top :
TI. CL, TR. LVT. BR. EX. ARG.
Another, weighing 126 pounds, was found on Cromford Moor, near
Matlock, in the year 1777, having the following inscription in
raised letters on the top :
IMP. CAES. HADRIANJ. AUG. MET. LVT.
A third was found near Matlock in 1783, weighing 84 pounds, 19 inches
long at the top, and 22 at the top, and four and a half at the bottom,
inscribed thus :
L. ARVCONI. VERCVND. MEAL. LVTVD.
Various erroneous conjectures have been formed respecting some parts
of these inscriptions, especially the LVT., which have arisen from
their having been inaccurately copied. In the third inscription this
occurs more at length, LVTVD, and is unquestionably a contraction
of Lutudarum, the Roman station mentioned in Ravennas next
ventione, and which there is great reason to suppose was the present
town of Chesterfield. This last-mentioned example of Roman antiquity
was presented by Mrs. Adam Wolley to the British Museum, where that
found on Cromford Moor is also deposited.
Resuming our railway route, we pass from Matlock-Bath Station, through
the High Tor Tunnel, cut in the solid rock; emerging from which, the
scenery is exceedingly pretty and diversified, although cut up, as
it were, by natural effects, into a series of miniature landscapes.