The walk up the steep eminence called the Heights of Abraham,* is
carried in a zigzag direction, and is shaded by a thick plantation.
[footnote at the bottom of page 36]
* So called from the resemblance it is said to bear to a hill, near
Quebec, of that name, where the gallant General Wolfe lost his life
in the career of victory.
rendered uncommonly interesting from the line views that occur at
various turns and openings, which include all the remarkable eminences
in the neighbourhood, with a charmingly varied distance, extending
The height of Masson top, as taken by the barometer, is 833 feet.
The Heights of Abraham 516 feet, and the Alcove 382 feet above the
The entrance to this walk is at the Hotel Bath, which is situated
near the main road, a little beyond the houses, where the waters may
at all times be taken at a very neat fountain, that has been lately
erected by Samuel Richardson, Esq. Who has liberally laid it open
to the public. From the fountain we ascend through a very neat shrubbery,
which has lately been laid out by Mr. Joseph Wilson, of Derby, in
a very tasteful manner, and then enter the plantation. Mr. Gilbert's
residence will be noticed for its neatness, simplicity of design,
and singular situation. At the eastern angle is a round tower, which
with two receding quadrangular parts embattled, produce a variation
of line as well as of shadow, which renders it a picturesque villa.
From the Alcove the view is grand, but at a still higher point much
wider scope is taken in : even the High Tor appears much diminished
under the eye. If the efforts made in ascending these heights should
prove tiresome, the descent, requiring no
exertion, will be found extremely pleasant.* Bearing a little to the
west is the Rutland Cavern, one or the most singular curiosities in
nature. It is entered by a subterraneous passage, cut through a solid
rock of limestone, which leads into a very capacious vault, called Ossian's Hall, where a lighted torch is drawn up by the means
of a pulley, to exhibit the great extent of the opening. By standing
in such situations, where the light that is drawn up can be concealed
from the eye, the effect it produces will be found uncommonly impressive;
and such as the sportive imagination of a romance writer would enjoy
with delight: he would perhaps discover the harp of Ossian, the shield
of Trenmor, and the spar of Fingal, hanging upon the walls; and probably
the ghost of the bard himself issuing from a gloomy recess.
Several passages branch off here, leading to other grand caverns;
one called the Hall of Enchantment, is peculiarly so, where a torch
is also drawn up, in the manner and for the same purpose, as in Ossian's
Hall. Another, named the Lion's Den, is curious on account of a very
faint glimpse of day-light appearing at an immense
[footnote at the bottom of page 38]
* For the purpose of keeping this walk select and retired, the proprietor
found it necessary that a trifle should be taken for admission, at
a place called the Round House, upon the heights.
height, conveying the idea of being something supernatural. A flight
of one hundred steps lead to other vaults and galleries; particularly
the gloomy cave of black stone, and the romantic bridge.
It is impossible, to compress a description of all the grand subterranean
scenes that are to be met with here, into a small publication of this
kind : there are even many that the visitor cannot at present explore.
The path in the extensive part that is now shewn is very good ; and
the proprietor keeps men continually at work, in making roads to various
stupendous vaults, expending considerable sums for that purpose. It
is worthy of remark, that we do not in this subterranean ramble meet
with monotonous scenery ; for, on the contrary, it is beyond the power
of imagination to depict such a diversity of rocks as are to be seen
in these recesses ; possessing such wildness as could only result
from some terrible convulsion of nature. A fine current of pure air
circulates through this cavern, which kept it free from those damps
that generally render such kind of places more or less unpleasant.
This air finds its way down the shaft of an old mine near the summit
of the mountain, which (penetrating the cavern) is the cause of the
faint glimmering of daylight before mentioned.
The mineralogist and geologist will derive high gratification from
the facility that is here
afforded for examining veins of ore, and a great variety of minerals,
as they lie imbedded in the limestone, which abounds with natural
grottos, beautifully beset with shilling crystals and various ores.
" The labyrinths that lead to the natural recesses of the cavern
are lined by an infinite variety of brilliant crystallizations, of
the fluate of lime, carbonate of lime, a great variety of combinations
with the ores of zinc, lead, and copper, iron pyrites, the sulphurets,
&c. &c. A rare and unique specimen of the carbonate of zinc,
obtained from this cavern, is given in a plate in Mr. Sowerby's English
Mineralogy ."* It is of a most brilliant green colour, and is
also peculiar to this cavern.
The appearance of daylight, after putting out the candles, in the
passage, is very extraordinary. Although it may be a bright day in
summer, yet the face of the country appears as if covered with snow;
perhaps this may arise from the yellow lights of the candles being
imbibed and also retained by the retina of the eye, so that contrast
may be said to produce this appearance. That it is not caused by an
unusual extension of the pupil, is proved by the eye easily bearing
A little further towards the west is a prospect tower; at a considerable
elevation on the hill above
[footnote at the bottom of page 40]
*Monthly Magazine for September, 1817, page 134.
[Etching opposite page 41]
it, bearing to the west, I found a good station for an extensive prospect,
of which I give an etching, to shew the kind of views that are to
be obtained from elevated situations in this neighbourhood.
Following the dale, we see the vast eastern rampart before noticed,
declining into soft inclosures ; then another immediately rises on
the sight; and now the High Tor appears, like a vast promontory, impending
over the stream. The river sweeps round a mining peninsula, and then
tumbles over large fragments of limestone, that have fallen from the
adjoining cliffs. On the left a vast ridge of uncouth rugged rocks,
runs from the road to the summit of Masson; other large crag's also
appear on different parts of the mountain. The hand of cultivation
has lately made some efforts towards softening the lesser asperities
of this part of the mountain.
Advancing to the front of the High Tor we are amazed at its awful
appearance, and a degree of terror thrills the nerves. Who can look
on that frowning veteran of the dale without feeling some appalling
sensations ! Those who can contemplate such an object unmoved, may
boast a firmness of nerve; but they feel not the dreadful pleasure
that such scenes inspire.
It is the awe of the Allwise Creator of the universe, at whose word
these mighty mountains with dreadful crash were rent asunder, that
caches us through the medium of his works.
[End of page 41]