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"Picturesque Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath"*
Eighteenth and nineteenth century tour guides about Matlock Bath and Matlock
 
by Henry Moore
pp.42-46 with etching of "The High Tor"

View opposite the Museum
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A few years ago a boy was let down the face of this rock by a rope, to a falcon's nest, and he succeeded in taking the young ones; this was certainly a very rash undertaking for a trifling reward.

The highest part of the Tor is 350 from the river that washes its base, which is skirted with trees: behind these the rock rises perpendicularly above their tops; then by a very steep declivity covered with underwood, afterwards a broad perpendicular weather-beaten face of bare rock rises about 180 feet in height * On the south the rock declines rather suddenly, and is very much broken ; northward it extends in a ridge, which seems to terminate in a bold promontory ; and the steep acclivity that is covered with underwood reaches, to the brink of the river. Instead of these varying cliffs terminating here, we find them still stretching up the dale: from this promontory they sweep in a gentle curve round a slip of meadow, richly attired with wood. Near some cottages will be observed a good view of the Tor, where the water comes in most happily; but from the hill above the cottages. a good distance may also be brought into the picture, and the bends of the river are likewise more ample, as well as the


[footnote at the bottom of page 42]
By the side of the road, opposite to the High Tor, a very curious kind of toad-stone will be seen.



The High Tor
Drawn and etched by H. Moore
This is opposite page 42 in his guide
[Etching opposite page 42 - note the fisherman with his rod]


magnificent rampart, which is seen obliquely, and brings the promontory into the view.

Cliff House, the residence of Richard Leacroft, Esq. is situated on the summit of the hill opposite to the High Tor, but is a very unpicturesque object. This immense ridge of diversified cliffs, declines towards the boat house, where a third ridge commences, which suddenly turns to the eastward : at the end of it is the village of Matlock. The church is in a most romantic situation upon the rock ; from this circumstance these are called the Church Rocks. They are richly fringed with foliage, and exhibit a curious curvilinear stratification. From this turn the view is very picturesque : the river accompanies the rocks half way towards the village, and then suddenly leaves them ; a part of the village also comes in weIl. Looking in a southern direction we have another very rich scene, well adapted for the pencil.

Here ends this charming dale, where they who are feelingly alive to the sweet influence of lovely scenery will most assuredly be gratified, by following the rout here pointed out. The roads being excellent, a great part of its beauties may be enjoyed by a ride, either on the horse, or in the carriage.

I now returned to the Bath by a rout that will prove too arduous an undertaking for ladies. Crossing the river here by the boat, I mounted the heights, keeping along the edge of the precipice, from which large trees shoot out in a very picturesque manner. A chink of great depth runs across a field from the face of the rock, but narrows so much that one may stride over it. As we approach nearer to the great rock, its appearance becomes wonderfully impressive : the river at a great depth is seen tumbling in silvery waves along its rocky channel, followed by the road. Masson, with its wild rocks, boldly rises on the right, and its massive shade balances the light of the High Tor, which occupies the left and fore-ground; whilst the eminences about the Bath and the Cromford Hills fill in the middle space with considerable interest, forming altogether a very singular, yet fine view.

Proceeding towards the highest point our progress is interrupted by a tremendous chasm ; however a little lower down the hill, a part of it is filled up with rubbish, where it may be crossed. The rock is rifted in several other places; hut they are narrow chinks that may be walked over. The miners have also burrowed into the rock in many places, where they obtain lead ore and calamine. I now approached the brink to peep over the precipice, when the words of Shakespear recurred to my mind,

----- How fearful
And dizzy 'tis to cast one's eye so low!
----- I'll look no more,
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.

The descent is now very steep, leading through tangled bushes. Coming to a miners' track, for the sake of novelty I followed its course, and was led along the base of the perpendicular part of these gigantic rocks, which is about half way between the summit and the river. Those scars and fissures that are seen from the road softened by distance, here become huge and terrific features. This path I traced to a mine just beyond the great face of the Tor, where lead ore and calamine are obtained. From hence I returned, and descended to the river, where I again followed another miner's track, by the brink of the river, and soon came to the miners' coes or huts, that are seen from the road : beyond these the path is very rough and stony ; however I pursued it a considerable way up the river to another mine. The only interest that arises from this track is in the variety of mineral substances that are to be met with upon it. The mines yield lead ore and calamine; and the path is strewed with carbonate of lime, fluate of lime, stalactite, several varieties of toadstone, limestone, &c. so that the minerologist might be amused with such a ramble; but here is nothing for the pencil. I had next to ascend the heights opposite to the Baths, and descend by the lovers' walks, which terminated this ramble.

Mr. Lipscomb, in his Description of Matlock Bath, says, " Matlock must be allowed to possess advantages superior to the generality of watering places. It has gaiety without dissipation, activity without noise, and facility of communication with other parts of the country, undisturbed by the bustle of a public road. It is tranquil without dullness, elegant without pomp, and splendid without extravagance. In it the man of fashion may at all times find amusement, the man of rank may meet with society by which he will not be disgraced, and the philosopher a source of infinite gratification ; while they who travel in search of health, will here find a silver clue that leads to her. abode." And we may also add, the artist may likewise here cull fine studies from nature's richest treasures.

Lunar rainbows may be reckoned among the curiosities of Matlock, as they have frequently been observed in the neighbourhood. Their colours are sometimes very distinctly seen, but they have a much lower tone than those which are produced by the solar rays.
[End of page 46]


*Transcribed by Ann Andrews in March 2004 from:
"Picturesque Excursions From Derby to Matlock Bath, and its Vicinity ; Being a Descriptive Guide to the Most Interesting Scenery and Curiosities in that Romantic District, With Observations Thereon", by Henry Moore (1818), published by H. Moore, Drawing Master; Printed by T. Wilkinson, Ridgefield, Manchester.
Reproduced here with the very kind permission and help of Jane Steer, whose book this is from.
OCRed and images scanned by Ann Andrews.