To THE HIRST STONES, CAWDOR TORS, VILLAGE OF MATLOCK, RIBER HILL,
CASCADE, AND CROMFORD BRIDGE.
A SHORT but very pleasant ride may be taken from Matlock Bath
to the village of Matlock, returning over the hills by Cromford
Bridge, and by Scarthin Nick, in a circuit of about five miles.
This rout leads over Matlock Bridge, which is a short distance beyond
the church rocks: before passing over the bridge, the pedestrian will
be gratified by taking a short walk on a path by the river, where
he will presently come to some agreeable rock scenery, called Cawdor
Tors, that form a good subject for a sketch : the river comes in very
interestingly ; it breaks over a multiplicity of stones, above which
its unruffled surface receives the reflection of the surrounding objects.
From a broken foreground arise the rocks, which are agreeably cloathed
with trees. Verdant meadows extend a considerable depth into the scene,
and are hemmed in by lofty hills.
The church, from its very picturesque situation upon a rock, will
be much admired by those who delight in sketching from nature; and
do not draw, cannot otherwise than regard it as a very pleasing object
in the accompanying scenery, with which it combines well from several
points of view.
There are scenes that are interesting to the eye, yet are so little
adapted to pictorial representation, as to create no interest in a
sketch: on the other hand, whatever is pleasing in a sketch, however
simple the subject, will be found to preserve the same interest in
Matlock appears by Doomsday Book to have have been a hamlet of the
manor of Metesforde,* which belonged to the crown. It was afterwards
possessed by William de Ferrars, Earl of Derby; but on the attainder
of his son Robert, for espousing the cause of the Earl of Leicester,
it reverted to the crown, and Matlock then became a manor, which was
granted to Edmund of Lancaster, by Edward the First. It continued
a part of the Earldom and Duchy of Lancaster, until Charles the First
granted it to trustees for the mayor and citizens of London, who,
the year following, sold it to the copyholders of the manor of Matlock,
and it now remains divided into several small shares.
The church, which is dedicated to St.Giles, has a nave, with side
aisles, and a small tower at the west end, with crocketted pinnacles.
[footnote at the bottom of page 58]
*The situation is now unknown.
living is a rectory, and the dean of Lincoln the patron.
The eminence that rises to a great height above the village, is
called Riber Hill: on its summit are some singular stones, that
are supposed by antiquaries to have been a Druidical altar, or
a Cromlech. They are called the Hirst Stones, but do not now appear
to be known by that or any other name, as I made several enquiries
for them, but without effect. I therefore determined to ascend
the hill to search for this piece of antiquity, and struck into
a path by the side of a publick house; the sign was some great
man on horseback, but whom, I forget. The hill is very high, and
very steep; but the views kept improving in grandeur as I walked
up, which amply repaid me for every exertion to gain the summit,
from whence the view surpasses every thing of the kind I ever beheld.
The village of Matlock and the bridge are just underneath our feet,
and the Derwent is seen meandering through rich meadows that extend
far up the beautiful Darley Dale. Darley bridge, the church, and
the village, enliven the middle distance, and are backed by the
bold declivities of Stanton Moor, beyond which the high peak hills
melt into æther. Nearer at hand, the cultivated
eminences, dappled with cottages and trees, rise in fine sweeps,
and a stony foreground finishes the picture. The glowing effect
of a declining sun in this view beggars description.
"Day's radiant King, 'mid all refulgent glow.
Now sinks on Eve's enamoured bosom slow ;
Enthron'd in clouds majestic round him roll'd ;
While all the landscape melts in fluid gold :
Save where the purple shades, a misty train,
Steal in transparence o'er the mellow'd plain ;
Steal o'er retiring fields, o'er dark'ning woods,
O'er shadowy mountains, and o'er blushing floods.
A thin pellucid veil, while saffron spreads ;
And cloath'd in tints harmonious day recedes.
__________________ Yon stream that winds in haze.
Yon soft'ning distance catch the ethereal blaze ;
In vain shall imitative Art e'er dare
To snatch those glories of resplendent air."
Now here is the object of my search on the very summit of
the hill; this altar or cromlech consists of a large stone placed
upon three others, on the top of the upper one there is a hole
which it is said was the shaft of a column. I cannot think that
the three lower stones have been placed there by art; they appear
to me to be parts of the solid rock of the mountain which is gritstone;
and that the only work of art has been placing the upper stone.*
After amusing myself with surveying the different views from this
elevated station, and making a sketch, I began to descend ; when
turning my eye to the right across the valley, I discovered a cascade
pouring its sil-
[footnote at the bottom of page 60]
* A clump of trees will be seen from below on the top of Riber ; the
Hirst Stones are very near to them.
very waters down the rocks of a glen, is a region where dusky sterility
seems to hold all everlasting reign; not a tree, nor a patch of green
is seen, to cheer the gloom of the savage waste, yet several dwellings
are there. Curiosity induced me to visit this place, merely to ascertain
the motive human beings could have for fixing their abode on such
a forbidding spot: I found that great ruler of the actions of man,
interest, had prompted them to reside here; it cheers the gloom by
dispensing that part of happiness we may term worldly : the stream
being admirably calculated for turning over-shot wheels, several bleaching
mills are established upon it. The cascade makes a tolerable good
sketch; the rocks that it runs over are extremely rugged, and of a
brown grits tone ; but the want of verdure and trees renders the colouring
The turnpike road to Cromford passes on the back of the High Tor.
Near to a group of picturesque cottages is an interesting peep of
Matlock Bath, between the termination of those cliffs that are opposite
to the baths, and the commencement of those denominated the High Tor.
Afterwards, the eminences Burrey Edge and Stonnis, upon Cromford Moor,
become the most conspicuous objects, until we reach Cromford bridge;
the architecture of the sides is totally different. On the eastern
side the arches are pointed, on the western they are circular : this
widening the bridge, by adding one of circular arches close to that
with pointed ones.
Two artists happening to sketch different sides of this bridge, without
observing the opposite one, a dispute arose between them respecting
the form of the arches, the one insisting upon them being
circular, the other as positively affirming they were pointed: whereupon
each produced his sketch, to support his assertion, when each more
pertinaciously insisted upon being right. This is a lesson that might
teach disputing mortals not to be vehemently confident, lest like
these artists, whilst both might be right, so likewise both might
be wrong. A remarkable circumstance occured at this bridge a few years
ago: a boy being upon a spirited horse, the animal becoming restive,
leaped over the wall into the river, and although the height is considerable,
yet providentially neither the buy nor the horse received any injury
.The boy was playing at marbles in the village a few hours after the
accident, so that it would seem fright had not even operated much
upon his nerves.
EXCURSION [p.63, included only for description
of the Bank and Moor]
TO STAINEDGE, SLACK, KELTSEDGE, ASHOVER, EASTWOOD HALL, OVERTON HALL,
TURNING STONE, ROBIN HOOD'S MARK, AND GREGORY MINE.
THIS excursion will make a pleasant ride of about fifteen
miles. The road leads by Matlock bridge, and turns a little way
towards the village, then suddenly to the left, leading up Matlock
bank, by a number of very picturesque cottages. The road is steep,
and a bubbling stream hurries along by the side of it, the views
from this road are very interesting; the village and church of Matlock,
surrounded by lofty mountains, are peculiarly so; and we here readily
form a good idea of the comparative heights of the most considerable
eminences. Masson maintains a decided superiority of elevation;
Burrey Edge, on Cromford Moor, the next; and then Riber Cliff-house,
which, in the valley, seemed to occupy the summit of the hill upon
which it stands, from here is seen to be very far below it. This
deception arises from the point of sight being too near to the mountain,
which prevents the summit from being seen. We next come to a dreary
waste called the High Moor; one part of it, to the ...
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