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The Panorama of Matlock, 1827*
Eighteenth and nineteenth century tour guides about Matlock Bath and Matlock

Tour of the Peak

Section of the frontispiece from the 3rd edition, 1828
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pp. 30-40


IN proceeding to make the Tour of the Peak, we will direct our course along the side of the Derwent, from Matlock bridge. The road, as we have already observed, leads to that magnificent chateau and truly noble residence, Chatsworth, and to Bakewell *.

[footnote on page 30]
*At Bakewell is an excellent inn, the great resort of anglers, who assemble there in June, to pursue their favourite amusement.


HAVlNG advanced two short miles, we arrive at the beautiful village of Ashford. The road extends along the bottom of a valley, through which meanders a fine stream of water. On descending into Ashford, one of the principal objects that engage the attention is the residence of W. Ashby, Esq.

THE village has an excellent inn, and the fine trout of the Wye attract many visitors to it, especially the votaries of the rod and line, who honour the memory of old Isaak, as they familiarly call him. The Duke of Devonshire has a retired seat here, called the Rookery, situated among lofty trees, and screened from the vulgar gaze.

IN a romantic situation adjoining are the marble mills belonging to his Grace; and in the possession of Mr. Brown of Derby. Here the huge block is sawn by machinery impelled by the waters of the stream, and wrought into chimney-pieces, or cut into slabs for an infinite variety of purposes.

THE black marble, so much esteemed, is found here; and the curious will be much interested in traversing the vast excavations from whence it has been procured.

A MARBLE of equally good quality, belonging to the Duke of Rutland, is worked at Bakewell, the stratum from which it is excavated being on the summit of the lofty mountain above the town. In the vicinity are also various quarries of the entrochi or grey marble.

AT Ashford the road divides; and the traveller may direct his course to Chesterfield and Castleton, or to Middleton, Eyam, Foolow, Hope, or through Taddington to Buxton.


Is six miles from Castleton, and one from Foolow. Its vicinity was formerly a great mining district.

IN the church-yard stands a beautiful ancient cross.-
The tragic scene that occurred here during the plague is still commemorated by tradition, and has frequently been detailed by historians. The benevolent and humane conduct of the worthy clergyman entitles him to be re vered as a true Samaritan. A cave in the neighbourhood is shewn, in which Mr. Mompesson assembled his congregation: here it may be said that the scourge of pestilence was stayed. Eyam and Middleton are contiguous villages; or, at least, the distance between them is within a mile, At the time the mines were worked, they were very populous. Near Foolow is an excellent marble quarry.

IN the mines in this neighbourhood were found the finest calcareous crystallisations, which now adorn the principal collections in Europe. At Eyam resides Mr. Bird, who has cultivated mineralogy, and possesses a well stored cabinet, scientifically arranged. The neighbouring scenery is of a varied character, and affords ample scope to the artist.

TAKING the road up the mountain range from Ashford, and ascending about three miles through fertile fields, you arrive suddenly at an isolated public house, seated on an eminence. Immediately below is the enchanting ravine called Monsal Dale.


DIFFICULT as this unique spot is to approach, you find it still more difficult to abandon. At the first view I was for a time deprived of utterance, my eyes were fascinated, my whole soul, as it were, spell-bound and enchained to the spot. Even the language of poetry, however impassioned, is too weak to describe the emotions which the scene inspired.

DEPARTING from hence, and traversing a wild mountain, we arrived at the village of Wardlow Miers, and took the high road leading to Sheffield, turned to the left through the village of Foolow, and advanced, by a road leading over bleak mountain scenery, to Castleton, where we remained some days. Thence we migrated to Tideswell, Eyam, and Middleton; at each of which places, especially at


Were many features of the grand and picturesque. In this ravine, the rocks appear to have been, in an early age, united, and to have been separated by a violent disrupture, the projecting fragments on one side seeming to correspond with the hollows on the other, and to form teeth, as it were, in the jaws of this Ravine. It is about six miles from Castleton.

THE neighbourhood was formerly celebrated for mines, which are now no longer worked. To describe its natural scenery would be impossible-the pencil of a Salvator, a Claude, or a Wilson, might possibly combine the bleak and the beautiful, the sublime and the blooming, the rugged wild and the rich woodland; but words alone cannot convey a distinct idea of the pictures which Nature here unfolds to the eye, and which have been so well commemorated in the engravings from Chantry's views.

RETURNING to Castleton, we pass through tile village of Hope, and pause to view the architecture of its antique church. About three miles farther south is another village, called Hathersage, situated at the foot of a lofty grit-stone mountain, over which is the road to Sheffield, distant sixteen miles from


THIS village is perhaps better known that any other within a considerable distance from Matlock, being situated at the mouth of that vast cavern called PEAK HOLE denominated in ancient times Arx Diaboli.

CASTLETON is delightfully situated in a highly cultivated valley, surrounded by mountains; from whence, approach it, in whatever direction you will, the eye, on resting upon it, feels something of that delight which revives the exhausted traveller on approaching a green and shady Oasis in the desert. This village, during the season, is daily frequented by visitors from Buxton, the objects of attraction being-

The Grand Cavern; or, Peak's Hole.
The famed Mam Tor; or, Shivering Mountain.
The Speedwell Mine. The Fluor Spar Mine.
The Odin Mine.
The Castle and the Cave at the back of the Castle.
A Salt-water spring.
And a Cavern at Bradwell, called Bagshaw's Cavern.

AT the inn, which is kept by Mrs. Wragg, visitors will find good beds, a good larder, excellent wines, a careful ostler, and post horses.

DURING a stay of five days here, I visited all the places above enumerated, and had great reason to remember the civilities of Mr. Needham, of the Spar Shop opposite the inn, who furnished me with guides, and directed me to the most interesting objects.


THE Peak Cavern is situated in a most singular ravine in a limestone mountain, by which one end of it is closed. The cavern, on its first aspect, appears as a natural arch at least forty yards wide, and near it is the stupendous rock on which the castle stands. These rocks are about a hundred yards perpendicular, from the lowest part to their summits, and strike the mind of a stranger with awe. A fine spring flows from their base, and in heavy rains a torrent rushes out of the cavern not unlike those which occur in the Alps, sweeping away everything opposed to its course. A manufactory of twine is carried on in the first compartment of the cavern; the air being generally of uniform temperature, is found to be peculiarly advantageous for the spinning of thread.

A regular guide receives you at the inn, and conducts you through the cavern. Soon after leaving daylight, you enter a small boat, and are ferried across a shallow water, scarcely twenty yards in breadth, the guide wading beside the boat, and pushing it along. On landing, you arrive at a fine opening, called the Grand Saloon, from whence you proceed through fine cavern scenery, and, after traversing six or seven hundred yards, arrive at the extremity. Various parts bear peculiar names, which the guide explains. Mr. Needham sells a descriptive little work on Castleton, which will be highly gratifying to the purchaser.


IS situated three short miles from Castleton. It is very well worth visiting, and I had reason to rejoice in having been recommended to se it by Mr. Needham, who obligingly accompanied me. The cavern being difficult of access, it is requisite to put on a miner's dress. t is full of stalactites of various dimensions, many of which are distorted; it will also in other respects amply gratify the curiosity of the visitor. It is well described in Rhodes's Peak Scenery.



THE most conspicuous objects in the scenery around Castleton are Mam Tor, and the ancient Castle or castellated building on the summit of the hill, on the base of which the village is situated.
MAM TOR is the highest mountain of the range. One part appears to have slipped and separated from the other, leaving a perpendicular face. Its texture being grit alternating with shale, it becomes friable and loose. These particles fall daily, in greater or smaller quantities, according to the state of the atmosphere, producing the effect which gives name to the mountain. At its base is situated the


THIS is what miners usually term a rake or perpendicular vein, of great extent. It was first discovered in the shale, and was worked by the Saxons: there is also great reason to believe, that it was known in the time when the Romans held dominion in this country. The Odin mine is easy of access, and well deserves attention: it has produced a great quantity of lead ore, and many of the finest calcareous crystallizations.

NEAR this place is the celebrated Fluor Spar mine, which has produced the most beautiful gems in the mineral kingdom.

[page 41 continues]

*Transcribed by Ann Andrews in March 2004 from:
"The Panorama of Matlock and Its Environs; With the Tour of the Peak", by H. Barker, Esq. (1827), published by Longman & Co., London. From the copy held at Derby Local Studies Library (ref DLSL 143) and published here with the librarian's very kind permission.
Also very grateful thanks to Jane Steer for generously providing copies and all her help and interest.

The following may be of interest:

In another part of the site:
Picture Gallery : Derbyshire - Castleton, Peak Cavern, 1811 - 1926. Extract from an 1811 history of Derbyshire, with some later comments and 4 images.
Derbyshire's Parishes, 1811, Parishes C, has much more about the village of Castleton.

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