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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
Panorama of Matlock
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pp. 41-51



IT is from this mine the famed Derbyshire Spar has been produced. This Gem of Nature is found here only. The beautiful vases made from this substance quite out-rival any production of the ancients : it is absolutely incomparable; and although common in our own land, yet it has been sold in foreign countries at enormous prices. For illustrative specimens of the beauty of this Gem, the reader is referred to the vases, &c. at Mr. Needham's shop at Castleton, or to the Museum at Matlock; also to Mr. Hall's Repository at Buxton.

Here, ranging through her vaulted ways,
On Nature's alchymy you gaze;
See how she forms the Gem, the Ore.
And all her magazines explore.

ON the eastern side of the range of mountains which bound Castleton, is EDALE, which is celebrated for its cool temperature. There are a few houses prettily dispersed, which will afford work for the artist. And farther, across another ridge, is the valley of the Woodlands.


THROUGH this valley a post road has been lately cut, leading from Sheffield to Glossop and Manchester. Two small streams uniting here give name to the Derwent ; which at Malham-bridge is increased by two others flowing into it.

FROM this place to Buxton there are three or four roads, all of them romantic; as, through the cave, where a Basaltic Column makes its appearance; or up the mountain called CAWLER, or the WINNATS*, abounding in rock scenery, projecting and receding, along a path up a steep eminence: the new road leads over the ODIN mine, and at the foot of the celebrated wonder of the Peak, MAM TOR, or the Shivering Mountain.

PROCEEDING along this road, in a direct line, you would arrive at the ancient village, called CHAPEL EN LE

[footnote on page 42]
At the opening of the road that bears this name, is situated the Speedwell mine.

FRITH, and thence at WHALEY BRIDGE, on the way to Manchester; but, about four miles from Castleton, it branches to the left at Barmoorclough, in the immediate ; neighbourhood of-


Celebrated for its delightful scenery. Chee Tor is a perpendicular limestone rock, perhaps a hundred yards high, situated in a deep ravine, the Wye running rapidly at its base. It is singular and picturesque. Near it is a stratum of toad-stone of great extent,


A market town, is about seven miles distant from Buxton, and eight from Castleton. It is not of much note; formerly it was inhabited by miners. Tideswell Moor, and the neighbouring country, abound in old unworked mines. A good church is the greatest ornament of this place. From thence to -


A small, but very pleasant village; the scenery is extremely picturesque. It is well worth visiting: the trees are peculiarly beautiful; and I recommend the stranger to examine an old cross, which he will easily find in the town.

FROM Tideswell, through Monk's Dale to Wormhill, a new road has been made to Chee Tor, Miller Dale, &c. crossing the Wye, and skirting a place called DIAMOND HILL. You pass through Blackwell Dale, and join the Buxton road about a mile from the village of Taddington. On the route we enjoyed the finest scenery imaginable; though confined, it was rich and delightful.

THE views in Chee Dale are highly impressive. The rocks on the right, (says Mr. Rhodes), form a neat crescent, fringed with trees, which happily combine with the general scenery of which it constitutes so beautiful a feature.

FROM Chee Dale to Blackwell Mill, and finally to Toplif Pike, over which is the new road to Buxton, passing Lovers Leap, along the stream of the Wye to Buxton, the scenery is rich and diversified; near the latter place the Wye derives its source from a crystalline spring. On account of the precipitous rocks, it is possible to follow the course of this river all the way; but in the parts that are accessible, it affords great scope for the pencil.


IN this vicinity also is Elden Hole, a vast deep chasm in the limestone, walled round to prevent accidents, but shewn to visitors.


A CURIOUS object attracts attention here, in that singular phenomenon the Ebbing and Flowing Well. I believe it to be unique, as I have never read or heard of the existence of any other. Strange to say, a natural curiosity, which in many places might prove the source of an ample fortune, is here totally disregarded. The traveller will not regret having gone to see it, even at any moderate sacrifice, but he should remember to choose his opportunity in rainy weather: it then ebbs and flows three or four times in an hour, and generally ten times a-day ; but in very dry weather, no calculation can be made on the recurrence of the phenomenon.- Imagine a sort of shallow pit with stones placed for troughs, like a pool for cattle, lying quite dry, in an instant a rush of water bursts from almost every part, and continues to boil up for four or five minutes, filling the space to the depth of two or three feet, at which fullness the ebullition generally ceases, and the water subsides. You may have waited but a few minutes, when the wonder shall be suddenly repeated, and at intervals more or less short, according to the state of the weather.

THE reason which has been assigned for this anomaly in the laws that regulate water in springs, consists in the hypothesis of a natural syphon and valve of stone in the interior of the earth, through which the water evolves when a sufficient quantity has been accumulated to lift the valve. I visited this place, as well as the Chee Tor, during my stay at Castleton, rather than take my chance of seeing the water flow during my journey to Buxton, fearing that the phenomenon might not occur while the chaise waited.


THE scenery all the way from Castleton over Peak Forest to Buxton is elevated, and particularly wild. The approach to Buxton is through the village of Fairfield, where the Buxton races are usually held, which hitherto have not made any great figure in the Racing Calendar. Having descended a steep hill, you cross the stream of the Wye, and enter the plain in which this celebrated watering place is situated.


Is famed for its hot springs and salubrious air, and has now become a town of considerable extent. Its beautiful crescent is the admiration of Visitants ; and the new walks recently formed by the noble proprietor, the Duke

[footnote on page 47]
In this forest is a railway and inclined plain to the canal, and from hence very great quantities of limestone are forwarded to Manchester and its populous neighbourhood.

of Devonshire, constitute a marked improvement in the place. Buxton is the resort of the great and the gay, the invalid and the healthy : its baths are too well known to require any description here; the accommodations are both comfortable and elegant, and may challenge comparison with those of any similar place in the kingdom.

THE rides are remarkably pleasant; and, in the summer months, a residence here is considered highly desirable, as conducing to the improvement of health, and ensuring the advantages of refined society. Coaches pass daily between Manchester and London, through this place, and other opportunities of communication are afforded to every part of the kingdom.

THE cavern called POOLE'S HOLE is situated in the immediate vicinity, and is shewn to strangers. Some old lime kilns, formed into tenements, are extremely curious.

ON our return from Buxton to the south, we took the Ashbourn road, and changed horses at Hurdlow House, from whence the road diverges; one branch leads to Ashbourn, leaving on the right the very interesting village of Hartington, which gives a second title to the Duke of Devonshire, and near which is the vast copper mine of Ecton, belonging to his Grace, and the villages of Haughton and Wetton, near the beautiful ravine of Dove Dale, before named; the other branch Ieads to the left; through Moneyash to Tansley, Ashford, and Bakewell.

IN terminating this general and rapid survey of Matlock and its Environs, I may be allowed to express a hope, that those who, by the perusal of it, shall be induced to visit them, may reap the same variety of delight which they afforded me, and return to their homes with renovated health and spirits. However prepossessed they may be in favour of other places of resort, I venture to anticipate, that they will pronounce this to be among the foremost in England for diversified scenery, uniting the beautiful, the picturesque, the romantic, and the sublime.

OF the medicinal qualities of the waters I shall not presume to offer an opinion; but even allowing to other fashionable places the superiority in this respect, I might enquire whether it be not a point of inferior consideration. Is it on the mineral spring, either as a bath or as a potation, that the invalid is taught to depend mainly for relief? Does not the Physician, in prescribing such remedies; calculate largely on the beneficial excitement produced by preparation for the journey; on change of scene; on change of air; on the suspension of domestic care and solicitude; on the buoyancy of spirits, produced by a continued succession of novelties; on the strength conferred by renewed habits of early rising, by daily excursions among hills, vales, rivers, rocks, and caverns, and by frequent exposure to the vicissitudes of weather; on the improved tone of the nerves, and the consequent invigoration of the corporeal and mental powers? Abstract these advantages, and what effect can be expected from the most regular use of the waters? Admit them, and leave the waters out of the question, in what degree will their general result be diminished?

BUT it is well known, that the majority of those persons who frequent watering places are not invalids, but rather votaries of Hygeia, who wish to improve their constitutions by occasional relaxation from ordinary pursuits, by travel, and by amusements rather active than sedentary.


IF exercise, then, be essentially conducive to health, that residence will be preferred which presents the most numerous and powerful motives for exercise: and, considering the beauty and salubrity of its site, as well as the attractions with which nature and art have enriched its vicinity, it would be difficult to name a place more entitled to such a distinction than this secluded retreat, on the romantic banks of the Derwent.


*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
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