Satanic Mills in Arcadia

The home of Thomas Moore, friend and biographer of Lord Byron

“The River Wye guides our footsteps, through the vibrant market town of Bakewell, to Monsal Dale eulogised by many as the mythical Arcadia. Two man-made edifices contribute to the overall drama of the dale.”

Haddon to Hassop through Bakewell & Monsal Dale : Circular Walk - Map and Directions : Google Earth Tour for this Walk

The writers on the Satanic Mills in Arcadia route:

John Holland – Celia Fiennes – White Watson – Jane Austen – Francis Hodgson – William Gisborne – Erasmus Darwin - John Howe – John Ruskin – William Newton – Mary Sterndale – Fanny Trollope – John Rayner Stephens – William Howitt

With short abridged extracts from The Literary Way, written by Terry Goble and published by The Creative Peak

The River Wye

The satantic mills in William Blake’s emotive poem, Jerusalem, conjure up foreboding images of cruelty, the lack of hope and dark deeds. Mills were at the centre of the industrial process during the nineteenth century. The other great commercial push were the railways, which snaked their ways across the nation. We’re at the heart of the National Park, and one section on this walk, being described as the mythical Arcadia or pastoral paradise. We are going to let the literary contributions of this chapter describe the juxtapositioning of evocative scenery and some nineteenth century controversies.

It wasn’t easy travelling across the country in the later 1600s, but one intrepid lady made a tour with just a single servant. We are going to have her description from that time. On this walk we are joined again by Lord Byron, whose friend became a vicar in a parish on our route, and he attempted to save his Lordship’s marriage. The spa baths in our market town provide us with their superintendent who, was not only one of the earliest geologists, but also developed a business around it. In a quaint village, not far away, we meet the geologist’s uncle, whose works stimulated a poem by a local candle maker. The rocks theme continues, with a poem by our Literary Way friend, Erasmus Darwin, on a discovery that helped Josiah Wedgwood.

A much quoted location for one of the most well-known books in English literature is on our route, although there is scepticism from many scholars as to whether the town was the location that has been ascribed to it. A famous pudding emanates from the hotel where this lady stayed. Also the hotel has a strange poem carved into a stone in its fabric. Within the same small town there is an interesting old house that has a clear connection with the antipodes. Our chapter closes with a short story commissioned by one of the most famous names of Victorian literature.

On The Literary Way we left Haddon Hall, which is a little less than two miles from Bakewell, and took the riverside path. It is the opposite direction to which John Holland walked in 1823. He was from Sheffield and, with three friends, was walking towards Haddon. His poem, which take its name from the house, has a description of the walk included in the first part. Let’s see if we gained the same view along the banks of the Wye:
O what a lovely river is the Wye!
Curving and glittering through the emerald meadows,
While the blue heavens are mirrored in its bosom,
And when bright inverted summer sun-bright
Seems pillowed there in his meridian glory;
Haddon Hall
– John Holland

After we left Haddon we gradually came into wide open parkland, the flood plain of the river, and finally came towards the town itself. Bakewell is an old small town, just too large for a village, but it has a compact feel to it. One feature of its long history has been its relationship with the River Wye that flows through it. This relationship can be seen at different periods by the three bridges that cross it. The bridges are almost exactly evenly spaced in time, that is about three hundred and fifty years apart. At the end of the meadows we pass the agricultural market and cross the new bridge, built at the end of the twentieth century, over the River Wye. We have a really good view of Bakewell’s oldest bridge, which is further up-stream. We turn along the river path and walk towards the old bridge. It is almost seven hundred years old and, whilst modified to some extent, it has been at the core of Bakewell for a very long time, and so it is likely that our next writer crossed this same bridge.

Side Saddle

Let us introduce our quite intriguing traveller. She is Celia Fiennes, who was born in Wiltshire in 1662. She made many tours throughout different parts of England and often travelled only with her servant. She took pride in being able to stoically endure the difficulties presented by a women travelling virtually alone. She never intended publishing her travelogues as she considered them for family reading only. In the succeeding centuries, the works were drawn together in a volume called, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary. We can see from the period of her travels, it was not long after the Restoration, so she was in the same period as William Congreve, Daniel Defoe and John Gratton. True to the time, her father had been a Roundhead Colonel in the English Civil War. She offers an intriguing view of the places and houses she visited. This is what she had to say about Bakewell,

Thence we came to Bankwell(Bakewell) a pretty neate market town, it stands on a hill yet you descend a vast hill to it, which you would think impossible to go down and we was forced to fetch a great compass, and by reason of its steepness and hazard of the Wayes, if you take a wrong way there is no passing - you are forced to have guides as in all parts of Darbyshire, and unless it be a few who are use to be guides the common people know not above two or three miles from their home, but they of the country will climbe up and down with their horses those steep precipices; there are many fine springs of water purling out of the rocks these hills.
Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary
- Celia Fiennes

The centre of Bakewell has changed considerably since Celia’s time with the current layout of Rutland Square and the hotel being completed in the nineteenth century. The town is built on a slight rise at the side of the valley. Let’s turn down the main street and after the shops on our right are the town’s gardens. As we stroll around them, which is always pleasant at any time of the year. At the far end, we reach the bath house. It was built when spa waters were in vogue, although, given the water here was very tepid, it did not catch on as well as rival towns such as Buxton and Matlock Bath. Our interest lies in a man, who was superintendent of these baths for many years.

Superintendent of the Baths

Although not a native of Bakewell, one man who lived here for many years was a geologist named White Watson. His uncle developed, what was to become the famous black marble near Ashford-in-the Water, which is only a few miles up stream from Bakewell. This is where White probably got his enthusiasm for rocks. White Watson combined his interest in geology, with being the Superintendent of the Baths. Because of his knowledge of rocks he also became a monumental mason. He was born near Sheffield in 1760 and lived until he was 75.

Geology was very much in its infancy at the time White Watson began his studies. For example, Charles Lyell, who is often credited with the foundation of systematic geology was born thirty-five years after White. White only published a few works, but these were taken up by subscription by most of the eminent people of Derbyshire at the time. One innovative method he used was to create a model of the landscape. A typical example of his is from Buxton to Bolsover, which is a distance of about thirty-eight miles. He would collect samples from rock strata along the line and construct them into a framed model.

A Delineation of the Strata of Derbyshire by White Watson is not easy reading and one suspects the gentry bought the book for their libraries. White Watson’s name lives on, as it was accorded to a fossil found in the rocks of the Peak. The fossil is a trilobite, now extinct for millions of years, called Griffithides whitewatsoni. There is an interesting comment made by White in the introduction to his book. It appeared he had been duped by a fellow geologist. They had planned to jointly publish some work based around White’s specimens, but when it came to the public’s attention ‘Mr Martin’ had removed practically all references to White.


If we make our way out of the gardens then we will come to the hotel that is on the roundabout. It is the Rutland Arms. It has become well known, because it is claimed that Jane Austen stayed here when writing Pride and Prejudice. Whether the market town of Lambton, in the novel, is based on Bakewell is often disputed. However, with the close proximity of Chatsworth, which serves its worth as Pemberly, the home of Mr Darcy, it is easy to see the links. In the novel, Elizabeth is accompanying Mr and Mrs Gardiner for a holiday in Derbyshire, where Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy, is situated. Let suppose for a moment that Jane Austen did envisage Bakewell as Lambton, and we’ll let her take up the story.

It is nor the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire, nor any of the remarkable places through which their route thither lay; Oxford, Blenheim, Warwick, Kenilworth, Birmingham etc, are sufficiently known. A small part of Derbyshire is all the present concern. To the little town of Lambton, the scene of Mrs Gardiner’s former residence, and where she had lately learned that some acquaintance still remained, they bent their steps, after having seen all the principal wonders of the country; and within five miles of Lambton, Elizabeth found from her aunt that Pemberley was situated. It was not in their direct road nor more that a mile or two out of it.
Pride and Prejudice
- Jane Austen

Hotel Poem

We will not leave The Rutland Arms Hotel for the moment as it has two interesting features. It is claimed to be the home of the famous Bakewell Pudding that was created by a mishap in the kitchen, and it has a poem engraved on its brickwork:
Here’s to one who took his chances
In a busy world of men
Battled luck and circumstances
Fought and fell and fought again
Won sometimes but did not crowing
Lost sometimes but did not wail
Took his beating and kept going
Never let his courage fail

He was fallible and human
Therefore loved and understood
Both his fellow men and women
Whether good or not so good
Kept his spirit undiminished
Never let down on a friend
Played the game till it was finished
Lived a sportsman to the end

Rutland Hotel

This poem seems to have had many forms and these two verses are often the last of four. The words are slightly changed in the some versions, when the last line does not refer to a sportsman, but just uses the reference to man. There are many ideas to where it might have originated, but there is no clear indication of an author. It’s quite intriguing as to how it came to be on the wall of the hotel.

The Bakewell Parish Church dedicated to All Saints stands proudly on the hill overlooking the main part of the town which nestles in the valley. And we now have the climb up to the church, which was partially rebuilt in the nineteenth centuys with a few stoneworks appearing at the Lomberdale House of our antiquarian, Thomas Bateman, who we met on The Literary Way.

Poet, Critic, Friend and Teacher

In 1816 a new vicar was appointed to the parish of Bakewell. The living was the gift of the Lord of the Manor, the Duke of Rutland. Francis Hodgson was thirty-five years old when he was appointed to Bakewell. He had been educated at Eton, a school to which he would return, after his period in Derbyshire, as the Provost. At Cambridge he met, and became very good friends with Lord Byron. After his death he had extensive correspondence with Thomas Moore, who wrote Byron's biography. During the first years in the town he attended principally to religious matters and so wrote very little. Before we relate a letter from Byron’s wife to Francis, let’s put Lord Byron’s wife into context.

Lord Byron married Anne Milbanke when he was twenty-seven, but by this time he already had a considerable past. He had tempestuous affair, which lasted for a few months, with a married woman, Caroline Lamb. This will grip our attention at Chatsworth, as it has many connections with the famous house and its inhabitants. He was heavily in debt, had frequent severe swings of mood, as well as a number of casual sexual encounters. And there was an even more damming social rumour that was spreading at the time. Lord Byron had not been brought up with his half-sister Augusta Leigh, and they only met as adults. They spent a lot of time together and then Augusta became pregnant. Despite a lot of Byron’s documents being destroyed, many historians do believe that he fathered Augusta’s child, Elizabeth Medora. It was soon after this that Byron courted and eventually married Anne.

It wasn’t to be a happy marriage and it only lasted a year before she left him taking the baby from the marriage with her. There was antagonisms between the two and its is doubtful whether Anne every got over the marriage although, ironically, she did have a on-off friendship with his half-sister Augusta Leigh. The baby from the marriage was called Augusta Ada. She never met her father, who died when she was nine, but in adult life became very fond of him and was buried with him at Newstead Abbey. Anne was a very gifted lady and, when young, had a tutor who developed her talents. Unusually for her time, she took a firm interest, and developed her skills, in mathematics. That interest and capability passed to her daughter, who was known as Ada. She worked with Charles Babbage, who invented the first mechanical computer, and in doing so, it is claimed she became the first computer programmer, although it does seem that her overall contribution was quite small. However, the major computer language, Ada, was named after her.

Frances wrote to Lady Byron in an attempt to stem the breakdown of their marriage. She accepted his intentions were for the best but she never returned to Byron.

Before moving to Bakewell, Francis had produced a number of small publications, including a translation from Latin of The Satires of Juvenal, and Lady Jane Grey - A Tale, with miscellaneous poems in English and Latin. In 1818 he produced his longest work entitled Friends. It comprised of four volumes and is set in both Wales and Canada. After 1818 his main publications were of a religious or educational nature, although he did produce many reviews of literature. The church is set on the hill overlooking Bakewell. It is a steep incline, as we find out when we walk down the road after visiting the church. We turn left along the Buxton road, and go past the old mill. Shortly on our right is a footpath over the old packhorse bridge, which is our third bridge of Bakewell and was probably built away from the town centre to as to avoid the tolls.

Gisborne, New Zealand

As we cross the bridge we catch a glimpse of a fine old Jacobean building, Holme Hall. It was built in 1622 by Bernard Wells whose daughter, Mary, married into the local Derbyshire family, the Bradshaws. This must have made an interesting life for her, as her brother-in-law, John Bradshaw, was the President of High Court of Justice for the trial of Charles I. It was his judgment, which resulted in the execution of the King. The house, in the mid seventeenth century, moved into the Eyre family ownership, where it stayed for one hundred and fifty years before being bought by Thomas Gisborne.

It is his third son, William, who would eventually inherit the house, who interests us. He was born in 1825 and at the age of seventeen he emigrated to Australia and, after a few years, he moved on to New Zealand, which is where he made his mark. His career started in the civil service, but then he moved into politics. The town of Gisborne, in north-east New Zealand, is named after him. In later life, he returned to England and after he re-settled in the country he wrote a book entitled, New Zealand, Rulers and Statesman, 1840-1885.

Circling Chertz Betwixt

Directly behind Holme Hall the land is rich with an unusual rock type, which surprisingly gave rise to a short poem. Chert is a micro-crystalline rock, one variety of which is called flint. In the land near Holme Hall there are some rich beds of the rock, which often only occurs in a thin and fragmented way. The mineral rights were shared by the owners of Holme Hall, and the adjacent land, which belonged to the Duke of Devonshire.

Josiah Wedgwood was forever working on ways to improve his pottery. He discovered that chert made the best grinding tool for the production of the clay. Therefore, he sought the best and most workable deposits in the UK, which were found in mines behind and adjacent to Holme Hall. As we have already learned Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood were good friends. Erasmus included a few lines in The Botanic Garden about chert.

There is a row of cottages close to the pack-horse bridge and near Holme Hall, the end one of which, has a plaque denoting that Richard Arkwright lived there. Richard was the son of Sir Richard, the founder of the Cromford Mills. Lumford Mill Cottages were built for the Arkwright mill a little further upstream. It was a mill that Richard, junior, kept in the family after selling many of those that his father founded. We then have a pleasant walk along the Wye to the very scenic village of Ashford-in-the-Water.

William Wordsworth entered the same village on 5th November 1830, this is how he described it in his diary

A solitary equestrian entering the romantic little town of Ashford in the Waters, on the edge of the wolds of Derbyshire, at the close of day, when guns were beginning to be let off and squibs to be fired on every side.
Diary - William Wordsworth

Black Marble

This quiet village has benefited from the diversion of the main road away from the centre. The former coaching inn, the Ashford Arms, leads us towards Greaves Lane. Candle Cottage was built on the site of an old candle making factory, which was a thriving industry before gas lighting. Our attention here lays with a young man, who was an apprentice tallow maker. He also became the local poet. His name was John Howe. An article on John and his poetry was written for Llewellyn Jewitt’s The Reliquary by Thomas Brushfield, who was a local Justice of the Peace and a friend of Llewellyn and Thomas Bateman. John clearly studied well because, in a letter to his daughter who was in service in Manchester, he writes about poets who have lived in straightened circumstances and often died in poverty. The list, including Greek, Roman, as well as British poets.

Let’s rejoin the old main road through the village and we go towards the church and then come to one of the most photographed scenes in Derbyshire. It has appeared in countless books and calendars, and it is the old sheepwash bridge over the River Wye. After crossing the bridge, and taking the main road to Buxton for a few yards, our route goes up the lane to the left and then on to a footpath on the right, which will take us through Great Shacklow Wood.

Just near where we take the footpath off the lane, the River Wye has a pronounced meander and in the neck of that feature was Henry Watson’s black marble works. He was the uncle of White Watson, the geologist who lived in Bakewell, and he patented machinery for working the local black marble. The market for his work was greatly helped by the local Lord of the Manor, the Duke of Devonshire, who at the time owned most of Ashford. John Howe's poem Monsal Dale includes a description of the black marble

At the end of the wood we re-cross the road and can walk along the sides of the Wye through Monsal Dale. Eliza Cook, who we met in Dovedale, also visited Monsal Dale and penned her views in her poem Derbyshire Dales.

And Monsal, thou mine of Arcadian treasure.
Need we seek for “ Greek Islands “ and spice-laden gales,
While a Tempe like thee of enchantment and pleasure
May be found in our own native Derbyshire Dales
Derbyshire Dales
– Eliza Cook

What a delightful walk this is. As we stroll through the picturesque dale alongside the river, with it gushing weir, the countryside with no village or road in view, is sublime. It is hard to imagine that just around the corner in this arresting dale is controversy. Not only that, but it is not just one problem, but two significant disagreements, both of which started in the 1800s and still have resonance today. As we wind round with the river, there will soon appears in front of us a huge railway viaduct, where the line emanates from the rocky hillside Headstone tunnel.

Fors Clavigera

John Ruskin was an extremely talented Victorian gentleman, whose extensive travels, brought him a significant understanding of art and architecture. Undoubtedly, he was a polymath, at various times writing and lecturing on geology, botany, art, architecture and society. He became a noted philanthropist and promoted the setting up of communes. His ideas for these were taken up internationally, and he founded his own one just outside Sheffield. He established the Guild of St George, which still exists today. It has many international branches and is focused on education. John became well-known as an art and architecture critic. He wrote copiously about the revival of the Gothic influences in buildings. He also became the University of Oxford’s, first Slade Professor of Fine Art.

The initial part of his career focused on drawing, art and architecture. It was in later life, that he transferred his attention to social issues. He believed that traditional methods were being undermined by machinery and that technological developments were losing touch with their social situation. His private life has been the subject of much speculation. He did marry, but it was annulled after six years, because of non-consummation. In his latter years, he suffered from mental health problems and this added to the speculation about his relationship with one young women in particular.

John selected the viaduct and its railway as a major issue in one of his works. Fors Clavigera, written in 1871, comprised of a series of open letters to the workman and labourers of the country. In it he addresses many of the social issues that he saw as affecting society. In one particular letter he encompassed his views on the railways, but about the new growth of telecommunications by cable, and the invention of the camera.

We will leave you to make up your own mind about the impact of the railway on Monsal Dale as you amble along the riverside, which will take us on our way to the second controversy. We pass under the viaduct, and following the river, crossing it near the farm, which is painted the estate colour of Chatsworth.

The Minstrel of the Peak

We take the quiet road and it is not long before an immense building appears in front of us. For its size, it is remarkably well hidden in the valley, but it really does dominate when we are down next to the river. It is now a set of apartments, but was once the huge cotton Cressbrook Mill. Needless to say it was originally built by the Arkwright family. Our particular interest, however, lies not with the cotton tycoon, but with one of the carpenters that worked on its building. Before going into the controversy, that this woodworker caused, we would point out that less than a mile further up-stream is another very similar building, called Litton Mill.

Our walk heading was Satanic Mills, which comes from the poem by William Blake, and although he probably wasn’t referring to industrial cotton mills it certainly has its applicability as we shall see. Contrast that with the section title, Minstrel of the Peak which appears to give the impression of happiness and all that is good. So how do we reconcile the two? The answer is in one man, called William Newton. He is the carpenter that we referred to. He was born, in 1750, about five miles away, on a farm near the hamlet of Abney. After having worked for Richard Arkwright, as a craftsman, the latter appointed him as manager, after the mill was rebuilt following a fire. However, this was only possible, because he was lent some money by his sponsor. The investment made him a rich man.

The benevolence came from Anna Seward, who we will meet in her home village of Eyam later on The Literary Way. Suffice to say, at this point, that she was well known in literary circles, being the biographer of Erasmus Darwin and her own biography was written by Sir Walter Scott. As William was born within the same parish as Anna, once she had discovered some of his poems, she promoted his work to a wider audience. It was Anna Seward who named him ‘The Minstrel of the Peak’. Much of his work did not survive, but one poem shows humanitarian values. Up to 1834 the courts would often display the body of a murderer in public, on a gibbet, supposedly to deter similar crimes. It was frequently applied to highway men, after they were executed. In 1818 the last gibbeting took place in Derbyshire at Wardlow Mires, which is about halfway between Abney, where he was born, and William Newton’s Cressbrook Mill. His poem, a father's lament on seeing his son on the gibbet, many credit with helping to bring to an end the practice in Derbyshire.

When we started The Literary Way we visited Snelston where Michael Sadler was born. In the early 1830s he campaigned to reduce the child labour in the mills. In the late 1820s, when Michael was raising awareness of the misuse of young labour, William Newton, our Minstrel of the Peak, was the manager in charge of Cressbrook Mill. Both of the mills in the Wye valley required large number of workers, and there was no nearby towns, as happened with many of the Lancashire and Yorkshire mills, so labour had to be brought in. Orphans, and other children without families, were under the direction of the parish. It only needed an churchwarden to sign the indenture for them to be apprentices, in which role they would remain under until they reached the age of majority, twenty-one years old. Children could expect to be under the direction of the mill masters for seven years, and in many cases even longer. Cressbrook and Litton Mills took apprentice orphans from the major cities including London and Bristol. It is not difficult to see how child abuse would happen and why Michael Sadler wanted action.

But were things different at Cressbrook? They certainly were if we accept the views of Mary Sterndale, in her work Vignettes of Derbyshire, written in 1824. Mary was a Sheffield writer and she penned several novels and travel commentaries. Vignettes is about various trips she made into the Peak District, and praised Cressbrook Mill and the Newton Family. But before we take all of what Mary has written as correct, let’s look at another book, this time a novel, that is fictitiously refers to a mills in a deep valley. The title of the book is The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong, The Factory Boy. It was written by Fanny Trollope, who wrote about fifteen major works, many of which were controversial, but all focused on aspects of society. We pick up the story when Michael has arrived at the mills in the deep valley and is taken inside:

But the master of the ceremonies at this feast of misery bore a huge horsewhip in his hand, without which indeed, it is said, he seldom appeared on the premises, and with it an eye that seemed to have the power of quelling with a single glance the will of every little wretch it looked upon.
The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong
– Fanny Trollope

Fanny was diligent in her research and visited many mills. The book was finally published in 1840. She puts an interesting footnote to the description of the Deep Valley Mills of Derbyshire.

The real name of this valley (which most assuredly is no creation of romance) is not given, lest an action for libel should be the consequence. The scenes which have passed there, and which the few following pages will describe, have been stated to the author on authority not to be impeached.
The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong
– Fanny Trollope

Fanny’s novel of factory life is taken to be one of the first industrial novels and it certainly raised controversy. She was accused in leading reviews of inciting people to burn down mills and factories. The Luddite riots had burnt factories and destroyed equipment in the same communities in living memory and many saw Fanny as an agitator. Let’s conclude our section on Cressbrook and William Newton with the account from one of the apprentices at Cressbrook Mill, when William Newton was there. The account appeared in a periodical called Stephens Monthly Magazine, which was produced by a Methodist minister who campaigned for the working class and the needs of poor children. His name was Joseph Rayner Stephens and he espoused his independent views and spend some time in jail because of his campaigning. The account claims that the the apprentices under William Newton would be regularly beaten.

So why were the views of Mary Sterndale so far out? She was a friend of Anna Seward, who was the sponsor and loanee of William Newton and no doubt wanted to do the best by her friends. It was common for mill owners to say conditions were good and many kept most details secret for fear of reprisals, if any information got out. So we think we had two women who wished to see the best and believed what the Newtons told them.

Let move on from Cressbrook Mill. We go past it on to join the footpath which brings us out in Water-cum-Jolly which is a pooled area of the River Wye, backed by steep white cliffs. We pass over the footbridge by the mill weir and climb the steep path up to the Monsal Trail where we turn towards Bakewell. It isn’t long before we see the valley, and the mill, from a different perspective. We are going over the Headstone viaduct, and through the tunnel, but before we do we can see the buildings at Monsal Head, which is on the road from Ashford-in-the-Water to Tideswell, where many of the unfortunate orphans are buried.

Household Words

In 1850 Charles Dickens started the periodical Household Words and published it every week for nine years. It only cost tuppence and thereby ensured a wide readership. Charles invited friends and authors he knew to submit poems or short stories. William Howitt, who we will meet with his wife Mary, at Eyam, wrote a short story, in three chapters, called The Miner’s Daughter. It is set in the area in which we are walking with the Bull’s Head as the pub on Monsal Head. This was its name when William Howitt would have visited the area.

We are at the Bull’s Head, a little inn on that road. There is nothing to create wonder, or a suspicion of a hidden Arcadia in any thing you see, but another step forward, and—there! There sinks a world of valleys at your feet. To your left lies the delicious Monsal Dale.
The Miner’s Daughter
– William Howitt

Let us pass through the Headstone Tunnel on the Monsal Trail. We soon go by the back of the stately home, Thornbridge Hall. One of the more eccentric owners had his own station built a few yards from the one that served Great Longstone village.

Let’s rest awhile at Hassop

The old Hassop station allows us to rest and reflect on the controversies that we have met in this chapter. The child labour debate of the 1820s and 1830s was typified in Cressbrook where we found the different views put forward. We think there is little doubt, that it was a cruel time for those poor orphans. Judging by the number of people who take pictures of the Headstone Viaduct, set in Monsal Dale, many obviously do not think that it spoils the view. John Ruskin has been our leading writer in this chapter and we shall meet him again as a young boy underground. Francis Hodgson, Lord Byron’s friend, gave us more information about his life and his wife. We also introduced that intrepid traveller from the late seventeenth century, Celia Fiennes, who give us some fascinating observations. We have also seen three instances of how the local geology has inspired writing.

The countryside since leaving Haddon has been nothing short of magnificent. We have had the bustling Bakewell, set beautifully on the River Wye, with its dominant church watching over the country market town. The Sheepwash Bridge, at the appealing Ashford-in-the-Water, is the high point in this tranquil, unspoilt village, with its rows of traditional cottages. Many writers have ascribed the term, Arcadia, or pastoral paradise, to Monsal Dale and the River Wye valley, and it is certainly one of our favourite walks.