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Robert Naylor.

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nor did we see any house until we reached the ancient-looking village of
Kirby Malham. Here we got such very voluminous directions as to the way
to Malham that neither of us could remember them beyond the first turn,
but we reached that village at about ten o'clock. We asked the solitary
inhabitant who had not retired to rest where we could find lodgings for
the night. He pointed out a house at the end of the "brig" with the word
"Temperance" on it in large characters, which we could see easily as the
moon had not yet disappeared, and told us it belonged to the village
smith, who accommodated visitors. All was in darkness inside the house,
but we knocked at the door with our heavy sticks, and this soon brought
the smith to one of the upper windows. In reply to our question, "Can we
get a bed for the night?" he replied in the Yorkshire dialect, "Our
folks are all in bed, but I'll see what they say." Then he closed the
window, and all was quiet except the water, which was running fast under
the "brig," and which we found afterwards was the River Aire, as yet
only a small stream. We waited and waited for what seemed to us a very
long time, and were just beginning to think the smith had fallen asleep
again, when we heard the door being unbolted, and a young man appeared
with a light in his hand, bidding us "Come in," which we were mighty
glad to do, and to find ourselves installed in a small but very
comfortable room. "You will want some supper," he said; and we assured
him it was quite true, for we had not had anything to eat or drink since
we left Settle, and, moreover, we had walked thirty-five miles that day,
through fairly hilly country. In a short time he reappeared with a quart
of milk and an enormous apple pie, which we soon put out of sight; but
was milk ever so sweet or apple pie ever so good! Forty-five years have
passed away since then, but the memory still remains; and the sweet
sleep that followed - the rest of the weary - what of that?

(_Distance walked thirty-five miles_.)


_Saturday, October 21st._

One great advantage of staying the night in the country was that we were
sure of getting an early breakfast, for the inns had often farms
attached to them, and the proprietors and their servants were up early
to attend to their cattle. This custom of early rising also affected the
business of the blacksmiths, for the farmers' horses requiring attention
to their shoes were always sent down early to the village smithy in
order that they could be attended to in time to turn out to their work
on the roads or in the fields at their usual hour. Accordingly we were
roused from our sound slumber quite early in the morning, and were glad
to take advantage of this to walk as far as possible in daylight, for
the autumn was fast coming to a close. Sometimes we started on our walk
before breakfast, when we had a reasonable prospect of obtaining it
within the compass of a two-hours' journey, but Malham was a secluded
village, with no main road passing through it, and it was surrounded by
moors on every side.

There were several objects of interest in Malham which we were told were
well worth seeing: Malham Cove, Janet's Foss or Gennetth's Cave, and
Gordale Scar. The first of these we resolved to see before breakfast.
We therefore walked along a path which practically followed the course
of the stream that passed under the brig, and after a fine walk of about
three-quarters of a mile through the grass patches, occasionally
relieved by bushes and trees, we reached the famous cove. Here our
farther way was barred by an amphitheatre of precipitous limestone rocks
of a light grey colour, rising perpendicularly to the height of about
200 feet, which formed the cove itself. From the base of these rocks,
along a horizontal bedding plane and at one particular spot, issued the
stream along which we had walked, forming the source of the River Aire,
which flows through Skipton and on to Leeds, the curious feature about
it being that there was no visible aperture in the rocks, neither arch
nor hole, from which it could come. The water appeared to gain volume
from the loose stones under our feet, and as we had not seen a sight
like this in all our travels, we were much surprised to find it forming
itself immediately into a fair-sized brook. We gazed upwards to the top
of the rocks, which were apparently unprotected, and wondered what the
fate would be of the lost traveller who unconsciously walked over them,
as there seemed nothing except a few small bushes, in one place only, to
break his fall. We heard afterwards of a sorrowful accident that had
happened there. It related to a young boy who one day, taking his little
brother with him for company, went to look for birds' nests. On reaching
the cove they rambled to the top of the cliff, where the elder boy saw a
bird's nest, to which he went while his little brother waited for him at
a distance, watching him taking the eggs. All at once he saw him stoop
down to gather some flowers to bring to him, and then disappear. He
waited some time expecting his brother to return, but as he did not
come back the little fellow decided to go home. On the way he gathered
some flowers, which he gleefully showed to his father, who asked him
where he had got them, and where his brother was. The child said he had
gone to sleep, and he had tried to waken him but couldn't; and when he
told the full story, the father became greatly alarmed, and, taking his
child with him, went to the foot of the cliffs, where he found his son
lying dead where he had fallen, with the flowers still clasped in his
hand!

[Illustration: MALHAM COVE.]

We were afterwards told that above the cliff and a few miles up a valley
a great stream could be seen disappearing quietly down into the rock. It
was this stream presumably which lost itself in a subterranean channel,
to reappear at the foot of Malham Cove.

After breakfast we again resumed our journey, and went to inspect
Janet's Cave or Foss - for our host told us that it was no use coming to
see a pretty place like Malham without viewing all the sights we could
while we were there. We walked up a lovely little glen, where it was
said a fairy once resided, and which if it had been placed elsewhere
would certainly have been described as the Fairy Glen; but whether or
not Janet was the name of the fairy we did not ascertain. In it we came
to a pretty little waterfall dropping down from one step to another, the
stream running from it being as clear as crystal. The rocks were lined
with mosses, which had become as fleecy-looking as wool, as they were
almost petrified by the continual dropping of the spray from the
lime-impregnated water that fell down the rocks. There were quite a
variety of mosses and ferns, but the chief of the climbing plants was
what Dickens described "as the rare old plant, the ivy green," which not
only clung to the rocks, but had overshadowed them by climbing up the
trees above. To see the small dark cave it was necessary to cross the
stream in front of the waterfall, and here stepping-stones had been
provided for that purpose, but, owing to the unusual depth of water,
these were covered rather deeply, with the result that all the available
spaces in our boots were filled with water. This was, of course, nothing
unusual to us, as we had become quite accustomed to wet feet, and we now
looked upon it as an ordinary incident of travel. The cave was said to
have been the resort of goblins, and when we wondered where they were
now, my brother mildly suggested that we might have seen them if we had
possessed a mirror. We had seen a list of the names of the different
mosses to be found in the Malham district, but, as these were all in
Latin, instead of committing them to memory, we contented ourselves with
counting the names of over forty different varieties besides hepaties,
lichens, ferns, and many flowers:

Hie away, hie away,
Over bank and over brae,
Where the copsewood is the greenest,
Where the fountains glisten sheenest.
Where the lady-fern grows strongest,
Where the morning dew lies longest,
Where the blackcock sweetest sips it.
Where the fairy latest trips it;

Hie to haunts right seldom seen,
Lovely, lonesome, cool and green;
Over bank and over brae
Hie away, hie away!

So we now "hied away" to find Gordale Scar, calling at a farmhouse to
inquire the way, for we knew we must cross some land belonging to the
farm before we could reach the Scar. We explained to the farmer the
object of our journey and that we wished afterwards to cross the moors.
After directing us how to reach the Scar, he said there was no necessity
for us to return to Malham if we could climb up the side of the
waterfall at the Scar, since we should find the road leading from Malham
a short distance from the top. He wished us good luck on our journey,
and, following his instructions, we soon reached Gordale Scar. It was
interesting to note the difference in the names applied to the same
objects of nature in the different parts of the country we passed
through, and here we found a scar meant a rock, a beck a brook, and a
tarn, from a Celtic word meaning a tear, a small lake. Gordale Scar was
a much more formidable place than we had expected to find, as the rocks
were about five yards higher than those at Malham Cove, and it is almost
as difficult to describe them as to climb to the top!

[Illustration: GORDALE SCAR.]

Gordale Beck has its rise near Malham Tarn, about 1,500 feet above
sea-level; and, after running across the moor for about three miles,
gathering strength in its progress, it reaches the top of this cliff,
and, passing over it, has formed in the course of ages quite a
considerable passage, widening as it approaches the valley below, where
it emerges through a chasm between two rocks which rise to a great
height. It was from this point we had to begin our climb, and few people
could pass underneath these overhanging rocks without a sense of danger.
The track at this end had evidently been well patronised by visitors,
but the last of these had departed with the month of September, and as
it was now late in October we had the Scar all to ourselves. It was,
therefore, a lonely climb, and a very difficult one as we approached the
top, for the volume of water was necessarily much greater after the
heavy autumnal rainfall than when the visitors were there in the summer;
and as we had to pass quite near the falls, the wind blew the spray in
some places over our path. It seemed very strange to see white foaming
water high above our heads. There was some vegetation in places; here
and there a small yew tree, which reminded us of churchyards and the
dark plumes on funeral coaches; but there were also many varieties of
ferns in the fissures in the rocks. When we neared the top, encumbered
as we were with umbrellas, walking-sticks, and bags, we had to assist
each other from one elevation to another, one climbing up first and the
other handing the luggage to him, and we were very pleased when we
emerged on the moors above.

[Illustration: KILNSEY CRAGS.]

Here we found the beck running deeply and swiftly along a channel which
appeared to have been hewn out expressly for it, but on closer
inspection we found it quite a natural formation. We have been told
since by an unsentimental geologist that the structure is not difficult
to understand. As in the case of the Malham Cove stream, this one passed
into the rock and gradually ate out a hollow, while ultimately escaping
from the cliff as in the cove; but the roof of the cave collapsed,
forming the great chasm and revealing the stream as it leaped down from
one level to another. Looking about us on the top we saw lonely moors
without a house or a tree in sight, and walked across them until we came
to a very rough road - possibly the track which we expected to find
leading from Malham. Malham Tarn was not in sight, but we had learned
that the water was about a mile in length and the only things to be seen
there were two kinds of fish - perch and trout - -which often quarrelled
and decimated each other. The weather was dull, and we had encountered
several showers on our way, passing between the Parson's Pulpit to the
left, rising quite 1,700 feet, and the Druid's Altar to our right; but
we afterwards learned that it was a poor specimen, and that there were
much finer ones in existence, while the Parson's Pulpit was described as
"a place for the gods, where a man, with a knowledge of nature and a
lover of the same, might find it vantage ground to speak or lecture on
the wonders of God and nature."

We were pleased to get off the moors before further showers came on, and
before we reached Kilnsey, where this portion of the moors terminated
abruptly in the Kilnsey Crags, we passed by a curious place called
Dowker Bottom Cave, where some antiquarian discoveries had been made
about fifteen years before our visit, excavations several feet below the
lime-charged floor of the cave having revealed the fact that it had been
used by cave-dwellers both before and after the time of the Romans:
there were also distinct traces of ancient burials.

The monks of Furness Abbey formerly owned about 6,000 acres of land in
this neighbourhood, and a small vale here still bore the name of
Fountains Dell; but the Scotch raiders often came down and robbed the
monks of their fat sheep and cattle. The valley now named Littondale was
formerly known as Amerdale, and was immortalised as such by Wordsworth
in his "White Doe of Rylstone":

Unwooed, yet unforbidden.
The White Doe followed up the vale,
Up to another cottage, hidden
In the deep fork of Amerdale.

The road passes almost under Kilnsey Crag, but though it seemed so near,
some visitors who were throwing stones at it did not succeed in hitting
it. We were a little more successful ourselves, but failed to hit the
face of the rock itself, reminding us of our efforts to dislodge rooks
near their nests on the tops of tall trees: they simply watched the
stones rising upwards, knowing that their force would be spent before
either reaching their nests or themselves. On arriving at Kilnsey, we
called at the inn for refreshments, and were told that the ancient
building we saw was Kilnsey Old Hall, where, if we had come earlier in
the year, before the hay was put in the building, we could have seen
some beautiful fresco-work over the inside of the barn doors!

After lunch we had a very nice walk alongside the River Wharfe to a
rather pretty place named Grassington, where an ancient market had been
held since 1282, but was now discontinued. We should have been pleased
to stay a while here had time permitted, but we were anxious to reach
Pateley Bridge, where we intended making our stay for the week-end. We
now journeyed along a hilly road with moors on each side of us as far as
Greenhow Hill mines, worked by the Romans, and there our road reached
its highest elevation at 1,320 feet above sea-level - the village church
as regarded situation claiming to be the highest in Yorkshire. We had
heard of a wonderful cave that we should find quite near our road, and
we were on the look-out for the entrance, which we expected would be a
black arch somewhere at the side of the road, but were surprised to find
it was only a hole in the surface of a field. On inquiry we heard the
cave was kept locked up, and that we must apply for admission to the
landlord of the inn some distance farther along the road. We found the
landlord busy, as it was Saturday afternoon; but when we told him we
were walking from John o' Groat's to Land's End and wanted to see all
the sights we could on our way, he consented at once to go with us and
conduct us through the cave. We had to take off our coats, and were
provided with white jackets, or slops, and a lighted candle each. We
followed our guide down some steps that had been made, into what were to
us unknown regions.

We went along narrow passages and through large rooms for about two
hundred yards, part of the distance being under the road we had just
walked over. We had never been in a cave like this before. The
stalactites which hung from the roof of the cavern, and which at first
we thought were long icicles, were formed by the rain-water as it slowly
filtered through the limestone rock above, all that could not be
retained by the stalactite dropping from the end of it to the floor
beneath. Here it gradually formed small pyramids, or stalagmites, which
slowly rose to meet their counterparts, the stalactites, above, so that
one descended while the other ascended. How long a period elapsed before
these strange things were formed our guide could not tell us, but it
must have been very considerable, for the drops came down so slowly. It
was this slow dropping that made it necessary for us to wear the white
jackets, and now and then a drop fell upon our headgear and on the
"slops." Still we felt sure it would have taken hundreds of years before
we should have been transformed into either stalactites or stalagmites.
In some of the places we saw they had long since met each other, and in
the course of ages had formed themselves into all kinds of queer shapes.
In one room, which our guide told us was the "church," we saw the
"organ" and the "gallery," and in another the likeness of a "bishop,"
and in another place we saw an almost exact representation of the four
fingers of a man's hand suspended from the roof of the cave. Some of the
subterranean passages were so low that we could scarcely creep through
them, and we wondered what would become of us if the roof had given way
before we could return. Many other images were pointed out to us, and we
imagined we saw fantastic and other ghostly shapes for ourselves.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO THE CAVE.]

We were careful to keep our candles alight as we followed our guide on
the return journey, and kept as close together as we could. It was
nearly dark when we reached the entrance of the cavern again, and our
impression was that we had been in another world. Farther south we
explored another and a larger cave, but the vandals had been there and
broken off many of the "'tites," which here were quite perfect. We had
not felt hungry while we were in the cave, but these well-known pangs
came on us in force immediately we reached the open air, and we were
glad to accept the landlord's offer to provide for our inward
requirements, and followed him home to the inn for tea. The landlord had
told the company at the inn about our long walk, and as walking was more
in vogue in those days than at later periods, we became objects of
interest at once, and all were anxious to form our acquaintance.

[Illustration: STUMP CROSS CAVES The Four Fingers. The "'tites" and
"'mites."]

We learned that what we had noted as the Greenhow Cave was known by the
less euphonius name of the "Stump Cross Cavern." It appeared that in
ancient times a number of crosses were erected to mark the limits of the
great Forest of Knaresborough, a royal forest as far back as the twelfth
century, strictly preserved for the benefit of the reigning monarch. It
abounded with deer, wild boars, and other beasts of the chase, and was
so densely wooded that the Knaresborough people were ordered to clear a
passage through it for the wool-carriers from Newcastle to Leeds. Now we
could scarcely see a tree for miles, yet as recently as the year 1775
the forest covered 100,000 acres and embraced twenty-four townships.
Before the Reformation, the boundary cross on the Greenhow side was
known as the Craven Cross, for Craven was one of the ancient counties
merged in what is called the West Riding. The Reformers objected to
crosses, and knocked it off its pedestal, so that only the stump
remained. Thus it gradually became known as the Stump Cross, and from
its proximity the cavern when discovered was christened the Stump Cross
Cavern. We were informed that the lead mines at Greenhow were the oldest
in England, and perhaps in the world, and it was locally supposed that
the lead used in the building of Solomon's Temple was brought from here.
Two bars of lead that had been made in the time of the Romans had been
found on the moors, and one of these was now to be seen at Ripley Castle
in Yorkshire, while the other was in the British Museum.

Eugene Aram, whose story we heard for the first time in the inn, was
born at a village a few miles from Greenhow. The weather had been
showery during the afternoon, but we had missed one of the showers,
which came on while we were in the cavern. It was now fine, and the moon
shone brightly as we descended the steep hill leading to Pateley Bridge.
We had crossed the River Dibb after leaving Grassington, and now, before
crossing the River Nidd at Pateley Bridge, we stayed at the "George
Inn," an old hostelry dating from the year 1664.

(_Distance walked twenty-one and a half miles_.)


_Sunday, October 22nd._

We spent a fairly quiet day at Pateley Bridge, where there was not a
great deal to see. What there was we must have seen, as we made good use
of the intervals between the three religious services we attended in
exploring the town and its immediate neighbourhood. We had evidently not
taken refuge in one of the inns described by Daniel Defoe, for we were
some little distance from the parish church, which stood on a rather
steep hill on the opposite bank of the river. Near the church were the
ruins of an older edifice, an ancient description running, "The old
Chappel of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Pateley Brigg in Nidderdale." We
climbed the hill, and on our way came to an old well on which was
inscribed the following translation by Dryden from the Latin of Ovid [43
B.C.-A.D. 18]:

Ill Habits gather by unseen degrees,
As Brooks run rivers - Rivers run to Seas.

and then followed the words:

The way to church.

We did not go there "by unseen degrees," but still we hoped our good
habits might gather in like proportion. We went to the parish church
both morning and evening, and explored the graveyards, but though
gravestones were numerous enough we did not find any epitaph worthy of
record - though one of the stones recorded the death in July 1755 of the
four sons of Robert and Margaret Fryer, who were born at one birth and
died aged one week.

In the afternoon we went to the Congregational Chapel, and afterwards
were shown through a very old Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1776, and still
containing the old seats, with the ancient pulpit from which John Wesley
had preached on several occasions.

It was curious to observe how anxious the compilers of the histories of
the various places at which we stayed were to find a remote beginning,
and how apologetic they were that they could not start even earlier.
Those of Pateley Bridge were no exception to the rule. The Roman
Occupation might perhaps have been considered a reasonable foundation,
but they were careful to record that the Brigantes were supposed to have
overrun this district long before the Romans, since several stone
implements had been found in the neighbourhood. One of the Roman pigs of
lead found hereabouts, impressed with the name of the Emperor
"Domitian," bore also the word "Brig," which was supposed to be a
contraction of Brigantes. A number of Roman coins had also been
discovered, but none of them of a later date than the Emperor Hadrian,
A.D. 139, the oldest being one of Nero, A.D. 54-68.

[Illustration: THE OLD PARISH CHURCH, PATELEY BRIDGE.]

Previous to the fourteenth century the River Nidd was crossed by means
of a paved ford, and this might originally have been paved by the
Romans, who probably had a ford across the river where Pateley Bridge
now stands for the safe conveyance of the bars of lead from the Greenhow
mines, to which the town owed its importance, down to the beginning of
the nineteenth century. But though it could boast a Saturday market
dating from the time of Edward II, it was now considered a quiet and
somewhat sleepy town.

The valley along which the River Nidd runs from its source in the moors,
about ten miles away, was known as Nidderdale. In the church book at
Middlesmoor, about six miles distant, were two entries connected with
two hamlets on the banks of the Nidd near Pateley Bridge which fix the
dates of the christening and marriage of that clever murderer, Eugene
Aram. We place them on record here:

RAMSGILL. - Eugenious Aram, son of Peter Aram, bap. ye 2nd of October,
1704. LOFTUS. - Eugenius Aram and Anna Spence, married May 4th, after
banns thrice pub. 1731.



Online LibraryRobert NaylorFrom John O'Groats to Land's End → online text (page 28 of 66)