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Hall's "Days in Derbyshire", 1863*
Eighteenth and nineteenth century tour guides about Matlock Bath and Matlock
Chapter the Sixth. Via Gellia, Stonnus, and Fox Cloud.
pp. 56-59

The Villa, an illustration in Days in Derbyshire
"Days in Derbyshire"
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The Rutland Arms & Fairview Terrace

Masson Mill from Harp Edge, about 1900

In Via Gellia, Matlock Bath, 1903

The Pig of Lead Inn, Via Gellia, Matlock Bath, 1903

Decorative border at the beginning of Chapter 5

  [A]gain we quit Matlock Bath - this time by the south - for one of the prettiest rambles in England. In a previous chapter we mentioned Masson-mills, the Rutland Arms, and a cluster of cottages. Between those cottages Mr. Newbold's law-offices ascend an ancient road - probably as ancient as any in the Peak, and in its day as useful. It then goes along Harp Edge, forming a fine natural gallery there ; crosses over near to the Corn-mill, where Cromford ends in the Bonsall road, and where it has been somewhat trespassed upon by private interest ; and resumes its course through the fields towards Middleton and Wirksworth. At present we follow it only to the other side of Harp Edge, looking down as we go, upon Masson-mills, the foaming weir, Wild Cat Tor, Willersley (which may be truly proud of being seen from this walk), Scarthing- rocks and meadows, the bridge and church of Cromford, the lovely knolls and slopes on the way to Lea and Crich, and Crich-stand and church closing the distant scene - the Derwent curving beautifully right below us, much in the form of a letter U.

Some attempts have been made to stop this road, this "old line of rural liberty", but have not succeeded, and it is to be hoped they never will be renewed. Independently altogether of the exquisite views it commands, the road is very useful to foot passengers, many of whom on their way to work would have to go nearly half a mile round if it were stopped. If we are to be conservative of one right, let us be equally so of another. I do not think there is a man in England who would go farther round than myself to avoid an injurious trespass. I bless God for those laws and customs which have prevented estates from being divided and subdivided, as they otherwise might have been, till there was not an ample park or open range in the whole island. I believe that one of our statesmen was greatly misunderstood, when he was ridiculed for the noted couplet in which he prayed that whatever else might perish in England, ancient rights and privileges might remain. Let them remain : but let this be remembered, that property never more safely ensures respect for its own rights that when it sets a noble example of respect for the rights of the public. An old foot-path is a right as sacred to the public as is soil on each side of it to the private owners, and ought no more to be interrupted or duly narrowed than the land to be invaded. And now having vindicated our "right of way" let us use it on our ramble. As the road by Harp Edge winds along, almost every step we take gives us such a different grouping of objects as not only to startle but to entrance the gazer - presenting in one quarter of a mile a greater variety of landscape than many miles would give in the most picturesque neighbourhood I have elsewhere seen.

Descending the other side of the Edge, we have a view of the Corn-mill, with its mossy wheel and dashing water-fall ; but instead of passing over thither, we turn to the right, and by a little enquiry find our way to Bow Lea-side. This Bow Lea, so named in ancient times from its form - has latterly been most illogically corrupted to "Ball-eye". Had it been "Eye -ball" there would have been less reason for criticism ; there is no reason whatsoever for calling it "Ball-eye". But never mind the name ; we will rest upon its green and flowery pasture, while the song of birds and the wild bees hum chime with the sweet murmur of waters coming up from below ; and with a landscape so lovely, clothed as it were with a mantle of peace - that chain of bright ponds pouring one into another and rocks and trees forming a background so romantic - let us dream that we are lingering a little on our way to paradise. The most conspicuous rock before us is called Slin Tor - possibly a contraction of Slidden Tor - a name its appearance would somewhat justify. Half hidden by the foliage were many romantic crags we passed on Harp Edge ; and yon rocks opposite might be fancied the petrified surf of another wild wave of such scenery. Old lead-mines, with their thatched coes and primitive scenery, abound in each direction ; the road to Bonsall winds far blow us like "a mathematical line", and just by crossing the heights along the path we have described, then lingering here, the wanderer may feel himself the tenant of a little world apart, which he would be loth to leave but for the chance of some day coming again, - and perhaps when the tints of autumn or the frost of winter have changed without obliterating the quiet beauty of all around.

The bridle-road we are on passes away by a group of yews, where formerly stood a dwelling called the Hermitage, and where even yet are some remains of a garden - a scene about which linger some curious traditions - but we descend to the main road, and take our way by it to Bonsall, passing spots that would make the Londoner feel as if he were in a foreign land. How Swiss-like this little wooden erection by the babbling stream ! Even Simons's old fashioned paper mills and the other works we pass detract little or nothing from the wild and primitive air of the vale ; while the mines and quarries considerably add to it.

And now we arrive at Bonsall village - the sign of "The Pig of Lead", bearing a bald picture of that plain but ponderous article, staring us in the face as we enter. It is a very homely house ; but we have often had good and sweet refreshment there.

[End of scans - no further pages of this chapter are included.
The remaining pages of this chapter are not included as they are mostly about Bonsall
, Middleton, etc.]

*Transcribed by Ann Andrews in March 2020 from:
Hall, Spencer Timothy (1863) "Days in Derbyshire ..." With sixty illustrations by J. Gresley (artist), Dalziel Brothers (illustrators). Simpkin, Marshall and Co, Stationers' Hall Court, London, and printed by Richard Keene, All Saints, Derby.
With my grateful thanks to Ray Ash who provided photocopies for me to OCR.
Image scans Copyright to Ray Ash and intended for personal use only.