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Malhamdale Early Tourists


ON returning from the Lakes, in Westmoreland and Cumberland, through that part of Yorkshire designated Craven, I was peculiarly struck with the variety and romantic beauty that envelopes Settle and the surrounding country. A mixture of interesting scenery instantly developes Itself to the eye of the Traveller, when midway between Clapham and Settle, a distance of six miles, at a point where the road has attained its greatest elevation. The turnpike before him forming a regular inclined plane, hard as flint, and white as the materials from which it is formed, runs close to the base of an immense limestone rock for a distance of nearly two miles, after which it is gradually obliterated, by forming a curve to the left. To the right, and directly in front of the Giggleswick Scar is situated Giggleswick Tarn a large and beautiful Lake embosomed by hills that slope to its banks, and exhibit the most fertilizing aspect. At the bottom of the Tarn the village of Giggleswick commences, where its Church, and celebrated classical School, are conspicuous objects in the fore-ground of the landscape. The eye now wanders further, crosses the the river Ribble and enters the beautiful vale of Settle, at a mile distant from Giggleswick, where the scene widens into an extensive fertile valley. exhibiting an assemblage of villages and other picturesque objects to a distance bounded only by the horizon, or by Pendle Hill, in Lancashire. The objects that have been so rapidly glanced over are too interesting to be left without a separate detail; I shall therefore beg the indulgence of my readers in suffering me to return to the spot where my description had its commencment. — The Rock to the left of the road, an object of no trifling import to the landscape, runs in a line rather curved than straight, with little variation in altitude for the distance of a mile, when it gradually lowers its crest, and is ultimately obliterated in a beautiful wood, on the side of the road opposite to but parallel with Giggleswick, its Church, and classical School. Its crest, or uppermost part is irregularly perpendicular; its base large, rapidly sloping to the road, and covered with loose stone or large masses of projecting rocks, diversified with yews, hazel wood, and rock plants.

Close to the road, and about the middle of the Scar, an ebbing and flowing well is situated, whose waters, clear as crystal, rush from a fissure in the rack, and are rapidly poured into a well, or stone recipient, with an aperture in the bottom, through which the water is regularly discharged. The variation in the supply frequently astonishes the unsuspecting Traveller who stops to quench his thirst or who has seated himself by this delicious fountain to enjoy the beauty of the scenery: happening to view the reservoir on his arrival, when its waters are at the lowest ebb, his attention is arrested from the objects that attract him by the noise of the water overflowing the recipient on all sides. While contemplating, with astonishment this sudden influx of water, or doubting the correctness of his first observations, which the stillness of the spot, the grandeur, tempered with the softness of the scenery around him are calculated to inspire; the stream from the fissure is diminished, and the water again sinks to the interior part of the bason, and leaves the spectator confounded and amazed.

Those changes of ebbing and flowing generally take place once in about five minutes, but are considerably influenced by the Wetness or dryness of the season, and consequently increasing or diminishing the quantity of water in the spring.

Naturalists and Philosophers have ventured different opinions explanatory of a phenomenon so rare and beautiful, which in all probability results from a simple piece of mechanism, hidden from tbe observation of man in the bowels of the earth. Namely, a valvular construction at the mouth of the spring, or at some point in the subterraneous passage of the water, formed by a loose stone and suspended horizontally by two opposite point constituting its axis: the valve thus formed will move on its own central points, and uninfluenced by the water to a certain extent, closes the outlet, and consequently causes an accumulation between the valve and tbe source of the spring; when the water has increased until its level rises considerably above the centre of the valve, the weight of the water turns it upon its axis, and it is poured with velocity into its common course.

From the ebbing and flowing well to Giggleswick is somewhat more than a mile, over a road of white limestone in the highest state of preservation. This village although a picturesque object in the landscape has nothing worthy of remark, further than being large, containing a considerable number of gentlemen's houses, an antique church, and its famous classical school, standing in an insulated situation adjoining the church yard and at a small distance from the turnpike road. This school was founded by King Edward the sixth in the 7th year of hie reign, at the instance of his chaplain John Nowel, vicar of Giggleswick, and the government vested in twelve Trustees. His Majesty's grant was in land, and at that time (I am informed) produced about £20. per annum; the value of which has so much increased since that period, combined with inclosures and other circumstances connected with the gift, that its present amount is near £1500 a year. It has three preceptors, two for classical and one for mathematical tuition. The classical teachers have each a handsome house in which they reside, at a short distance from the school and connected with the establishment, that were built for the purpose at the instigation of the trustees from a surplus of the annual proceeds. The number of pupils is limited only by the want of room, and are admitted from every quarter of the globe, if their moral characters are good, let their religion be what it may. This seminary has always been celebrated for its classical superiority, but never held a more conspicuous figure than under tbe rigid discipline, and literary attainments of its present professors³. The late Arch-deacon Paley, whose pre-eminence placed him above his competitors in the paths of learning and science, received his classical education from this school, whose father the Rev. William Paley, was head master for upwards of 50 years.

At the distance of about a mile, over a handsome stone bridge crossing the river Ribble, stands Settle.—a market town of considerable importance more particularly for the sale of fat and lean Cattle, that are alternately exposed in the market-place on the Monday, in every week. The town exhibits nothing remarkable excepting the spaciousness of its market place, the incongruous mixture of good and elegant houses with others of very inferior complexion—its having no church nearer then a mile¹, and its being situated at the foot of a rock whose summit is frequently enveloped in the clouds. The town is situated on a gently sloping, inclined plane, and defended from the east by a range of mountains of considerable height, coverered with sweet and luxuriant herbage, that fatten with amazing rapidity large herds of lowing oxen, and abundant flocks of bleating sheep. The rock, or in other words Castleberg, for that is its name, is a prodigious mass of limestone, projecting from a beautiful mountain, covered with verdure. constituting the back ground, and giving a lively contrast to the picture. Its base forms an irregular slope, departing very little from the perpendicular line, crested with an upright mass of solid rock, level on the top and covered with herbage to the edge of the precipice. Here the admirer of nature may sit and contemplate an immense extent of beautiful country. Pennygent, ³ and Ingreborough to the right, and Pendle Hill, in Lancashire to the left, with intervening scenery, singularly picturesque. Under his very feet, and close to the bottom of this stupendous edifice, Settle is situated, where every house, and most of the streets, are objects of easy inspection; whose inhabitants, whether employed in their gardens, sauntering in conversation in the market place, or bustling in their different occupations, making allowance for their apparent diminution in size resulting from the great distance between the observer and the object, are all easily recognized. Castleberg was formerly inaccessible excepting at the north and south sides, and to get to its elevated summit was a task of no trifling exertion and fatigue, and wholly unattainable excepting by those whose limbs were agile, and whose respiring organs were of the most perfect conformation. Within the last thirty years, Castleberg was presented or in other words consigned to the care of the opulent inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood, by Mr. Williams (a Gentleman of great merit and good taste, a native of the town where his juvenile years had been spent) that it might be preserved and improved. Various subscriptions were immediately entered into, and in about two years the object was attained; the Rock was surrounded with a wall, firs and evergreens were planted; circuitous, zigzag, and fantastical walks were cut, each bending its course in slow and winding progression towards the top. By this means parts, inaccessible became easy of approach, and the persevering Tourist after many an effort, performing many a curve, and cutting; many an angle, finds himself under the crest of the edifice, where seats are cut in the Rock for his enjoyment and repose. Viewing the fabric above him he is excited with feelings of awe, while the objects beneath him, blended together in infinite variety, impress his mind with the beautiful and sublime. At the north and south ends the uppermost part or summit of the Rock may be ascended, with little difficulty and without danger, forming a level surface, where the admiring traveller may sit, fanned by the breath of refreshing breezes, and contemplate a prospect incomparably beautiful and extensive.

This part of Craven exhibits such a vast assemblage of beautiful objects in landscape, chained together by an infinitude of links, that the tourist is at a loss where to begin or where to end his subject. Before I take leave of this part of the country, suffer me Messrs. Editors, to take up a little more of your time while I endeavour to give a faint outline of one of the finest pieces of perpendicular Limestone Rock, that Yorkshire or any other English county can boast : namely

Malm Cove.

The distance between Settle and this stupendous work of nature is about six Miles, over a high and mountainous country generally fertile, but remarkable for nothing but its wild and terrific aspect, excepting on the top of the moor at a small distance from the road; where the lofty mountains, as it were by common consent, have spread themselves into a wide expanse, in which is situated Malm Tarn&sup5;, a lake of a mile in diameter, of the depth of several yards, beautifully transparent, and abounding: with Trout and Perch remarkable for their size their beauty and exquisite flavour. This large sheet of water with a considerable portion of the surrounding Country is the property of Lord Ribblesdale. who has erected an elegant Fishing House close to its banks, where boats are kept for the convenience and enjoyment of the noble possessor, as well as to varions parties who frequently obtain his Lordship's permission to fish. However the height of its situation may make it an object of curiosity, it will for ever leseen it as an object of interest and beauty.

The pain that have been taken within the last twenty years, the taste displayed, and the money expended in planting and decorations have, to a considerable extent, mellowed down the rudeness of the scenery, and protected the sporting mansion of his Lordship from many a bitter blast. — Malm Tarn must ever be pronounced an exquisitely beantiful sheet of water; but situated as it is in a cold and chilling country where nothing is heard but the whistling of winds and the dashing of waves, the admiring stranger retires without sorrow, and leaves it without regret.

To return to my subject, after a distant view of the Tarn, while decending the road; Malham, a village situated at the declivity of an extensive range of craggy mountains, and at the top of a most fertile and luxuriant valley denominated Kirkby Malhamdale appears to view. The beauty and extent of this prospect, contrasted with travelling several miles over a dreary and monotonous country with scarcely a single object to attract the attention cannot fail to excite sensations the most pleasing to the imagination of the observer.

Malham Cove

Malham Cove is situated about a mile. above the village, spreading a beautiful front from east to west across the whole valley, and forming a communication between two reclining hills. Its structure is solid limestone, its atitude perpendicular, and its altitude 288 feet from the lowest part of the summit to its base. The uppermost part of this towering edifice forms a curve of an immense sweep from hill to hill, exhibiting a magnificent segment of a prodigious circle. Its great expansion gradually narrows towards the base, from whence issues a large stream of water, excessively cold and clear as crystal, that meanders down the vale to the village below; having traversed under gronud for more than a mile from the Tarn. In rainy and tempestuous weather, to which this high and mountainous country is particularly subject, the subterraneous outlet at the southern extremity of the Tarn being incapable of receiving its great overflux of water, a large and rapid current bends its coarse to the summit of this terrific amphitheatre, from whence it is precipitated into the valley beneath, a distance of nearly 300 feet, forming a cascade more beautiful than the imagination can picture. — On these occasions, when the wind is high and tempestuous, the water while descending from the apex of the precipice, is driven against the rock, or dispersed like thick Mist, or showers of rain, to an immense distance, exhibiting altogether a magnificent and interesting Phenomenon.

Tourists who have visited this part of the world in the summer months, have deplored the want of this stupendous cataract, and have wondered the subterraneoue passage, from the Tarn was not obliterated (by art ) that its redundant waters on all occasions might pass the top, rather than issue from a fissure at the foot. However desirous the human mind may be to contemplate the sublime and marvellous in nature's works, the diversion of this singular subterraneous water course, to the summit of the Rock, would prevent the approach, and consequently the more minute inspection of one of the finest pieces of perpendicular Limestone-Rock in the known world.

To give an adequate conception of its beauties, or to delineate its various features, beggars all description. The Artist too is equally unsuccessful in the attempt : lays down the pencil and stands appaled while he views a structure so tremendous and august. Its features and tints are elegant and delicate in the extreme, — of a light silver grey, excepting a few lines of a deeper shade, formed as it were by the streams and droppings of water from the different shelves and projections in the front of the rock. The sides are fringed and clothed with wood, forming a beautiful recess both magnificent and picturesque

This bold and lofty Cove is distinctly seen from the top of Coniston Moor, from the Southern Hills near Halifax, and from an, elevated situation near Colne, in Lancashire, which is more than 20 miles. It is asserted that when the sun shines and the atmosphere is clear, the observer (placed at these distances ) with the naked eye can discover the lineaments and contour, as well as the concavities and convexities of this stately edifice.

The Tourist who wishes to behold an assemblage of the sublime and beautiful, in this magnificent specimen of nature's architecture, will be most highly gratified in paying his visit on a clear autumnal evening, just before the sun sinks behind the horizon Here his reclining rays gild the borders of the rocks that reflect a softness on the drapery, whose varied tints of fading foliage, stamp the landscape with a beautiful grandeur far beyond the grasp of language to define.

1.      The Rev. Rowland Ingram, B.D. the Rev. John Howson, and Mr Stackhouse. The two former hold the classical chairs, while the latter presides over, and directs the Mathematical studies of the Classical and other pupils in the Upper School; where they are compelled to attend daily. After finishing their lessons and exercises in the dead languages.

2.      Settle is in the parish of Giggleswick, where the church stands.

3.      Pennygent and Ingleborough are two of the largest hills in Yorkshire, the former six, the latter nine miles from Settle.

4.      The country that surrounds this beautiful Lake and Chateau, abounds with Grouse and other kinds of Game in great abundance. The wild fowl that frequent the Tarn and the great quantities of domesticated hirds of various species that inhabit its borders, render the situation both desirable and interesting to the sporting gentlemen. But the favorite amusements is skimming the surface in boats destined for the purpose, with proper apparatus of rod, lines, and flies, all of which must be of great strength, and of the best materials, as the trout and perch caught in this way, are from two to seven pounds in weight.

Taken from The Northern Star or Yorkshire Magazine, a Monthly and Permanent Register of the Statistics, Literature, Biography and Manufactures of Yorkshire and the Adjoining Counties, Vol 1 No 3 Sep 1817, edited by Arthur Jewitt. You can down load a PDF copy of The Northern Star Vol 1 No 3 from GoogleBooks.External Website logo

Read the accounts of other 18th & early 19th century visitors to the Malhamdale area.


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