He set off after breakfast, in the rain, walking to Chatsworth
the "celebrated seat of the Duke of Devonshire "the rain prevented any plant collecting "but the soil appeared favourable for plants. Chatsworth appeared to have no fences "Know not how this may really be, but it certainly appears so approaching from Edensor" not even a lodge was seen.
"The house is certainly the most princely & magnificent that can be conceived, - but still rather gloomy thro'out, the various apartments not giving the idea of yielding much comfort to their owner". The Chapel was wainscoted with cedar and "richly ornamented with carvings by Gibbons, the pictures did not seem as numerous as at Keddlestone, but there were many fine statues and busts". In the gardens he was not impressed by the waterworks that might have been considered interesting in an earlier age.
some good fountains though "one of which throws the water 90 feet
In the evening he visited Mr White Watson, F.L.S. who lived at Bakewell who had extensive collections of Natural History, especially minerals and plants, [W.Watson (1760 - 1835) Sculptor, marble-worker and mineral dealer] " &remarkably well versed in the local details of the surrounding country. He showed me some very curious sections illustrating the Geology of Derbyshire, and among the curiosities a dried toad which was taken a live out of a solid rock of gritstone under the coalbeds - at 40 yards depth in one of the Derbyshire collieries. Mr Watson has an excellent garden in which a great variety of plants are cultivated, particularly ferns which seem to thrive well".
Today was going to be a plant hunting day "starting by the Sheffield
Road & returning by Stoney Middleton". Middleton Dale was wild and
romantic " a narrow winding deep chasm...rising on either side to a
great height &assuming the most grotesque&whimsical forms".
He stopped off at Eyam "the last
place in England visited by the plague" he went to Cucklett Dale to
see the "curious arched rock" which had served as an open air church
during the pestilence, knowing the history of the place "it was
impossible to approach this hallowed spot, without being moved by the
train of recollections which it involuntarily excites in the mind". In
the churchyard he found the grave of Mrs Mompesson herself a victim of
the plague, it was dated 1666. [Rev. William Mompesson (1639 - 1709)
was the hero of the plaque of Eyam] Jenyns had read an account of the
tragic events at Eyam in "Davies' History of Derbyshire".
on through Tideswell and saw late haymaking in progress, the
market-town "a very uninviting spot" it had a handsome church though.
He stopped at the George Inn for dinner then returned via Litton and
Crossbrook to Bakewell collecting plants on the way, "got back to
Bakewell by 8 in the evening, after a long but most interesting walk"
in the late evening he was out watching the swifts flying around
Off to Buxton on foot via Ashford, Taddington Dale "high hills on
either side of the road covered with underwood, cattle grazing on
their summits, a fine subject for a picture" he collected plants
stopping for dine at Taddington and looked at the several acres of
churchyard only one fifth was used.
Some bleak country lead to Topley
Pike "some splendid scenery" the Wye visible to the right at a great
depth. He went on towards Buxton, stopping less than a mile from the
town to see the rocks, one that stood boldly called Lover's Leap and a
great fissure or chasm called Shirbrook Dell where the stream was dry.
Had tea at Buxton and took up his quarters at the Shakespear Inn "one
of second rate &yielding bad accommodations". The other inns were the
Grove, The George, The Angel and the Eagle as well as two hotels:
St.Ann's and The Great Hotel.
In the evening he strolled out to see
The Crescent, Parade, Serpentine Walks but found Buxton "a dreary &
forlorn spot after all, surrounded by black hills; much question if
any thing but impaired health with a prospect of renovation by a
draught of St Anne's Waters will ever induce me to visit it again".
Even the pumps at the back of the small grecian style building used
for the purpose of drawing up the waters would not work.
It was ten miles on foot along the Wye to Ashford, the way was
somewhat hazardous from the "rocks here and there closing in upon the
river, leaving little or no room for the adventurer who is either
obliged to clamber over some of the precipices at the risk of his
neck, or to trust himself to the large blocks of stone which are
scattered about the river & rise partly above its surface" he enjoyed
"the wildness and sublimity of the prospects".
He climbed up the 360
feet above the river to the top of Chee Tor to admire the view. Walked
through Millers Dale where at the end was a large cotton mill called
"Litton Mill" with another mill below it, the river was very beautiful
here but the path much broken up and dangerous. He found this area
called Litton Frith, to be "superior to Miller's Dale or Monsal Dale.
No lover of romantic scenery should visit this part of Derbyshire
without following the Dale of the Wye from its commencement at Buxton
to its termination at Monsal Dale". Jenyns took the turnpike from
Monsal Dale back to Buxton.
In the morning he walked about half a mile to the southwest of Buxton
to a remarkable hill called "Grinlow", here there were many lime kilns
and because the site had been worked for some time, large piles of
waste called "limeashes" had built up. The heaps hardened with time
and had then been scooped out for use as dwellings for the labouring
poor. Jenyns peered into some, commenting "many of these underground
huts have several rooms & are far more comfortable than might have
A cavern called "Pooles Hole" in the same hill was
his next stop, it was more than 2000 feet long in the Lower
Carboniferous Limestone called by Jenyns "Mountain Limestone", he had
to stoop down through the entrance but soon came to the large cavern
with its stalactite formations. He found the floor very slippery and
fell several times because the nails in the bottom of his walking
shoes, and so declined from reaching the far end. The old women who
acted as guides, did not fail to give whimsical names to the different
shaped stalactites at last "after many slips and falls I was freed to
turn about and make my exit".
One of the loftiest of Derbyshire's mountains now beckoned, Axe Edge,
he climbed to the top, he had been told it stood 2100 feet above the
town of Derby, but that day the view was spoiled by mist. Towards the
top, the soil was a "turfy bog", here he collected many plants.
Bilberries grew here and on the surrounding moors "and afford a
harvest for the poor who collect them in great quantities & make a
market of them at Buxton".
The mountain was covered with men women and
children picking the berries, he asked one of them what they could get
for them "3d a quart" and could pick five quarts a day.
temperature at the top of the mountain was 55ø and Jenyns observed
immense broods of insects on the wing and identified two different
species, and startled a single Lapwing into flight. The boggy ground
here had been cut, and the pieces stood on end, two together, and left
to dry, the peat so obtained was to be used for burning. Setting
across the moors he reached "Diamond Hill" an elevated piece of
pasture land a short distance from Grinlow. Here the poor people
collected quartz crystals that could be found in the red sandy loam
just below the surface, the best method he was told was to wait until
after a hard rain when they were washed out, locally they were called
"Buxton Diamonds", Jenyns looked for some but I "did not succeed in
finding any myself".
All the moors around Buxton contained grouse
"they are met with in gangs (as the term is) of 10 to 15 birds". Returning towards Buxton he again he again passed Grinlow and found children busily occupied in gathering the blossoms of the foxglove (Digitalis) he asked "to what purpose it would be part" the reply was "for making salve" Jenyns comments "this sounds rather a hazardous recipe to be in the hands of the poor& ignorant".
Dinner was at Buxton and he set off the six miles for "Chapel en le
Frith" (called "Chapel") the first part of the road was a bleak and
dreary naked country "divided into small pastures each surrounded by a
stone wall and scarcely any trees", after about two miles he came to a
toll bar called "Barmoor Clough" nearby on the side of the road to
Tideswell was the "Ebbing & Flowing well" he went out of his way to
see it "well worthy of a stranger's notice" the nine wells flow into
small troughs arranged in a semicircle, in the centre of which is a
small pond, all was surrounded by a low stone wall. [Now lost, but the site seems to be beside the main road in a ditch - it still dries up sometimes - RFV 2002]
All was quiet when
he arrived but after ten minutes a "gentle murmur was heard" the
leaves of the water plants then began to move and then the water came
bubbling up with considerable force and noise causing the wells to
overflow into the pond, after five minutes all was quiet again. The
cause of this phenomena was not well understood but many explanations
had been given "but they are much at variance with each other".
road to Chapel was now more interesting, as it ran between two
parallel hills with many rapid streams "running here and there in
different directions". He arrived at Chapel in the evening for tea,
but the best inn "the sign of the King's Arms" was full, he had to
make do with the second rate Royal Oak.
There was nothing very remarkable about the small town of Chapel "nor
very inviting in its appearance" though its situation was more
picturesque than Tideswell. He attended divine service at the church,
but couldn't find anything of interest inside or outside of the
church. After the service he went back to the "Ebbing & Flowing well"
it was quiet for twenty-seven minutes after his arrival, the flow
which was more than the previous day lasted five and a half minutes.
The temperature of the water was 47ø before the flow and fell perhaps
half a degree during the flow. He was told that the flow dried up for
weeks in some very dry years but in the wettest weather it never
flowed more than four times an hour.
He returned to Chapel for dinner
then in the evening left for Castleton by coach over lofty roads with
extensive views and down the tortuous descent, dangerous from the
sudden and frequent turns in the road. This was the new road made to
replace the more dangerous "Winnats", and wound around the lower part
of Mam Tor. There were two principal inns at Castleton, the Bull's
Head and the Castle where Jenyns took up his quarters "where I found
At the top of a steep "eminence" stood the ruined castle below it is
the "great and famous cavern called the Devils A---e". Jenyns first
went to the castle, climbing the hill collecting plants as he went,
the castle was a ruin "one corner more perfect than the rest with the
remains of a stone staircase" more plants were growing on the walls.
He went on to the foot of the Winnats to see the Speedwell Level or
Navigation Mine, it was originally made by a company of Staffordshire
miners in search of lead. He descended 106 steps and then took a boat
the 750 yards along the level to the Devil's Hall. Here was a
tremendous gulph where "neither top or bottom are visible; at the same
time a cataract of water is heard rolling with a horrid noise from
beneath the feet of the spectator into this black abyss, which it is
not easy to stand and contemplate without an involuntary shudder". [the trip through the 750 yard tunnel is quite scary - more like going through a small pipe! - RFV 2002]
Returning to the entrance he spotted some snails.
On he went to Elden
Hole about two miles from Castleton, "on the side of a gentle hill to
the left of the road leading to Chapel". This it turned out was merely
a deep chasm "ferns and other plants may be seen growing on the sides
to a considerable depth: the whole place is walled around to prevent
accidents". He returned to Castleton and went up Mam Tor "very steep &
difficult climbing, but extensive prospects from the top to repay the
trouble reaching it".
At the top were the remains of an ancient Roman
Encampment and a fine spring of water that created a good deal of
boggy ground. Next he went to Peak Cavern in a deep and rocky chasm at
the last minute "a grand arch formed by nature in the rock then
suddenly bursts upon the view". In the first cavern were a number of
rope spinners and twine makers, they used to live in houses that
stood in the cavern but these had recently been removed. The ceiling
was black from their smoke and added gloom to the cavern. The united
voices of the workers could be heard echoing along the sides of the
cavern in an odd way and Jenyns could not help being struck by the
novelty of the scene about him. The first Cavern receded about ninety
feet from the arched entrance which outside measured 120 feet wide and
42 feet high but shrank "to not much higher than a man's head".
visitor was given a candle, the guide unlocked a door, and the party
set off underground a distance of more than 2200 feet. The first part
was by boat where the rocks were so low they had to lie down, this put
some off from going. A second stream was crossed, he was told that
the guide used to have to wade across with the visitor on his back,
but that the way had now been filled in. Many of the recesses and
cavities had been given names such as "Roger Rain's House "The
Chancel", "The Devil's Cellar", "Halfway House", "The Great Tom of
Lincoln", etc. "which have been imposed in consequence of some
fanciful association of ideas, but of course convey no meaning to the
ears of a stranger". His eyes now used to the gloom saw many things on
the return that he had missed on the outward trip and finally the
"distant voices of the ropemakers, amongst whom are women and
children, faintly striking upon the ear, is peculiarly impressive.
Certainly this cavern considered in all its features, is by far the
most wonderful & curious of all the Lions of Derbyshire".
In the morning he set off on foot several miles to Castleton to see
the "Chrystallized Cavern" owned by Bagshaw. This was a natural cavern
with poor access and required considerable exertion, a lot more than
any he had visited so far. He considered it unsuitable for those that
"have not good health & strong nerves". Visitors were supplied with
and obliged to wear "miner's drapes" and indeed the site had been
mined for calamine and some veins of lead in the past.
The cave was
extensive with small spaces, narrow passages, some where he had to
crawl on all fours and no-where that he could stand up to full height,
"the attempt to do so often severely punished by a blow on the
forehead from some projecting mass of rock". The guide told a tale of
a spot where some years before an early explorer got stuck fast and
all attempts to get him out failed. Finally exhausted and about to
dictate his will to his companions, a lucky twist of his body got him
This story only added to Jenyns' nervousness as he himself
during the telling of it was "scrambling from one end of the cavern to
the other", the guide made it worse by admitting that he was a "very
timid man" and that he "begged he would defer all conservation on such
subjects till we were fairly out".
The visitor part of the cavern
stretched some 2000 feet, the guide told that it "was possible to get
half a mile further" Lady Bagshaw and some lady friends had gone this
far some years back but it had not been an easy journey, Jenyns "felt
no inclination to follow her ladyship in this journey, but contented
myself with proceeding as far as the "Grotto of Calypso" as it is
called". He admired here the large, fine stalactites and then started
back and was "not sorry to get back into the open air after having
been an hour underground,& to enjoy the pleasure of standing upright
upon ones legs".
There were a number of "smelting houses" in the area using the lead
ore raised from the many mines in Bradwell. Merchants bought it,
smelted it and made a profit by selling it as pure metal. He was told
that "the men ... can smelt 16 or 17 pigs a day& earn 18s a week"
they had "a very ingenious gauge for ascertaining the richness of the
ore which is brought them" but an experienced man could tell just by
handling it. He saw a furnace that was judged to "contain from 60 to
70 per cent of lead", sand from the mines was being used as a flux.
The ore was being sent to the furnace by the sort of hopper to be
found in a flour mill.
He walked back to Castleton over "some good ground for the botanist"
and noted down the plants found in the hedges, crevices and stone
walls. He obviously felt like a good brisk walk after the cavern and
so set off up the high hills "which rise to the left of the road
entering Castleton from Bakewell & Matlock". Below him were splendid
views over the "whole of Castleton & Hope Dale which is laid out like
a map at ones feet".
He got back to Castleton but still not worn out
he decided to descend into the celebrated Odin Lead mines. Though, he
was told, it had been worked since the time of the Saxons, it still
produced enough ore to employ about twenty men as well as some women
and children who worked "at top" washing and cleaning the ore.
The mine worked veins of lead from two inches to twelve feet, this is
associated with "Calk (the miner's name for Sulphate of Barytes)" some
fluor and occasionally "Elastic Bitumen or Mineral Caoutchouk" and
more rarely "White Carbonate of Lead". He set off down the full ninety
yards descending by a shaft "very little different from a well" the
steps were cut into the sides with "small slips of wood let into the
earth to serve as steps" even some of these were missing and they were
spaced far apart, and all of them were "very narrow, filthy and
slippery" at first he almost fell several times but soon got better at
The shaft didn't go all the way down but was split into three
parts with horizontal levels between. At the bottom he and some others
in the group of visitors had squeeze through some "very awkward
places, before we arrived at the spot where they were working".
Everything was muddy and wet "to the last degree" but he found it an
interesting and novel scene, the miners working with pickaxes, and
sometimes drilling a hole in the rock and producing a "blast" with
gunpowder. A miner worked an eight-hour day, raising about a ton of
ore with a value of about £10. After half an hour they left, but not
before Jenyns recorded the temperature with a small thermometer which
stood at 68ø. He was not sorry to leave finding the ascent a little
easier, perhaps he was more experienced now, he mused. He reached the
surface safely and he "never more gladly hailed the light of day, -
being covered with filth, - in a horrid sweat,& almost exhausted with
fatigue" he had been just two hours underground.
He thought that those
who work in the lead mines "drag on a most unenviable existence -
consigned all their days to the bowels of the earth. amid damp &filth
& darkness; they have generally a pale ghastly appearance &seem half
worn out with fatigue & privation, even those that are yet in full
youth", but this was the main employment for the poor in the area,
only a few others were more lucky, earning a living by spinning.
Time was now short as he intended to set off for Sheffield at noon, so he gave up the hope of visiting the Blue John mines called The Tray Cliff & Water Hull mines. Instead he went over the church at Castleton, but found little of interest except a mural tablet on the north wall with the following eccentric epitaph"To the memory of Micah Hall, Gent. Attorney at law, who died on the 14th of May 1804, aged 79 years"
This Mr Hall was thought to be a strange person "remarkable for his
universal doubt on religious subjects" and he had wanted his epitaph
to be written in english, but because the text was considered "hardly
proper" it was written in latin (so that few could read it). Jenyns
translated it as:
Leaving the church he set off up through a narrow defile between two
lofty limestone rocks that opened into a valley enclosed by rocks
called Cave Valley, he stopped at this romantic spot examining the
many lichens and plants that grew in this favoured spot. About
half-way up the valley was a layer of basalt, in one area showing up
as hexagonal columns. At 12 o'clock he left Castleton on foot for
Sheffield, he found the road interesting most of the way. After five
miles he came to the "small but prettily situate" village of
Hathersage at the "foot of a lofty but extensive hill" and went to see
the "supposed burial place of Little John the companion of Robin
The guide pointed out the two stones at about twelve foot apart
that marked the place and was told that it had been opened some years
before and that it had contained a "gigantic" thigh bone and some
The next five miles were over dreary moor covered with
heath with blocks of shale and gritstone "from underneath the coal".
The last few mile were cultivated with crops of corn, many of these
crops were still uncut. Finally he got to Sheffield "which stands on
the Coal Measures" at seven in the evening, found it "a large &
populous town surrounded by iron factories; which cause dense volumes
of smoke & fill the houses with blacks as in London".
He had arranged to spend two nights with a friend at Nottingham on the
way home, so he saw no more of Sheffield but set off in the morning by
coach through Dronfield, Chesterfield and Mansfield "chiefly an
enclosed & highly cultivated country with a good deal of woodland
scenery, he admired the spire of Chesterfield Church "a singular
optical deception" and passed through Sherwood Forest "a great part of
which is bleak moor covered with heath &c". Then on the fourteen miles
from Mansfield to Nottingham, arriving at three in the afternoon.
Nottingham was a large manufacturing town of some 40000 souls mostly
employed in making stockings and lace. He walked down several
excellent streets and examined "one of the finest market places I ever
saw". The local geology he noted was the New Red Sandstone, as he
climbed up a quartzose gravel hill to reach the castle on the top,
by then he had met up with his friend who took him also to see the
public library "which contains a collection of minerals & some other
natural &artificial curiosities".
His friend introduced him to two gentlemen of Nottingham "both well
versed in the study of natural history" Mr Pearson and Dr Godfrey
Howitt, Pearson had a good collection of minerals, fossils and shells
and Jenyns was impressed by some "remarkably fine" Cyclas rivicola
shells specimens from the River Trent from close to the town. Dr
Howitt collected mostly plants and insects.
Jenyns gave Howitt a list
of the plants he would like for his herbarium. Those that were
available Howitt sent on to Jenyns in September with a list of his
requirements (both plants and insects) and offered various bulbs for
the Cambridge Botanical Garden, and offered his help generally on the
natural history of his area. (letter 1.59)
At 7 o'clock in the morning he set off on a twelve hour journey to
Cambridge, getting home at exactly 7pm, having travelled nearly ninety
miles. The first stage was to Bingham then on through the Vale of
Belvoir where the New Red Sandstone passes into the lias formation.
Then to Bottesford and Grantham leaving Belvoir Castle to the right
on towards Stamford through the birthplace of Sir Issac Newton at
Woolsthorp "was pointed out the house in which he was born". From
Stamford to Huntingdon 28 miles and on to Cambridge 15 miles in
the most part a very uninteresting country - the whole way.
Time to unpack his collections and start sorting the plants for his
herbarium [some still exist in the Bath RLSI] before resuming his
It would seem from the notes in his Journal that Jenyns had heard from
Yarrell on the identity of certain geese "The Anser fergus of Linneaus
- supposed distinct from both Anser albifrons& Anser segetum, but
Messrs Yarrell & Leadbetter from an examination of many intermediate
specimens obtained during the late severe winter are now convinced
themselves - that it is only the young of the former - vis the
A.albrifrons or White fronted Goose of English Naturalists".
Mr Orton Aikin of Cambridge was kind enough to show Jenyns his
collection of birds shot locally by himself, and gave him a list of
their locations and dates. These he added to his list of the
"Ornithology of Cambridgeshire".
A note on the weather for the last few months "much rain fell
throughout the month of June, and at intervals throu'out July, August
& September, with the exception of the last week in July wh was very
hot. The summer may be said to have been unseasonably cold & never