Friday, from Great Smeaton to Rushby House Inn, 15 miles. For many miles the soil is pretty good, but as you come on the climate is worse, more bleak, and the soil worse, and the country has not the same warm appearance. Coming on, passed through Darlington, a very neat and large town; a fine market place. Here they have two banks, a good deal of woollen manufacture, principally worsted. A few miles from this is a famous breeder of cattle. He has a bull just now, for which he has been offered £1000. He serves at £10, 10s each cow. The very best shorthorned cattle are bred here, called the Teeswater breed.
From Rushby House Inn to Durham, 9 miles. This stage mostly a strong wheat soil; some of it a white clay. A great many steep “putts” in the road; in many places this stage the roads are shamefully narrow, and seem shamefully encroached upon by enclosing. There are certainly five gentlemen in the place to look after them.
Durham is a large town, but a very low situation, and of bad access in every direction. A river divides the town. I think it is one of the worst laid out towns I have seen in all my ride-bad streets, irregular buildings, and nothing to recommend it. Saw the Cathedral, which is a very fine one; it is next to York Minster of any I ever saw. Some very fine masonwork, as well as paintings. It is in length 90 yards, in breadth I cannot say how much. Here they have a fine organ, supposed to be first-rate This being the Race Day, every house was full, and the town all in confusion. Cocking till four, then the race. The ground can be the best seen of any race ground I ever saw. I stayed until I saw one heat well contested for; after that I came to Sunderland. They were a wicked-like people, swearing and betting.
From Durham to Sunderland, 13 miles. This is a pleasant situation, a large place, and well built. Vast numbers of coal ships belong to this place. A great part of this a very bad road. About half-way, at a village called Hetton, there is an academy, where 140 gentlemen’s sons are taught almost in every branch of education. This stage is pretty high ground, and we have a view of the sea a great part of the way. The cast metal bridge is a very wonderful thing, and well worth any person’s while to ride 40 or 50 miles for no other purpose than to see. The appearance of it is very pleasing. At the distance of a few hundred feet you are apt to think it very slight work, but when you come close to it you have a very different appearance. There are six centres in form as under each of these, but has three rings somewhat like a lint-wheel, and balusters supporting the one ring from the other. There are thin cross bars that join the centres both above and below, and over the top cross bars the whole breadth of the roadway of the bridge. The haunches are all raised to the level by circles of cast iron in form of large cylinders. It is so regular and open work that a thousand hoys may play among the balusters without being in danger of falling. Height of the bridge, 100 feet; width, 236 feet. I cannot say the breadth of the road on the top, but there are foot walks railed off for foot people to be safe from cattle or carriages.