Lichfield: 13th April

Being Tuesday, left Bradby for Lichfield, 16 miles from Buxton. All the way the road is quite level, a fine country. Some very good farming; canals in every corner; everything carried by water – corn, oats, and dung. Roads all very broad and well kept. All over the country the workmen wear white “hardin” frocks, and the women wear gipsy hats, broad-brimmed, and not more than one inch deep in the crown; they have a very curious appearance. Women just now working in the fields, gathering up stones or picking weeds, have 7d or 8d a day. At Bradley I saw four stacks of hay standing, 5000 stones each, and two more, all of last year’s growth. They are all fine in quality, but all taken from old “swade.” Lichfield is a very pretty town; there they have one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have seen. The paintings on glass are exceedingly well done. The spire, from the foundation to the top of the vane, is nearly 300 feet. The soil here is light, sharp, and very fit for turnips; but they grow very few. Still the fences are of the old jungle fashion.

Lichfield SS



From Lichfield to Birmingham, 17 miles. This is a large city, very well built, and has the appearance of great business. Owing either to the nature of the brick or the smoke of so many furnaces, it has a much darker appearance than Manchester or Derby. By the returns given, the population is 71,000; but from the best information this place is upon the decline. The streets in general are narrow, and there is not the same degree of cleanliness observed as in many other places. The pavements are all a very hard stone, and disagreeable to walk upon. On this stage I saw a great deal of common ground, several hundred acres all lying as level as sea beach; the half of it overrun with whins, but of a kind that never gets up to high bushes. They have large quantities of sheep pasturing on them, but a kind of mixture of every breed, and with different marks. They are all in bad condition. The soil is dry, with a mixture of fern or bracken amongst the whins, the very best of soil for improvement. It is wonderful that nothing can be devised, for arranging the properties contiguous, so as to get the comrnons divided and improved. It would be a great advantage to the community at large.


From Birmingham to Hawkley, 11 miles. This is but a small place. Here there is a very elegant inn. The ostlers here, as indeed at every inn on the road, are wonderfully attentive. When you alight they wash the horse’s feet; and stay as short a time as you may, the saddle is taken off, the horse well rubbed, and when you mount, tail and mane combed. Indeed, when you mount you cannot help thinking your horse is improving every stage. The soil on this stage differs little from that last described; I think it worse if anything. Rents here average 1s per acre free to the proprietor; but in bad years, poor rates and others payable by the tenant, it will be double that amount. Few or none have leases, yet they mostly continue in their farms for generations. Still, they are at mercy; and it mars improvement.

Ashburn in 1802: 9th April

Friday morning, to Ashburn, 9 miles. They graze a great many cattle this stage, mostly Irish ones. In making the puddle ponds, they make a large cast, take out the earth five or six feet deep; they sour or work up a great deal of earth in with the water till it gets as tough as rope. They will keep it in that stage for weeks. They then line the pond with it six or eight inches deep. In rainy weather the pond gets full and retains the water a long time, in many places all the year round. They work it very hard in; they rail it so as to let the cattle drink, but not to get in to spoil it with their feet. This is but a small town; some very good houses, but very little business going on.


From Ashburn to Derby, 12 miles. This is a large town, with well-built houses, all brick; a fine market place. I counted thirty-four butchers’ stalls, besides private ones. The country is very level, the soil dry, and the roads very sandy and heavy to ride upon. A great part of the land is in grass for pasture or hay. The hay is all taken from old lea, which they call meadow; fences here rather better kept. They all use wheel ploughs. I never see a plough without a wheel; sometimes four, five, and six horses all on end; never two abreast. This being market day, I dined with a large company, a medley of all sorts and callings. It was not long before farming came to be spoken of; and then I took a share. I wondered at their awkward method of working horses. They were curious to hear our method; but when I told them how much we could do with one man and two horses abreast, the straight lines they can draw, bearing upon any given point at a reasonable distance, they thought it all nonsense, and plainly said they could or would not believe me. I reasoned how ridiculous it was to have so many horses when the hindmost one had the whole burden at the end of the land, the rest all turning again idle. Many of their ploughs take two furrows where the ground is well made and plain; still, two single ones would do double the execution. They have very heavy horses, all black, of, great value; their ploughs very heavy made, all tempered by screws and screw bolts.


Burton OOFrom Derby to Burton, 12 miles. Most of the way fine level ground, and in most places very well farmed. Coming within five miles of Burton, we came very near the Trent; a very flat country on the banks of it for miles, mostly in grass, as in “floody” times it is often overflooded; fine, both hay and pasture, when well got in good seasons. Here, by the way, I saw ewes and lambs feeding upon rye and turnips, which had been sowed, mixed together, in the month of September. They sow this on very dry land after some other crop is taken off. After eating this in the month of March, or rather in April or May, they plough and fallow it, give a very little dung, and sow drilled turnips for winter feeding, which they say never misses being a good crop; after this barley, sown down with grass and grass seed for two or three years; their hay always taken from the old land. On a dry soil, I think this way of feeding very good, and would suit well on some lands in this country. They sow two bushels of rye and three pounds of turnip seed per acre, and in winter harrow it carefully. Burton stands on the Trent; small crafts come all the way from Hull, in many places on the river itself, in other places in canals. It is a pretty large town, well built, and very clean kept. There are three or four very good inns, besides many small public houses. Here are several breweries which pay an immense revenue to Government. Burton beer is famous all over Europe. They convey it by water east and west, where it goes to every corner.


There is a bridge over the river here, of a great number of arches – upwards of twenty. From Burton, over the rising-ground, over the south-east to Bradley Hall, the seat of the Earl of Chesterfield, is four miles. On the top of the hill on Bradley farm is a grove of very large trees, which serves as a land-mark for different countries. Bradley has been at one time a very stately place, but for a series of years it has not been attended to. In the park, which may be about 500 acres, there are a very great number of fine oak trees. Another lot has been planted perhaps fifty years ago, and are now as fine thriving trees as can be seen. The whole of the place is very much improved, the park all dressed off, any bank in it planted, and the approach to the house, new garden, and all the policy done to great taste. The house and offices are rather ancient than modern; the latter are buildings anew at a proper distance from the hall, on a very nice plan, and a pretty extensive scale. A new mansion house is in agitation; I have seen the plan. In the park are 360 deer, all of one colour, a light mouse dun, ten to twelve scores of sheep, and thirty small Highland cattle. The farm, without the park, may be five or six hundred acres, all well laid out, well fenced, and drained to very great purpose. That branch or operation seems as well understood, and as well executed, as anywhere I have seen; but as the factor is a son of my own, I am forbidden to say more. He no doubt serves one of the very best of masters, and gets much of his will. The character of their noblemen is great, and their example worthy of imitation; all about or under them live comfortably.

‘A place like Melrose’: 8th April

Tuesday morning, set out for Derby Peaks, 8 miles. After going four miles, I left the road and turned east for four miles to see the peak holes, which are awfully wonderful. In taking this angle to the east it is very high land, and must be very stony; but still the grass is fine, and there are large flocks of fine sheep, which they call the Woodlands. They are long bodied, round – made, white – faced, and very like each other. They have a great load of wool, which is of a very fine quality, short, and very thick in the fleece. I think these were the most beautiful stock I saw on all my ride; and if ever I am a stock farmer, I certainly would have a breed of them. They are by no means delicate. The hill-ground where they go is all bounded by stone dykes, which are clumsy structures. As to peak holes, were I to describe them it would take a good many pages. They have been discovered by the people when  working for lead 600 yards underground. We went by boats in a canal lighted by candles. We came to an abyss which never was explored, and heard the sound of water like distant thunder, but how or where is not known. Glad was I on seeing daylight again. But this is only a small sample of another one, about half a mile distant, at the village of Castletown, a place like Melrose, which is supported by strangers, who come to see these things. A very good inn kept here on purpose, besides smaller ones.


From Castletown to Buxton, 13 miles. This is a very uneasy stage to travel by the nearest way, over a hilly country. The whole of this upper end of Derbyshire is full of minerals; for many miles you see the gravel lying in great heaps, almost as white as snow, which has been taken out at every shaft or sink they have made. There are many places in almost a line for miles together where the vein runs. In many places coming over a hill you imagine you are coming into a water, when there is a rocky narrow vale but neither spring nor running water, but very fertile pasture. In general the farm-places are pretty far distant, and two or three live at the same place. They have pump wells, which scantily afford water. They have puddled ponds for their cattle, which serve for a time, but in long drought they go dry; and they will haul water for their cattle at the distance of three or four miles. A great deal of very fine turnip soiI .and they are now beginning to raise them in quantities.


Buxton stands on a low vale on the side of a small river. The river below the town is romantic – terrible rocks and precipices. The town is neat and well-built; all white freestone, fine-polished. The” Circuit” is a fine building, which would cost many thousand pounds; thirty or forty families may lodge in it. The Assembly Room is one of the largest I ever saw; the stables are above 550 yards distant; they have the look of a very large barrack. I forget the number of horses and carriages that can be lodged here, but it is very incredible like. Here I paid sixpence for a drink of water.There is very little appearance of industry here; they live by the company that resort to it in summer. In winter they have little or nothing to do. Coming along the last stage, I find they enclose the land with stone dykes, six feet high, besides a cobble cope. The enclosures being small, the inclosing must cost double the value of the ground. They say it shelters both corn and grass. Access to the south very steep.


From Buxton to Newhaven, 9 miles. This is now a fine open country, dry soil, and some very good farming. I saw some cattle (all Irish) feeding on some very good pasture. Coming forward, I found the land is laid out into large regular enclosures, and seems all brought in from Commons. Newhaven, a very excellent inn, and on the most extensive scale I ever saw any. Here they could put up fifty gentlemen and their horses without being thronged. Everything clean and in good order. I was very civilly used. The landlord, a fine farmer, and has 200 acres in fine order. The building of the house and offices cost the Duke of Devonshire £5000. It stands on a rising-ground, and has fine access every way.

Manchester: [7th April]

On Wednesday morning I set out for Manchester, 18 miles. This stage is very level, the soil very variable. Here for the first time I saw a corn mill since passing Penrith; also a good many cotton mills-some going by steam, others by water. Coming on towards Manchester are some very fine villas, belonging to manufacturers. Hedges here are very well taken care of, and things begin to have a more regular appearance. This is a large, flourishing-like place, the houses all of brick; and many new buildings going on. Here they have a very large butcher market; but a great many sell meat in their own houses. They all kill cow beef in this country, and  all supplied from Skipton and other places in the west of Yorkshire and Chester. I have never seen a Highland stot since coming on English ground, save twenty at Preston. The fruit here is plentiful, and well preserved. Apples for a penny sufficient for a man to eat.

They have a great many black oats in market, which are bought for horses. According to the account in the papers, the population in this town is upwards of 82,000. The number of cotton works all around must employ a great number of hands. Some new streets built as we enter the town are the most regular buildings I ever saw anywhere, and must be done at great expense.


From Manchester to Stockport, 7 miles. This is a small town; stands very low. The soil at this stage is not of the best, but farming here is better understood than any other place from Liverpool. There I saw two very fat Highland cows sold to a butcher at 11s 6d, “duch weight.”

From Stockport to Dishbey, 7 miles. This is also a very low-standing village, and a very long steep puts in on either side. In the neighbourhood they are very famous for a fine breed of sheep. They have very few together on the same pasture. I never saw such large fine sheep anywhere. They commonly weigh 34 lbs and 40 lbs the quarter of two years old. The great point here seems to be who is to have the largest and fattest, no matter what the expense is. From Dishbey to Wiley Bridge Inn, a low-lying place, to which a new canal is making from the east, but can go on further to the west. The country now begins to be flat, grassy hills, and very many small farm places standing upon the banks of small rivulets give a very “plenished” or populous appearance.


Liverpool in 1802: 6th April

Tuesday morning, to Liverpool, 8 miles – Last night I had a very entertaining landlord, a sensible man. There had been a public letting of land lately before I was there. The method used was this – the offerers were in one room, the proprietor sat as judge; the articles were read, which could not be altered. Each offerer gave in his sealed ticket or offer; a set time was given opened the tickets, and without more being said declared who was tenant. No further explanation was given; the person preferred subscribed the articles, and all was settled. This is said to be the general mode of letting here. From this place to Liverpool quite a plain country; a good soil, and some parts of it pretty well farmed. Near to the town the soil is excellent, and at this date fit to feed the largest cattle. Three-fourths of the ground is in pasture or for hay crops. Windmills here in every corner for grinding corn; they have few waterfalls for mills. The road for three miles into the town is all covered with a very hard flinty stone, and very uneasy for a horse to travel upon. The town is as large as Glasgow, but not so regularly built, or the streets so fine. A great many buildings shaped out and going on just now show it to be a thriving place, very likely the second port in the British dominions. I made particular inquiry as to their shipping. There were then 700 ships in their different docks and ports; 200 had sailed in a fortnight before-besides all that were in other places at sea. The harbour is upwards of a mile long, almost in a straight line, with curves. In many of these curves you will find twenty or thirty ships lying safely, blow what will. The carts go into the points of these curves upon stone-built ‘keys’ so that, standing at one end and looking along the harbour, you are apt to imagine the horses and carts all on board the ships. I think Liverpool a wonderful place of trade. The river Mersey, upon which it stands, is, I think, two miles broad. The streets in general are narrow, and of very hard stones. They have a good butcher market here. They are in part supplied from Cheshire, on the opposite side of the river.


From Liverpool to Prescote, 8 miles-a small, very neat, clean town. This short stage is very good road, after leaving the hard stone causeway, which comes three miles out of the town. Here I saw a few whins, for a marvel. Fences as bad as ever; the soil but middling. Still the coal trade seems to be the greatest work. I saw many waggons and carts, drawing cotton from Liverpool to the mills up the country to the eastward.

From Prescote to Warrington, 12 miles. Very little variation in this stage; farming is better here than on better soils; saw a great many planting potatoes on “by” ground, which had only got one furrow. Here I saw French “flowing” very well done; one single horse draws a spade plough, which takes the greensward. Then three horses all in a line taking a very deep “fur ” which buries the other one. There can be no grass to trouble the crop after, for one season. Warrington, a large place; a good many of the principal roads from different parts centre here. Some very good inns. Here they manufacture woollen stockings. In this county they sell hay by 120 lbs., average price of it 4s 6d to 5s; potatoes by 84 lbs, 1s 2d; fine red apples, 84 lbs,  1s 8d to 2s. At this season they are in as good preservation as with us in November. Ivy still upon every tree.


Lancaster to Preston and Ormskirk: 5th April

Monday, left Lancaster for Garstang, 12 miles. It is a small neat town, with a very fine inn. There seems to be no public business going on here. The country is ill farmed in general; fences still of the jungle kind, ivy on every tree, and little industry carried on. The dairy seems to be the main affair; butter, cheese, and milk the dependence. I have not seen an ox of any age or size since I left Carlisle. They feed and kill all the males and keep the females for cows. The whole of their crops of corn are put into barn for winter; no stacks in the yard; they keep their places very clean by everything being under cover.

Leaving Garstang for Preston, 12 miles, the soil here is very desirable to the right; to the left it seems more bleak and hilly. Preston stands upon the Ribble, which is very navigable up to the town. Coals are exported from this to foreign places. The town stands upon a gentle eminence, and has a showy appearance. There are considerable cotton works at no great distance, and some show of industry about the place. I think it is justly named proud Preston. Here I thought upon the defeat of poor ill-fated Charles Stuart; he was then too far from his friends.

From Preston I set out for Ormskirk, 10 miles, a small town but well built, and with some· appearance of industry; but being too soon to stop, I went on a few miles to a “publick” at a bridge, where I was well lodged. I never met a rider this day save one. All go in carriages of one kind or another. In this last ride or stage the soil is very variable. Coals and goods of every kind are here carried in waggons; few carts, and these of a very clumsy appearance, mostly with broad wheels. The coal trade from the hill country to the east is a great affair, and much spoken about. A coal agent lodged here all night, and told many wonderful stories about the work, sales, &c. I thought he shot wide, and cut him down in my estimate 70 per cent, same as ‘tocher goods’.

Lancaster: 4th April

Lancaster Castle SS

Lancaster Castle

Sunday afternoon we left Ellond for Lancaster, being 12 miles, Mr Milne accompanying me all the way from Lancaster to Burks. Saw some very fine long-horned cattle by the way; indeed there is no other kind to be seen. The farming and fences miserable. Ivy seems to be a native, and every hedge and tree more or less over-run by it.

Lancaster is a very large town and very regular. The castle stands upon an eminence, whence it has a commanding view of the hills in Westmoreland, and down the coast towards Preston. The armament part of the castle is very strong, and in Gothic style; for many years they have been building and repairing, and it has now a very grand appearance. Being the county town, the Circuits are held here, and spacious apartments are fitted out for that purpose. A basin of water at the end of the town forms a fine harbour, from whence the Canal takes its rise. They have a very fine harbour on the north end of the town for West India shipping, of which trade they have now a great share. I think it is a very thriving place.


Lord Lonsdale’s Faggots: 3rd April

Saturday morning, I went on to Shap, a stage of 10½  miles. On the left hand, after leaving the town alongst the left hand, not far from the road, there are about forty very large stones of a globular shape placed in straight rows, about 100 feet distance. How they have been moved or brought there, from their very great size, must puzzle the brains of a philosopher. Michael Scott or the devil may have done it. Going on for some miles, say three, we come on to Lord Lonsdale’s estate;  for a good many miles he has the grounds all in his own possession, and all in pasture. Here you behold the vestiges of farm steadings, and old irregular stone fences, all in ruins. A great many back-going trees have a most ugly appearance. To see the deserted-like appearance of the country attracts the eye of every traveller. On the very side of the road, he has built a kind of mock garrison, with a few houses within it, but for what purpose I cannot say. Going further still on the road, he has built a row of houses, fifty in number, in order to make voters for himself, when he had the famous dispute with the Duke of Portland, but the matter was settled before he got any to inhabit them, and there they remain a memento of his folly. Of many thousand acres he has in his own hands he makes little or nothing, and the public are deprived of much sustenance of both dead and living stock. But before putting my travelling notes in order, I see he is gone to his place. His will and destiny of his effects is just a piece with his life.


Shap, a small paltry village, one very capital inn, some very poor ones. It stands in a very low piece of ground, and having very little descent to carry off the water and filth, it must be very unwholesome. They at the same time have very fine spring water. In all the road from Langholm have only seen five crows’ nests; the trees seem now all on the decay, and are overgrown with ivy or blindweed, and have a very disagreeable appearance. Leaving Shap, we set out for Kendal, 14 miles. For the first few miles the road and the country is pretty plain, but as you go on, at times mountainous, and the soil perfectly barren; ten acres of some of it would not maintain one sheep. Over these moors, called Shap Fells, the road is steep, but laid out with great judgment to make it as easy as the nature of the ground will admit, and also very well made and kept in repair, but it must be a dangerous stage in stormy weather. After getting to the top of the hill we get as fast down to a small river, where there is a public-house. Waggons go over these hills, which is wonderful. When three miles from Kendal we come to a most fruitful plain, and the town is a delightful place; it stands upon the banks of a river. There are a good many things manufactured here; it is famous for making best bend and other sorts of leather; the cattle in this place are all of the Lancashire breed, and have strong hides. The town is pretty large, ‘twere as large as Hawick or more. They have a fine market, this being the day of it a great concourse of people there. I dined with a Mr Fleming at the inn; he is a clergyman, six miles distant, and a very intelligent farmer at the same time; he is a man of great property, and very patriotic, and has the best breeds of cattle in the country. I never was better pleased with a companion; I wished to accept his invitation, but could not go with him as he was rather behind me. A great part of their haugh ground is used as old meadow ground and  manured yearly.


Leaving Kendal after dinner for Burton, 12 miles, the road is plain and easy. The soil in general is plain and dry with freestone bottom, well cultivated for turnips, but no great quantity shown. The fences and shape of the enclosures are disgusting. The hedges are a medley of hawthorn, sloe thorn, hazel, and ivy. The enclosures are very small and without any regular form. The ridges are in general very broad, and most of the land in tillage in a very miserable state, fallowing very little practised. Burton is a very small town such as Selkirk, but more regularly built. Some pieces of very excellent ground near the town. Went that evening to the village of Ellond, where I stayed all night with a Mr John Milne from this country, who has been farming for Dr Campbell, Lancashire, who has a small estate here. He has shown a very good example, but they have not followed it much. They, in general, draw their horses single, one before the other, even in the harrows and break. They are wedded to their own customs, and will not be easily persuaded out of them. The sea comes in with a creek within two miles of Ellond.


Langholm to Carlisle and Penrith: 2nd April

Friday morning I set out for Longtown, 12 miles down the banks of the Esk. For 7 miles the ground all belongs to the Duke. It is the most rural ride to be met with anywhere, with woody banks on one side and the river on the other. Being a fine morning I was agreeably entertained with songster birds from every tree, but on leaving the wood a drunken sailor and his wife passed, who seemed to have lain out all night. He had struck and abused her terribly. She in return was blackguarding him, and there were dreadful oaths from each. What a contrast, the rational beings and the harmless birds. It gave room to lament fallen man and our state by nature, poor wretches! From thence down the Esk to Longtown the ground is quite level near the river, but to the right very poor ground indeed, with small farms, but still decent houses. Crossed the Esk, now in England 5 miles. Longtown, a neat, clean, regular town as any I ever saw. They have a market where they sell corn, butcher meat, and bacon hams, reported as good as any in England. The whole houses all hold of Graham of Netherby, and many of them his own property. There is one very capital inn, where the mails and other coaches stop, besides some very good ones of inferior note, where riders and others can be very well accommodated. Lord Graham’s house is one of the most delightful situations that can be met with. From Longtown to Carlisle (10 miles) the soil, most part of which is very poor – whins, heather, and bramble, and the road very level. There are some very good lands on the banks of the river Line. On coming near Carlisle the soil is excellent. The banks of the river Eden are the richest grounds in the north of England. It is allowed there is grass here that will feed five heavy sheep per acre. The town is pretty regular, and there are good inns; facing the north there are eighteen stables of different kinds. Most of these depend on drovers; they have a market for live cattle nine months in the year, a new flesh market that has a street and a rowan both sides.

From Carlisle to Penrith (19 miles), a great part of this stage the ground is very poor. I computed some of the moor pastures will take four acres at an average to maintain one sheep, and that is very poor. They have a poorer kind of sheep, one-third of them rams. I could get no reason for this, unless they think them the more hardy.


To the right hand of the road there is a thing that cannot be easily accounted for. There are five stones standing in a piece of bog ground where they never could
grow, and from their size they are past being carried. The credulous people say that in a war between Michael Scott and the devil, the one standing on Skiddaw Fell and the other on a hill to the east, 10 miles between them, they pelted stones at each other, which met in the middle. Even these said stones remain, and will do to the end of time. On asking them who was Michael Scott, the reply was – a warlock. What is a warlock? A witch’s son or brother. They tell wonderful stories about the said Michael Scott, and as firmly believe them. Coming nigh the town of Penrith they have a very fine common piece of ground for holding sheep and cattle markets on, of
which they have a great many in the course of the year. Penrith of itself is a pretty large town, standing very low. Some very good lands all enclosed lie around it. Lakes lie to the south-west about ten miles distant the hills around them go by the name of Skiddaw Fells, and have as rugged an appearance as any hills in the Highlands of Scotland.


The journey begins: 1st April 1802

HAVING had a long desire to see his Majesty King George our Sovereign, and the Metropolis of the Kingdom, and not having seen my oldest son for the space of thirteen years, who at present resides at Bradley Hall in Derbyshire, with Earl Chesterfield, I resolved to set out on a journey for accomplishing these purposes. Accordingly upon Thursday, the 1st day of April, 1802, and the sixty-fourth year of my age, I set out on horseback with the neat sum of thirty-one pounds in my pocket. Hawick to breakfast, 12 miles on my road, I saw nothing new.

From Hawick to Langholm that evening, 22 miles; the ground all the way on both sides the road belongs to the Duke of Buccleuch, save three small farms. In this stage there are very great improvements in the space of three years past by inclosing and irrigation; how far this last is, or will be, profitable I cannot say; it certainly produces more grass in the meantime, but so very foul and luscious that if the sheep are not well kept from it at particular seasons it must be very dangerous for giving them the rot. At present it seems to be the hobby-horse of his Grace and those about him, and of course it must be right. Upon the whole of the farms there are neat, new, or sufficient houses and steadings; the Duke allows slate and nails, the tenant is at all expenses. Some of these houses are better than ministers’ manses, with ten or twelve fire places in them. The farmers all live very comfortably more so than on any other large estate in Scotland. Langholm is a very pretty small place. The new town is in a very pleasant situation, and several branches of manufactures are carried on here – a large woollen one, two check ones, a paper mill, and a bleach-field. This being the illumination on account of the Dean many a feeble taper was lighted, but to look over to the new town was very pretty.