Cresswell Crags

Cresswell Crags are about five miles from Worksop, and though they are sufficiently beautiful to repay the admirer of picturesque scenery, they are very little frequented. The foot road is through the Worksop Manor Park to South Lodge, and through the tunnel made by the Duke of Portland, pursuing which the new Mansfield road will be reached, and a road on the right leads to Cresswell. The carriage road is by the new Mansfield turnpike, and the road on the right named above near Welbeck will lead to Cresswell.

With the permission of Dr. Spencer T. Hall, he shall now be the tourist's guide. "On entering the village you meet with two or three groups of small cottages, which seem as if they had shrunk out of the way under some grey overhanging rocks for shelter; and as you draw near to acquaint yourself still better with the scene, you perceive a little public-house, with a fine old bowering sycamore at its front, up which ascends a flight of steps to an ale-bench surrounded by seats among its branches, where it is capable of safely accommodating an extensive convivial party. Passing this curious tree, and several rudely constructed cottages, you are at once in the opening of a most romantic defile—a streamy glen, with high rocky sides, and from the indentures on one hand, and the projections on the other formed to fit them, convince you at once that in some remote age of the world both were joined together, and that a high hill was here opened through its centre by some tremendous convulsion of nature. Yet, however this scene may impress us, it has little of the terrific left about it. For with the exception of the openings to some extensive and remarkable caverns that are understood to have furnished retreats for Robin Hood and his band, time appears to have obliterated a good deal of that grimness which generally characterises rocky scenery. And the luxuriance of the hanging foliage and ivy; the greenness of the meadow ex;tending from side to side; the freshness of the little river Wollen flowing through its midst, with its trail of willows; the grotesqueness of the clustering cot;tages at its upper end, and its lovely opening through green dell into Welbeck Park below;—all tend to cheer rather than awe the spectator, and to make him feel how harmoniously beauty and sublimity may dwell together."

Proceeding through the village of Cresswell, we come to

Markland Grips,

which are really three diverging bushy glens. Up one of these run rocks—grotesque and grey—from, and often partially, in which the stems of dark yews and other trees fantastically wriggle and twist themselves about, and then hang out their bowery heads from the crags and crevices with mingled wildness and sublimity. Sometimes we come to an antique cavity, and climbing in find ourselves in a fairy dwelling, the inside of which is lined with velvet mosses of brilliant hues, braided by tendrils of ivy and other green climbers, and overhung in front by beautiful festoons of evergreens that playfully flutter in the fitful wind.

Next may be seen some castellated projection, whose ivy-mantled turrets make us think of old ruined abbeys and fortresses, so much in their solitude and stillness do they resemble such objects; and still further on, some little grotto retiring into its verdurous nook coyly invite you to enter and enjoy the sweet prospect from its green-fringed opening.

Such was the bewitching succession of scenes through which we rambled in the softening sunshine of evening, till coming to a narrow part of the dell, where the embowered rocks almost met over a limpid brook, with which we had all along kept up a happy companionship, we reclined for a while in the cool shade to watch the flight of ringdoves from tree to tree, and to listen to their tender cooing, or the pleasant calls of other feathered inhabitants of the woods, musing in unspeakable thankfulness and joy on the beauties of nature and the power which had been given us to reap from them so much instruction and delight.

Anon we plunged among the bushes on the opposite side of the dell, and scrambling up the cliff, found ourselves on a piece of table-land, from which we could gaze upon much that we had passed with considerable advantage, as the same objects had a different appearance from every new position.

Then unexpectedly we dropped into a sweet pastoral hollow, with high woody sides, and a little brook warbling wildly through its centre. There was some;thing in the life and spirit of this lonely dell, richer and purer in its effect than I had then felt elsewhere. There was a brightness in the whole scene that scarcely seemed of earth—a freshness even about its mellow;ness and repose, like that which inspires us when we read John Keat's poetry—so soothing, yet elevating— so tender, though solemn!—elysian fore-glimpses vouchsafed to man, that we may feel how well Para;dise is worth his winning! Through this we went into another glen, which proved to be the souther- most Grip—much of the same character as the western one in the main, but somewhat different in its minor features—and if anything on a more extended scale, though not, if we except the little tributary just mentioned, fraught altogether with such a variety of beauty and interest. No one can gaze on the side of this Grip without perceiving indubitable proofs of their having been, like Cresswell Crags—of which they are in some sense a continuation—undivided, in some distant age of the earth; yet how far, far distant must that age be! What centuries it must have taken to form the rich deep soil on which this beautiful verdant pasture is spread between them! What evidences of a succession of vegetation in the interstices of the cliffs too! What vast masses of foliage hanging from the rock-sides in all the exuberance of native wildness! Yews—great spreading funereal yews—waving out like something set to mourn the dread convulsion by which the chasm was riven, with such magnificent masses of ivied tapestry hanging below them! A fresh green fringe of mountain-ash, holly, and hazel, running along and waving over its uppermost borders, and a pure blue arch of sky thrown over from one side to the other! And then such a strange yet beautiful scattering of mossy stumps, and little detached blocks of limestone and splintered crags, flung in a systematic sort of wildness along the bottoms—with here and there a huger block rolled nearer to the middle of the valley, from which grow tall spontaneous trees, as if they had stricken their roots into the very stone itself; while all around them various vegetable creepers luxuriate in the greatest profusion, amongst which winds that little stream making perpetual melody with its gentle song !"