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Gentleman's Magazine 1754 p.506
one side of which was bounded by by the declivity of the mountain, which we then began to ascend; soon after we had reached that part which was level with the base of the craigs, we found ourselves environed with a syrtes, which, as Milton says, was neither sea nor good dry land; here we were obliged to dismount, and having tied our horses by the bridles, we proceeded on foot: To tie them was, indeed, an unnecessary precaution, for the poor creatures, by a natural instinctive sagacity, were as sensible of their danger as we, and stood motionless where we left them. We now walked above a mile and a half over a tract of ground full of holes filled with boggy substance, which in this country is called a moss; we were here in perpetual terror lest it should give way under our feet, or lest some cloud, being stopped by the rocks, should bury us in a fog, and not only disappoint my curiosity, but prevent the recovery of our horses. However, we still went forward, and came to a place that was covered with moss of another kind. This lay above the ground in little heaps, about a foot over, called hassocks, which were full of holes, like an honey comb; the long irregular strides which we were obliged to take, to avoid these hassocks, made this part of my journey extreamly fatiguing. When we came within about a quarter of a mile of the base of the rock, we entered all on a sudden upon the finest grass plat that nature can produce; the ascent over this green is very gradual, and it has the appearance of a fine artifical slope. The rocks, upon a near view, appear very rude and romantic; they are broken by innumerable fissures that go quite from top to bottom in a perpendicular direction; most of them are from 10 to 15 yards high; it is not difficult to walk on the top of them, nor in many places to step from one to another; some of them, however, project considerable over the side of the mountain, and upon these it would be dangerous to stand; they cover about three acres of ground, and bear some resemblance to Stone Henge, particularly in the difficulty of numbering them, which I attempted several times, but could never produce tha same sum. To the caves among these rocks the moss troopers formerly retreated for security, and of late years on Micklehow, and a favourite mistress, took up their abode here for two or three seasons.
It has at present no inhabitants but wild cats, of which there are many, the largest I ever saw.
In our descent, notwithstanding the skill of the guides, we came a full mile west of our horses, which we at last found by the help of my compass; they stood trembling by one another, and had not strirred a step either in search of food or freedom; we led them down the brow, and thus ended the adventure of Christenbury Craig, which at a distance has all the appearance of one of those enchanted castles that are described in the heroic romances of the middle ages.
The mountain is on the skirts of Northumberland, and the rocks are upon its summit. In the calmest day there is a surprizing draught of bleak air into Northumberland wastes, which are the most shocking desarts that I ever saw in Britain.
If the rottenness of the soil on which these rocks stand be considered, perhaps it will not be thought an improbable conjecture that the whole summit of the mountain was once of the same height with the rocks, but that the wind and rains having by degrees washed and driven the softer parts down from the stone, they were formed into a bog below, and the rock left naked above.
The rocky part itself, however, appears to waste, the interstices being filled with a white sand, which is carried away in drifts, and great quantities of which is found in all the neighbouring places, whence it is carried to market, and sold for sharpening scythes and such other offices, for which it is much better than any other.
Description of the PLATE.
The view is taken from the S. The rocks as they now stand are represented at B. At Y is an inaccesible craig, which will probably fall off as the wind wastes it at Q. The grass plat on the summit of the mountain is at A. At W the wastes in Northumb. C the hassocks. R The quagmires on the top of the precipice. SS The declivity to the river Line. D D where we left our horses.
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