Women On Adventure is a blog by K.L. Webber exploring our rich shared history of women's adventure writing. This curated collection of quotations showcases the opinions and experiences of influential female travellers in their own words.

"This is wch they Call the Devills Arse a peake."

Note for reading Early Modern English: originally "y" or "Y" were used in place of the thorn rune þand thus something spelt "ye" or "yt" was pronounced "the" or "that". The puzzling "sd" means "said."

Celia Fiennes also uses abbreviated forms of "which" and "with" - "wch" and "wth". The easiest way to read this passage is aloud, for your mouth will forgive the grammar that your eye decries. 

Another wonder is that of Pooles hole, thats just at ye towns End, a Large Cavity under ground of a Great Length. Just at the Entrance you must Creep, but presently you stand upright, its Roofe being very Lofty all arched in the Rocks and sound with a great Ecchoe. Ye Rocks are Continually droping water all about, you pass over Loose stones and Craggy Rocks. The dripping of the water wears impression on ye Stones that forms them into Severall Shapes, there is one Looks Like a Lyon wth a Crown on his head, ye water trickling on it weares it into so many shapes; another place Lookes just Like ye shape of a Large organ wth ye severall Keys and pipes one above another as you see in a great Cathedrall; there is also a Stone wch Looks white and in shape Like a salted flitch of Bacon wch hangs down from the Roofe of ye Arch wch is very Lofty in this place. There is another Rock Looks like a Chaire of State wth ye Canopy and all glistring like diamonds or starrs; thus does all ye sides of the Rock all shine Like Diamonds. Ye Rocks are very Large and Craggy and Indented, some Looks like ye outsides of Cockle shells, others are smooth all Caused I believe from ye dripping of ye Water. I was as farre as ye Queen of Scotts pillar, wch is a Large white stone, and ye top hangs over your head Like a Cannopy all great white Stones and in spires or Large jceickles and glistring as the other. They may go farther but I had no such Curiosity, I had ye Light Carry'd that shewed me to St Anns Needle after wch is only sand. This white stone is very Like Chrystall of wch there is a stone Like a Bason or Large ffont wherein drops Continually ye water wch runns over and trickling down does as it were Candy in jceickles and points, under wch is a pillar of this white stone. We had some broken off which Looks like ye jnsides of oystershells or mother of pearle, some Looks like alabaster. As I went I Clamber'd over the top of all ye stones and as I Came back I pass'd under severall of ye arches Like bridges; they are both wayes full of Loose stones and the water dropping makes them slippery, it being also very uneven by reason of ye Craggs. How it should Come none Can give any good acco; its Call'd Pooles hole from a man of that name that was a Robber and use to secure himself in yt place like a house, and so ye Country people imagined he made it, but some think it was dug to find mines or marble or Chrystal because ye mettle mines are full of stone as I sd before; only this Enters in ye side whereas the mines they make now are as a well perpendicular for severall yards before it spreads, and yt not till they Come to find metal, but ye difficulty appears as to this hole how so large a Cavity should be Left, as in some places ye Roofe is as lofty as you can see and all stone; now how it should be fixt so as not to tumble in by ye weight of ye Earth or stone on ye top: as to ye waters dropping yt is but what is Customary among rocks and stones, there are many springs wch run in ye veines of ye Earth and allwayes are running in such subteraneus vaults in the Earth, wch gather together and runns in a little Channell in ye bottom of this Cave as you may step one. The 4th wonder is that off Elden hole about 2 mile from Buxton; its on ye side of a hill about 30 yards if not better in length at ye brimm, and half so broad, and just in sight is full of Craggy stones like a Rock for about 2 or 3 yards down, wch Contracts the Mouth of ye hole to about 4 yards long and 2 broad or thereabouts; wch hole is Suppos'd to run down directly a vast length and has been try'd wth a Line and plummet severall fathom and the bottom not Sounded, tho' some are of opinion its because the hole runns aslant so the plummet and Line Could not pass, and what we observ'd gives some strength to this notion, for Cast a stone down you hear it Strike a long tyme at the sides of ye hole, and if you go down below 100 yds or more and Lay yr head to the ground you shall hear the stone ring Much longer than those that stand at the holes mouth, wch must discover ye ground to be hollow at Least much farther in Compass than the mouth of ye hole, but its Certain it must be of a great depth by reason of the tyme you Can hear a stone strike and ring in its descending, and yt which Lessens the sound may be by its breaking against the sides. Its a very hazardous place, for if a man or beast be too near the Edge of ye bank and trip they fall in wth out retrieve. Ye beasts graze in the Grounds and hills but it must be some great force that drives them near the hole; there is a sort of instinct in Nature, self preservation and a great sence of danger in beasts; its reported that severall Attempts have been made to ffence the whole round wth a stone Wall as the manner of the fences are all over yt Country, but yet it has been all in vaine. What they built up in the day would be pull'd down in ye night and so its vaine to trye yesecuring it round from any falling in – this the people tell us. The Country here about is so full of moore or quagmires and such precipices that one that is a stranger Cannot travell wth out a guide, and some of them are put to a Loss sometymes. 

The fifth wonder is Mamtour wch is a high hill that Looks Exactly round, but on the side next Castleton wch is a Little town in the High Peake on that side its all broken that it Looks just in resemblance as a great Hay-Ricke yts Cut down one halfe on one side – that describes it most naturall. This is all sand, and on that broken side the sand keeps trickling down allwayes Especially when there is the Least wind of wch I believe this Country scarce Ever is wth out; many places of the hill Looks hollow and Loose wch makes it very dangerous to ascend and none does attempt it, ye sand being Loose slips ye foote back againe. 

The 6th wonder is at Casleton 4 mile from Elderhole; its a town Lyes at ye foote of an Exceeding steep hill wch Could not be descended by foote or horse, but in a Compass and yt by ye Roads returning to and agen on ye side of ye hill at Least 4 tymes before we Could gaine ye bottom or top of sd Hill. This is wch they Call the Devills Arse a peake, the hill on one End jutting out in two parts and joyns in one at ye top, this part or Cleft between you Enter a great Cave wch is very Large, and severall poor Little houses in it built of Stone and thatch'd Like Little Styes, one seemed a Little bigger in which a Gentleman Liv'd and his wife yt was worth above 100£ a year wch he left to his brother, Chooseing rather Like a hermite to Live in this sorry Cell. One Mr Midleton who was wth us sd he had dined wth them there on Carrots and Herbs, and yt he was dead and his wife a year or two since. Now none but very poor people Live there wch makes some small advantage by begging and by Lighting the strangers into the Cave wch beyond this you Enter so straight a passage. At the mouth you stoop very Low Even upon yr Breast and Creep in, when you are about a yard or two's Length you stand upright, it being Lofty in manner of Poole's Hole only the Rock hangs down in so many places that there is often Cause of Stooping very Low to pass by ym, and here ye ground you tread on is all sand and firme, only ye Rocks do drip water in many places wch makes it damp and strikes Cold to you, but Excepting the pillars of Rock in some places that hang down ye most of it is very Lofty and a great Ecchoe like a Church. You pass a good way by ye Light of many Candles haveing Lost ye sight of day from ye first stooping Entrance. At Last you Come to a river they Call it, a great water it is and very deep, they say its about 12 yards over and some do go on it wth a Little boate to ye other side but I would not venture. There was one Gentlewoman in our Company sd she had once been Carry'd over on 2 mens shoulders, but they waded above their waste in water, so I would not be for so dangerous I was sure it was a difficult Enterprise, and when you are over yt side they go over but such places as was pass'd before wch Leads to another such a water wch some men have pass'd over and so have gone on to a third water, but there ye Rocks hung so Low as almost to touch ye water wch hindred their proceeding. That water I saw was strange, so deep and large and look'd like a standing water but whether it were or not Could not tell, no Doubt but it has a passage thro' the veines of ye Earth or Else would swell so as to Cause a bursting out of ye Earth – it seemed to have a motion wth it. All these things shewes the great wisdom and power of our blessed Creator to make and maintaine all things within its own Bounds and Limits wch have a tendency to worke out ruine to ye whole frame of ye world if not bridled by Gods Command. 

Celia Fiennes, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary, Being the Diary of Celia Fiennes, (circ. 1684 − 1703), 1888

Derbyshire, UK, (circ. 1684 − 1703)

Source: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/fiennes/saddle/saddle.html

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