DR. CLEPHANE paid his first visit to his sister in 1750. Among his papers are some notes of his journey, which, slight as they are, may be worth preserving if only to show a railway age how the traveller of last century hailed the great invention of turnpike roads. The miles in England are throughout distinguished as (m.) measured or statute, and (c.) computed miles. In Scotland (l.), long miles mean the old Scotch miles of sadly indefinite length, but properly equivalent to about a mile and a half statute measure.
“Dr. Clephane’s journey from Scarborough to Kilravock, 1750. Came to Scarborough July 6; left it September 1.
“To Pickering 12 c. miles, and measures 19. From Pickering to Helmsley 9 c. miles; 12 measured. Kirby-moor-side lies between Pickering and Helmsley, and is 4 c. miles from the latter. (William of Wickham.) Wickham Abbey is about 5 miles from Scarborough, between that and Pickering. At Pickering (which belongs to the Crown, but is on lease given to Commissioner Hill, who lives at Thornton, about three miles from Pickering), are the ruins of a castle with seven towers, etc. Lay at the White Swan, Jackson’s.
“At Helmsley, Mr. Duncombe’s; and the ruins of the Duke of Buckingham’s castle. N.B. – He did not die at Helmsley, but in a little ale-house at Kirkby-moor-side.
“From Helmsley, bad road to Northallerton, 12 c. miles, and 19 measured. 6 miles to Kapwick, which is at the foot of Hambleton, and 6 more from Kapwick to Northallerton. Road and descent down to Reeves Abbey (Rievaux), and ascent to Hambleton, very bad, stony, and narrow for carriages. Over the heath of Hambleton, road good; but the descent from Hambleton to the vale of Thirsk, down to Kapwick, is very bad. From Kapwick to Northallerton 6 c. miles, some bad lanes, but the rest pretty tolerable.
“Northallerton small, new-built village, 33 m. miles from York. (The Golden Lion, Richardson’s.) From Northallerton to Darlington 16 m. miles; fine turnpike road. Half way is Smeaton-on-the-Tees; and within 2 m. miles of Darlington you come to Crofts, the last village in Yorkshire, after which you enter the Bishopric of Durham, after you pass the bridge over the Tees at the turnpike, just two m. miles from Darlington. Darlington larger than Northallerton. Many- new-built houses. N.B. – All these towns seem to feel the advantage of the great road.
“From Darlington to Durham 19 m. miles; i.e. to Ferryhill 12 m. miles; from thence to Sunderland-bridge 3, and 3 or 4 to Durham. N.B. – The county of Durham very fine; Durham – old, ill-built, dirty town – lies low, but the cathedral high; situation of the cathedral and course of the river very remarkable. The river is the Weir. Inn, Marshall’s, at the Green Dragon. Roads all fine turnpike.
“From Durham to Newcastle 14 m. miles. Chester-in-the-Street about half-way. Newcastle, narrow dirty streets; old ill-built houses; ascents and descents very bad; water scarce and not good, much of it being tainted from the coal-pits, etc. The closeness and dirt of the town would make me suspect they must have the nervous fever pretty much among them, of the hospital or jail kind.
“North-Shields 7 miles from Newcastle, down the Tyne. Tynemouth half a mile farther; and near the sea stood the old castle and church or monastery of Benedictine monks. Tynemouth fort, or Clifford’s fort, between Shields and Tynemouth; the bar is on the south of the cliff where the old castle is, and seems to be very narrow, and consequently difficult to take. A kiell is 8 chalder. The kiell-men will make 8 tides in a week, and that is, to the foremen, about 3½ shillings, and to the man that steers, 5 shillings; so that these fellows will earn from 25 to 28 shillings per week. N.B. – Just by Chester-in-the-Street is Lumley Castle.
“From Newcastle for Edinburgh, hired a chaise and pair of horses for four guineas; but I am to pay the turnpikes.
“The country from Newcastle to Morpeth is but indifferent, something like Scotland; the country about Morpeth better. From Newcastle to Morpeth is 14 m. miles. Morpeth lies on a river called Winspeck river; some pretty good stone buildings in it. From Morpeth to Alnwic 19 miles turnpike. Country here and there pretty good, but mostly open. Castle of Alnwic belongs to Lord Northumberland, with a considerable estate thereabout of the Somerset family. Morpeth is a Parliament town: Alnwic not. Alnwic is but 5 miles from the sea.
“For 5 m. miles out of Alnwic towards Belford you have turnpike road; you have here and there a bit – and it will be done in a little time – quite through to Belford. From Alnwic to Belford 14½ m. miles. Belford small inconsiderable place, not far from the sea. The country opens more and more, and liker Scotland. No house here but the post-house. From Belford to Berwic-upon-Tweed is 15 m. miles; not so stony as that from Alnwic to Belford; but if you can get the sands, take them; they are shorter.
“Berwic – the bridge – river – harbour – bad entry – barracks – magazines, etc. Tweedmouth, a few houses at the bridge-end, is not subject to the town, nor is it in Northumberland, but belongs to the county of Durham, as does another little place two or three miles from Belford towards Berwick. N.B. – At Tweedmouth, Mrs. Humphrey’s a good house.
“From Berwick to Old Camus 16 m. miles; road tolerably good; a good deal of it over moors. In the way is Eaton, 7 m. miles from Berwic, and 10 from Old Camus. N.B. – Old Camus is in Sir John Hall’s estate; and two miles from his house, Dunglass. From Old Camus to Beltonford is ten c. miles, and measures near 14. On the road, about two miles from Old Camus, is Sir John Hall’s house, Dunglass, but a little way from the high road. Here the country opens, pretty full of gentlemen’s seats, with a full view of the sea and Bass, etc.; clumps of trees; and open corn country. From Berwick to Old Camus is the Merse; but past Dunglass or the Glass Mills, which belong to Sir John Hall, is East Lothian, a very fine open corn country, full of country seats. The next to Dunglass, which is on the left of the great road, is Broxton (Broxmouth), the Duke of Roxburghe’s, on the right; then Sir John Warrender’s, by Dunbar, etc. etc. Over the Tyne from Beltonford is Lord Haddington, but the longest and worst road; the other, by Bangley brae-foot, is said to be the best and shortest. From Beltonford to Bangley brae-foot is 8 c. miles; and from thence to Edinburgh is 10 c. miles. The 18 c. miles measure 26. From Beltonford you pass by Seaton, Prestonpans, and Preston, and so to Musselborough and Edinburgh, the road all along being at a little distance from the sea.
(A sheet lost.)
… “Dundee, 12 m,; Arbroath, 8 l.; Montrose, 8 l.; Bervy, 8; Stonehith, 12; Aberdeen, 12 l.; Old Meldrum, 14; Strathbogy. N.B. – Well at Arbroth, a chalybeate; to the taste seems weaker than Tunbridge; about the strength of Sunning-hill. At the Ship, Bruce’s. Arbroath a small place. Montrose cleaner, and on the whole better built than Dundee. bervy a poor place. Stonehith better. Aberdeen greatly more considerable than Dundee; buildings better. Strathbogy is in Banff (!), has a linen manufacture lately established; belongs to the D. of Gordon.
“From Strathbogy to Keith 6 very long miles, and two bad stony hills. From Keith 6 miles to Fochabers are not so long; pretty good road. Fochabers sad place. Bog-a-Gight miserably furnished; old, irregular castle. Spey is just without Fochabers – sometimes guéable. To Elgin, 6; good road; short miles.
“N.B. – Miles very long in this country; cannot go above three miles’ journey riding. Why miles so long? Have you read Rabelais?
“Elgin; old church and monastery; a great deal of building. And records about it? Poor-looking people – well situated: the river, with one high bank, goes round half the town. From Elgin to Forres 8 long miles; very good road. From Forres to Nairn is 8 miles; and from Nairn to Kilraik is 5 miles; but from Forres to Kilraik directly is 12 miles.
“N.B. – A certain Lord having asked a gentleman what great advantages Murrayshire had over other counties, was told three – that they had forty miles of better road than in most counties; almost always better weather; and the third was, that they had but one Lord among them (Lord Murray), and he had no interest or following.
“Murrayshire, the bounds of it are nearly the Spey and the Ness. From Nairn to Inverness is 12 miles.”
5 thoughts on “XII. Dr. Clephane’s Journey to Kilravock.”
I found this fascinating as I know most of the places on his journey. Much easier to get between them now! Kilravock Castle was a B&B in the 80s – we spotted it and called in on spec for a night’s accommodation because the idea of staying in a castle was exciting. What we didn’t know was that the owner (who was still about) belonged to a religious community and we had to listen to a sermon at breakfast! We’d agreed to take the room before they told us, and we felt too embarrassed to back out …