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THE DALES AND VALES.
THE DALES AND VALES.
NORTHUMBERLAND and Durham are both mountainous in the west. The Cheviot Hills are in Northumberland, and divide it from Scotland. These are a range of moorland hills, cold and bare, except for peat and heather and the short turf of the lower hills, which feeds the nimble Cheviot sheep. Here and there, rather high, pointed peaks rise above the rest, such as Cheviot Top, Carter Fell, and Peel Fell.
The hills of Durham are the Pennines, the great central moorland chain, which begins at the Cheviots, ends at the Peak in Derbyshire, and divides the rivers that flow east from those flowing west in all the northern counties ; in other words, these mountains form the watershed of this part of England.
These hills, too, are high, wild moorlands, with deep bogs, patches of heather, and great crags scattered about, where scarcely any plant taller than the low-growing mountain bilberry is to be seen. Sheep and even cows feed on the short grass of the lower slopes.
The most desolate part of this moorland country is where the four counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire almost join. Here --at Coalcleugh, the highest village in England; at · Allendale, Allenhead, and other villages in Northumberland; at St. John's, in the Dale of the Wear; and at Middleton and Eggleston, in that of Tees—the steady, kindly lead-miners have their homes. This is the great lead-mining country, where veins of lead ore run, often at a great depth, in the mountain limestone. These western mountains send out spurs towards the east- three or four in Northumberland, two great spurs in Durham-which look as if the land swelled up into high ridges or waves of rugged moorland, leaving deep valleys between them. The moors get higher and more barren towards the west; they are generally let out to farmers for sheep pastures, and are divided into patches by rough stone walls.
Towards the west, where the mountains are high, there are beautiful dales between the spurs, like those in Yorkshire ; dales, where mountain streams roar over stony beds, and cut their way through rocky glens, or among deep woods; and these glens open suddenly into quite broad, green valleys, shut in by the moors. The rivers, wide and full with the waters of many streams, leave their narrow picturesque dales, and flow through these beautiful valleys, and across the open country to the sea. These rivers are bordered by green pastures, where the short-horned Durham ox feeds—a broad, thick beast, fattest of any that make beef for the Christmas markets.
The northern farmers know how to make the best of their land, and the valleys are covered with cornfields,wheat, and, farther to the north, with barley and oats. The low land by the coast does best for growing potatoes and turnips.
In the east is a coal-field, reaching from the Coquet in Northumberland to the south of Durham, where all the mining villages are, and where there is the smoke of many blast furnaces; for iron, as well as coal, is found in this locality.
The bonny rivers of Northumberland—the Aln, the Coquet, and the Tyne-all flow in nearly the same
RIVERS AND TRADING TOWNS.
direction towards the sea. The Tweed, which is partly a Scotch river, divides Northumberland from Scotland on the north, as the Tyne divides it from Durham on the south.
The Tweed has Berwick at its mouth-a town to which many a tale of border warfare belongs. It is a trading town now, and a fishing town, for the Tweed, like all the Northumbrian rivers, is famous for its fish -splendid salmon and trout. Alnwick is the chief town on the Aln.
The Coquet has Warkworth, a busy little port, at its mouth; Coquet Island, with its lighthouse, lies off the coast. The Wansbeck flows nearly round Morpeth, a busy town, where iron farm implements, such as ploughs and harrows, are made. Leather and flannel are also made here.
RIVERS AND TRADING TOWNS.
THE Tyne is the chief river of Northumberland. It is formed by two streams, North Tyne and South Tyne, each of which flows through its own beautiful dale. The two join above the old town of Hexham, whére a battle was fought in a war we have not yet spoken of.
Towards Newcastle, the Tyne becomes a busy river; and its bed has been deepened thence to the sea. Along the sides of the river are ship-building yards, and factories and stores are crowded on its banks. Newcastle is an important port, which sends coal, iron goods, and lead, with glass bottles and other things made in the town, to the countries about the Baltic,
to the Mediterranean, and to America; getting in return timber, pitch, and tar from the Baltic, sugar and tobacco from America, fruits and wines from the Mediterranean coasts.
Newcastle is joined by bridges to Gateshead, a town on the opposite side of the Tyne.
Tynemouth, North Shields, and South Shields are all trading towns. Close to South Shields is Jarrow.
Gateshead, Jarrow, and South Shields, being south of the Tyne, are in Durham. Sunderland, at the mouth of the Wear, is the principal port of Durham, and the largest town in the county; it is a shipbuilding and coal-shipping place. Bishop Wearmouth and Monk Wearmouth both join Sunderland, and make, with it, one large town. Monk Wearmouth is named from the monks who at one time dwelt at the mouth of the Wear.
Further up the valley is Chester-le-Street, where, in Alfred's days, monks and bishop came to live when the Danes drove them out of Lindisfarne.
Going up the river, we pass nearly round Durham, which is an ancient city, with a very noble cathedral. Paper, carpets, and mustard are made here. Close by Durham is Neville's Cross, where Queen Philippa defeated the Scots. Shortly after passing Bishop Auckland, we get into Wear-dale and among the leadworks.
The winding Tees divides Durham from Yorkshire. High up in Teesdale the river tumbles, all in a white foam, over a great cliff sixty feet high. Down it comes with a rush and a roar, to be heard far off, and you stand, until you grow giddy, watching the waters pour in endless stream down the face of the rock. This Tees waterfall is called High Force, Force being the
north-country name for a waterfall. The river makes its way onward,
“ Condemned to mine a channelled way
O’er solid sheets of marble grey,”– and these grey rocks often rise in high and broken cliffs, with trees growing in every niche, and bending from the top. Teesdale is truly very beautiful.
The river passes by Darlington, where there are the tall chimneys of wool and flax mills, and of ironworks. Stockton stands by the wide mouth of the Tees. It, also, is a ship-building and coaling place; yet it is a bright, handsome town, standing in a fertile district.
What should we do without coal ? We cook, we travel, we light our streets and our rooms, we work our great mills, and warm our houses—all by means of coal.
There are layers or beds of coal in many parts of the country, called coal-fields, though they certainly are not much like
fields. A well-stocked coal-cellar underground is one of the good treasures our God has laid up for English people.
In these fields, the coal lies in a number of layers, or strata, separated from one another by layers of slaty clay, called shale, and of coarse hard sandstone, called grit. These form what are known as coal-measures, where beds of sandstone, shale, clay, and coal lie, one · below another, to a great depth.
The layers of coal, called seams, are usually very