Dorothy describes Hackfall in much more detail than other visitors of the time. In particular she describes wooden buildings, a Chinese seat and tent that others overlook.
Journal of Dorothy Richardson 1771
Saturday morning 24th we saw Hackfall it is ten miles beyond Ripon in the North Riding and belongs to Mr Aislabie, we passed thro’ a very dull country to it.
Hackfall is romantic beyond description, it has every beauty nature could bestow; – except a jet d’eau and some trifling cascades there is no great an appearance of art as at Studley. – Passing by a cottage from whence we took a guide we enter’d a narrow valley and the sides cover’d with wood and a small rivulet mum’ring among the loose stones, near the bottom of this valley a most noble cascade (to the right) falls dashing down the side of a Rugged Rock with a hill above it crown’d with wood; this tho’ the work of art seems nature in her most pleasing form and is one of the most striking objects in this Romantic Scene. Opposite to it is a semi-circular Chinese seat commanding also a view of the country – from thence passing thro’ a winding walk in the wood with the Rivulet tumbling amongst the Broken Rocks sometimes forming little cascades and an almost perpendicular wood to the right, we passed thro’ a wood to a vista commanding a small building at some distance upon the side of one of the hills called the Hermitage, Fishers Hall, a round thatched building, the two valleys and the River Ure, to the right the hillside covered with wood, with two cascades falling in regular steps from the tops of the hills, but these would have been much better omitted – we next were carried to Fishers Hall which stands in the centre of 3 valleys, the smallest is that we went down, the bottoms of the other two are almost cover’d by the River, dashing its Rocky Bed and winding as if unwilling to quit this charming place, on all sides are hills, in the most various forms, some almost perpendicular, and all very high and cover’d in with fine oaks, from hence are seen the Ruin at Mowbray Point and a small one on the side of a hill in the lower valley, but age will add greatly to their appearance as they are built of a whitish kind of stone and look naked having no joy nor shrubs about them – Fishers Hall is built entirely of petrification; the inside is cover’d with a finer work and has a semi-circular mahogany table in it; I think the building is circular and has a spiral top; – there are 3 windows and a door – very near Fishers Hall is a round thatched place for a kitchen; from thence going up a hillside thro’ wood; we arrived at a grotto formed of petrifications from this is seen a small cascade falling down the fill; going further we came to a circular plain upon the side of the hill, surrounded by wood; in the middle is a Bason of Water with a piece of Rock work out of which rises a jet d’eau, very near stands a round rough building; on one side is seen Mowbray Point on top of the hill almost hanging over the Fountain and on the other thro’ the trees rocks on the opposite side of the valley. We clim’d up the hill to the Chinese Tent and from thence saw the valleys with the River, woods, rocks, the Hermitage etc; going down a winding walk towards the river we had a view of Fishers Hall and from the bottom of the river and Hanging Woods, ascending a Hill to the left we next arriv’d at Lemas Mount (sic), with a square wood building upon it; it commands a prospect on one side of the River, terminated by Masham church spire, at about a mile distance; on another of irregular wooded hills, Fishers Hall and the small ruin and on a third the River Ure, rocks and hanging woods, these 3 view are quite different yet each equally pleasing and romantic; passing thro’ winding walks in the wood we had rocks to the right and in one part a high one, to the left thro’ the trees saw Fishers Hall, woods etc, and from a vista the River with a background of wood – We went up a hill thro’ a long Serpentine Walk to a small wood building called the Centry Box (sic); this commands the windings of the River, woods and rocks on the opposite side, with another valley and a distant country, from this we went up to Mowbray Point which is a large ruin of 3 Roan Arches but not in my opinion built with taste; behind the middle arch is a large room and a smaller on each side but they were both lock’d except the kitchen; here we were unfortunately caught in a thunder shower, which depriv’d us of seeing to any advantage the most striking views about the place. Looking down we saw the 2 valleys join’d by a semi-circular wooded hill, forming a bold projection and the river winding round it, with rocks and wood, over these a very rich country call’d the Vale of Mowbray, Tanfield Church and at a very great distance – almost lost in the clouds Ounesberry, or Roseberry Topping a very steep mountain in the North Riding which is always green and is a sea mark, also York Minster and Hambleton Hills. From Mowbray Point, we went in the wood thro’ winding walks and had a view thro’ the trees of a cascade falling down the side of a hill surrounded by wood, this is the last object in this enchanting scene which his beyond description – we returned from Hackfall.