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A Night in the Snow or, A Struggle for Life   By: (-1900)

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A NIGHT IN THE SNOW; OR, A Struggle for Life.






In publishing the following account of "A Night in the Snow," which has already been given as a Lecture before the Society for the Promotion of Religious and Useful Knowledge at Bridgnorth, I feel that some apology is due.

My preservation through the night of the 29th of January last was doubtless most wonderful, and my experience perhaps almost without precedent, in this country at least; for, though many people have at different times been lost in the snow, scarcely any one has passed through the ordeal of such a day and night as that undergone by myself, and lived to tell the tale. Still I should never have thought that the matter was of sufficient importance to justify me in printing an account of it, had I not discovered that my adventure has created a public interest, for which I was totally unprepared. I have been so repeatedly asked to write a detailed account of all the circumstances connected with my wanderings on the Long Mynd in the snow during that night and the following day, and to have it published, that I have at last (though, I must confess, somewhat reluctantly) consented to do so, and with that view have drawn up the following account.

In writing my story, I have been obliged to go into many very small matters of detail, which may perhaps appear trivial; but it seemed to me that the interest of a story of this kind, if there be any interest attached to it, generally turns upon minor circumstances. I have also been obliged to speak of myself in a very personal manner, but I did not see how I could put the reader in possession of the geographical points of the case, without describing the duties I had to perform, and the country I had to traverse.




The mountains of South West Shropshire are less known to the lovers of fine scenery than their great beauty deserves, though they are familiar to most geologists as the typical region of the lowest fossil bearing deposits. Of this group of hills the highest is the Long Mynd, a mountain district of very remarkable character, and many miles in extent. It is about ten miles long, and from three to four miles in breadth. Its summit is a wide expanse of table land, the highest part of which is nearly seventeen hundred feet above the level of the sea. The whole of this unenclosed moorland is covered with gorse and heather, making it extremely gay in the summer time; it is also tolerably abundant in grouse and black game, and so fruitful in bilberries, that from 400 to 500 pounds worth are said to have been gathered on it in the course of a single season. On first hearing it, this sounds an improbable statement; but any one who has been upon the mountain in a good "whinberry season" as it is called, will readily understand that this is no exaggeration. To the poor people for miles around, the "whinberry picking" is the great event of the year. The whole family betake themselves to the hill with the early morning, carrying with them their provisions for the day; and not unfrequently a kettle to prepare tea forms part of their load. I know no more picturesque sight than that presented by the summit of the Long Mynd towards four o'clock on an August afternoon, when numerous fires are lit among the heather, and as many kettles steaming away on the top of them, while noisy, chattering groups of women and children are clustered round, glad to rest after a hard day's work. A family will pick many quarts of bilberries in the day, and as these are sold at prices varying from 3d. to 5d. a quart, it will be readily understood that it is by no means impossible that the large sum of 400 or 500 pounds should thus be realised in a single season.

The appearance of this Long Mynd mountain on the northern side, looking towards Shrewsbury, presents no feature of striking interest, and the ascent is a gradual one, leading chiefly through cultivated ground; but the aspect of the south eastern or Stretton side is wild in the extreme, the whole face of the mountain being broken up into deep ravines, with precipitous sides, where purple rocks project boldly through the turf, and in many places even the active sheep and mountain ponies can scarcely find a footing... Continue reading book >>

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