Among his many adventures traipsing about England, John Byng was proud of picnicking on the far side of High Force though the experience was miserably wet.
After spending an uncomfortable night in an inn, Byng hired a guide. Then, stuffing his pockets with eatables, he set out to ford the River Tees at the High Force Waterfall base. “We endured a most fatiguing descent,’ he writes, “and a very dangerous climb at the river’s edge, over great stones, and sometimes up to our knees in water, till we arrived at the very bottom of the fall. The sweat was running from my brow, and a flap of my coat, my only coat, was nearly torn off by bushes.”
Despite the labor, Byng was pleased. “ Only those who have picnicked in the rain and cold of a Teesdale June,” he brags, “can rightly sympathize with the unhappy traveler, bored, damp, and very lonely.”
The picnic was cold. His bread as wet as his feet. Intrepid and high-spirited, he only complained that he forgot a bottle of brandy.
*Byng died one month after succeeding his brother as 5th Viscount Torrington in 1813. The High Force adventure occurred in June 1792.
Featured Image: Turner invests High Force with more grandeur than its sixty-eight-foot height warrants. The scene is embellished with fly fisherman, among whom Turner was an aficionado.
See John Byng. The Torrington Diaries: Containing the Tours through England and Wales of the Hon. John Byng (Later Fifth Viscount Torrington) between the years 1781 and 1794. Cyril Bruyn Andrews, ed. 4 vols. London: Eyre and Spottswoode, 1934-38 also William. H. Rupp; J.M.W. Turner. High Force, or Fall of the Tees (1822), engraving by John Landseer. In History of Richmondshire. London: Longman, et al., 1822; Margo Finn. New Perspectives on the Creation of British Identity: The Diaries of John Byng, 1781-1794, https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/students/eportfolios/history9/research/