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Culross and Tulliallan
Chapter I. Topography and Natural History of the two Parishes


THOUGH distinctly enough laid down in our maps, it is not, I believe, generally known that a detached portion of Perthshire is washed by the waters, and extends for several miles along the shore, of the Firth of Forth. One of the largest, and also one of the most compact counties of Scotland, as exhibited in its main outline, Perth is commonly regarded as in all respects strictly and unqualifiedly an inland province. The traveller by steamer between Gran-ton and Alloa is surprised to learn, on approaching Borrowstounness, where the Firth is nearly four miles wide, that the beautiful bay on his right, with its richly wooded braes and white houses straggling picturesquely along the beach, belongs for the most part to the great county which he is so familiar with in the atlas, and which he has always understood to vol. I. A lie wholly behind the Ochils—that blue range of hills that bounds the horizon on the north, like a barrier between earth and sky. And similarly, if he should journey by rail from Dunfermline to Stirling, he will experience the same feeling, on emerging from the picturesque defile of Comrie Dean, when he is informed that the finely undulating country between him and the sea on his left, as well as the rising ground on his right, crowned in the distance by dark pine-forests, all extending about three miles in a direct line between East Grange and Kincardine stations, is an outlying district included in Perthshire.

This detached portion of the county, lying south of the Ochils along the Firth of Forth, comprises two parishes — those of Culross and Tulliallan. Though not containing within itself those grander features of scenery which form such prominent characteristics of the greater Perthshire, it has nevertheless many indubitable and peculiar beauties of its own, not the least considerable being the strikingly diversified and extensive prospects which it commands from numerous points of view, and which enable the inhabitants of a district so favoured to enjoy as their own the natural advantages of the region beyond their pale.

These two parishes comprise together an area of about twenty-two square miles, of which Culross contains sixteen—its form being nearly that of a square of four miles. Tulliallan is of a more irregular figure, having an extreme length of nearly four miles from north to south, and a breadth varying from one to two miles. The whole district comprehended by these parishes is completely cut off from the larger county of Perth by the intervention of the parishes of Saline in Fife, and Clackmannan in the county of that name, which form the northern boundaries of Culross and Tulliallan.

The best view of the district under consideration is obtained from the Firth of Forth, from the deck of one of those steamers which used (and are still, in summer, wont) to ply between Leith or Granton and Stirling. They have, however, been in a great measure superseded by the Stirling and Dunfermline Railway, which, though in some respects affording a more convenient mode of transit, has yet tended to render the upper shores of the Forth unknown to the majority of travellers. Indeed the march of improvement has rather retarded than promoted the prosperity of Culross and its district, seeing that practically, since the Stirling steamers and Glasgow coach have ceased to pass through her borders, the only communication open with the great world is a line of railway passing through the north of the parish, at a distance of three miles from the town; and Kincardine, in the parish- of Tulliallan, is still more disadvantageously situated.

In sailing up the Firth of Forth, after entering the great pool or roadstead of the estuary—which extends in a lower reach from the narrow strait at Queensferry to the town of Kincardine, and thence in an upper to that of Alloa, where the river may properly be said to commence—the first point touched at by the steamer used to be the quay of Charlestown, from which travellers could proceed by a tramway to Dunfermline. Proceeding a mile or two farther on, the pier of Crombie Point is approached ; and here is reached the eastern extremity of the beautiful bay of Culross. From this the full extent of its curve is seen, trending gradually round by the villages of Torrybum and Newmills — the scattered houses of Low Valleyfield, and the town of Culross itself, nestling in a nook on the slope of a hill, under the shadow of its venerable Abbey Church, with the towers of Dunimarle forming the western or upper horn of the bay.

It is a rare scene of beauty that presents itself as we. steam along. First we pass the braes of Crombie, and woods and grounds of Craigflower; then the village of Torrybum, with its green or ness stretching westwards from it along the shore; then the heights of Torry, with the village of Newmills straggling in most picturesque fashion over the height which, on the side towards the sea, terminates in the rounded projection known by the name of Duniquarle. A fine peep of the Ochils is here visible through a gap in the rising grounds or braes, the tops of which form the semicircular crest of Culross Bay on the land side, and being for the most part clothed with woods, contrast beautifully with the sloping gardens and fields, and white houses, and line of beach at their feet. The western limit of the “kingdom” of Fife is here passed, the stream which falls into the sea at Newmills dividing the county from Perthshire, and the parish of Torrybum from that of Culross. Newmills Bridge, a fine structure, is seen spanning the bum, and forming a picturesque. object at what may almost be regarded as the upper extremity or centre of the bay; and nearly opposite to it is Preston Island, which serves, as it were, to divide the bay into two portions, by bisecting the base of the semicircle or arc that extends between Crombie Point and Culross. Distance, we know, lends enchantment, and it is not advisable to make too intimate an acquaintance either with the beautifully situated villages of Torrybum and Newmills, or the singularly picturesque and romantic-looking Preston Island, that has all the appearance, with its grey buildings rising sheer from the water’s edge, of having been in bygone days the site of some venerable cathedral or abbey. Like Constantinople, a good deal of aesthetic fervour is apt to be dissipated on the stranger either traversing the streets of the villages in question, or learning the true history and quality of the erections on the island. The former being in Fife, are beyond the scope of our present inquiries. Regarding the latter, which belongs to the parish of Culross, I shall have something more to say at a future stage. At present let us content ourselves with its picturesque aspect as we steam past at some distance on the outer side, the bay between the island and the shore being extremely shallow, and left almost entirely dry at the ebbing of the tide.

We are now fairly opposite the Perthshire shore, which in beautiful sinuosity winds along from the mouth of Newmill Bum for upwards of a mile. The intervening space is occupied by the village of Low Valleyfield, if village indeed it can be called, which is rather a series of small detached houses placed at irregular intervals along the narrow road which skirts the shore of the bay, with long sloping gardens behind, ascending the acclivity of the braes, and crested at the top with the bright foliage of the Valleyfield and Culross woods. The coup doe is singularly attractive; and it is commonly reported that the world-renowned Turner paid a visit on one occasion to Sir Robert Preston at Valleyfield, and assured him that Culross Bay Was equal in beauty to the Bay of Naples.

But the finest view of all, perhaps, is not yet reached. Here we are approaching the town of Culross itself, the ancient royal burgh, about which, before I part with my reader, I shall, I believe, have a good deal to say. The fishing cottage and pond at the eastern extremity of the burgh territory— a view of which, by the way, has been painted by Nasmyth—pass first under our notice; then the parabola-shaped road, curving along from thence to Culross, with the small white house of St Mungo’s seen through the trees; the Abbey orchard on the slope, crowned by the splendid front of the mansion of Culross Abbey; and then the church with its tower, the ruins of the monastery, and the houses of the town running down the steep slope and scattering themselves along the flat or tongue of land that lies between the foot of the hill and the sea.

The view of Culross from the water—whether contemplated at a distance or from a nearer point to the shore, either from a boat or the extremity of the pier—is remarkably beautiful, and may vie, if not with “ Genoa the superb,” at least with many of the picturesque little towns that fill up the recesses on the romantic banks of the Rhine or the Seine. As regards the latter river, it bears some resemblance to Honfleur, as approached from the opposite coast from Havre, which occupies nearly the same relative position that the town of Borrowstounness does to Culross, to which it lies almost immediately opposite. The distance between the places is nearly the same —that is to say, from three to four miles. But the great seaport at the embouchure of the Seine suffers much by comparison with Borrowstounness, which is, perhaps, one of the least attractive towns in the world, whether viewed at a distance or on close and personal inspection. Nor does the adjoining country, either up or down the southern shore of the Firth, do much to redeem its character. There are doubtless, on one side, the fine grounds of Hopetoun and Carriden, with the grey walls of the ancient castle of Blackness, a prominent object by the shore; whilst on the other we have the woods of Kinneil, and the lower coast, almost Bengal-like in its groups of trees, and level carse-land extending from the mouth of the Avon up to that of the Carron at Grangemouth. But the general contour of the southern coast of the Firth of Forth is at this point rather tame and prosaic. The high banks which rise from the water slope down on their southern side on the smiling and fertile valley that contains the town of Linlithgow, and the beautiful country stretching east and west from it—towards Edinburgh on one side, and Falkirk on the other. But as these descend towards the Forth their aspect is northern, their soil in many instances cold and ungenial, their outline is too uniform and too little diversified, and the principal advantage that they possess is the contemplation of the beautiful country on the Fife and Perthshire shores.

Let us, then, take a close and steady look at Culross, which is now seen directly facing us on our right, and to a fanciful imagination takes the form of a big Y stretching along the acclivity. The ancient royal burgh, which strangers, and even some residents who might know better, speak of merely as a “village,” is certainly small in extent and population, but nevertheless presents a sufficiently dignified and patriarchal aspect. Crowned at the top by the Abbey Church with its venerable Norman tower—surmounted in recent times, in questionable taste, by a perpendicular bartizan and pinnacles—the town originally extended downwards, in an unbroken line, by a very steep and narrow street, The upper houses have, however, for many years disappeared, and the space on each side of the road is occupied by the gardens and pleasure-grounds belonging to the mansion of the Park. Adjoining the church is the manse, with the ruins of the old monastery immediately adjoining, and the long and stately front of Culross Abbey extending eastwards along1 the crest of the hill, with its terrace-garden and orchard sloping down the bank. At the point where the present town commences, a steep lane of houses leads down to the Cross, from which again three narrow streets diverge, and join at the foot the main street, or Low Causeway, which traverses the town from east to west, on a level with the sea-shore. Bed-tiled roofs are more conspicuous than slated ones; and behind the houses at the west end a beautiful range of hanging gardens is seen, formed in a great measure out of sandstone bluffs, which seem in bygone days to have supplied the materials from which the town was built. The townhouse with its picturesque bell-tower, giving the place one of its most prominent features, is seen on the low ground, with its green in front; and the grey smoke rising up from the chimneys, with the green foliage of the trees in which the town is embosomed, complete the outline of Culross as viewed from the water. Altogether, it is a most charming picture, and well deserving the attention of an artist.

We now continue our cruise up the Firth, passing on our right the mansion-house and braes of Balgownie, and then Dunimarle with its tower and castellated terrace, and the pretty Episcopal chapel of St Serf rising on the sloping bank below. Here we are at the upper or western extremity of the bay of Culross; and now the coast-line, which we have been skirting, though sufficiently’ pleasing, assumes a somewhat tame and more monotonous character. Blair Castle with its woods, the rounded projection of Longannet Point, the mansion of Sands, the grounds reclaimed from the sea at the Inch, and lastly the town of Kincardine, with Tulliallan Castle immediately behind, and a flat tract of carse-land extending upwards to - the creek at Kennet Pans, come all successively into view. Grangemouth with its shipping is seen on the opposite side, with the long tract of level ground which stretches upwards on both sides of the Forth as far as Stirling. A sort of second or upper pool in the estuary has now been reached, scarcely less beautiful than the lower one at Culross, and which is bordered by a splendid semi* circle of hills, the southern arc of which is formed by the Campsie range, with the Earl’s Seat as its culminating point; whilst the northern is composed of the beautiful Ochils, with their enchanting contour of form, displaying in their fullest extent those curves and roundings which delight the eye of a painter. Still farther beyond, away to the west and north-west, appear the tops of the mighty Ben Lomond, Ben Ledi, Ben Voirlich, and the dusky mountains of the west Perthshire Highlands.

At the creek near Kennet Pans, about a mile above Kincardine, the limit of the parish of Tulliallan is reached, and our cruise, as far as the coastline of “Perthshire on the Forth” is concerned, is concluded. Let us now endeavour to get a general view of the district from the land side.

Culross is situated about seven miles to the west of Dunfermline, and the intervening road passes through a finely wooded and richly cultivated country. The first, and at the same time one of the finest views of the town and its bay, is obtained from the Ness of Torrybum, an expanse of green turf at the west end of the village of the same name. It must have been from this point that William Cob-bett had the view of Culross with which he seems to have been so much delighted. This fiery and restless politician, having at length attained the dignity of a seat in Parliament as member for Oldham, set out on a lecturing tour through the north of England and Scotland in the autumn of 1832. He gave the results of his experiences to the public in a small duodecimo volume, which is now rarely to be met with. Amid much political diatribe and sarcasm, he expresses himself generally in rather flattering terms on the subject of Scotland and the Scotch, and even seems to view things a little through a medium of the couleur de rose. He is particularly delighted with Scottish rural scenery—a subject, by the way, which Cobbett had a special knack in discoursing on, as evidenced in his charming ‘ Rural Rides.’ Here are his remarks on Culross:—

“Quitting Torry, which is a very pretty place, we come, a little farther on, to the very beautiful house and park of Sir Robert Preston, who is now the owner of Culross, which lies away to our left on the side of a very beautiful bend in the firth of Forth, in a little detached part of the great county of Perth, and divided from it by the small county of Clackmannan, from the chief town of which Lord Erskine took his title. Culross is a very beautiful spot, rising up and bending round by the side of the water,—as beautiful a place as any to be found about the Isle of Wight or the Southampton Water. It was impossible for me to see it without thinking of the New Forest, Netley Abbey Woods, and particularly of that Holly Hill at which once resided that Lord Cochrane who was bom at this Culross—it then being the estate of his father—and to reflect on whose treatment always fills me with indignation inexpressible.”

The village of Newmills, in the parish of Torrybum, forms the westmost extremity of the county of Fife on the sea-shore. It abuts on the Newmill or Bluther bum, which separates Fife from Perthshire, and is crossed here by a fine stone bridge. Looking up the stream from the latter, a charming view is presented by the old bridge, unprovided with a parapet, beside which is a mill with its buildings, whilst behind rise the finely wooded heights of Torry, with the precipitous side of a whinstone quarry descending to the bank of the stream. The scene has already, I believe, been delineated on canvas by more than one artist. From Newmill Bridge two roads lead to Culross; one by Low Valleyfield, along the shore, and very picturesque and beautiful—whilst the other is no less charming of its kind, and runs terrace-fashion along and down the braes till it joins the shore road about a quarter of a mile to the east of the town. To compare great things with small, the traveller by this route—or, as it is commonly called, the high road between Newmills and Culross—may possibly, if he has traversed the Western Riviera, be reminded of the fax-famed Cornice Road which runs between Nice and Genoa. I would more especially refer to the portion between Nice and Mentone, the resemblance between which and the road we are now traversing has been remarked by more than one observer. We want, it is true, the high range of the Maritime Alps on the one side, and the boundless expanse of the Mediterranean stretching away to the horizon on the other. But still there is something to suggest a remembrance of that enchanting region of the sunny South. As in the Riviera, we traverse a terrace, and look down through the wooded slope below us on an array of houses and gardens, with the sea beyond; whilst on our right we have a beautiful belt of foliage which forms the crest of the braes.

We are now at the finger-post where the roads to Kincardine and Culross diverge; and descending the latter, we at length emerge on the level ground by the sea-shore, beside the Pow, at the east extremity of the burgh territory of Culross. The Pow has its history, and so has the fishing-cottage immediately adjoining, and the weird-looking ruin of Lord Bruce’s Hospital opposite. But we cannot delay at present in recounting these. We continue our journey westwards—a row of fine lime-trees on our left, and on our right the house and garden of St Mungo’s, with the hanging woods above, and the Abbey orchard extending along the slope of the hill, with that fine southern aspect which the monks of old knew so well how to value and appropriate. Here we are now at the beginning of the town proper, and at the foot of the Newgate, that steep winding road that leads upwards to the church. As we proceed along the causeway, let us contemplate from it the grand view of the church and monastery, with the houses and gardens on the slope of the hill. Reaching the Sand Haven, as the open green square in front of the townhouse is termed, we are nearly at the west end of Culross, from which a very pretty road winds along the shore to Kincardine, a distance of about four miles. It passes through the hamlet of Blairbum, beneath the house and grounds of Dunimarle, with the recently erected Episcopal chapel of St Serf on the intervening acclivity. A remarkable sandstone rock juts out very sharply, and any one driving along requires to be very cautious in doubling it from either side. On the top, at a little distance within, can still be traced the foundations of the ancient castle of Dunimarle, whose name was afterwards changed to Castlehill, and again restored in recent times by the proprietrix, Mrs Erskine Shairp.

Continuing our journey, we pass the lands of Blair Castle, with its mansion on the height above, all beautifully wooded; and after obtaining a fine view of Culross from a bend in the road, we reach Blair Quarry, famous for its admirable freestone. Passing thence through a pretty bit of woodland, we arrive at the eastern comer of the parish of Tulliallan, which stretches here along the shore on the left hand for nearly half a mile, forming a projecting wedge into Culross. On coming near the mansion-house of Sands, we fairly enter Tulliallan, and skirting on our left a very sombre pine-wood, we descend a sharp declivity, and find ourselves on a rather dreary road, leading past the Inch farm, which consists in great measure of a tract of land reclaimed from the Forth. Though this portion of the road is uninteresting in itself, and conveys a somewhat benumbing influence after the beautiful route which we have just been following, it commands, nevertheless, a fine view of the opposite carse of Falkirk, the richly wooded grounds of Dimmore, and the amphitheatre of hills -in the distance. It is soon got over, and we find ourselves in Kincardine, the chief place in the parish of Tulliallan, and a burgh of barony, which gives a title to an earldom, now merged in that of Elgin. In itself, it appears to the passing stranger as a most uninteresting and depressing place, spread over, however, a considerable extent of ground, and containing many good houses and pretty gardens, which seem to vouch for a considerable degree of comfort at least, if not wealth. It appears to greater advantage from the water, where it has the addition of a beautiful background enclosing it, in the finely wooded rising grounds of Kennet and Tulliallan Castle; whilst the two church towers, the old and new, give a character to the place. The view, too, from the pier looking up the Forth, as already partly described, is singularly fine, taking in the upper pool of the Forth up to Alloa, and counteracting the depressing feeling which, one would be inclined to think, an inhabitant can scarcely avoid occasionally experiencing. The streets are numerous, and generally sufficiently spacious, but have for the most part a forlorn and dejected aspect, without the least trace of the picturesque quaintness which gives so marked a character to Culross. The present town was in great measure created by the shipbuilding trade, which attained a wonderful prosperity in the end of the last and beginning of the present century, and engrossed the industry of the inhabitants so much, that a cursory perusal of the inscriptions in the burying-ground adjoining the old church of Tulliallan, would lead the visitor to the conclusion that almost every person in Kincardine had been a shipowner. Now, the trade has entirely disappeared, and scarcely a vessel is to be seen at Kincardine, except a few lying off in the roadstead that have come up there with cargoes of wood or occasionally grain, preparatory to their being conveyed by means of lighters to Alloa. A woollen factory, a rope and sail work, and a large paper-mill constructed out of the once famous distillery at Kilbagie, about two miles distant from the town, are the only sources of employment for the inhabitants in the way of trade and manufactures.

Having thus traversed the shore road from Culross to Kincardine, I shall make a further call on the patience of my reader, and request him to suppose himself again at the finger-post on the upper road to Kincardine, whence he has already diverged to visit Culross. The route we are now about to follow lies chiefly across the ridge or table-land which slopes down on one side to the sea in the Valleyfield and Culross braes, and on the other to the valley of 'the Bluther and Grange bums, from which again, on the north, rises a wide acclivity of high land crested by the woods of Comrie, the moor of the Dow Craig, and the dark pine-forests of Brankston Grange and Bath. Here occur nearly the northern limits of this district of Perthshire, which, at the foot of the northern slope of the rising ground just mentioned, meets the parishes of Saline and Clackmannan, the latter forming also the western boundary of the parish of Tulliallan. It has been well remarked that the inland district of Culross bears considerable resemblance in its projection to that of an open book. Indeed from the sea to the Ochils the country presents very much of the same aspect—that is to say, a succession of parallel ridges of high land extending from east to west, with valleys between.

The road on which we have entered is of a rather different character from those which we have hitherto been traversing. Instead of a succession of heights and hollows such as the old road-makers generally showed as the result of their work, we have here, till we reach the brow of the hill above Kincardine, a long nearly level course of three miles, laid out in the beginning of the present century, as straight almost as an arrow. With the exception of the mile through Tulliallan forest, there is little wood on either side of the way; but the want of this is fully made up by the succession of magnificent views with which we are treated. First, after passing the first milestone from Newmills, we see in the distance, on our left, the beautiful woods of Inzievar and Torry blending together in a dense mass of foliage. Nearer, in the hollow, appears Valleyfield House from a new point of view. To the north is the hamlet of Shires-mill, with the rising ground above, along which the Stirling and Dunfermline Railway passes, and still farther north, the dark ridge of the Dow Craig and adjoining pine-woods. The house of Brankston Grange, a castellated building, stands out finely on its platform of greensward against the background of dark fir-trees. Then, bounding the horizon on the north, is the verdant undulating ridge of the Ochils, with the smiling valley of Dollar at their foot, and the fine Salvator-Rosa-like ravines ascending their sides and separating the different members of the group. In one of these recesses on its platform, bordered by precipitous gullies, may be easily seen on a clear day, from the road we are travelling along, the grey walls and tower of Castle Campbell, that stronghold of the Argyll family burnt by Montrose in the great Civil War, in retaliation, as is said, of the destruction of “the bonnie house o’ Airlie.” Lovely always are the tints on the Ochils, whether it be the bright green of the pastures that clothe their sides, the golden gleam with which sunrise and sunset light them up in the mornings and evenings, or on those rare occasions when, shrouded in mist, they are partially illumined by the varying hues of the rainbow. In winter they are, of course, often white with snow; and a hollow near the summit of one of them, behind Alva House, is noted for the length of the period during which the snow frequently remains there. When it is melted for the most part on the other hills of the range, it appears here on the crest of the hollow like a fine web or veil of lace. And I myself have seen, from our present standpoint, Lady Alva’s Veil, as it is commonly called—diminished in size, it must be owned, to that of a pocket-handkerchief—as late as the month of June.

We are now arrived at the cross-roads where the Gallows Loan from Culross crosses the high road to Kincardine. Let us turn down the former for a little way, in order to reach a point from which the very finest view in the whole parish of Culross is obtained. On a clear day the whole valley of the Forth is spread out before the spectator, stretching away westwards as far as Stirling, which, with its rock and castle, is distinctly visible, and, nearer hand, the Abbey Craig above Cambuskenneth, and the Wallace Monument with its surmounting crown. The Ochils are to the north, terminating at the western extremity in the rounded peak of Dunmyat, referred to by Hector M‘Neill in his poem of “Will and Jean” :—

“Saft her smile like sweet May mornin',
Glintin' o’er Dunmyat’s brow;
Sweet, wi’ opening charms adornin'
Strevlin's lovely plain below.”

Ben Cleuch, the highest summit of the Ochils, rising to the height of 2400 feet, is seen in the background to the north-east of Dunmyat; and beyond the latter hill, to the west, separated from it by the broad valley of the Allan, rises the mighty Ben Ledi, with its Druidical traditions. Through the opening between it and Dunmyat, the spectator, from his “coign of vantage” at the crest of the Gallows Loan of Culross, can get a glimpse in clear weather of the nearer Perthshire Grampians, including Ben Voirlich and Uam Var, celebrated in the ‘Lady of the Lake.’ Below him, on his left, is the church tower of Culross rising among the trees (but the town of Culross itself hidden from view by the projecting brae); the low country between Culross and Kincardine; the Firth of Forth, with the opposite shores of Linlithgowshire, the carses of Falkirk and Stirling, and the Campsie Hills. Then, shutting in the view on the extreme west beyond Stirling, is the great Ben Lomond himself, his companion the Cobbler at the head of Loch Long, and, stretching away to the north, a line of dark mountains reaching to Ben More and the hills about Glen Dochart.

Retracing our steps to the high road, we find ourselves again pursuing our way to Kincardine, and after a little enter the Tulliallan woods, which close in both sides of the road for about a mile. Nearly all the district we are crossing belongs to what used to be known as Culross Muir, a tract of country extending almost from Valleyfield to Kincardine, but of which the greater part is now either cultivated or planted. It belonged all to the burgh of Culross, which still retains certain rights connected with it; but the property of the soil has long been alienated by a succession of grants at different times to the surrounding heritors, at small ground-rents, with the view of eking out the diminishing revenues of the corporation. Had she retained the moor in her own hands, and expended what she could spare in the process of reclamation, Culross might have been at the present day one of the richest corporations in Scotland. The western portion, which is little more than an expanse of heather and peat, is now covered with thick woods, traversed by many beautiful paths, resembling in many respects the mazes of the grand old forest of Fontainebleau. Roe and fallow deer abound, and are occasionally seen crossing the road; whilst the whirr of the capercailzie, or cock of the woods, as he flaps his large dusky wings, is frequently heard breaking the solitude.

Emerging from the woods, we reach an eminence a mile above Kincardine, beside the old ruined tower of Bordie; and here another magnificent prospect presents itself. In front of us is the grand amphitheatre of hills already referred to, with the town of Kincardine at our feet, and the glassy Forth winding its way downwards from Stirling between its richly cultivated banks and romantic scenery on either side, bearing no inapt resemblance to the Rhine.

From Kincardine a rich tract of carse-land extends up both sides of the Forth as far as Stirling; but the portion of this comprised within the parish of Tulliallan is only about a mile square—reaching on the water-side as far as Kennet Pans, and on the land lip Kilbagie, the once far-famed distillery whose liquor used to be so appreciated by Bums’s Jolly Beggars, but which has now been converted into a paper manufactory. As we leave the town to proceed northwards, we see on our right the old and new churches of Tulliallan, each with its tower— the former unroofed and dismantled, standing on an eminence in the midst of the burying-ground, with the woods and castle of Tulliallan lying immediately behind. An older church still, but which exists only now as a family vault, is situated about a mile to the north, in a comer of Tulliallan Park, and has also its secluded little churchyard. 1 shall have more to say about them afterwards. A beautiful and wide road, finely shaded by trees, leads northwards from Kincardine to Dollar, and is crossed by the north road leading from Dunfermline to Alloa. On the edge of a woodland to our left are the ruins of the old castle of Tulliallan—an imposing-looking edifice, once the seat of the powerful family of the Blackadders, one of whom was the celebrated Archbishop Blackadder of Glasgow, founder of the south transept of the cathedral there, and also of St Mungo’s Chapel at Culross. Having passed the quaint little hamlet of Dalquhamy, we ascend a rising ground and obtain another splendid view of the Forth as it winds round beneath the town and tower of Clackmannan, with the beautiful expanse of country on the opposite shore, extending from the river-banks to the Campsies. A little progress farther, brings us to the junction of the Dunfermline north road, running east and west; and at a short distance to the north of this point, we reach the limit of Tulliallan parish a little to the south of Kincardine station.

We now retrace our steps to Garterry Toll, and turning to the east along the road which leads from Dunfermline, will continue our course to Comrie Bridge, traverse the north border of Culross and Tulliallan, and thus complete our perambulation of the seaboard district of Perthshire. For about a mile we keep ascending a hill; and having arrived at the top, turn round nearly at the point where the parish of Culross meets that of Tulliallan, and take “a long, lingering look behind,” over the magnificent panorama that spreads itself out before us. It is in many respects similar to that from the Gallows Loan, but taken from a nearer standpoint to Stirling and the hills. A prominent object between us and the town just mentioned is the old tower of Clackmannan, the original seat of the Bruce family. It stands in its park, at the upper or western extremity of the town of Clackmannan, which straggles up to it along the ridge, and, with its red-tiled houses, conveys little sense of an aristocratic bearing. It is, however, the old county town, though now superseded by Alloa; and my reader may remember how the hero in one of Professor Aytoun’s stories declares his intention of spending his holidays in visiting some little-known localities—such as, among others, the town of Clackmannan, which he had often heard of, but had hitherto never met with any person by whom it had been actually seen. There it is, in the very substance and material.

Our present road is of rather a wild and solitary character, and it will be almost an event if we meet any one between this and Comrie village, a distance of nearly four miles. It inspires, however, the reverse of a depressing influence — having a fine mountain-flavour about it, and being, indeed, the one region in the district where such can be procured. On the left are the rising ground and dark pine-woods, with the white mansion of Brankston Grange, which we have already seen from the Kincardine road, that runs parallel with the present one at a distance of about three miles to the south. On the right extends a wide expanse of well-cultivated undulating country, with the valley through which the Bluther bum flows, past the hamlet of Shiresmill; whilst over the rising grounds a glimpse is obtained of the Firth of Forth and the opposite shores. As we ascend the hill from Bogside station below the Dow Craig, we take in at one glance nearly the whole of the parish; and at a distance of a mile between each, two roads branch off to the town of Culross—one by Balgownie Mains and the Gallows Loan, the other by Comrie Castle, East Grange station, and Shiresmill. On reaching the top, another mile of nearly level road conducts us to Comrie village—created in great measure of late years by the now dismantled and abandoned Forth Iron-Works, immediately adjoining. Here the county of Fife is again reached—the road being crossed by a small stream, which, after separating the parishes of Saline and Carnock from Culross, joins in Comrie Dean what is known in this part of its course by the name of the How, and lower down of the Bluther burn. From this junction the name Comrie, denoting a confluence or union, is derived.

Having thus endeavoured to present my readers with a general outline of the two parishes, it may not be amiss to say something of their natural characteristics—and first as regards their geological formation.

The whole of Culross and Tulliallan rests on strata of sandstone, and throughout their entire extent there is not—as regards the surface, at all events— the least trace to be found of any trap or volcanic rock. Doubtless such rocks may exist, permeating the strata in the form of underground dikes or interruptions ; but they have not yet, so far as I know, been reached. Beds of coal extend in every direction; but the upper or surface seams have been almost entirely worked out in bygone days—and little has as yet been effected in excavating them at a lower depth, though the Carron Company have now for several years been both proprietors and extensive tacksmen in the parish of Culross. Besides the sandstone, which crops out everywhere, there is little of any other stratified rock visible at the surface —though a bed of limestone manifests itself on the sea-shore below Dunimarle; and there are extensive beds of clay richly charged with iron, which imparts its peculiar hue to many little rills that trickle down to the sea-shore. The soil of both parishes—as naturally results from its sandstone base and absence of the fertilising qualities derived from the disintegration of volcanic rocks—is for the most part originally of a thin and barren nature, though cultivation and industry have done wonders, and a great part of the once bleak and sterile Culross Muir has been enclosed and converted into corn - land. The braes sloping down to the Forth have a fine sunny exposure, and besides exhibiting some good pasture and arable land, are admirably adapted for gardening and orchard purposes. There is also a fine tract of alluvial land—some of it only reclaimed from the sea within the present century—which commences at New Pans, about a mile to the east of Kincardine, and extending along the Forth above the town, forms the western appendage or cantle of the parish of Tulliallan.

The situation of the two parishes is, on the whole, a very genial and sunny one—though, in the case of Culross, its advantages in this respect are chiefly confined to the southern district, with its verdant braes, crested with wood, that slope down to the Firth of Forth and form the upper curve of Culross bay. The upland regions partake more of a moorish and sterile, though sufficiently picturesque character, with the fine stretches of country that they present, extending up the Forth towards Stirling, and the beautiful range of the Ochils in the background. Some resemblance may be found here between the parish of Culross and the county of Devonshire, in both of which two distinct climatic characters coexist—the one elevated, open, and bracing, the other low, sheltered, and geniaL Just as in travelling through Devonshire a most striking change is experienced in passing from the mountain-plateau of Dartmoor or the breezy uplands on the southern coast to the rich valley of the Exe, or the fairy nooks of Torquay, Babbicombe, or Watcombe, so, parva componere magnis, a remembrance of the enchanted land of the south is called up in descending the steep path of the Newgate of Culross, between the terraced orchard of the Abbey and the town gardens with the houses at their feet.

As regards Tulliallan, it is both, in its general contour, of a less romantic character than Culross, and contains also, in proportion to its extent, a greater amount of rich and fertile land. A considerable portion of it on the west and south border consists of fine carse or rich alluvial soil, much of which has been reclaimed from the Forth within the present century. Almost, indeed the only, tract in the parish that belongs to the bleak or sterile order is the remnant of Culross Muir, which was only annexed to Tulliallan in the middle of the seventeenth century.

Belonging to the basin of the Forth, but separated from the Ochils by a series of intervening and parallel valleys which intercept and carry off the waters from the higher grounds, the streams and brooks in the parish of Tulliallan are almost ml; whilst in Culross, with the exception of the Bluther bum, formed by the union of the Caxnock and Grange bums, neither of which has any extraordinary length or declivity of course, there is little beyond a multitude of tiny rills, which are rarely swollen to any inconvenient or portentous dimensions. In consequence, the locality is little exposed to damage from floods, which sometimes cause tremendous havoc in the Devon valley at the foot of the Ochils, where a host of streams descend direct and precipitously from the mountains.

The same immunity which Culross and Tulliallan enjoy from great floods or cataclysms, is enjoyed by them likewise in regard to violent storms of any kind. Rarely is the region, at all events, lying along the Forth from Newmill Bridge to Kincardine, swept by any violent hurricane; whilst in winter the proximity of the sea, and the sheltered position of the district as regards the north and north-east, secure for it a mildness of temperature that will almost vie with that of Bute or Arran. Snow never lies long, and a very marked increase in the depth of the layer is generally perceptible in travelling from Culross to Dunfermline, and passing gradually from a milder to a severer climate. During the terrible winter of 1880-81, though this part of the country experienced amply the inclemency of the season, it was yet to a less extent than what prevailed in most parts of Scotland. The road along the shore never became impassable through being blocked up with snow.

In further evidence of the mildness of the climate of Culross, it may be mentioned that in this neighbourhood many fruits and other productions which rarely ripen in Scotland, attain here maturity. The fig ripens on a wall with a southern exposure, and in the Abbey orchard there is a very old medlar-tree, which has evidently sprung from a much older stock, and which thus may even be carried back to the days of the monks, whose skill in horticulture is so well known, as well as their judgment in the selection of suitable sites for gardens and orchards. The tree in question not only bears abundantly, but likewise produces fruit that will compare with any medlars in Covent Garden market. The pears and peas of Culross have long been famous, and, till recently, the feuars of Low Valleyfield eked out their living respectably by the sale of their garden produce. The importation of large quantities of fruit from the Continent has seriously affected here, as in other parts of Scotland, the profits derived from such sources. But the raising of early vegetables and summer fruit, such as gooseberries and strawberries, is still pursued here by several individuals as a profitable avocation.

Another specialty of this region is the abundance of-wild flowers and rare plants, which renders it throughout a paradise for the botanist—though unfortunately one or two species, formerly procurable, are now, from the wasteful manner in which they have been gathered, scarcely to be found. The Osmunda regalis (royal or flowering fern) and other rare ferns (including the Ophioglossum vulgatum or adder’s - tongue, and 'Botrychium lunare or moonwort), the Pyrola and Tnentalis, the Corallo-rhiza or coral-root, the Listera ovata or Tway-blade, and the Paris quadrifolia or Paris-plant, have all their habitats here, and more especially in the woods of Blair Castle, to the west of Culross. The beautiful Menyanthes trifoliata, or bog-bean, the loveliest of our wild plants, used to grow abundantly in a pond near Bordie, but has recently been almost extirpated. What, however, may be termed the botanic specialty of Culross, and is, I believe, only to be found in one other locality in Scotland— on the Firth of Clyde, below Gourock—is the Narcissus Pseudo - narcissus, or wild daffodil, which covers a small cantle of mossy ground within the enclosure of Blair Castle, about fifty yards to the north of the public road, and about half-way between Dunimarle and Blair Quarry. In the early spring, when “daffodils begin to peer”—

“Daffodils
That come before the swallow dares,”

and take

“The winds of March with beauty ”—

an actual blaze of those magnificent flowers may be witnessed by the wayfarer at this spot as he journeys along the coast-road between Culross and Kincardine. Many of them have been planted in gardens, but cultivation seems to have little effect on them of any kind. A number of them were planted by the late Sir James Colville in the grounds of Craigflower, adjoining the village of Torrybum. They are well known in English orchards—at least in Devonshire —as “ Lent lilies.”

The wild animals are generally such as belong to any fertile district in the Scottish Lowlands, thickly interspersed with woods, and call for no special remarks. Game is abundant, and the woods of Tulliallan are well stocked with fallow-deer. The capercailzie, or cock of the woods, has been introduced there of late years, and multiplied to a great extent. Capital cover for foxes prevails through most of this country, which might be hunted to great advantage, were Master Reynard allowed fair-play, and permitted a reasonable chance of existence. But he is fond of rabbits—a predilection which does not tally with the views of gamekeepers and their masters; and so both here and in the adjoining western district of Fife a crusade has been maintained against him, by which he has been nearly extirpated.

As regards the ordinary feathered tribes, small birds, including blackbirds, thrushes, and all the songsters, used to be rather inconveniently numerous about Culross, so as to occasion a good deal of trouble to the owners of gardens. The late severe winters and inclement springs have, however, perceptibly thinned their numbers. Magpies used to be very abundant—as when, to be afterwards related, they nearly brought Lord Dundonald’s tutor into a serious scrape—but are now very rare in this neighbourhood. Jays are rather plentiful, and herons not uncommon, whilst rooks and wood-pigeons are very abundant. The shores of the Forth are in the winter visited by flocks of plovers, wild ducks, and other water-fowl, that betake themselves hither when their pools on the upland moors are frozen.

No fishery of any kind is now maintained in this region of the Forth—though, besides the produce of the cruives (of which we shall hear something afterwards in the kirk-session records), there used to be great quantities of salmon taken by means of stake-nets on the shore opposite the estate of Blair. The employment of such engines is interdicted by law on any part of the river or estuary above Queens-ferry, whilst steam navigation is credited with having frightened away many of the common kinds of fish.

The town of Culross and immediate neighbourhood are copiously supplied with springs of excellent water, which filters down from the heights above through the strata of sandstone which permeate the whole of the parish and form the braes that slope down to Culross bay. In one or two districts, such as about Shiresmill, the supply is deficient, though doubtless plenty of good water might be obtained by boring. As regards Tulliallan, the paucity of subterraneous springs, as well as the absence of streams and rivulets, used to occasion great inconvenience in bygone days, both to the owners of mills and of the coal-works in the barony of Kincardine. To supply this want of water-power, the two sheets of water known respectively as the Peffermill Dam and the Moor Dam or Tulliallan Water, were originally constructed so as to receive by means of ditches all the rain-water coming from the adjoining rising ground. The former of these covers sixty-six acres, and the latter fifty. They now serve merely as ornamental pieces of water, and are plentifully stocked with fish, including Loch Leven trout. They are also frequented by many kinds of rare wild-fowl, including swans, Egyptian geese, and others, which have here been introduced and acclimatised by the proprietrix, Lady W. G. Osborne Elphinston. Some years ago two wild swans, probably from this quarter, were seen in the winter, urging their way down the Firth by Queensferry.

There is one phenomenon in the Forth in this district which deserves special notice, and of which, unless it arises from some special configuration in the bed and shore of the river and estuary at this point, I cannot venture to speculate on the predisposing cause. I refer to the so-called lakies—those singular intermissions in the ebb and flow of the tides, which regularly manifest themselves, though they do not seem in modern times to have attracted much attention. The earliest account of them is given in Sir Robert Sibbald’s * History of Fife and Kinross,’ originally published in 1710, where these phenomena are detailed at great length. A more concise description of the lakies is furnished in the Old Statistical Account of the parish of Clackmannan, and may be here advantageously quoted:—

“The tides in the river Forth, for several miles both above and below Clackmannan, exhibit a phenomenon not to be found (it is said) in any other part of the globe. This is what the sailors call a leaky tide, which happens always in good weather during the neap-tides, and sometimes also during the spring-tides if the weather be uncommonly fine. When the water has flowed for three hours, it then runs back for about an hour and a half, nearly as far as when it began to flow. It returns immediately, and flows during another hour and a half to the same height it was at before; and this change takes place both in the flood and ebb tides. So that there are actually double the number of tides in this river that are to be found anywhere else. In very boisterous weather, however, these leaky tides are by no means regular; the water only swells and gorges without any perceptible current, as if the two tides were acting against each other. The cause of this singular phenomenon in the tides of the river Forth may be a subject of inquiry to the philosopher, for it has not yet been discovered.”

To the above account I can only add my own personal testimony of what I have witnessed both at Kincardine pier and on the sea-shore at Blair Castle, about a mile above Culross. The incoming tide appeared suddenly to stop, and then to recede for a little distance, after which it again advanced as before. The lakie tides are not particularly manifest or much known about Culross, but are matters of universal experience at Kincardine, more especially to the boatmen who ply at its ferry, and with whom I have conversed on the subject. Their account differs, however, from that quoted, inasmuch as they say that the lakie tide never recedes much more than two feet before returning on its regular course, and , sometimes scarcely even does this, the phenomenon in such a case only displaying itself by the tide coming to a standstill for about an hour and a half. They also inform me that both in flood and ebb tides, when the lakie has run its course, the tide flows or recedes, as the case may be, to the proper limit of high or low water. As to the causes of this singular characteristic of the tides in the upper reaches of the Forth, they could give me no information.

The general salubrity of this district of Perthshire is incontestable, though possibly some might deem the climate of the shore-region too close and enervating in the summer-time, however mild and genial it might be found in the season of winter. Owing to the absence, indeed, of any active trade or manufacture, there is certainly a repose and sleepiness about Culross which, to one wearied with the toils and bustle of the great world, would render it a very haven of rest—a veritable Happy Valley or Vale of Avoca. To another it would appear dull and monotonous, from the want of excitement and variety. Removed now by the great changes in the art of locomotion from the main arteries of intercommunication, both Culross and Kincardine are probably much less visited by strangers than they were a hundred years ago. They are places through which no one passes, and the difficulty of access which besets them renders them, along with their whole district, comparatively unknown. How far these circumstances may be changed by the laying down of the projected branch line of the Caledonian Railway along the coast from Alloa to Kirkcaldy, it is rather premature as yet to speculate on; but there can be little doubt that, when completed, a considerable alteration may be anticipated in the condition of all those little towns and villages along the Forth which have hitherto been so secluded from the great world. Easy access to a pleasant country from Stirling, Alloa, and even Edinburgh and Glasgow, would probably cause a great influx of population, with an inexhaustible demand for elegant villas and furnished lodgings. The same metamorphosis that has overtaken Callander, Oban, the Bridge of Allan, and other places, may be the fate of Culross; and though it may be attended with a great increase in commercial prosperity and the value of property, I cannot say that the prospect is one of unqualified satisfaction.


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