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A Description of the Scenery of Dunkeld
Approaches to Dunkeld


As it is from Perth that nearly all visitors arrive at Dunkeld. the first scene which will attract their notice is the pass of Tiirnam, turning the gate to the Highlands in this quarter Mr. Pennant's witticism, that Birnam wood has never recovered the march which its ancestors made to Dunsinane, is still true. Yet the contrast which this wild and bare scenery afford* to that which is shortly to follow, is perhaps, on the u hole, advantageous. Nor is the scene itself uninteresting; from the height and abi aptness of the hills on each side, the huge, bare and broken faces ot grey rock, and the depth of shadow which is thus thrown oil this narrow and wild pass, contrasting with the noble river as it wanders deep below, through rich and overhanging trees, till, reaching the more open valley, it meanders among the rich and ornamental grounds of Murthly. The artist will find, in the latter spot, scenes not unfitted tor his pencil.

Those also who are interested in the fashionable pursuit of mineralogy, will here find ol>-jects well worthy their attention, in the junctions of the red sandstone, in the trap rocks, and ;n the slate; in the inclined and reversed positions of the strata, in the quarries themselves, and in the minerals which they contain. The most remarkable of these arttremolite, brown spar, bright red felspar, chlorite, and oxidilious iron, the chlorite being often crystallized, and the iron ore disposed in slender scaly ribbons, so as to form very beautiful specimens. Under the rocks on the left hand, the botanist will also find the rare Pteriacrispa in great aliundanie.

From this first point of the pass, the road presents various beauties, which it is only necessary thus generally to mention: and that, merely for the sake of those, who. intent on some distant object, are apt to pa*s unnoticed that which ha= not been indicated to them. But the first complete view of Dunkeld which is obtained, after descending the hill, must be especially pointed out; because it is to be enjoyed in perfection, only by quitting the road to take a more elevated position. This will be found on a rocky knoll of oak cop* pice, at the right hand, and behind Birnam inn. Hence, a view well adapted for a picture can be procured, with all the necessary accompaniments of a fore and middle ground ; the wooded and rocky hills which bound Dunkeld to the north, forming the back ground; and the town with its cathedral, bridge, and river, hurried among the dark shade of luxuriant trees, adding lite and variety to the whole.

The bridge is a singularly elegant structure, in which no expense Las been spared to unite taste and magnificence with convenience. It was commenced in 1805, and opened in 1808; before which period there was no communication but by a ferry boat at Inver. This place, and the country in general, art indebted for it, principally to the -spirit and liberality of the Duke of Atholl. The total expense was £'42,000. Of this, the public advanced £5,500. The tolls granted towards the remainder- are adequate to *be interest of £16,000 only; so that his Grace's gratuitous advances amount to upwards of £'20,000. The length of this bridge is 685 feet, its breadth 37, and its greatest height from the foundation 54. There are live principal and two land arches; the span of the central one being 90 feet, and the others, in succession, 85, 75, and 26.

While the elegant form of the bridge of Dunkeld renders it, in itself, a subject for the pencil of the artist, it adds incalculably to the interest of the various scenes into which it enters. As an architectural object, it affords a bond of union to the scattered houses' and the cathedral, and a contrast to the rich wooded scenery by which it is every where surrounded; while in giving an eye and centre to so many pictures, its mellow breadth of grey light relieves the dark colour of the trees which skirt the banks of the river and cover the surrounding hills.

Bui the traveller must not even pass the bridge, without pausing to admire a view which the artist wilt gladly transfer to his portfolio; although labouring under the defect of containing no foreground In every thing else, the picture is as perfect as could be desired, nor will the absence of foreground be remarked by any but him w ho feels the want of it to complete his drawing. The cathedral is here displayed in a very picturesque and favourable point of viewę foreshortened, and relieved by the deep dark green of the trees around it, and taking off the attention from that part of the town immediately under the eye, which is rather too conspicuously displayed. The grounds of Dunkeld park rise behind, overtopped by Craig-y-barns, in a manner the most varied and rich that can be imagined ; while the extreme distance is constituted by the bold features of the long woody ridge of Craig Vincan, which, from whatever point of view, is always a principal object in this scenery Perhaps, however, the chief beauty of this picture consists in the river; which, grand and highly ornamented as it every where is, scarcely offers any point of view superior, if equal, to this. As it retires from the eye in a prolonged and varied perspective, silent, smooth, and dark, its source seems lost in the deep woods and rocky recesses of the lofty hills by which it is overshadowed: on each hand, trees of endless variety, in colour, form, and disposition, skirt its margin, often feathering down into the dark water, and blending with their own reflections so as to conceal its boundaries; unless where some line of silvery light, gleaming on an occasional ripple, or the rising of a fish, betrays, by a sparkle, the presence of the dark brown water gliding unsuspected under the overshadowing banks.

It will fall to the lot of few travellers to arrive at Dunkeld by the Cupar road; and I must therefore direct those to whom that entrance is unknown, to some points of view which give infinitely the most perfect conception of the scenery of this place, and which, at the same time, afford by much the most complete pictures, in point of composition, variety, and effect, which can be obtained throughout the whole of this brilliant spot. The tourist would not grudge the time bestowed on this expedition, even were it far greater; but two hours are more than sufficient for the whole.

It is necessary to proceed on this road, as far as the slate quarries of Newtyle, a distance of about a mile and half: but those who have time, may extend their ride as far as Stenton and Dungarthil, which afford some good scenes for the pencil. The different views of Dunkeld will, however, only be discovered in returning; as the spectator turns his back on them in going, 50 as seldom to be able to catch the precise points whence they are seen to the greatest advantage.

The first of these views is found close to the farm house near the quarry; the foreground being constituted by some fine beach trees, and by the high wooded banks of the river, which runs deep below. There is something singular in the aspect of Dunkeld from this spot: the whole very much resembling a scene viewed through an inverted telescope.

The next to be mentioned, is unquestionably the most perfect picture which Dunkeld presents; whether we consider the complete geographical notion which it conveys of the form and distribution of the ground, or its composition and picturesque character. The best point of view is from the coppice ground just above Oakwuod cottage, and on the left hand side of the road. The sweep of the river is here very noble, and is terminated by the bridge, which forms the centre of the picture, as well as its mo=t conspicuous object. The cathedral rising over it, with the grey town and the house of Dunkeld, adds breadth and value to that mass of scattered architecture which is the {joint of reference and unity for the whole of this splendid scene. Nothing can well Ik- finer than the bold and varied line which the distance forms on the sky, nor richer than the mixture of dark wood and rock, broken into numerous recesses, and catching alternately strong lights and deep shadows, by which this barrier of hills is covered. Woods, single trees, hill, and meadow, disposed in the most varied, and contrasted in the most perfect manner, constitute a middle ground, in which the indented and highly ornamental margins of the river still hold the most conspicuous place.

This principal picture becomes changed and varied in many ways, in drawing nearer to the town; each point furnishing a new subject to the artist, from the great alterations which take place in the middle and foregrounds: although the distance remains little changed. These cannot fail to catch the eye from the very road but by entering the ground of Oakwood cottage, and taking the river banks for a foreground, two or three distinct pictures will be found, even n a more perfect style of composition than those obtained from the road itself.

The spectator ought also to take a position on the hill towards the right hand, beyond the cottage just mentioned. The point of view lies in a very picturesque road, which ascends under the edge of a fir wood, and which offers good foregrounds. Here also a very beautiful view of Dunkeld is procured ; end if resembling that last described, it is yet sufficiently varied to produce a distinct picture. Those who chose to prolong their walk for half a mile, to the top of the hill, will also obtain a view of the valley and Lochs of the Lowes, which will well repay their trouble.

In returning to the town, the walk may also be varied by following the ancient highway; passing by a beautifully situated farm, and descending into Dunkeld over a somewhat incommodious piece of hilly road. The view of the town and the surrounding ground, is however very fine from this point; and even though the traveller should not chose to make the little expedition thus described, a quarter of an hour will be well occupied in walking from his inn to the point in question.


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