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A Description of the Scenery of Dunkeld
The Hermitage, Rumbling Bridge, &c. &c.


It is usual fur visitors to proceed to the Hermitage, after inspecting the home grounds; in compliance with which, the whole of the scenery on the south west side of the Tay will now be pointed out wherever that is necessary. To view it properly, it would require far more time than is ever allotted to it.

In proceeding to the village of Inver for this purpose, the tourist must not pass unnoticed the banks of the Braan, and the beautiful wooded field lying between it and the Tay, which, in any place less profuse in beauty, would itself form an ornamental park of no small importance. If afford" a fine view of the cathedra!and an evening walk round it will not disappoint the visitor; particularly if, like Isaac Walton. he can meditate sweet thoughts with his angle or his tlj in his hand.

At a tarn of the road immediately before descending to the bridge of the Braan, there is a beautiful scene, affording a most perfect composition for a picture; and which assuredly no one who carries a portfolio, In these days of universal accomplishment, will pass without a record. It requires but a moment, to lose, as to find, the right point of view; but the experienced need not be told, that their eye must ever be on the alert amid scenery of this class. The bridge, occupying the centre of the picture, and lying vertically below the highest rocky point of Craig Vinean, is a seaman's mark that cannot fail. An artist also will soon discover, that, from various points, the bridge itself, surrounded as it is by trees, and the beautifully-wooded banks of this rapid river, w ill afford him some very pleasing and profitable occupation.

It would be unpardonable not to diverge s few yards from the road at this place, for the purpose of obtaining by much the most extensive and magnificent view which Dunkeld any where affords, though scarcely reducible to the limits of a picture. The point in question will be found by ascending a piece of very steep hilly road at the left hand, for a few hundred yards, and has hitherto been unknown to visitors. The wooded masses of Craig-v-barns are here seen in a very advantageous manner; towering high above all the surrounding objects, and with an outline more flowing and graceful than from any other point of view. Sweeping away to the eastward in an endless succession of woods, this range gradually blends with the more distant mountains, till these are lost in the blue distance; its broad grey faces of broken rock towering high over the King's pass, end contrasting finely with the dark green of the trees that spring from every crevice, and with the solid masses of the same colour which surround them on all sides. Towards the eye. wood surmounting wood in endless variety of form and colour, descends to the Tay, varied by open and undulating ground, in which groups and scattered trees serve tourile the whole into one harmonious mass. The course of the Braan, the romantics village of Inver, and the bridge beneath the eye involved in dark and luxuriant foliage, form the middle ground of a scent scarcely any where to be equalled iri splendour of ornament and grandeur of character.

It will gratify those who have never traversed extensive woods, to prolong their expedition from this point, through the great fir plantations which cover the whole of this hill, :in a through which there . re numerous and good roads There is a silence in the uniformity of these interminable solitudes which is almost appalling, and which may remind us all of what we have read respecting the wide wildernesses of America  While we may enjoy the effect without sacrifice, without fear from savage bears or more savage men, and with the security of a feather bed at night, instead of a couch of sticks and stones under the canopy of night and heaven.

The waterfall at the Hermitage is the great object of attraction to the people. as white-falls, like caves, ever have been, and ever will be, to those who admire only what is marvellous or surprising, and whose taste for real beauty in nature is yet to be formed : a class including nine tenths of those who visit this place, or any place, seeking, too often in vain, for that which, like happiness, must have its seat, at least, laid in the mind.

However, the fall of the Braan is something better than mere smoke, and noise, and foam, and confusion. There is enough of these, fortunately, to gratify those who see no further into a waterfall than its height and its breadth, its rumbling and its rainbows: and there is abundance besides, of all that renders such an object really interesting; a picturesque disposition of the water as to the forms, rocks of decided character, appropriate colour, and breadth of mass; solidity, as well in the light and shadow as in the colouring; and ail the adventitious ornament of deep wood, scattered shrubs, and bold trees; without which, the finest cascades but an insipid object after the first wonder has subsided.

Too much praise cannot be given to the taste which threw over this dark and deep chasm, the highly picturesque bridge, with its unexpected and effective gateway, that crosses the river, which, after quiting the fall, runs black and silent below. This is the object which unites the whole into a picture, even far more perfectly than the cascade ; and, by a due use of it, the artist will find at least three subjects for his pencil, which he will have cause to regret if he does not carry away, instead of wasting his labour on that which, though drawn an hundred times, never did, and never can, make a fit subject for painting. How often the whole scene has been disgraced by the publication of the most contemptible aquatintas, and by selecting the only object that ought to have been omitted, need not lie told. As it is the fate of the Marlboroughs and the Nelsons to be executed on every sign-post in the kingdom, so it is the misfortune of the finest scenes, like the finest fruits, to attract those whose contact only serves to contaminate them.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the beautifully sequestered walks of this charming spot, as they must be obvious to all eyes. The interior of the elegant zoom called Ossian's Hall, with its finely-executed arabesques, will also attract every one's attention. The propriety of placing such a building in such a place, is an eternal subject of discussion to visitors, and often enough, as might be foreseen, of censure. The exterior is so little seen that it ran give little offence, amid scenery of so grand and overwhelming a character; and as to the interior, I know not what prevents an elegant, room from being elegant every where, nor what advantages are gained by sitting down on a damp stone and under rotten leaves, among rheumatisms and ear-wigs, when we may enjoy the comforts of light and air, of painting and architecture, and commodious furniture, in addition to cheerful society, and to that which even the admirer of a damp hermitage docs not despise—a good dinner.

The reader must not, however, imagine, that this building is the Hermitage, or that twenty mirrors were placid for the purpose of reflecting a matted beard and a dingy cassock. A hermitage of this fashion would be like the solitude which some one must partake, that we may be able to say, How charming is solitude! The true Hermitage is situated a little further on, and is quite comfortless enough to satisfy the warmest ambition on this subject. The young and gay indeed, crowding into it from the heat of a noonday sun, may exclaim—What a charming and cool retreat! how delicious is solitude I how delightful to be a hermit, and to pass a life of contemplation in listening to the waterfall.'

It happens to many travellers in Scotland to visit what is called the Cauldron Linn, on the Devon. They may see similar cauldrons here and in a situation which, to those who deal in geological pursuits, is still more interesting. They are situated just in front of the dour of Ossian's Hall. and it is very plain that they are excavations which have been formed by the cascade, n hen the river ran in a very different place from what it does now. It is easy to see how far backwards it has corroded the rocks since that period; but it is not so easy to determine at what height it .r list have then fallen from above. Whatever that has been, it must have been considerable, and it will afford an amusing reflection to a geologist, to consider what the state of this valley was at such a period, and to compute the vast mass of matter which must have been carried forward along its whole bed, to the Tay, and ultimately to the sea. To the contributions of the Braan, among many other streams;, is Scotland indebted for its Carse of Gowrie

The Humbling Bridge, thrown across the Braan about a mile from this place, higher up the stream, forms another object to which visitors arc very properly directed. The character of the river is here far different, as it runs entirely in a narrow and very deep chasm, and with, comparatively, Little accompaniment from the surrounding scenery. The fall which the water makes just above the bridge is striking, from the depth of the chasm chiefly, though its own form is good: and a huge fragmented rock, which has so fallen down the fissure as to have produced a natural bridge across it, adds much to the interest of this little scent . It is on the other side of the bridge, however, or downwards, according to the stream, that the most picturesque view is obtained, simply by quitting the road for a few yards. Here, the area is seen in a very favourable position, thrown across this chasm, which at this place also is beautifully ornamented by trees starting from the crevices of the rocks, and forming altogether a most happy combination for a picture.

There is nothing to induce the traveller to proceed further up Strath Braan, unless this should happen to be his road. But he must now be conducted, since this book has undertaken to lie his guide, through the remainder of the scenery on this side of the Tay; whether or not he may find time or inclination to realize, in act. that of which he can here only read.

Many walks, mutually communicating, arc cut along the woody face of Craig Vinean: all of them giving very fine and commanding views, both of the grounds of Dunkeld and of the distant scenery to the northward. It is not, however, necessary, for thi« purpose, to traverse them all It is right that they should be there ; but two or three hours of the visitor's time will put him into possession of as much of the character of the whole as can be necessary for his purpose. The principal points of view arc marked by rustic seats, and therefore need not be further described; and the general nature of the views which they yield, will be apprehended from the notice of one or two which will immediately be given. Of the more distant points, the Roebuck Seat, placed at the further extremity of these woods, demands more time than is easily allotted to this part of the grounds but the visitor should ascend, at least as high as the Spruce Walk.

It is easily apprehended how the more elevated positions may represent the same scenes under different aspects, not only from differences in the perspective, but in the nature of the foregrounds; but as far as the objects of an artist, and indeed of most spectators, are concerned, the best elevations are about the level of the seat called the Craig Vinean Seat. This particular spot affords a view which may serve for a specimen of the general character of this scenery, and which indeed exhibits it in the greatest perfection as a picture, although a more perfect detail of the distance is obtained from the higher elevations. This distance consists in a portion of Strath Tay, terminated by the Highland mountains, as formerly seen from the lower grounds ; and the eye is gradually conducted to it by a retiring vista, formed, on one side, by the long sweep of the woods of Craig Vinean, and, on the other, by the bold ascent of Craig-y-barns. The high road, winding along, deep among the surrounding woods, and skirted by fine oaks, serves further to conduct the eye through the picture, and to render more striking, by separating them, the balance of the opposite parts. The woods on the left, here offer a very unexpected and beautiful appearance to those who had before only contemplated their deep uniform mass from the home grounds. The air of solidity disappears : and instead of it, a succession of swelling eminences, separated by deep dells of all forms, and intermixed with grey precipitous rocks, continues to retire in a varied and broken perspective; till, the spreading oak of' the fore-ground being followed by others; all the variety of diminution, the far-protracted forest melts gradually into the almost invisible woods, that rise dim along the sides of the blue and distant mountains.

Beneath the feet, oak, and birch, and ;:r, intermixed with swelling knolls of purple and brow n heath and scars of grey rock, are thrown together in a confusion highly characteristic of this species of scenery ; the dark brown Tay, emerging from the rich oak-covered knoll of the Torwood, stealing along deep and quiet beneath the elegant and wooded pyramid of Craig-v-barns.

Every change of position here produces a fresh picture, to describe which would be as difficult an office as it is an unnecessary one. It is sufficient that, the spectator has been directed generally to those points which will assist, instead of compelling, his taste; and, by saving some part of his valuable time, aid his industry in making discoveries that will gratify him the more that he is not called on for an expected or enforced admiration.

But I cannot allow him to quit these woods without carrying him, though at the risk of encountering a few brambles, to a point whence he can see nothing bat the pyramid of Craig-y-barns, surrounded by and embosomed in other woods besides its own. There is a large oak, not far above the high road, which will serve as a sort of guide to the true point of view ; but thus far I must also dictate to him, that he is to descend till iie entirely excludes the river. This is essential to the character of the view in question ; as the horizontal line which it forms across the picture entirely destroys the peculiar effect, by defining the otherwise immeasurable altitude of that extraordinary pyramid which constitutes the essence of the scene. There is just sufficient variety in the outline of Craig-y-barns, as seen from this point, to take off that dryness which a form purely mathematical might have given. A superficial eye may think that the dark mass of wood which invests it, is too solid and uniform ; but that of the artist, expert in giving value to accidents and minute forms, will discover a beauty in the disposition of the trees about it, in the contrasts of the lines which define these woods, and in the occasional display of un-planted surface, grey rock, scattered trees, and deficiencies of filling up, that render its surface as exquisite in the details, both of form and colour, as its outline is graceful and great. As the trees of the middle ground rise in height, advancing in succession towards the eye, and mixed with bare heathy knolls, broken banks, green glades, and scattered masses of rock, they blend the distant hill with the immediate foreground ; the character of the whole being throughout as consistent as if the whole scene lay on the skirt of one woody and towering mountain. I need scarcely say that this subject possesses a capacity for painting, as perfect, as the scene itself is uncommon and magnificent.

The tourist will scarcely be repaid for his trouble by proceeding farther along the high road which here leads to Tavmouth and the westward, should this not form a part of his plan. In that ease, it will be worth his while to visit the waterfalls of Dalguise. But near the very point just discussed, the high road itself offers one view of great beauty and grandeur, which he might easily overlook if his attention were not directed to it. It lies precisely where the road makes, at the same time, a sharp curve and a slight descent; a high rock on the left, varied by scattered and overhanging trees, and ornamented with all the profusion of shrubs, and ferns, and wild flowers, forming the immediate foreground, and the peak of Craig Vinean rising high against the sky, with all its woods and rocks towering above each other, and retiring along the road in a various and intricate perspective. The right band of the picture is easily completed, at more point" than one, by some or other of the numerous and luxuriant trees which skirt the whole road, flinging their ancient branches in a thousand romantic forms across it.

To dwell no longer cn that which must be left, for want of space and words to do it justice, I must lastly conduct the visitor to the waterside, where he will find much that is worthy of his attention—whether his object be only a transient pleasure, or that more permanent one which he may carry away in his sketch book, to re-excite, in the dreary solitudes of dingy streets, the memory of the green woods, the dark rivers, the foaming torrents, and the blue misty mountains of happier days.

He will find a path by which he will be conducted, first from the high road to the waterside, and afterwards back again by the margin of the water to Inver; this being preferable to returning by the same way that he went to the Hermitage. The uppermost point on the river which he need visit, is known by a deep dark pool formed in the, hollow of a rock above the house of the fisherman Mac Millan, Craig-y-barns here again forms a fine object, which also produces a very good picture. Not to detail, however, the various scenes which he may admire or sketch from this point to river, I shall only further mention those at the ferry near Mac Millan's house, with some that will be indicated by a large oak tree lower down the course of the water, remarkable for the brilliant whiteness of its trunk covered with lichens. The prying eye will find much more, but to name every thing, would be to deprive the visitor of all the pleasures arising from discovery.


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