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A Description of the Scenery of Dunkeld
Distant Walks and Scenery, including Craig-y-Barns


The third day. which I have allotted for those who do tot travel for the sake of motion alone, end who are not satisfied merely with the name i of places, may be occupied in the work here chalked out; but there are certain near objects in this division, which may be seen e\ en by those who think a day a sufficient sacrifice to this part of their tour.

To these, I may recommend, as well indeed as to all who have a half hour hanging on their hands, to ascend at the back of the gardener's house into the new nursery, a track which also conducts to a beautifully retired American garden, lately rescued from the woods, and not having yet, of course, attained maturity. In ascending the path through the kitchen garden there is a view along the high road, of a very singular and romantic character; which, with some slight alterations in the foreground, to exclude superfluous and intruding buildings, would form an admirable picture.

Passing from this, over a romantic bridge of rustic wood-work, that crosses a deep woody dell, so dark as nearly to exclude the light of noon day. the visitor may reach the spot, marked, like most others, by a seat, whence there is a most perfect view of the lawn of Dunkeld: furnishing a better notion of its disposition and of the general bearing and form of all the home domain, than can be procured at any other point. That however is but a small part of its merit; as it forms a picture equalled by few which the place affords, whether in the richness end gaiety of the ornamented grounds, or in the romantic and varied character of its splendid boundary. The right hand scene displays the wild woods and rocks of Craig-y-barns and Craig Vinean, under a character totally new; the dark and picturesque hill of the King's scat rising between them, and indicating the place of the romantic pass which is to introduce the traveller into the innermost recesses of the Highland's. A high wooded terrace, declining from it, descends to the lawn, covered with rich and varied trees, and founding one of those wild walks winch the visitor had traced in his former passage through the grounds. The grey irregular buildings of the farm add much to the effects of this scene; by giving, not only a subject of art, but an object of decided character for the eye to repose on: and thus also, while it affords a point of departure for this side of the picture, furnishing a scale by which its magnitude can be duly appreciated. Beneath, nothing can well be more hippy than the disposition and groupings of the trees which are scattered on the lawn; where, with scarcely an exception, nothing intrudes to convey the slightest appearance of artifice, but where every thing seems to have been regulated by the same nature which rules over the rest of the scene. Though the house has, abstractedly, no claims to beauty, its effect is good; but, of the cathedral, we are inclined to regret that more of it could not have been exposed.

A very beautiful walk over a wooded and rocky knoll, called Tor-y-buckle, gives occasion for the display of much more scenery connected with this shewing also the town and the bridge, in various positions and combinations. I dare not venture into these details; but must pass to that singular scene, Pol-na-gates, which the spectator may, if he pleases, visit equally from the high road, and which indeed he cannot help seeing as he proceeds to the northward. Those who know Switzerland, will be strongly reminded of some of the small sequestered spots in that country, by the succession of fir and larch trees, intermingled w ith rocks, which here tower up to the sky ; overhanging the dark pool, and throwing a sober and subdued tone, even into the light of noon day. Here, there is no mark of art, if we except the houses; and these even aid in setting off the natural carelessness with which the water and the trees arc disposed. When the north wind blows keen and cold from the mountains, the spectator may here walk in a noon-day sun, amid all the warmth and quiet of perpetual summer—since the trees are always green, and scarcely a breeze ever ruffles the glassy-surface of this little lake. There are few places more adapted to that undisturbed solitude and quiet for which a romantic mind might long, and which a studious one might enjoy. Spacious enough to admit of all the ornaments of an artificial garden, even art would here be competed to adopt itself to the accidental forms of nature; and in any other situation than this, where the profusion of natural beauties is too great to allow of attention to all, this halt-neglected place would be sufficient to form the delight and occupy the undivided attention of the jxissessor. It has been a great misfortune to this spot, that the passage of the high road has infringed on its solitude and seclusion—thus almost destroying its most essential character. It is not flattering to its beauties that it should be allotted to the residence of gamekeepers; although the effect produced by the houses is pleasing, rather that, otherwise. If Pol-na-gates could find a poet to personify it, like Bruar water, it might address his Grace in the language of supplication, and petition to be restored to its original solitude ; by planting a thick fence of wood on the edge of the high road, and by raising it at least to the rank of an American garden; to which it, possesses peculiar claims, no less from its picturesque character than from its botanical capacities. But Burns is no more, and it is not every poet who can hope to comiaanc1 such attention. Poor prose, at any rate, never pretended to carrv any weight in matters of this nature.

The walks among the romantic woods that cover the hill which towers high above this secluded spot, commence here; proceeding in various directions through its wilderness of forest, till they emerge on the open summit, high above the surrounding objects. It is not for any guide to describe "each dingle, bush, and alley green" of these wild walks, among which a summer day may be spent without thinking it long. With that general similarity of feature which all forest walks must possess, there is n this spot, no "alley" which "has a brother." There is character every where; a character for the whole; and come peculiarity, some impending rock, or marked tree, or open glade, or glimpse of the distant prospect, to distinguish the individuals. Here, perhaps, the blue sky breaks struggling through the dark overhanging branches, or the checquered sunshine brightens the vivid green of the wood sorrel and the saxifrage which carpe' the ground with a dense mat of verdure. There, the entangling foliage of spruce, and oak, and fir, and chesnut, exclude the day, and produce a solemn gloom, disturbed only by the lively chirp of the squirrel as he springs from tree to tree ; or else a glimpse of the roebuck is seen as he bounds away into the recess of the forest, through the crackling 0f the branches, arc! the fill of the dew drops which the sun has not yet reached. There is nothing which adds more to the charm of variety among these woods, of confers on them a character more their own, than the "musco circumlita saxa;" a feature only known to the mountain forest. But it is not only to the huge stone half covered with moss, where the bright green receives a double charm from the grev of the lichen, to the dark and varied browns of withered leaves, to the black obscurity of the fissurt or cavity which it overhangs, and to the graceful feathering of the various ferns, that this scenery is indebted Enormous masses of rock, detached from the summit in former ages, are strewed aliout, and among die trees, in every shape of rude and picturesque beauty; their bases concealed in the soil by the primrose, the lily of the valley, and the wild plants of all kinds that resort to their shade and moisture, and their crevices giving root to the rose, the honeysuckle, and the birch; while violets and strawberries, occupying the covering of moss and soil which time has produced on their summits, and intermixed with the towering plumes of the fern, send their trailing shoots down along the grey mottled faces. Often, they are found piled on each other in masses of ruin; even then, perhaps, rendered more picturesque by the black caverns which their interstices have formed, find by the deep tone of colour which thus relieves the subdued tints of grey and green, never illuminated but by the reflected light of the surrounding objects.

To pass over many single spots that might be particularized, an extensive and beautiful view of Dunkeld, and of the distant country, even as far as Fife, is obtained from a walk that conducts to a grotto; and a moss-covered reek which marks the point of view, will also afford the spectator a seat where he may forget himself to sleep, while he indulges in reveries, and, viewing the bustle of a town without hearing its noise, dreams for a moment that he is elevated, as well beyond the cares of the world as beyond the world itself he woefully forgets his office as a writer, whether of guide-books or of better things, who would strip his reader of one atom of the romantic.imagination to which poetry, good fortune, and the circulating library have aided him. Let him not therefore insinuate that Boreas will ever blow, or Philomel grow dumb, or nights' cold ; that he who delights in cooling his "fervid blood'" in this grotto, after a laborious walk, or plunges amidst its refreshing damps and its drops trickling from the roof, to avoid the Dog-star'® raging heat, will soon be very glad to warm his fro/en fingers ai a better fire than one of damp leaves, to drink of other drinks than a chilled cascade, and eat of other diet than that of the squirrel. It is for him, on the contrary, to recommend the "hairy gown and mossy cell," night watches "out-watching the bear," with nuts from the wood, water from the spring, and all other things befitting.

The reader may imagine the rest; and if he should perchance be smitten with the divine love of holy solitude, companion of the wise and good, the Duke of Atholl, (as we, the Authors of this Guide, arc crrdibly informed) will permit him to occupy this hermitage, with all such agues and rheumatisms as may be incidental to the possession. It is amusing enough, and it is also true, that there have been,in this sober-minded country of Britain, personages absurd enough to hire idle vagabonds to live in huts of this kind, unshaven and unwashed. To have cultivated a bear might have been excusable.- if not appropriate; but such a caricature as a mock hermit, is at least a degree worse than a tin cascade or a pasteboard temple. Yet so prevalent is the popular belief with respect to the existence cf this kind of human menagerie, that a few years seldom pass without some fresh proposal to his Grace, to undertake the performance of this character, in an appropriate manner, and at clue monthly wages.

After all, however, hermitage apart, this grotto is a very romantic and beautiful spit; executed in a most ingenious manner, out of the cavity of an overhanging rock, and without any one fantastical ornament or artificial contrivance to offend the eye of taste. It is impossible to conccive any thing more perfectly correct and appropriate, or more truly in unity with the wild and bold scenery by which it is surrounded. A cascade trickling down the hill forces its dark secluded way among the deep shadows of a rocky bed, overhung by a profusion of shrubs, and wood-flowers, lulling with its sounds, and forming a cold ball near the entrance of the grotto. Ornamental trees, shrubs, and flowers, natives of the garden, but now long naturalized to the soil, and become joint inhabitants, with the fir and oak, of these wild woods, adorn and diversify the entrance; while, above, the lofty precipice overhangs with ail its trees dark rising against the sky, and occasional openings through the forest, as it sweeps down in a long descent to the base of the hill, admit various prospects of the distant and splendid landscape.

In this direction, I shall not pretend to conduct the tourist further than until, by means of the uppermost of the walks which here skirt the face of the hill, he can gain free access to the wide and open view which stretches away to the eastward. The extent and the magnificence of this landscape would be judged incapable of being exceeded, were it not for the more splendid and comprehensive views which the Highlands afford to the northward, after surmounting the whole hill. For this reason, the visitor should first take the present direction; and, so doing, he will be highly gratified by the details, as well as by the whole of the map-like prospect which stretches beneath his feet. From the dark solid green of tile fir forest, which, rising far above his station, extends from him on all sides, and which, beneath him, stretches away In a noble expanse till it unites with the woods of the plain far below, his eye is conducted to die rich, prolonged, open valley with its chain of lakes, which, commencing near Dunkeld is gradually lost eastward in the blue mists of Strathmore. Far beyond, are seen the long range of the Sidlaw and the great and variegated plain of Stormount, i while the cloud of overhanging smoke marks the place of Perth, and leads the eye to the Lomond hills and the elevated land of Fife, gradually fading into misty forms which rather dazzle and deceive, with imaginary shapes, than display the well-known outlines of romantic Edinburgh.

A deep chasm in Craig-y-barns forms a natural pass, of which advantage has been taken, with the same judgment that has directed all these walks, to gain access to the summit. From the ease with which the traveller wanders about the whole of this wild mass of rude rock and ruder ground, over chasm and ravine, now on the summit of the precipice and now as if but just adhering to its face, threading his way among enormous piles of rum, or walking, unto suspicious of what is under him, on the smooth gravel and turf which crosses them, he is apt ungratefully to forget, as well as to overlook, the dexterity and the resource with which this extensive work has been conducted. He will lie unpardonable if he does not, thus admonished, examine this piece of rural engineering ; and he will, in so doing, often have occasion to wonder at the boldness which could thus dare even to imagine! a road where scarcely a bird could have found footing: and, comparing small things with great, he may perhaps reflect that the same intellect and enterprise, had fate so ordained the opportunity, might have conducted the army of Hannibal or the works of the Simplon. It is but right to mention, while accidentally on this subject, that the extent of walks which the Duke of Atholl ha- carried through hi- grounds of Dunkeld, amounts to fifty miles, and those of the rides or diives to thirty. There are few proprietor0 who have striven equally, or with better success, to derive from their possessions all the beauty and convenience which the capacity of their grounds allowed.

The pass which has thus led me astray for a moment, will lead the visitor to a pleasing and secluded scene called Lios-na-craggan, the garden of the rock; hut he must not advance without opening his eyes to the romantic and abrupt ravine through which he is thus conducted. There is no part of this whole hill more deserving of admiration : and it is, indeed, one of the few which is, at the same time, of such a character and form as to admit of being converted into a picture. There is an unusual breadth in the great face of rocky precipice by which it is bounded on one side; and the colouring here balances and relieves; in a most perfect manner, the deep tone of the surrounding wood. Other rocks and other banks unite this larger mass to the rude and broken ground beneath and above: while trees, springing from every crevice and orifice "of vantage" where they can fix a root, and growing on every bank, and summit, and rocky interstice, unite by a gentle gradation with the solid sweep of fir wood around, above, and beneath, so as to produce a scene of the most perfect harmony, as to character both of forms and of colouring. A rich distance, which includes the lakes already mentioned. completes the picture. The whole is of a character so purely Alpine, as to transport the imagination to the mountains of Switzerland and the Tyrol. An artist may possibly at first imagine, that no power of his art could combine a pure fir forest with landscape. But the first attempt will undeceive him: and he will find, even in this succession of cones and pyramids, a variety in the grouping and in the forms, which, while it remains characteristic of this class of scenery, is, in every respect, picturesque and beautiful.

Lios-na-craggan is one of those productions of art which, if it be a source of surprise to him who is wandering among these wild forests, is also a legitimate one, because it is judicious and consistent. A garden is not necessarily limited to the plain nor to the vicinity of the dwelling-house. This is a secluded and pleasing, as well as a romantic and an ornamented spot; and while the unwarned visitor unexpectedly finis exotic plants flourishing amid these rude woods and rocks, he may also be surprised to see that, at an elevation of eight hundred feet above the grounds below, they are flourishing with the greatest luxuriance. It is one of the rarer exertions in gardening, and one from which Dunkeld derives great praise, to have rendered so many foreign and ornamental plants denizens of the soil.

Lios-na-craggan possesses a fountain which was long the Bandusia, if not the Hippocrene, of a gentle pair, ycleped Andrew and Janet Mac Raw, who, for twenty-one, long or short years, as it happened, enjoyed the delights of mutual love in a cottage, without a wish to descend from their misty sublimity of elevation to the regions of turmoil below. Wood wardens of the forest of Craig-y-bains, no children disturbed the repose of this gentle pair, unless some of the urchins of Dunkeld, perchance, in pursuing unripe, and never-to-bc-ripened, nuts, infringed on their solitary reign. In summer, basking in the sun, whenever the sun chose to shine on Lios-na-craggan, and, in winter, shrouded, like Ossian's ghosts, in the mist of the hill, it was all Andrew's duty to plant his potatoes m spring and to dig them in autumn, while Janet milked her cow and spun her thread in due alternation, reckless alike of the world below and the clouds above. Thus rolled twenty and one suns round to Andrew and Janet Mac Raw, loving and beloved: mutual peace prepared their pillow—possibly ; but seasons revolved; with time came years; and thus they lived,—and thus they died. How they loved and how they lived, few cared, and, alas! no one knows. Carehant vate sacro. Darbv and John Anderson have fated better. 1 have seer, their mined wails, and the nettles that rose above the dismantled rafters: long before rhododendrons had learnt to display their purple blossoms, or moss roses and lilacs to waft their perfumes, to the rocks of Lios-na-craggan. Had I been a poet, I would have dropt a tear in the fountain, and a verse on the nettles, to tile loves and memories of Andrev. and Janet Mac Raw; but of what a-ail are the shambling records of prose?

I can lead the tourist but little further or foot; and he who has suffered himself to be led thus far, may congratulate himself on his energy, as well as on his taste for the beautiful and the grand in scenery. It is a pleasure to write to such readers and walkers as these; but it is injudicious to acknowledge it. The unfortunate author signs his own condemnation, if, tame, and dull, and wearied, and spiritless, among those who count every step that carries them from the inn and the dinner, and every minute that calls on them to rise before ten, he does not pain iii energy when, accompanied by the enthusiastic and the judicious spectator, he wanders, careless of dinner and despising laggard sleep, through the wild mazes of the distant forest, or scales the rugged summit of the mountain.

But having thus brought the confiding reader to the airy and open land, where- all above is sky, and all beneath are weeds, and rocks, and rivers, in gay confusion, little remains to be said; and, for him, little to be done but to spend half a summer's day in enjoying the diversity of this splendid and luxuriant prospect. The main feature is the vale of the Tay, as it lies between Dunkeld end Logierait; but this part, singly considered, is seen in a more picturesque and advantageous position, from the farm of St. Columb, which will hereafter be mentioned. Of the remainder, it is as impossible to speak adequately, as it would be fruitless to attempt it. As a mountain view, it is singularly happy because, while the position is not so high as to reduce every thing beneath to a diminished and uninteresting scale, it is sufficient to carry the eye across all the mountain ranges; commencing from the purple bloom that waves in the breeze at our feet, the rugged and grey rock, the dark bed of the torrent, and the brown heath, and proceeding over the fainter receding moorlands, the distant precipice, the long channel of the fay-off descending stream, the obscure forest creeping dark up the hill side, and the airy succession of fading tints, to the last blue and doubtful mountain that melts away in the varied horizon.

The walks here are numerous, and terminate in the rides which conduct to the farm and the more distant plantations. It is unnecessary to direct the spectator to these , but there is an object here deserving his attention, whether contemplated merely as a natural curiosity, or as an example of a geological feat. If he be ail antiquary, and especially if a spectator of Druidism, he will be even more gratified by-explaining it on his favourite hypothesis. The subject in question is a huge mass of stone, supported, at some distance from the flat surface of solid lock on which it stands, by means of three fragments. Thus it resembles, in some measure, a cromlech; and those who chose this system, may, if they please, conclude it to be. a work of art and a Druidical monument. To the writer and others, it seems merely the relic of a heap of fragments, from which Time, having first produced the «hole, has carried away the smaller parts. It is thus one of the untransported blocks of geologists, produced in situ; however remarkable for the singularity of its position, and for an imitation, Crude it must be admitted), of the real cromlech.


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