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A Description of the Scenery of Dunkeld
Killicrankie to Blair


The road has now entered the celebrated pass of Kilicrankie; a spot assuredly not more celebrated than it deserves, though better known, perhaps, tor its military and historical fame, than for its wild magnificence. The change of scenery is here so complete as to re-excite our attention, which the fifteen preceding miles might have dulled. it is such as nearly to obliterate all that has past. For nearly a mile, the hills seem to close, as if denying all further access to the Highlands beyond. Rising steep and sudden on both sides, they meet below in a deep chasm, through which the river seems to struggle for a passage, among rocks and under precipices, and beneath the overshadowing foliage of the woods that hang feathering over it, giving occasional glimpses of the water as it runs, now silent and dark, and now boiling and foaming, along. Above the road, and on the right band, while the greet, fact of the mountain sweeps towards the sky, it is diversified with projecting rocks and scattered birches of ancient growth; formed below into continuous masses of wood, or into wild and irregular groups, and, above, separating dispersely, till, as the lofty acclivity recedes from the eye, a thin line of trees hanging over the mountain stream, or half concealed in the deep ravine, gradually vanishes; some solitary birch, with its thin foliage and light benditie tiwigs, still appearing, like a centinel, perched on its rook, or lightly projected on the sky, as if the forest still lingered, unwilling to leave its native hill.

The character of the opposite side is far more bold and more romantic, so as even, indeed, to present a strong contrast to that of the acclivity on which the road is conducted. Hence, in a great measure, it arises, that this pass presents a variety and interest rare in similar scenery, w here it is too common for one side to be little more than a reflection of the other. Without being actually precipitous, the deep mountain face, at the left hand, seems to rise like a wall from the profound and dark chasm below, and it is scarcely poetical to say, that it lifts its head to the sky ; such is the suddenness of its ascent, and so great its elevation. There is no foreshortening to diminish the effect; and hence it possesses a character of alpine grandeur, rarely attained by objects of ten times its altitude. Prom the very water to the summit, it is covered with wood, through which the full rich green of the oak and alder, are intermingled with the light trembling foliage of the birch, with the greener hazel, the delicate ash, and the dark tints of the fir; all uniting, as farely happens in woods so mixed, so as to produce an effect highly characteristic of this class of rude mountain and forest scenery, and peculiarly appropriate to the general wildness of the whole. Where the grey precipice refuses to give a footing to the solid woods, the oak and the ash are seen, starting from every crevice, or occupying some projecting asperity ; varying the sober tints of the rocks, and giving to them a richness which is increased by the drooping branches of the birch that hang over their summits: while the deep recesses between them lost in shadow, serve, by their intensity of colour, to relieve the lights reflected by the rocky faces and by some occasional green knoll, which, happily interspersed, seems as it' designed bv nature to diminish the too solid effect of the continuous wood.

The outline on the sky is equally picturesque and characteristic; the undulating forms 01 the ground being varied at every point, by the asperity of rock and scar, by the luxuriant softness of continued masses of foliage, by the harder line of some chance pines, and by the transparent tenderness of the birch. Rich and various as the local colouring is thus rendered, by the intermixture of rock and grass and brown heath with wood of all hues, the whole is subdued by one universal tone of sober quiet green, as if the very atmosphere were impregnated with a harmonizing dark tint: producing that effect of repose and breadth, no less essential to such a scene than it is valued by painters, and completing that character, compounded of greatness and simplicity of dimension and form with grandeur and depth of effect and stillness, which renders Killicrankie what, were it not a dangerously poetical word, might be called an example of the sublime.

It is not. how ever, in a barouche and four, that the traveller will experience all the effect which this scenery is capable of producing, though it will afford something for all classes; even to' the true native of Cockayne, who compares the Garry with the New River, and measures the mountains by St. Paul's, and for the novel-reading miss, whose notions of forests, have been formed on the Mysteries of Udopho. But he for whom I would write, if I knew how, must take his own rnind, as well as his person, into his own keeping. There is here a moral effect of solitude;—hut why run my neck into a sentence, from which I may not be able to get out again. It is better to remember the good Scottish proverb, and proceed.

This spot affords many pictures, which, if not easy, are still within the reach of art. Prom one cascade, which descends the hill to cross the road, and which, in any other place, would be an object of notice, on account of its picturesque character, the high wooded hills, excluding the sun, and producing here, even at noon day-, the effect of twilight, will afford a very manageable subject for the pencil; if, at least, the artist adds, like Turner, the poet's mind to the painter's eye. From more points than one, the views looking backwards, or down the course of the stream, are also objects for art; a peculiar grandeur of effect being produced, in this direction, by the deep and dark solid face of food; barely, yet sufficiently, contrasted and relieved by a glimpse into the complicated distance which includes the course of the Tumel and Garry, and by the presence of the romantic bridge over the latter river.

In looking towards Blair, the general character is still more modified by the intrusion of a more extended and more prolonged, as well as a far more diversified, distance. Of this, by chus-mg different stations, the artist may admit more or less; thus varying his picture accordingly. But the best point of view is indicated by bringing near to the middle of the picture, a knoll which lies beneath the road, crowned with conical forms of larch; and of which the artist may make use or not, since more pictures than one can here be obtained by slight changes of position. The lateral screen' at this point occupy less space than before, since it lies near to the termination ot' the pass. The left hand hill is still, however, rich, and lofty, and various, supporting, by its perpetual and unchangeable depth of shadow, the illuminated parts of the scene; while, far below, the river is seen struggling through high rocks and working its intricate way along in loam, till it subsides into a deep and black pool, overshadowed by trees in all the profusion of variety in form and colour. This constitutes the eye of the picture; and here the course of the Garry is traced obscurely, through a rich and various valley, to Blair; some brilliant and glittering reach winding through cultivated fields and scattered trees, then concealed from the eye among the more crowded and darker woods, and again appearing in shorter gleams, till it is lost in the diminishing landscape; while the prolonged vista of green hills, covered with forest and field and rock and cultivation, and ornamented and enlivened alike, by the bright architecture of the opulent and by the blue smoke curling along the dark green of the trees which surround, as they hide, the rustic cottages, guides the view to the misty grey of the distant mountains.

The pass thus left behind, new kinds of scenery occur; continued, with perpetual variety of incident and considerable diversity of character, even to BIair. The most striking, however, is that which lies between the extremity of the pass and the village of Alt Girneg. Every step presents some new scene; from that complication of forms and multiplicity of objects which are here so conspicuous, and of which, rapidity in the succession of scenery is always a necessary consequence. To describe even a small part of these landscapes, would be a hopeless attempt ; while the more striking cannot fail to arrest the most obtuse taste or unpractised eye. On all lianas, in every direction, and at every turn of the road, the artist wiil find a new picture, and often, a totally new character; but that which can never fail to take the attention, is the view from this village itself, and, most particularly, from a point situated near to the picturesque bridge which crosses the stream, The lofty precipice of naked rock which rises towering on the opposite side of the valley, gives to this landscape a character equally grand and singular; while the simplicity of its form and colouring is advantageously contrasted, as well as relieved, by the splendour of wood and river; and green field and torrent, which intervenes, and by the deep dark dell, the lively mill, and the noble ash trees, which, overhanging the bridge, form 'he foreground, stretching away along the romantic banks of this rocky stream, till the; are lost among the general luxuriance of the wood which skirts the Garry and rises upwards, in diminishing succession, to the foot of the distant yet impending precipice. But Ait Grneg is itself a place which well deserves a summer's day; and I must pass it now, as it will enter hereafter into the list of occupations which are accumulating for those who shall think then time better occupied by seeing that which they have conk to see, than in hurrying over worthless moor and road, satisfied with names rather than things.

Many points on the road itself, after quitting this village, afford stations for admirable pictures. For as these are produced chiefly by the objects left behind, it is preferable to defer them till the course of the traveller bring- him again this way. The most watchful attention is inefficient to discover that scenery from which the spectator's course is averted; as a few yards, a single stone, a bank, or a tree, are often sufficient to make that difference which produces or obliterates a landscape in a country of this character. Generally, however, for the sake of those who may not have the opportunity of returning, it is right to remark, that the space of a hundred yards on this road, taken from the bridge, comprises some of the most remarkable scenes; and that, at no great distance beyond this, an extremely tine view, towards the pass, will also be found, at a point where the road both ascends and makes a turn among wood; a long reach of the Garry flowing smoothly through the middle of the picture, and losing itself among the rich and varied ground just passed over; the whole being terminated by the fine forms of the hills, which, locked, as it were, into each other, unite to enclose the pass of Killicrankie

It is not far from this place that the tiavellei will observe an erect stone in a field on the right hand, which is generally pointed out as a rude monument to Lord Dundee The more accurate antiquaries of this country, however, have assigned a spot in the grounds of Urrard, higher up, which is said to be the true one, and to be that where he fell in the well-known action of Killicrankie. However that may be, he was tuned in the church-yard of Blair The history of a ferocious action harmonises ill with these scenes of beauty and peace. He who views the smiling and lovely landscapes around, would wish to forget that they were ever ravaged by war, or contaminated by civil discord I will not assist in recalling to mind that which can only give pain, and should, myself, be well pleased to think that this monumental stone had belonged to Fingal, or any other visionary personage, whose existence, or not, concerns us as little as that of the Preadamites. Let us leave Lord Dundee to Smollett and to the History of England.

The remainder of the road to Blair, being a distance of about three miles, is everywhere ornamental, various, and picturesque; affording, at the same time, numerous points of view for drawing, which it would be difficult to specify, for want of places of reference. The village of Alt Clune is rather singular than adapted to the pencil; its bad effect arising, in some measure, from the nature of the ground, but, in great part also, from the unhappy architecture, if architecture it may be called, of the Highland cottages; which, with roughness and rudeness enough to satisfy Mr. Price and al the abettors of his hypothesis, have so contrived it as to exclude every thing that could, by any possibility or effort, be translated into a picturesque form.

The variety and number of the trees which skirt this road on both sides, add much to the number, as they do to the beauty, of the views; by defining some, by excluding parts in others, by giving transient glimpses of a river, or a hill, or a distance, through a forest-like opening, or by ornamenting and affording foregrounds for the whole. The beauty of the various trees themselves will attract notice; and, most of all, the magnificent birches by which the road is very generally skirted. While the hills rise rapidly on the right hand, the character and the ornament change perpetually as we advance towards Blair; rocks succeeding to woods, and the green pastures, which undulate informs of endless variety, being often intersected by deep valleys, or traversed by ravines, and every where sprinkled with wood, as it a refined art had laboured for years in doing that for which we are indebted to the inimitable artist, Nature. The grounds of Lude, ornamental, though often provokingly artificial, succeed as we advance; the whole increasing in richness and variety till it terminates in the wide and full magnificence of Blair. On the left, the Garry holds on the course of its beautiful stream through corn-field and meadow, now foaming and brawling over its bed of white pebbles, now silent, smooth, and dark, here glittering in the sun, there wandering through woods, and beneath overhanging trees, or forming some dark pool under the shade of high rocks and banks, where it stems to sleep in perpetual repose. Beyond it, the long screen that bounds this delicious valley toward the west, rises from the woods and fields on its margin; swelling its green pastures to the sun, and terminating on the sky by its long undulating line, which is broken by the rocky scar and rugged knoll, and intersected at intervals by the curse of some mountain torrent, which betrays its seat by the deep dark furrow and the wild and broken row of ash which attend its wandering course to the lower grounds.


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