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A Description of the Scenery of Dunkeld
Glen Tilt


There arc three distinct ways of entering Glen Tilt; and as each of them presents the valley under different aspects, they must be described ; a proceeding the more necessary, as the views are, in all the three cases, exceedingly fine.

From the point where the spectator is now supposed to be, returning up the hill to the bridge, the road is continued onwards, along the brow of that long ridge which bounds Glen Tilt to the southward. Proceeding for about three miles, it gradually descends into the valley, and unites to the more usual road which is conducted along the margin of the river. Through-nit this whole space, the views are grand and ich: but in a character entirely distinct from ny thing which has previously occurred, and.indeed, presenting features that could neither have been expected or conjectured, unless by those who may have ascended Craig Urrard. The landscapes thus obtained in proceeding along this road, do not differ so materially from each other as to constitute distinct pictures which an artist might wish to preserve. But they are sufficiently varied to keep up the attention: while the grandeur of the style and the perfection of the composition, will furnish at least one landscape, if not more, which no-one, who has the power of retaining a memorial of it, will pass without a record.

As the road holds its course high along the brow of this ridge, through cultivation on open pastures, and among scattered birch and alder, the lofty skirts of Ben-y-gloe rise above it, .-weeping upwards to the hoary and stony summit of Cairn Li*. Beneath, the valley, prolonged in the simplest of forms, even beyond reach of the eye, displays the rocky and winding course of the river, accompanied by fields and farms and trees; the opposite ridge sloping high upwards in one continued mass of neb and varied wood, till a few scattered groups and single trees straying beyond its solid boundary , K cause it to blend with the green faces of the hil! above, which, as it rises yet higher, gradually assumes the moorland character, terminating on the sky m a finely prolonged undulating line, A mountain torrent, ploughing its deep way even from the sky to the depths of the valley beneath, attended by its own lines of trees and by some picturesque bridges, serves occasionally to ,'ary the uniform surface of wood; which is still farther diversified by the undulations that alternately catch Jeep shadows and strong swelling lights, and by the intrusion of patches of green. pasture, or the casual appearance of reaches of the various roads which traverse this wild forest in ail directions. The simple and grand forms of the distant mountains, rising beyond all, and majesty and diversity to the outline of a landscape which, to a truly alpine character, adds a splendour of forest scenery, and an air of fertility rarely seen in the Highlands of Scotland.

On the opposite ridge, another road, ton-ducted at a corresponding elevation, commences ,-,ear the church of Blalr, reaching the bottom of the valley after a course of two miles or more, so as to cross the Tilt at Gilbert's bridge. Frorm this road, also, there arc obtained views, equal in interest to the former, and although differing materially in their display, yet preserving the general peculiarity of character which distinguishes the scenery of this place from that of every other glen in Scotland. Equally commanding the valley, though it is here disposed in a different form, the stations on this side command also a view of the long, solid, and lofty-mass of Ben-y-gloe, instead of the detached forms on Ben-y-chat and Ben-venu, which, from the opposite side, constitute the mountain outline. Farm houses, trees, and scattered groups of birch and oak, closing, and condensing into more solid masses as they tend downwards to the deep, rocky, and closely-woodcd channel of the Tilt, cover the lofty and continuous face of the opposite ridge, instead of the masses of dark forest formerly seen, which, now rising from the spectator's feet as he skirts the wood" through green fields and open glades, or surrounding him on all sides as the road winds through the dense thickets, sweeps down, in a long sheet of rich dark colour, into the valley below.

In all directions, road<- branch from the main line, all of them various in their characters ant! in the views which they afford, and all interesting in some way. Returning al higher elevations, alternately through forest and open field, they look hack on the rich vale of Blair, or. traversing in an easy ascent, reach the brown open mountain above, conducting the hunter to the haunts of the deer. Often, crossing some deep ravine by a bridge of appropriate character, or following the course of a mountain torrent, they introduce the traveller to some strangely secluded and wild spot, where the brawling stream or the cascade, the fern-clad and mossy rock, and the open grove of odoriferous birch, serve to diversify the closer and more uniform scenery of the woods; or whence some deep and naked valley, conducting a rocky stream along its narrow windings, stretches far away, brown and rude, till it is lost among the intricacies of the distant mountains.

One scene on this side especially demands the attention of the artist; and it is well marked by the bridge which, being the middle one of three that cross the same steep torrent, forms the foreground to this splendid alpine landscape. Though the elevation is considerable, the point of sight is not so high as to prevent the picture from being displayed in a manageable perspective;

while a regular succession of objects conducts tile eye uninterruptedly from the immediate foreground to the extreme distance, without that break of colouring and juxtaposition of far remote and discordant parts with nearer ones, which so often produce a bad effect and an unpleasing appearance of false perspective. From the simple yet picturesque bridge which, thrown across the deep and rocky ravine, is half shrowded by the trees which shoot up from beneath and almost conceal the torrent, forming a solid mass of shade to the foreground, the eye is conducted over a diminishing succession of forest, and scattered trees, and undulating ground, intersected by roads and mountain streams, till it reposes on the noble, broad, swelling forms of Ben-y-chat, rich in deep brown and purple mountain hues, and diversified with spots and irregular lines of grey birch, which, uniting into woods at its foot, blend with the patches of forest and the variegated display of the vale below. The Tilt, wandering along its mazy and wooded channel, now plunging into the forest, and now emerging among fields and farm houses, adds richness to this part of the picture; conducting the view to the fainter, but still wooded mountain declivities which enclose it as far as the eye can reach, and which, gradually ascending, tower up to the lofty, blue and distant summits, far retiring in long succession till they vanish in the horizon.

The spectator who has entered Glen Tilt by either of the upper roads now described, may return by the lower one; but as it is more usual to visit it by this route, I shall follow the remainder of the description in the same manner.

The porters lodge at Biar, whence this road proceeds, is scarcely left behind, when an arch, marking the exit from an open grove, introduces the visitor to the valley, and, with it, to a view, of great beauty, and well adapted tor a picture The elegant and extensive white mass of the farm square on the left hand, high pitched on a green hill above the woods, similar in design to that at Dunkeld. here forms a beautiful as well as an useful object in the landscape. The whole i3 of a close character, although extensive; the wooded sides of the valley meeting below, surmounted by the lofty and distant mountains, and closing over the deep-cut ravine that conveys the river. A single turn of the stream, approaching the foreground, display a glimpse of the water struggling in darkness through its deep channel* the rocky and vertical sides of which, rising for an hundred feet or more, are variegated with scattered shrubs and drooping birches, that unite at length with those of fuller growth which crown and overhang the margin; throwing a profound shadow over the chasm, that produces a splendid effect, from its contiast tc ♦lie full, broad, green lights and demi-tints of the woods above. A rocky precipice, rising here and there high above the rest, whence a birch of ancient. growth flings its silvery branches abroad, drooping don n in long festoons of airy foliage, or an occasional green knoll projecting above the general surface with its crown of wood, unite, with a'l the various incidents derived from uneven ground, intersecting roads, broken banks, wild clumps of natural forest, and single trees dispersed with all the profusion and carelessness of nature, to ornament and contrast the breadth and repose of form and colour that characterize the leading details and main body of the landscape.

The road hence, for some space, presents perpetual variety and interest: without, however, discovering any scenes so peculiarly distinguish from those so often described, as to require or admit of a particular description. Passing along the edge ot' a wood bordered on one side by ail extensile field, which emulates an ornamented park, in its boundaries, its loose clumps of wood, and its noble detached trees, it enters a continuous forest, sometimes enclosed almost from the sky, then catching a glimpse of the mountains, and occasionally admitting a momentary view of the river, as it runs, far beneath and through the closing woods, in its rocky and turbulent channel. A bridge of elegant and characteristic design, a praise due to all those which have been constructed by the native masons of this country, toon leads the road to the opposite bank of the river; displaying, it the same time, a view ot its picturesque course both above and below : a sight seldom obtained during this part of its passage.

This is immediately succeeded by a cascade, falling from the hill which overhangs the margin of the road, out of an obscure cavity, and crossing the path to plunge into the Tilt. Objects so minute as this is, art very apt to elude notice or to be overlooked, in such a country, and amidst the superior magnitude and the pro fusion of the surrounding ones. This miniature of a waterfall must not, however, be thus neglected ; its disposition being as picturesque and full of effect as it is singular. To those, at least, who do not require from this species of scenery the extraneous and much less valuable qualities of magnitude and noise, this nameless and scarcely noticed object will furnish a scene which, if it be not easily forced into the service of a picture, will afford much pleasure to the eye of taste, with some instruction to the artist, in colouring, composition, and effect of shadow and light.

From the green broad road which succeeds to this spot, tangled with honeysuckle and wild roses, and bright with the snowy flowers of the Parnassia, and with the golden saxifrage that crowds its mass of yellow blossoms beneath every nil that trickles from the rocks, the spectator will now take a parting view of the lofty wooded surface on his left, which ascends steep along the face of the hill, appearing, from this low station, to lose itself on the sky. Here he will also recognize the bridge whence the elevated view over the upper part of the valley was formerly obtained, and will be struck, at the same time, by the singular effect of this mountain torrent; which, deep and dark, appears to descend from the summit in one vertical line, crossed at wide intervals by three bridges, which, elevated high above him, seem as if built in succeeding stages directly above each other. Gilbert's bridge, where the road will again conduct him across the Tilt to the hill formerly described, is here the limit of the denser forests which line the .alley; though, for a long spare further, it displays woods of birch, of smaller extent, with a profusion of scattered clumps and single trees.

Hence the general character of the scenery changes: the valley becoming wider and more open, and the river, which had formerly beet, concealed, displaying itself throughout the remainder of its course, in an endless variety of rocky channel, cascade, on continuous rapids; now skirted by trees, then bare, sometimes meandering through green meadows under low banks, and. at others, forcing its deep way through a narrow and wooded pass, or beneath unending cliffs, where the deep dark pool succeeds to the turbulent torrent or the foaming waterfall.

The farm of Auchgowal affords one picture, which must be taken as an example of what it would be impossible to describe in every remarkable detail that occurs. It is in every sense a picture; forming an example of landscape composition which, while it is a perfect specimen of ornamented alpine scenery, is unexceptionable in the minutest of its details. The spectator can scarcely miss the true point of view, which is well marked by an ash tree of elegant form, and by the fine brown mass of Ben-y-chat, rising above a green holm where the river makes a turn under the shadow of the rich trees that skirt its banks.

Those who arc unused to the torrents of a mountainous country, will here be surprised by Khe extensive devastation that attends the course of those which descend from the mountains opposite. The geologist will find in them, matter for somewhat more than mere wonder; as be will, in all those marks of the power of water, which are here displayed in the profound ravines that intersect all these hills, and even in the very shape of the valley itself. If also he finds matter of peculiar interest to himself in the long tract of limestone which forms the southern side of this valley, and in the singular appearances which are produced at the junction of this and the other stratified reeks with the granite, the ordinary spectator will be interested in the quarries of beautiful marble which the place affords, and in the various and splendid minerals which it produces.

A rock of yellow marble, not yet wrought, projects above the read, close to the very small cascade just described: but the quarries that have been opened, are situated further up the valley than the point just mentioned. at Gow's Bridge, which is partly constructed from this beautiful material. It appears on both sides of the water, hut abounds most on the south bank, where the largest quarry lies: presenting different varieties, of which the chief are of white, variously mixed and mottled with pale yellow, grass green, darker tints of the same colour, and grey. This marble excels in beauty all the analogous substances of British origin, and is, indeed, rivalled by very few of foreign growth, while it may be procured of any dimensions The white is less abundant; while it is also of too large a grain for sculpture, and subject to be stained with light grey. Collectors of specimens may here load themselves with the endless variety found among the workings of the quarry. The same spot has produced, and still produces, a greater variety of Tremolite, and of larger dimensions and more splendid appearance, than had ever before been know n. The mineralogist, who only knows minerals in the shop of the dealer or the cabinet of the collector, will also have the satisfaction of seeing Sahlite in large beds; and, to pass over the other more obvious productions of this valley, which is among the most interesting to a geologist throughout Scotland, an industrious and acute observer will, in different places, discover Steatite, Asbestos, Talc. Cyanite, crystallized Chlorite, Titanite, Sphene, and Actinolite, together with many interesting varieties of nearly all the primary reeks.

The landscape about Gow's Bridge is not less interesting than many ethers which this valley produces; whether viewed from above, so as to include 'he steep hilly boundary and the prolonged vista of wood and field, or examined in the deep recesses where the river foams along the rocky chasm, amidst the shade and ornament of woods. It is unnecessary to dwell on scenes, the enumeration of which would;, at the 'tame time, be interminable ' but the artist, or the spectator, who must now have learnt to discover the concealed beauties of an alpine country of this character, tan scarcely be at a loss. If he causes to wander down the right bank of the stream for half a mile, he will find his labour repaid, not only by his intricate ride through open and green groves of birch, but by the cascades, or rather rapids, of the Merk. and by the wild valley which leads from this spot to the mountains. In the Criny, situated at a 4iort distance above Cow's Bridge, the geologist will find detached and perfect junction of the stratified rocks, with the whole mass, as well as with the veins of granite, highly explanatory of the interesting straciure of this whole district; and, here also, the mere searcher after picturesque beauty wilt discover objects for his own peculiar amusement.

But the visitor ought not to pass this place without taking advantage of a road which leads from the bridge up the southern face of the valley ;since, that position he may see it •n a new and quite different point of view, forming a spacious and hare green cavity, striking, alike, from the extreme simplicity of its form, and from the equal simplicity and grandeur of the mountain boundary.

At the upper end of this open space, stands Forest Lodge, dedicated to the hunting of the deer which roam at large over the extensive range of mountains around that forms the forest of Atholl. That beauty which is properly picturesque, has now ceased; hut the green meadows which here bound the winding course of the margin, occasionally bordered by rocks and trees, and the high impending hills on each hand, varied with bright green pasture and brown moor, and broken by «cars and precipices, still afford an interesting and a pleasing ride. A painted cascade, appearing to fall over a dark grey precipice high on the mountain above, may attract the notice of those who, with ideas borrowed from Vauxhall, may imagine that art has been doing what Nature ought not to have forgotten. Hut she has herself been the artist; the calcareous waters which descend along this channel when full, leaving their white incrustations when it is dry, and performing their work so well, that it is, at first sight, not easy to discover the deception. Those who admire the lapidafications of wigs, and such like appropriate transmutations as delight the swarms that crowd Matlock and Buxton, may here, if it so pleases them, sit under endless waterfalls, with the same happy results to their own caxons.

Glen Tilt, ever grand, and ever new thus far, once more assumes a new character at Forest Lodge; but it is renovated for the last time. The lofty and sudden acelivities of the hills on each side, rise almost like a wall; making evening at noon day, and meeting below so as scarcely to allow room for more than the passage of the river. Hence, the valley is continued for many miles, with the same general character, though with such minute variations as might be expected. The traveller who has taken this book as his guide, counsellor, and friend, is not likely to prolong his excursions further: but if, deeper smitten, or more ambitious, he should reach the Tarff, he' may ascend the hill, and there see Glen lilt stretching in a straight line from him, far, far away ; a huge ditch, since no better comparison will, entreated, come, unfathomably deep, immeasurably long; rising, like the valley of Mirza, in obscurity, and lost in equal mist and doubt; a channel fitted to excite the cupidity of canal mongers, or to watt the Danube and the Rhine and the Nile together;-a trench which Jupiter might have fortified against the Titans, if there had ever been Titans, and if Jupiter had studied Coehoorni.

The hills around, and the valley itself, afford numerous attractions to the botanist. The feaxi fraga oppositifolia and the Silene acaulis, rarely descending so low, grow at the very water's edge near Forest Lodge, where the green hills bear many of the rarer Orchidea. that affect calcareous soils, together with the beautiful Dryas octope-tala. Above, and on both sides of the valley, is found the Azalea procumbens, with Corn as Suecica, Rubus areticus, Anthericum calvcula-tum, and Betula nana; besides many of tilt most common alpine plants, which I need not enumerate; to which may be added, as among the rarer Lichens, the Islandicus and the Nivalis,

The geological details are far too important and numerous for such a brief enumeration as could alone be afforded here; but the principal appearances which belong to the junctions of the granite with the strata, and to the penetration of veins, will be found at a picturesque bridge just above Forest Lodge. The calcareous strath are here traversed bv the granite veins, as well as the associated hornblende schist and other rocks; and somewhat loner down the strear, there is a mass of white marble similarly intersected, the whole of them displaying, in consequence, a great variety of interesting appearance-. In a general sense, these phenomena are rather too abstruse for those who have only a superficial acquaintance with this subject; and the more experienced will not consult such a performance as this for geological information.

But there are readers and travellers, of ar many pursuits as the world has tastes and physiognomies; and if I have taught some of these how they may defraud the powder tax by petrifying their wigs with lime, I may here tell others where they will find a cauldron of cold boiling water. It is on a rock in the very middle of the stream at this place. A particular medium stale of the water is required to produce this appearance , but when it is present, the resemblance is absolutely perfect. This pool or cauldron, deep, and, without overflowing, full, emulates most exactly the boiling of a kettle on the fire, the effect being probably produced by means of air and water forced up from the fall, through some very narrow and invisible fissure in the rock.

There are few travellers, be they geologists, or botanists, or dilettantes in the picturesque, or nothing at all, either of these or of any thing else, who will not take some interest in the deer and in what belongs to them, from the rude mountain forest itself to the well-roasted and smoking haunch. This enormous tract of wild mountain, which may be seen by those who choose to ascend the hills, extends over nearly an hundred thousand English acres, and is estimated to contain about six thousand deer. Here they range uncontrouled; an example of what Scotland once was, when Ossian is supposed to have written, and long after. Those who have not read of the huntings which did once befal in this country, had better read Pitsiottie, or Taylor, or both. If they have not the originals, they will find them quoted in every toui book, in such poetry, and in some novels, until one is absolutely weary of meeting the same, friends at every turning of a corner. A very-valid reason for not quoting them again, although to do so. would be an easy way of gaining a few pages. Good fortune on tile part of the traveller, or good nature on that of the 1)ake, may often permit, even the accidental passenger to partake of the spectacle; yet, Lord of the forest as he is, he cannot always make his wild tenants appear at his bidding. Even those who have eaten of his haunch and drank of his cup, and they are not few, must submit to the chances of this war. The stray visitor will have cause to be pleased, though he should only see the distant herd, and only see that, crowning with its long line of antlers, the brow of the mountain: projecting them, like a wintry forest, on the outline of the sky. lie will be more fortunate should they form their line into a column to descend the hill, as the alarm of men or dogs drives them to the station of the hunters. Then perhaps he may track the herd by the undulating stream of mist which rises from them as they smoke down the steep descent, and, crossing the ravine, or plunging after their leader into the river, ascend again. occasionally disappearing, then seen by intervals, as their prolonged files sink into the gully or rise oil the knoll; trailing along, like the smoke of a furnace before the breeze, a wreath of grey vapour, which, ascending, unites with the mists of the hill as they vanish along its brow or are lost in the clouds which rest upon it. His fortune may yet be better, if after, separated from the herd, should be brought near him to bay, While the valley round re-echos to the deep baying of the deer-hounds which surround him, afraid to advance, the spectator may perhaps see him high on some broken bank, or beneath the shelter of a rock; or, if he is yet more fortunate, in the middle of the stream, proudly looking round from some high and huge stone on the animals, who, stemming the wave, assail him on all sides. There, if he please, he may meditate, like Jacques; or, as is more probable, like Sir William Curtis and the wiser men of the world, who would rather eat twenty deer than weep with one. Whichever plan he may adopt, he and I alike must take leave of Glen Tilt.


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