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A Description of the Scenery of Dunkeld
The Bruar - Falls, and Scenery - Tulloch Hill


It is unnecessary to do much more than merely to mention the tails of the Bruar. These are invariably visited. even by those who often enquire for nothing else at Blair. and it has rather been the object of this hook. 1o point out those places which had been comparatively overlooked, or which have remained unnoticed and unknown.

He who visits the Bruar. turns his back on the beauties of Blair: nor is it long before he finds himself on the verge of an uninteresting country , this spot being the last effort at ornament, as well as the last specimen of picturesque scenery, that occurs before entering on the dreary and endless moors of Dalnacardocin and Dalwhinnie. It is therefore- more striking to .those who arrive from the north, and who, benumbed by the iteration of barren rudeness, for which there is neither grandeur nor novelty to atone, hail it, like an Oasis in the desert; as the untameable and unhappy landsman, whom a whole Atlantic has not reconciled to heavy lurches, narrow births, bilge water, and the bucket, thinks no landscape so captivating as the barren rocks of Sciily or the wild cliffs of the Lizard. Those on whose recollections the previous images of all that Blair and all that its neighbourhood contain, are still vibrating, must let. down the tone of their expectations, if they would extract from it all the pleasure it can afford.

An examination of the cascades of the Bruar is rendered, not only very commodious, but pleasing, independently of their own interest, by the numerous walks and plantations which surround them, and by the convenient seats that not only mark the principal points of view, but offer an occasional repose, which the length and steepness of the paths render not unacceptable. Of the three falls, the middle is the principal in dimensions. The slaty character of the rocks, broken into innumerable small parts, and therefore deficient in breadth of manner, does not form a very favourable boundary to the falling water; and here also we miss that profusion of varied and rich omament which attends the different scenes formerly noticed; the tangling shrub, the impending tree, the grey trunk or withered branch bending across the stream, and all the profusion of fern, and grass, and rush, and moss, which add so much of beauty to similar spots throughout this country For the oak and the ash, the alder, and the hazel and the birch, and all the wildness of brier, and honeysuckle, and rose, we must accept the fir. As far as its age yet allows, this tree has done all it can tor the Bruar, and time must do the remainder. Time will, however, do much, and even far more than is anticipated by those who have only seen this spot, and who are not familiar with what may be called the fir landscape of the Highlands. It is in the woods of Rothiemurchus, and in Braemar, that we must learn what the character is which this tree can confer on that scenery of which it is the leading feature and ingredient. Amid these dark and solemn woods, or under the wild and wide-spreading branches of some ancient pine, overshadowing the ground with its solid masses of gloomy foliage, the cascade, like other objects, receives a new character. Among these silent forests, where an unvarying, twilight, sobriety of colour, seems ever to reign, where not even a bird is seen to flit among the branches, the bright lake no longer enlivens the surrounding scenery, but receives, itself, a gloom, which it reflects but to double that in which all is alike involved Even the brilliant azure of the sky is unable to give to these half-wintry scenes the gaiety which it confers on all else: partaking of the cold and more than chastened colouring and lights, on which, no less than on the broad unvarying uniformity of tint, the solemn repose of this class of landscape depends.

Thus a day is coming when the cascades of the Bruar will acquire a distinction of character which they have not yet gained; and when, independently of their own interest, they will possess the merit of being utterly distinct from all ;he other examples of waterfalls in which this country abounds. The prophetic eye of the painter can, even now, anticipate this event, and, even now, his pencil, which waits not the tardiness of Nature, will enable him to produce that, of which the fulfilment shall lie to our children, and to the heirs of him who rescued these scenes from the barrenness of the dreary moor.

Those who have read the works of our native poet, Burns, (and who has not?) need not be told that the suggestion which produced these scenes, is supposed to have originated with him. We need not enquire too minutely into the truth of this opinion; but we need only look round on Dunkeld, as well as on Blair, to be convinced, that the person who executed the improvements of the Bruar, could pot have been much in want of such a suggestion. Still, where there is much to be done, something may easily be overlooked ; while familiarity will often blind the eyes of a proprietor to that which arrests the attention of a stranger ; who may thus be of use, just as the critical spectator is to that painting on which the eye of its own artist has dwelt too long. It is in us that even the Author of these page* has imagined improvements on the scenes, both of Dunkeld and Blair; though conscious, at the same time, that it is no more easy to impress a proprietor with the same anticipations, than it is, in the moral world, to produce uniformity of thinking among mankind.

But it is necessary to take leave of the falls of the Bruar; and I need only add, that those who would see these cascades in perfection, must chose the season of rain, if a choice is allowed them. The Bruar owes much to its water it can scarcely possess too much: and will not bear to mourn its fountains dry.

The same hand which ornamented this remote appendage to the beauties of Blair. has. recently undertaken to do the same for a portion of the Garry, at present naked. Of that which is but in embryo, nothing need be said: but those who will take the trouble to cross the bridge which leads to Glen Erockie, about a mile further north than the Bruar, and then proceed down the stream to Struan, will find their labour repaid, not only by the continuous rapid of the Garry itself, running deep in a rocky ravine, but by the very picturesque, though simple and confined scenery about this village. A pedestrian might hence return to Blair on the west tide of the rive, and with some variation of amusement; but those to whom a high road is necessary, must return as they came.

There are some points of view which ought, however, to be indicated, as affording tine landscapes of the distant scenery; and they can scarcely be discovered except in returning, when they all face the spectator. The character of the distance is nearly the same for all; but in other respects they display important differences. The chief and ever-conspicuous object is the unchangeable Ben Vrackie; but it would be unjust to this mountain to complain of its pertinacious presence, as it is always elegant and graceful. The fine vale of Blair, from the pass of Killicrankie upwards, so often now described, constitutes the remainder of this rich distance.

On the immediate acclivity which leads to the cascades of the Bruar, a very perfect and characteristic foreground occurs to this picture, in the deep rocky ravine with its foaming torrent, and in the firs which crown its margin. The bridge by which the road crosses it below, together with some mills and other objects, forms a middle ground equally appropriate, which graduates well into the succession of diminishing parts that conducts the eye to Blair. In more positions than one, these mills themselves, with the bridge, the rocks, and the turbulent water, and with all the wood work, and the wheels, and the dripping, brown stones and green mosses, will afford pictures even more attractive, to those whose eyes and notions only range within the limits of a Flemish pannel. not will they want attraction to those, who, in allowing to Ruysdael, and Hobbima, and Waterlo, and Wynants, such praise as their limited ambition has laboured for. reserve an admiration of a very different cast and complexion for that scenery which Salvator, and Claude, and Turner have produced, and for that which only these men could represent.

To conclude this expedition and return the tourist to the comforts of his temporary home, I must be content with naming only one other point, where this distance finds fresh foregrounds and fresh middle grounds to produce some highly-finished landscape compositions. The fern across the Garry will form the mark for it; and, in the intricacy of the trees which skirt the road or overhang the river in careless grouping, and in the picturesque banks of the stream itself, with other accessary circumstances that need not be named, the artist will easily find more than one composition which he will gladly treasure up among the stores of his portfolio.

Although different views ot' the valley of Blair nave been obtained from the various points already described, it is absolutely requisite for those who would form a perfect conception of it, to ascend the hill of Tulloch, on the south, or west side, of the water. It is neither a long nor a laborious walk, even to the summit; but, at a point far short of that, some views will be obtained that will amply compensate for more labour.

The scenery at. the southern side of the ferry :s itself interesting on a small scale, as are many-minor landscapes by the river side, and on the face of the hill, which it would be impossible to particularize. But the principal object must be sought in that wide green field which bears. among many noble ash trees, the semblance of a castle, emblem of feudal sway. Among these trees, which, in themselves, are studies that no one will, voluntarily, leave without a record, lie the foregrounds of the extensive view for which the visitor has been brought hither. If this picture lie somewhat too geographical in the point of sight, as well as in the central details, it is by no means unfitted for painting; while its beauty and variety, added to its majestic features and wide expanse, will, at any rate, render it a subject on which he who has reached this place will long dwell.

The summit of this hill, which is readily accessible, even on horseback, presents the same view, but from a bird's-eye elevation, and in far greater detail. No longer adapted for a picture., it is nevertheless even morn magnificent; displaying, as in a camera obscure, all the compeated parts of the vale of Blair, and every intricacy of its highly ornamented grounds, with the rich course of the Garry, from the brown moors of Dalnacardoch even down to the pass of Killierankie. It is only hence, and from the station below, just described, that an adequate idea can. be obtained of that screen of hills which bounds the eastern side of this valley; extending from the fails of the Bruar to Ben Vrackie, and including the fine wooded hill of Urrard, the rich grounds of Lude, and the remainder of this bold and highly ornamented declivity, as far as the grey obscure fissure that forms the pass of Killicrankie and terminates the view in that direction The opening of Glen Tilt, branching off, dark and deep, with all its closing woods, forms an important feature in this boundary; stretching away far into the mountains, and displaying, in towering succession, the huge masses of Ben-y-gloe, hitherto unseen, with the fine conical and undulating forms of the lofty hills that extend wide over the northern part of the Forest of Atholl, and, far beyond all, the dim shapes of the wild and congregated mountain masses, that rise above the sources of the Dee, bearing, even through the summer, their bright spots of winter snow.

It affords a singular and an useful contrast to this splendid view, to turn to the wild heathy moors which extend to the westward and south-v and, brown and bare for many a mile. There is no spot, at least within the range described in. this work, which, with so little labour, will convey a .lore perfect idea of that desolation of solitude added to grandeur, of that interminable extent and endless barrenness united to the majesty resulting from simplicity and anitormity of shape and colour, which is so essentially and deeply characteristic of a land of mountains. The loftv and insulated mountain summit conveys a very distinct and far different kind of impression. On that, the spectator seems to himself elevated above and detached from a world with which he can, at that moment, have little in common. All is distant, and faint, and shadowy; if it interests him, it is as a picture, not a reality Here, he is as an inhabitant of the world of mountains about him, an atom in an enormous void of all the traces of human art or human presence. This is indeed to be a solitude; a solitude without limit, boundless alike and -vacant, the solitude of Nature herself. It is the wide desert, the rocky island in the interminable sea, the endless ocean of mountains, it is to have the untenanted world, and only the world, for a prison, that form solitude.

From this station, as the purple heath around is succeeded by the brown moor and browner bog, as the minuter forms of rock, and ravine, and bright pool and wandering torrent, become confounded in the uniform darker tints of the receding moorlands, and as the colours of well-known object' unite to blend with the deep tones of the mountain grey, till, growing fainter and fainter, they vanish in the misty blue of the atmosphere, He wanders unchecked over a far-spread desert of Mountain and valley, following in endless succession till they terminate in the shadowy and expiring peaks of the remotest Highlands. But this, and such like sights, are only for him who, though neither lunatic lover takes a perverted view of the true nature in constitution of things. The truly sensible man, who forms a just estimate of the world, nods his head in a fog and his heels in a bog; wonders whence all these fine words, and wherefore : sees only barrenness, thinks only of starvation. and hastens down the hill to his dinner.

Unless indeed he choses to follow this road to Loch Tumel. He may either do that now, and return by another of a far different character, or he may reserve it as a mode of returning, should ht be pressed tor time, after having, like Adam, forgotten all time, among the scenes to which he will hereafter be introduced. But there is a shorter expedition on this side of the Garry, from which no one, who has taste to relish it, can be excused, and which wilt return the visitor to Blair by the high road; reserving Loch Tumel, as it well merits, for a separate day.


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