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Rambles Round Glasgow
Milngavie & Strathblane


MOST beautiful of the months art thou, O leafy June! To welcome thee, the woods have donned their richest umbrageous robes, the fields their freshest luxuriance of green. Thy path is over flowery meads, and by clear-gushing streams, which mirror as they flow their many-tinted fringes of bloom. Thy genial winds are laden with the fragrance of the bean and the sweet breathings of the opening rose. In the depths of the far blue sky the lark, from earliest morn till eve’s faint farewell blush, chants joyously to thee; while the sylvan choristers, in the "gloamin’ o’ the wood," rejoice with raptured notes of love thy ever-listening ear; and the low undersong of the bee where the wild thyme grows, makes musical for thee the very silence of the sunny braes. Now is the time to leave the noisome haunts of men—

 "To wander by the green burnside,
And hear its waters croon

or to linger by some auld howlet-haunted biggin’, and dream of days gone by. Now is the time to steal, for a brief space, from the cark and care of city life, and to revel in the inestimable luxury of nature’s loveliness. One long golden day among the woods and fields—of sweet companionship ‘with birds and flowers and soothing winds—will do thee more good, O gentle reader! both as a moral and physical being, than a whole cart-load of musty tomes, or any possible quantity of pills and potions.

Take staff in hand, therefore, and be persuaded, for once, to come with us on our "journey of a day." It is still early; but the sun, who at this season takes only a brief "nap," has got his honest face above the level of the housetop opposite, where a merry band of sparrows are engaged in a dinsome matutinal row. Steering our course towards the north-west suburb of the city—now passing a milkman engaged with a tittering bevy of servant girls; now a baker’s boy, powdered from top to toe and tottering under an enormous superincumbent weight of rolls; now an unkempt housemaid on her knees lustily scrubbing the door-steps; and anon a drowsy-looking artisan proceeding pipe-in-mouth to his labour, and leaving an odorous trail behind in the raw morning air—we soon find ourselves beyond the region of streets, amidst gardens and fields, breathing the untainted air. Maryhill and Garscube being soon left behind, we speedily arrive at Canniesburn, where our ramble, properly speaking, may be said to commence. The road, as we have previously remarked, diverges into two branches at this point; the one to the left leading to New Kilpatrick, &c, the other, which we now pursue, to Milngavie, or "Millguy," as in popular and more euphonious parlance it is generally denominated. A short distance to the north-east of Canniesburn—which we leave by a pleasant path between verdant hedgerows, with finely undulating fields on either side, clad with a luxuriant mantle of waving grain, over which the winds are playing in wavy streams—is Ferguston, a comfortable farm-steading, where the line of the Roman wall crosses the highway. Wherever the plough has passed, all traces of this ancient structure are, of course, obliterated; but on a rising ground in the immediate neighbourhood, a deep indentation, a remnant of the fosse, is still distinctly visible. Gordon, in his Itinerariurn Septrionale, makes special mention of this interesting footprint of the haughty conqueror; and we may mention, for the edification of our antiquarian friends, that it remains as nearly as may be in the same condition as when that zealous lover of the antique visited the locality. To the uninitiated eye, indeed, it has the appearance of a mere natural hollow or ditch, covered with a sward similar to that on the adjoining ground; the mighty structure which the legions of imperial Rome took upwards of a century to erect having been so completely prostrated by time and the elements, that, unless to the lynx-eyed antiquary, not even a wrack remains. Passing on, we have the fine woods of Kilmardinny to the left, embowering in their wide-stretching shades the handsome mansion of the same name, and a lovely little lochlet, some eight acres in extent, begirt with trees, shrubs, and flowers, and abounding in pike, eel, and perch, for the votary of the "gentle art." The pleasure grounds of Kilmardinny are of very considerable extent, and embrace numerous features of natural and artificial beauty. Away to the right, again, are the spacious policies of Dougalstone, richly timbered, and adorned with a loch which covers an expanse of twenty-three Scots acres, and abounds in water-plants, some of which are rare, and in various kinds of fish. The estate of Dougalstone belonged at an early period to a branch of the Montrose family. About the middle of the last century, it passed into the hands of Mr. John Glassford, a merchant prince of our own good city, and one who was pre-eminently distinguished in "his day and generation," by the possession of an enlarged and liberal mind, associated with practical shrewdness and the most active business habits. Smollett, in his humorous novel of Humphrey Clinker, makes honourable mention of Mr. Glassford. In that delightful work the assumed writer says, "I conversed also with Mr. G—ssf—d, whom I take to be one of the greatest merchants in Europe. In the last war he is said to have had at one time five-and-twenty ships with their cargoes—his own property—and to have traded for above half-a-million sterling a-year." Mr. Glassford, who died in 1783, expended large sums on the adornment of the Dougalstone property, which still retains, in its extensive plantations and shadowy walks, abundant evidences of his taste for the beautiful. Of late years, however, the locality has worn an aspect of neglect and waste, suggestive of an alteration for the worse in the fortunes of the proprietors.

The village of Milngavie, which we now reach, has an irregular and somewhat straggling appearance. The houses are for the most part plain two-storeyed edifices, in many instances tastefully whitewashed, and consequently wearing an agreeable air of tidiness and comfort. In and around the village, on the banks of the Allander, are a number of public works, the most extensive of which are the calico-printing and cotton-spinning establishments of Messrs. John Black & Co., in which a considerable portion of the population, both adult and juvenile, are employed. The locality altogether, although not by any means particularly attractive in what may be called its pictorial aspect, has a cheerful and prosperous appearance. The spirit and prosperity of Milngavie, indeed, are abundantly evinced by the number of respectable looking shops which it contains in proportion to its size, and also by the fact that it now supports a line of stage-coaches, plying hourly to and from Glasgow. There are two places of worship in the village, one in connection with the Established Church, and the other a United Presbyterian meeting-house. The Free Kirk has also, we understand, a considerable number of adherents among the population; and a still larger proportion are Irish Roman Catholics: the former, we were informed, generally attend the ministrations of the Free Church clergyman at Baldernock, while the latter have their spiritual wants supplied in the Chapel at Duntocher. Nor are the educationist requirements of the rising generation unprovided for, as several excellent seminaries sufficiently demonstrate; while, as is the case in most of our manufacturing villages, a public library has been instituted, to satisfy the intellectual cravings of the more enlightened portion of the adult inhabitants.

Leaving Milngavie, after a stay of brief duration, we now proceed, in a north-westerly direction, towards the ancient Castle of Mugdock, which is situated on an elevated spot about two miles from the village. It is now the highest noon of summer, and the ever- varying landscape is bathed in warmest radiance, as

"The sunshine creeps out ower the crags,
Like ravell’d golden hair."

The wayside is a lengthened study of floral beauty, with its sweet-scented borders steeped in richest poetry. The wild rose is there, reminding us of Burns’s odorous comparison for dear deluding woman,—

"My love is like the red, red rose,
That’s newly blown in June."

A perpetual feast of nectared sweets, indeed, has the rose ever been to the rhyming race; and whether the beloved cheek is with mantling blushes tinged, or whether in sorrow it has waxed "fair, not pale," doubt not that the rose, in some one of its varied aspects, will fail to furnish the bard with an appropriate emblem. But hark, the boom of the passing bee! We could almost fancy he is chanting a snatch from glorious Will. "I know a bank where the wild thyme grows," seems the burden of his lay, and behold the belted minstrel has waxed voiceless in the honeyed crimson. A few steps onward the stately foxglove, with her purple crest of "deid man’s bells," nods to the grateful breeze that winnows, as with viewless wings, our glowing brow. The speedwells, too, with their bright blue eyes, are peeping at us from the mossy knolls as we pass; while the silver-weed, the bird’s-foot-trefoil, the tormentil, and the bonny broom with its yellow tassels—weeds of glorious feature all—are strewn in brightest profusion over every bank and brae. Truly, indeed, has the poet said—

"There’s flowers along the pessant’s path,
That kings micht stoop to pa’,"

and among them all there is not a sweeter than the bonnie blue speedwell, which we thus address in the fullness of our affection—

Oh, I love the little Speedwell
That cometh with the May,
And glints aboon the fresh green turf
On every bank and brae:
Bright as a bonnie bairnie’s e’e
It glitters ‘mang the dew,
As though ‘twere blythe the lark to hear
‘Mang ringing skies o’ blue.

The birk may don her kirtle green,
Saft rustling to the breeze,
And glancing waves of verdure play
Alang the furrow’d leas;
The broom may busk wi’ gowden buds,
The thorn wt’ fragrant snaw,
Yet I’ve still a look of love for thee,
Undimm’d amang them a'.

The gowan glints, wi’ e’e o’ gowd,
Her pearly fringes through,
And scented sweetness lurks aneath
The violet’s hood of blue;
The starwort waves her siller blooms,
And winds of roses tell,
Yet a glance of joy I’ve still for thee,
Thou peerless blue Speedwell.

When by a loving mothers knee,
In summers of the past,
E’er time had dimmed the smile of hope
‘Neath Sorrows withering blas:,
I mind the gush of purest joy
That on my wee heart fell,
When first I saw thy fairy blooms
Lone peeping down the dell.

Nae kindly mother now is mine;
Life’s morning blush is fled;
And hearts that loved me best on earth
Lie loveless ‘mang the dead.
Yet sunny dreams illume my soul
From Memory’s dreary cell,
When laughing summer brings to mo
The wayside wee Speedwell.

Let smiling Beauty husk her brow
Wi' roses aff the brier;
Let gowden lilies glad the swain
Wi’ dreams of one that’s dear;
But frae the bloomy wreath of June,
Its langsyne tales to tell,
Gi’e me my ain sweet bosom flower,
The bright blue-e’ed Speodsrell.

Now we are on the lee side of a wood, and walking among flickering shadows. How delicious the shade of the overhanging boughs, which spread their leafy arms, as if in love, to screen us from the almost vertical radiance of the lord of day!

"The deep, deep pause that ever reigns
At highest noon o’er hills and plains,"

is now only rendered more deep by the cooing of the cushat, the yellowhammer’s fitful wail, or the faint dewy trickling of some hidden and tiny rivulet. The drowsiness of nature is really infectious, and with the reader’s leave we shall yield ourselves to the soothing influences of the hour, and indulge for a blink among the green brackens in a brief sylvan siesta.

"Do you believe in fairies, Mac?" said Allan Cunningham on one occasion to a Celtic friend of ours. "Deet, I'm no ferry shure," was the characteristically cautious reply of the mountaineer; "but do you pelieve in them your nainsel’, Mr. Kinnikum?" "I once did," said the burly poet "and I would to God that I could still, for the woodland and the moor have lost for me a great portion of their romance since my faith in their existence has departed." He then quoted Campbell’s beautiful lines,—

"When Science from Creation’s face
Enchantment’s veil withdraws,
What lovely visions then give place
To cold material laws!"

It is well for us that we were born in an age of Mechanics’ Institutions, and of isms and ologies "in number numberless," or we should assuredly have committed an unconscious perjury by swearing that we heard the rustle of a green gown on awakening from our midsummer day’s dream, and that we obtained a glance of a rushy cap disappearing among the broom! But we know better now-a-days; so giving our head a philosophical shake, and our eyes a sceptical rub or two, we proceed on our course, without wasting a second thought on the "lovely vision," and soon find ourselves within the spacious enclosures of Mugdock.

The approach to the ancient Castle of Mugdock is beautiful exceedingly. On the northern side of the elegant carriage way—which has been recently improved and extended by our public-spirited townsman, Archibald M’Lellan, Esq., whose residence adjoins the venerable edifice of the olden time—is a lovely little loch about twenty-five acres in superficial extent. Around the irregular margin of this fine sheet of water, which is adorned at several points with picturesque groups of trees, a commodious drive has lately been formed, from which several fine views of the castle and the various landscape features of the locality may be obtained. The loch abounds with fish of different species, and is the habitation of numerous aquatic plants, some of which are not by any means common. Among these we observe a profusion of the white water-lily (nyrnphaea alba), covering with its snowy blossoms the surface of a miniature bay, intermingled with the broad, heart-shaped leaves of the yellow water-lily (nuphar lutea), and the green tubes of the equisetoe, or puddock-pipes, as they are popularly and not inappropriately denominated. The little yellow water-lily (nuphar pumila) was also found in Mugdock Loch some years ago by the late George Gardner, a Glasgow botanist, who afterwards obtained considerable distinction by his botanical researches in South America, and who ultimately died superintendent of the botanic gardens at Ceylon. Strange to say, the finding of this plant seems to have formed the turning point in Mr. Gardner’s life. He had previously, as a medical student, learned the elements of the science under the late Dr. Rattray of this city, and on discovering the interesting plant alluded to, he was advised to communicate the fact to Sir William Hooker, who was then preparing a new edition of his British Flora. The result was a personal interview with Sir William, who was so pleased with the enthusiasm of the young botanist that be persuaded him to devote his attention entirely to his favourite science, and afterwards procured his appointment as a botanical collector in Brazils, where be subsequently achieved numerous and valuable discoveries. On his return from this expedition, Mr. Gardner published an account of his travels and their results, immediately after which he was sent to Ceylon to undertake the management of the botanic gardens established there by the British Government. Shortly after his arrival out, however, he was seized with sudden illness and died, to the deep regret of all who knew him, or could appreciate the value of his services in the cause of science. Probably the nuphar punzila is still in existence about the loch, although in our cursory examination we cannot discover its whereabout. We should like to have seen it retaining its place as a memento of the poor young martyr of Flora, whose remains are now mouldering far away in the land of the stranger.

At the south-west end of the loch, towering above a terraced bank, which is adorned with a neat series of flowerbeds, is the time-worn Castle of Mugdock, towards which we now wend our way. That portion of the edifice which fronts the water having been fitted up as a modern residence, has a fresh and apparently youthful appearance but immediately behind this rises a stalwart quadrangular tower, lichened and gray, bearing undoubted evidences of antiquity in its narrow windows and loopholes, while numerous architectural remains in various stages of decay are scattered around. This lordly structure, majestic even in its desolation, has obviously been the work of several generations. Certain portions of it are unquestionably of great age, while others are as clearly of comparatively recent origin. Having made our entrée by a spacious gateway into the interior court, and received a courteous sanction to our inspection of the ruins, we roam about at will, poking our head into every available nook and cranny, and peopling with the creations of fancy the deserted chambers of the past. Now we stand musing in a vault of gloom over the captive’s woes; now we are stooping at an arched doorway, wondering at the thickness of the walls; again we are threading the mazes of a narrow staircase, or pacing the lonely hall, where the swallow has taken up his abode and the winds are free to play; and anon we linger to gaze from the window of the tower on the wide-spread and lovely landscape below. Overlooking a steep bank on the same platform, and at a short distance to the north of the castle, are the ruins of a small chapel, now roofless and desolate in the extreme. The walls are rent and shattered, while the rank weeds are waving on the floor and trailing over the prostrate stones where once the altar stood.

"The lichened walls look grim and cold,
That totter all around;
The carved work of ages old
Lies withering on the ground:
The casement’s antique tracery
Has wasted in the dew,
And the night breeze, whistIing mournfully,
Creeps keen and coldly through."

One of the most beautiful features of Mugdock is its stately "girdle of tall ancestral trees." Overshadowing the little mouldering chapel are several of the most handsome specimens of the ash which we have ever witnessed. They are indeed sylvan giants of loftiest stature and goodliest proportion. Evelyn or Gilpin would willingly, we doubt not, have made a lengthened pilgrimage for the sole purpose of doing homage to such "monarchs of the wood." There are also many fine oaks and elms around the spot; and on the line of the carriage way there is a luxuriant avenue of "green-robed senators," through the dense umbrageousness of which even the vertical radiance of noon sends with difficulty but a few golden beams to fret the sweet mid-day gloaming.

The Castle of Mugdock was for many ages a favourite residence of the "gallant Grahams" of Montrose, a family whose name is honourably distinguished in the history of our country, but regarding whose memory, as associated with this their ancient dwelling-place, tradition is all but silent. Not a legend or a ballad of the olden time have we been able to discover concerning Mugdock. When an extraordinary or improbable story is told to the neighbouring peasantry, they generally give expression to their incredulity by the somewhat unintelligible exclamation of "Mugdock Castle‘s no a pyot’s nest yet!" and this, so far as we are aware, is the only manner in which this home of a ducal race is mentioned in popular parlance. How different is it with our old Highland or Border keeps, every one of which almost has its legend or its lay! From history, also, we learn but little concerning Mugdock. Almost the only events recorded of it are, that the castle and barony were acquired from Maldwin, Earl of Lennox, in the reign of Alexander the Second, by David de Grahame, in exchange for certain lands in Galloway, and that it became, on the burning of Kincardine Castle, in 1640, the principal residence of the Montrose family. After the restoration, in 1688, and during the heat of the persecution in Scotland, Mugdock was visited by the Earls of Rothes and Middleton, with a number of their associates in the work of spiritual tyranny; and it is stated that sad scenes of revelry and bacchanalian license occurred on the occasion. A wild crew, we doubt not, in their orgies they were; and it may well be supposed that the Covenanters of the neighbourhood would watch with silent horror the lighted windows of the tower wherein the foes of their civil and religious freedom were congregated in the madness of drunken merriment. While lingering in the hall of the time-stained edifice, and endeavouring to realize to our "mind’s eye" the picture which it may have then presented, we find our musings almost unconsciously assuming the form of the following rude ballad strain, which we fancy would, could, or should have been written by some stern minstrel of the Covenant, and the shortcomings of which will, we fondly hope, induce some more accomplished bard to twine a worthier wreath of song in honour of this most beautiful yet altogether songless locality:—

THE MIDNIGHT REVEL OF MUGDOCK.

What means yon licht in Mugdock tower,
Whilk winnock and loophole sma’
Lets oot in gowden shafts that fret
Mirk midnicht’s raven wa’?

What mean these voices of wassail rude,
On the dank wind’s gusty wing?
And why sweeps the frichted howlet forth,
As the loud, loud lauchters ring?

The bauklebird’s flickering hither an’ yont
Round the trumlin’ castle wa’,
And the ghost-moth jinks ower the lichtit pane,
Wi' many a rise and fa’;

As gin the wee creatures o’ glimmer an’ gloom
Made blythe in the demon din
That rings in the hush o’ the ebon hours,
To the gruin’ stars aboon.

Then tell me, thou carle of the lyart locks,
What meaneth this midnicht glee?
Has a bairn been born, a bride been won,
Or a fae been forced to flee?

Nae howdie, quoth the earle, to the auld keep has gaen,
Nae sweet winsome bride been won:
Nae wreath o’ the laurel the Lennox chief can shaw
For deeds that his gude sword has done.

But the tyrants o’ Scotland are guests here the nicht,
At the hearth o’ the stern Montrose;
And the bluid-red wine is rowin’ fast,
‘Mang the Covenant’s deadliest foes.

The grim Yerl o’ Rothes in his ermine is there,
Wi’ Middleton, the fause and the fell,
And wan Claverhouse, wi’ his mim leddie face,
And his snake-like e’e o’ hell.

Steepit in the gore o’ the guid and the true,
The airn-saul’d Dalzell is there,
And Bruce o’ the Earlsha’, wha aft makes a jest
O’ the widow and the orphan’s prayer.

Ay, the curses o’ puir Scotland are a’ here the nicht—
Fell tools o’ a fause, fause king;
That adderling wha warmed in his ain kintra’s briest,
Returns for its fealty a sting.

Sae the red cups o’ gowd in the warm bleezin’ ha’
Are circlin’ richt fast and free,
As she ill-deedy knaves droon the still sma’ voice
In loud rantin’ din and in glee.

But the black ban, I trow, o’ the sair-crushed Cargill
Clings cauld as the lead round ilk heart;
Nor jestin’, nor sang, nor site rich gushin’ wine,
Gars the chill gruesome wecht e’er depart.

I’ve heard, in my day, the weary wail o’ dule,
When the red links of luve grew caul;
But the loud, loud lauch, is a far sadder soun
That is rung from a wae-weirdit saul.

The hooting o’ the owl at the sillar glowrin’ mune,
Or the wraith-bodin’ tyke as e’en,
I’d rather bide to hear ‘mang the shiv’rin’s o’ the wud,
Than the persecutor’s mirth, I ween.

Then hie thee awa'  through the mirk shades o’ nicht,
Nor seek thou the banquet to share,
That’s laid for the bluid—hounds o’ base—heartit power,
'Neath the rooftree o’ Mugdock the fair.

Oh! rather lay thy held in the poor man’s belld,
And be thankfu’ whate’er may betide,
Than hanker for the wine-cups in you ha’ o’ sin,
Where the malisons o’ Heaven maun abide!

There is an echo of considerable local celebrity at Mugdock, the reverberative powers of which are frequently put to the test by visitors. The spot from which the echo is most distinctly heard is a slightly projecting rock, on a verdant declivity, about a hundred yards to the south of the castle. A person standing on this, looking towards the edifice, and speaking pretty loudly, will hear his words, or even short sentences uttered by him, repeated with startling distinctness, as if from some mimic at the old tower. Of course, we give the echo sundry specimens of our vocality, and to its credit we must say that it flings them back with amazing fidelity. Paddy Blake’s echo, which, on the question being put to it of "How are you?" invariably answered "Pretty well, I thank you!" was unmistakeably a native of the land of Bulls. The Mugdock one must be as decidedly Scottish, as it answers each question put to it by asking another. If there were any doubt on this subject, however, we might mention, in support of our supposition, that it is quite au fuit at the Gaelic, as we proved to the entire satisfaction of a cannie bystander, who, after listening in silence for some time to our mutual interrogations in that classic tongue, at length exclaimed, "Od, man, that’s curious! wha wad hae thocht that a Lawlan’ echo could hae jabbered Gaelic?"

From the vicinity of the castle a variety of beautiful prospects of the surrounding country are obtained, as will readily be believed when we mention that, from one spot alone, the eye embraces a range of scenery extending from Benlomond to Tintoc. There are also some delightful copsewoods in the immediate neighbourhood, through which one could stroll about deliciously for days; while the dark-watered Allander, a short distance to the west, winds through a sweet vale, presenting a most inviting aspect to the disciples of old Izaak. But we have no time to throw a fly to-day, although we observe with envy the rich brown trout, with their freckles of bright red, rising in all directions. Yon lazy heron, now standing motionless as a stone, and anon, as we pass, flapping his drowsy flight along the stream, knows right well where the speckled prey abounds, and doubtless finds this secluded spot a highly favourable situation for his piscatory operations.

Making our way back to the road, we now proceed in a northerly direction towards the valley of the Blane, which, after passing the richly timbered policies of Craigends Castle, a modern erection in the feudal style, bursts upon our gaze in all its quiet loveliness. The straths of the Allander and the Blane, divided by the Craigallian Braes, lie almost parallel to each other, while the two streams flow in opposite directions. The former having its source among the Kilpatrick Hills, and flowing in a south-east direction, ultimately joins the Kelvin; while the latter, a "high-born stream," has its origin in the Earl’s Seat, and after a moorland course of three or four miles, comes leaping down the ravine of Ballagan, from whence, by a winding northwest course, it flows into the channel of the Endrick, through which its waters are finally conveyed into the fair bosom of Lochlomond. The "Spout of Ballagan," as the cascade is called which is formed by the Blane in its passage from the summit of the Campsie fells to the valley below, is situated a short distance to the south-east of the village of Strathblane, and forms, with its accessories of rock and wood, a scene of the most wild and romantic beauty. When the stream is swollen with rain, the fall, which is altogether about seventy feet in height, presents a magnificent spectacle, as the water tumbles in foam into the rifted and rocky gorge beneath, with a voice of thunder, as if it were astounded at its own temerity. At this season, of course, from the comparatively meagre supply of water, it is seen to disadvantage, while its wild music is pitched on a much lower key. To compensate for this aqueous deficiency, however, the vegetation around is now most profuse and lovely, while the visitor who is not overly sensitive can ascend in the rugged channel to the very bottom of the cascade. To the geologist the section of the Campsie range exposed at this point presents a study of regular and nearly horizontal stratification of the most interesting nature. This section, which must be about 1,000 feet in depth, exhibits, according to certain authorities, about 230 beds of alternate sandstone, limestone, and argilaceous deposits, ranging in thickness from one or two inches to ten feet. The various strata are in a continual state of disintegration. Portions are detached daily, while the immense heaps of debris lying below, bear witness to the rapidity with which the elements are gradually eating into "the everlasting hills." A short distance from the fall, but within sight and hearing of it, the old Earls of Lennox had in former ages a castle, which has now disappeared, leaving not even a wrack behind. A handsome modern edifice, however, the seat of Graham, Esq., of Ballagan, occupies a prominent position in this romantic locality, of which it commands a variety of delightful views.

Proceeding down the Strath of the Blane the prospect before us is of the most beautiful and varied description. On our right hand is the lofty range of the Campsie Hills, fretted with their terraces of trap, and terminating in the bold heads of Dungoyne and Dunfoyne; while the gentle undulations of the Craigallian table-land rise in their sylvan loveliness on the left, with the wooded peak of Dungoiach in the background. In the sheltered bosom of the valley, at the same time, and on its finely swelling sides, are seen scattered the stately mansions, girt with trees, of the gentry; the comfortable steadings of the farmers; the village with its handsome Gothic church and tidy-looking cottages; and, though last not least, the printworks and bleachfields, with their industrial associations and (as if harmonizing with the scenery around) their half-rural aspect. Altogether we should imagine, to take a slight liberty with Tom Moore,

"There is not in this wide world many valleys so sweet,
As the vale where the Blane and the bright Endrick meet;"

and we can assure the pilgrim of the beautiful who may turn his steps thitherward, that his expectations must be high indeed if he does not find them exceeded by the reality.

Passing through the straggling and exceedingly irregular village, which presents few features calling for special remark, we turn to the left, by a road leading in a westerly direction, towards the highway between Glasgow and Drymen, which it joins at Carbeth. A little farther down the vale of the Blane than this point stands the ancient Castle of Duntreath, an extensive and interesting edifice of the olden time. This is a seat of the Edmonstones, a family which boasts an infusion of royal blood. We beg leave to borrow the following brief description of it from the pen of the parish minister:

—"The castle is approached from the west through a detached gatehouse, and is rather of a rude construction, built round a quadrangle. The north and east sides are completely in ruins, having been unroofed and left to decay about a century ago. In the former of these sides is the chapel, of which, according to tradition, the gallery once gave way during the service, and several persons were injured. The southern front was never finished. In the southeastern part of it is the ‘Dumb Laird’s Tower.’ The castle is surrounded by a park or policy of moderate extent, but very agreeably varied, and the scenery of the whole unites cultivation and romantic beauty in no common degree."

About midway between the little bridge along which the road we have alluded to crosses the Blane and Carbeth, the table-land of Craigallian comes to an abrupt termination in a precipitous and wooded promontory, which is locally denominated "the Pillar Craig." Under the guidance of our friend, Mr Blackwood of the Craigton bleachfield, who, in company with a couple of esteemed Glasgow friends we fortunately discover in the vicinity, we now take leave of the beaten path, and at once plunge into the "woods and wilds" of Craigallian. "The Pillar Craig" is so called from a magnificent range of basaltic columns with which the summit is crowned. These we immediately proceed to inspect, and after scrambling with some difficulty, and occasionally, we are afraid, in rather ungraceful attitudes, up the rugged acclivity, we are certainly abundantly rewarded for our pains by the spectacle which they present to our gaze. Let the reader imagine a steep precipice, thirty or perhaps forty feet in height, composed of immense columns of basalt of hexagonal, octagonal, and quadrangular forms, and regular in outline as if they had been the work of the chisel rather than the produce of a material law! Most of these are of course in firm juxtaposition with each other, but in various instances the pillars stand erect and almost isolated; while one broken column has fallen from its original position, and projects perpendicularly to a height of four or five feet from the debris below, just as if it had been erected by an antediluvian sculptor to the memory of some distinguished individual among the "world’s gray fathers." This ponderous fragment is an octagon, judging by the eye, of about three feet in diameter. Strange to say, this interesting geological formation seems to have been entirely overlooked by local students of the sermons which are found in stones. At all events we have seen no notice of it in our somewhat discursive readings, nor has any individual with whom we have conversed on the subject ever heard it mentioned. We therefore consider that we are fully justified in commending the locality to the attention of our philosophical stone-knappers as a virgin field for their future investigation.

Clambering to the woody brow of the eminence, which commands to the northward an extensive and finely varied prospect of the broad range of country sloping picturesquely down to Lochlomond—a glimpse only of which is obtained, however, as the huge Ben almost completely screens it from view—and to the east displays the sweet sheltered strath of the Blane from Ballagan to Dungoyne, with the towering Lennox range beyond,—we now turn our face southward, and proceed along the ridge of Craigallian in a homeward direction. The estate over which we are now treading a devious and truly delightful course, is the property of Mr Graham of Fereneze. A considerable portion of its surface is covered with broad belts and clumps of trees; while the intervening spaces consist principally of green pasture-land and white tracts of moor. The whole locality, indeed, has a wild, solitary, and sylvan character—a kind of "Forest of Arden" aspect; while nooks and glades meet the eye at every turn wherein one could fancy the banished Duke might have held his court, or the melancholy Jaques have fitly lingered to muse on the vanity of all that the busy world is proud of. Now we are crossing the spongy surface of a marsh, where the breeze is playing with the white fairy pennons of the cannach, while it bears along the rich fragrance of the bog-myrtle, or sweet gale; now we are passing a ruined cottage, where the long rank nettles are nodding drearily to each other round the cold hearthstone, and the old ash tree overhanging the shattered walls, seems to wail over departed joys; and anon we are threading the stream-like meanderings of an old field-path, athwart which the grass and the weeds are creeping unchecked, while the rose-bushes on either side seem extending their blushing boughs as if they would meet in odorous embrace. At length, after passing through a shadowy wood, with a dense green canopy overhead and a floor of feathery brackens and tall grasses below, we come in sight of Craigallian Loch, lying smooth and silent in a sheltered hollow to the west of the high ground over which, for the last hour, we have been wandering. This beautiful sheet of water is about forty acres in extent. From the undulating and romantic character of the ground in its vicinity, Craigallian Loch presents many charms to the lover of landscape beauty; while the botanist will find its vegetation well worthy of a scrutinizing inspection. It abounds also in fish; and our friend Mr Blackwood, who has the privilege of lashing its waters, speaks enthusiastically of the Dumber and quality of its finny inhabitants.

At a short distance to the south-east of the loch is situated the house of Craigallian, a small and plain edifice, bearing the date 1704. It is now inhabited by a farmer and his household, and has rather a dreary and crest-fallen appearance. The garden and neighbouring-grounds, which have evidently at one period been arranged in a tasteful and orderly style, are now apparently permitted in a great measure to "hing as they grow." ‘I’here is an air of the old elegance still clinging about the spot, however; while the luxuriance of the garden, in which we observe a fine holly thickly studded with its red berries, and the stateliness of the timber in its vicinity, among which is a gigantic yew, indicates plainly enough that "it has seen better days."

Passing onward we soon arrive on the banks of the Allander, which we cross by a picturesque old bridge, and by a westerly route over the fields, in a short time reach the locale of Mr. Blackwood, at Craigton. The bleachfield here is finely situated on the banks of a little rivulet, and contains all the means and appliances necessary to the production of snow-white yarns, including, of course, a numerous bevy of active and blooming girls. The study of chemicals or womankind is unfortunately not our forte, however, so, leaving the study of these abstruse tatters to a scientific widower who forms one of our company, we proceed to gratify our Oldbuckian propensity for time-honoured biggins by an inspection of the venerable mansion of Craigton, which is in the immediate neighbourhood. This edifice is of considerable extent, but is unpretending in its style of architecture, and presents but few features calling for special remark. Above the principal doorway there is a carved stone bearing a dilapidated coat of arms, in which the only objects we can distinctly decipher are a pair of hands clasped, and a star, with the date 1635. The house is now inhabited by several of the operatives engaged in the bleachfield and their families. It is still in a good state of repair, and seems to be kept by its present occupants in a clean and orderly condition. It must be admitted, however, that it has a somewhat disconsolate appearance, as if it were conscious withal that its former glory had departed. Opposite the western front of the edifice there is a magnificent avenue, formed by two stately double rows of trees, the area of which we should imagine to be about thirty yards in width, and nearly one-eighth of a mile in length. The inner rows on either side are composed of tall limes, the foliage of which extends to within a few feet of the ground, forming as it were two compact lateral walls of green. The external rows are composed of beeches, the majority of which are of gigantic proportions. The general effect, indeed, of this handsome approach is splendid in the extreme, and albeit a little wayworn, we cannot resist, in our admiration, promenading it to and fro for a considerable time.

A warm welcome and abundance of good cheer await our acceptance in the neat little domicile of our friend of the Craigton field, to which we now proceed. After a delicious interval of rest and refreshment, our host’s vehicle is brought to the door, in which, the pony being a crack roadster, we are in a surprisingly brief space of time conveyed along the Drymen road, by Canniesburn and Maryhill, and safely deposited within sound of auld Sanct Mungo’s bells.


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