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Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
III. Main Railway Lines through Scotland


30. Communication through the remainder of Scotland has now been almost completely opened up by lines of railway; and as the several descriptive railway treatises supply a large amount of information on each, it is the less necessary for us to enter into any lengthened details, and we do little more than enumerate the most prominent successive objects which present themselves.

The line of the North British Railway is the most interesting of the approaches from England. Before leaving Berwick, now remarkable for the stupendous double bridge across the Tweed, the view from the eminence on which stand the ruins of its very ancient castle, will be found well worthy of attention. The railway commands many splendid seacoast landscapes, and crosses several deep and beautiful ravines, and leads through the high cultivation of Berwickshire and East Lothian. Various spots important in Scottish history are passed over—thus, the scene of the victory in 1296 by the forces of Edward I., under the Earl Warrinne, over far superior numbers under the Earls of Buchan, Lennox, and Mar, and of the defeat of the Covenanting Army under General Leslie by Cromwell in 1650, both within two miles south of Dunbar. Again, between the Tranent station, 101, and Inveresk, 61 miles from Edinburgh, the scenes of the battles of Prestonpans, where Sir John Cope sustained so memorable a defeat from the Highlanders under Prince Charlie, and Pinkie, where the Scottish army, in 1541, in the early part of Queen Mary's reign, suffered from the English Protector, the Duke of Somerset, with but half their force, one of the most disastrous reverses ever sustained by the Scottish arms; and intermediate Carberry Hall, where Queen Mary surrendered to the Confederate Lords.

31. At Dunbar are vestiges of, its very ancient and once, formidable castle, gifted, so early as 1070, by Malcolm Caenmore to Cospatrick, a Saxon noble, who fled to Scotland with Edgar Atheling, and memorable for the successful defence made in 1337 by Black Agnes, daughter of the great Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, during her husband's absence, against the Earl of Salisbury. The tower of the Gothic church of Dunbar is 117 feet high, and several other churches near the line are remarkable for their high towers. On either side of the Cockburnspath station, twenty-one miles from Berwick, are two remarkable railway works—the Tower Dean Embankment, of the very unusual height of 136 feet, and the Dun-glass Dean Viaduct, of six arches; that which spans the Dean 124k feet in height from the bed of the stream, 135 feet span, and 45 feet of rise in the arch.

Between Dunbar and Linton, the silver firs, about 200 years old, at Belton House, and the very extensive hedges of gigantic holly in the grounds at Tyningham, measuring from eleven to eighteen feet in width, and from fifteen to twenty-five feet in height, deserve to be noticed.

Off the line of railway, and between it and the sea, due east from Reston station, 11 miles north of Berwick, the present church of Coldinghame exhibits, in its northern and eastern wall, all that remains of the magnificent priory founded in 1098 by Edgar, King of Scotland, the wealthy priors of which figure so prominently in early Scottish history, and beyond it is the bluff promontory of St. Abb's Head.

Due east from Grant's House station, 5 miles to the north, on the verge of the cliffs, are two tall remnants of Fast Castle, the principal strength of the Homes, and the" Woolfscrag" of" The Bride of Lammermoor."

32. Two branches of this line lead, the one from Drem, 17 miles from Edinburgh, to North Berwick, on the sea-coast, and the other from Chance Inn, about 3 miles to the north, in an opposite direction, to Haddington. The former passes over a plain, the most fertile portion of Scotland. The conical and very conspicuous Law at Berwick commands most extensive views. Close by the town are the fine ruins of a Cistercian nunnery, and three miles to the east of the town are the ruins of the impregnable Castle of Tantallon, the celebrated hold of the DougIasses, and so forcibly described in Marmion, and opposite it, about 1 miles from the shore, the high, isolated Bass Rock, on which stood a still more inaccessible castle, at times used as a state prison, and especially noted for the confinement of several distinguished Covenanters. It is tenanted by great flocks of sea-fowl, and, among others, of solan geese. Boats may be had of the keeper at Canty Bay.

Haddington is remarkable as the birthplace of Alexander II. of Scotland and of John Knox. Its fine abbey was called "Lacerna Loudoniz," the nave of which has been converted into a parish church. There are remains of another such structure in the adjoining village, called "The Abbey."


33. There is less to detain us on this great and important central line of communication—in the way of description—as of the distance of 100 miles from Carlisle to Edinburgh, about one-half is quite uninteresting—that is from Beatock Station near Moffat, to within about fifteen miles of Edinburgh. The rest of the line passes through fertile tracts, with the usual accompaniments, and frequently presents beautiful views; and the Highlands of the south of Scotland possess fine distinctive forms; but there are no individual objects calling for special note, unless Gretna Green—the bare mention of which conveys its peculiar attributes; and Lochmaben and Moffat Wells, already alluded to; while the attractions along the Glasgow Branch have met with all we can spare room to say, though much less than they deserve.


34. Courses through the fertile undulating plains of Fifeshire, with beautiful sea views at the outset along the Firth of Forth, and passing numerous towns and villages. The cutting of rock close by Pettycur, marks the scene of the death of Alexander III., in the train of which followed such disasters. Grange House, near Kinghorn, was the residence of the celebrated Kirkaldy of Grange, Queen Mary's staunchest adherent. "The Lang Town of Kirkaldy," a street of about 3 miles in length, is celebrated as the birth-place of Dr. Adam Smith. The tourist will be gratified by stopping at the Falkland Station, twenty miles from Edinburgh, to visit the beautiful ruins of the regal palace of Falkland in the neighbourhood, where James V. died, and mentioned in his "Chrystes Kirk on the Greene" as "Falkland on the Greene;" celebrated also as the place of imprisonment of David, Duke of Rothesay, son of Robert III., whose life was sustained for a time by a wet nurse, who contrived to carry milk from her breasts through a reed, to the unhappy prisoner, who, however, in the pangs of hunger, is said to have eaten off portions of his own fingers'. The architecture is mixed Classic, Gothic, and Scottish Baronial. Between Ladybank Junction, twenty-seven miles, and Springfield Station, thirty miles, we pass through the parish of Cults, in which Sir David Wilkie (whose father was minister of the parish) was born. The work which brought him into notice was " Pitlessie Fair," referring to a village in the parish. Lord Campbell's father was minister of the adjoining parish of Cupar. Behind the Crags of Blebo, near Dairsie Station, is The Magus Moor, the scene of the murder of Archbishop Sharpe.

35. Should the traveller's time permit, he ought certainly to arrange a visit to St. Andrews, which bears still quite an ecclesiastical and collegiate air, with its spacious main street—the ruins of its magnificent cathedral overlooking the sea—and picturesque castle or archiepiscopal palace on the verge of a rocky cliff, where Cardinal Beaton was murdered its :University and Madras College--the latter founded by the late Dr. Andrew Bell; and the high tincturing fortified walls of the Angus-tine Monastery, which also embrace the cathedral buildings. Of the cathedral little more remains than the lofty east and west ends, with their comer towers, and towering high into the sky separated, and separated, so large was this structure, by an interval of 350 feet. But of most interest are the walls of the small oblong chapel, and the square tower of St. Regulus, of a size very disproportioned to the fane of which it is an adjunct, beside the cathedral, the memorial of a parer faith, and built of carefully dressed stone, which there is reason to believe, to be the oldest edifice in the kingdom. By monkish legends, the date of its erection is drawn so far back as the fourth century. The archiepiscopal see was transferred from Abernethy to St. Andrews by Malcolm III. The city is associated with many important events—not of least interest are the martyrdoms of John Resby and Paul Craw, of Hamilton, Forrest, and Wishart, and the preaching of John Knox. Of the latter, the demolition of the cathedral was however a lamentable result. [Omnibuses run from the Leuchar Station to St. Andreas (6 miles) at all hours, to suit the trains.]

36. At Ladybank Junction the Perth Branch diverges, and passing the beautiful loch of Lindores, affords, near Newburgh, a view of the monldering fragments of the abbey of that name (Lindores); and its clustering old fruit trees. The views of the Firth of Tay and Carse of Gowrie are splendid. Hence the line proceeds through the now inconsiderable village of Abernethy, once the supposed capital of the Pictish kingdom, where is the celebrated round tower (which is seventy-four feet high)—regarding which, and the tower of Brechin (the only specimens in Scotland), resembling the Irish round towers, so much has been 'written. Antiquarians of authority are now disposed to limit the age of these two to the twelfth century. We are unwilling to give up the period of 1000 years as their assignable age—i. e. as built in the ninth century—when the Scottish and Pictish kingdoms were united, being a conjectured era of their erection, if not the Pictish period preceding. Competent judges range the Irish round towers from the fifth to the thirteenth centuries. The state of preservation is at any rate very remarkable. There seems no doubt that these edifices were ecclesiastical, and in all probability used as belfries.

Afterwards pass the well-known watering place of Bridge of Earn and Pitkeathly Wells. The view from Moncriefl' hill between these and the Tay, was called by Pennant, "the glory of Scotland."


37. 'Which continues the direct line of the Caledonian Railway to Perth, branches off from the Greenhill Junction about half way between the Falkirk and Castlecary Stations on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway. This line passes across the rich plain of the Forth, near the battle fields of Falkirk and Bannockburn—past Stirling—up the course of the Allan past Dunblane and the Sheriff Muir—and near the Roman Camps at Ardoch—and slants into Strathearn—throughout a very rich tract of country. Several points touched by the line have been already alluded to.

38. But we must, diverging for a space, specially call the tourists attention to the scenery of the Devon, which falls into the Firth at Cam-bus, below Stirling, and to the once regal town of Dunfermline.


The course of "the crystal Devon," "the winding Devon," sung by Burns, is of a charming character to Dollar, thirteen miles from Stirling, having, on one hand, the variegated slopes of the Ochils, terminating at the south in Damyat, celebrated for its commanding view, and on the other, the rich expanse of the plain of the Forth, with its singularly winding river and gradually widening estuary. The little glen of Alva, rather more than half way, invites the tourist to turn aside to scan its woodland beauties and cascade. At Dollar, where there is an academy of considerable repute, we are in the immediate vicinity of the fine quadrangular ruin of Castle Campbell, long a seat of the Argyle family, imposingly perched on an eminence between two deeply channelled rivulets, which, uniting below its walls, form the brook which runs through Dollar. An amphitheatre of hills rises around, clothed, as are the ravines, in close mantling wood. This structure was destroyed in 1645 by Montrose and his adherents, the Ob lvies of Airlie, alike hereditary enemies of the Campbells. The ancient name is the Castle of Gloom, and from the names of the surrounding localities, it has further, by a play of words, been said to he situated on the Mater of Grief, in the Glen of Care, and the Parish of Dolour! About three miles above Dollar, the channel of the Devon, immediately after making the singular change in its course, called "The Crook of Devon," exhibits a succession of peculiar appearances, known under the somewhat fantastical titles of the Caldron Linn, the Rumbling Bridge, and the Devil's Mill. Of these, the last and uppermost is where the river, forming a cascade, falls into a deep rocky cavity, beating against the sides of which a sound is produced resembling that of a mill, and the prefix to its cognomen is derived from this said mill working Sunday as well as Saturday. Less than a quarter of a mile below, the narrow duct of rock is spanned by an arch 120 feet above the water, of which the alteration of its note, as it toils along to a rumbling noise, gives the variation of epithet to this spot. The aspect of the chasm from the bridge, or from the adjoining banks, is startling, and highly picturesque. A mile below, the water, within a short space, has channelled out in its descent a series of deep basins or caldrons in the rock, in which it seethes and boils in great commotion, and finally precipitates itself from the third, and last caldron in a fine waterfall of forty-four feet.


Instead of retracing his steps, we would recommend to the tourist to strike across to Dunfermline, and return to Stirling by Alloa. Dunfermline is distinguished by having been an early seat of the Scottish monarchy and frequent residence, and long the burial place of our kings. The ruins of a square tower on a peninsular mound, on the side of a deep glen, close by the town, is called Malcolm Caanmore's Tower. There be was married to his queen, "the sainted Margaret," daughter of Edward Atbeling; and it was be who transferred the place of royal scpultnre hither from Iona. Malcolm himself, David I., Alexander I. and III., and Robert Bruce, and other monarchs, were buried in the choir of the abbey, the site of the present parish church. The abbey became one of the most richly endowed monastic institutions in Scotland, and was governed by a mitred abbot. The remaining lofty wall of the fratery, with its three tiers of windows, still testifies to the style of the establishment. Of the abbey the strong buttressed nave remains entire, of Norman architecture, with some of the pillars cut in zigzag, others spirally grooved. A gloomy grandeur is the characteristic of the whole. The choir and transept have been re-constructed for a parish church. It will perhaps be in the recollection of the reader that, some years ago, in clearing away the ruins of the choir, the skeleton of the illustrious Bruce was discovered quite entire, wrapped in its leaden shroud. It was re-interred under the pulpit of the present church. But a fragment of the palace now remains. The last time it was honoured by a royal visit was in 1650, on which occasion Charles II. signed the solemn league and covenant here.

The town of Dunfermline is celebrated for its manufactures of fine table linen, in which from 6000 to 7000 persons are employed in the town and suburbs. The whole surrounding district is peculiarly rich in coal, iron, and limestone, including the extensive collieries of the Earl of Elgin, and a variety of metals have been wrought in the Ochils. On the way to Stirling, along the rich carse grounds bordering the Forth, the towers of CIackmannan and AIIoa are objects in the landscape which attract the eye; the former a remnant of a castle of Robert the Bruce's, whose sword and helmet are preserved at Broom hall, the Earl of Elgin's mansion, and the other of the old castle of the Marr family, whose fine mansion and demesne adjoins the town.

40. The Bridge of Allan, past Stirling, is a delightful watering-place. A steep incline, rising to Dunblane, enables to enjoy more leisurely the delightful scenery of the Allan. Here, in the grounds of Kippenross, there is a noted sycamore, supposed to be the largest in the kingdom, and nearly 500 years old. Dunblane Cathedral is pretty entire in the walls, and the choir is used as the parish church. Some of the quaint oak carving, and a few old sarcophagi and monuments, are preserved. Dunblane is supposed to have been a cell of the Culdees. It stands associated with the name of the eminent and spiritual Leighton, long remembered here as "the good bishop." The railway passes close to his favourite walk. His library, bequeathed to the clergy of the diocese, is still entire. About two miles to the north-east of the town, the Sherifmuir was the scene of the drawn battle, 13th February 1715, between the rebel army, under the Earl of Mar, and the royal troops, under Argyle. The latter's left was speedily broken, and completely routed by Glengarry and Clanranald, while Argyle drove back his opponents (who attempted to rally ten times) to the Allan. The victorious Highlanders returning on his rear, caused him, however, to desist, and both armies withdrew, neither knowing which had won the day; but Argyle succeeded in preventing the intended passage of the Forth. Forteviot, ten miles from Perth, is the locality to which Kenneth M'Alpine removed the ScotoPictish monarchy in the ninth century. Dupplin Castle (the Earl of Kinnoull) is seen as we advance. At Moncrieff the line passes through a tunnel of rock, 1; miles in extent, emerging from which, the valley and river of the Tay, with Perth's fair city, bursts in splendour on the view.


41. These lines form a continuous circuit of communication by the several points indicated by their respective names, and by the Dundee and Newtyle Railway having a further middle line of connection, and afford a variety of choice, as far as the Froickheim Junction, about midway between Forfar and Arbroath, whence the Aberdeen Hallway continues the line of railway to that city. The tourist should, perhaps, prefer the direct line to Dundee. This passes through the level Carse of Gowrie, so well known for its great expanse of the finest corn land; it is embellished with numerous mansions, and, with the contiguous Firth of Tay, is lined by ranges of wooded and cultivated hills. The large, bustling manufacturing and sea-port town of Dundee presents a fine appearance from the water or quays—its peculiar feature being its great, massive square steeple, which is worth ascending for the view.

In this way, however, unless by taking the Dundee and Newtyle line, one misses the fine Castle of Glammis, the best specimen extant, being in perfect preservation, of the old Scottish baronial architecture—the oldest portions early Norman, the latter Flemish. It stands in the midst of extensive woods, quite near the Glammis station on the Scottish Midland Junction, 27 miles from Perth. It is a large and lofty pile, crowned with sharp-pointed turrets and railed platforms. The great ball, and especially the roof, is very fine. There are several valuable paintings and some curious relics. There had been lofty corresponding wings, with intervening courts, which, with very extensive and intricate outworks, have unfortunately been removed. Malcolm II is said to have died here, having been wounded in the vicinity by assassins; and the representations on certain curiously sculptured obelisks near at hand, are supposed to represent the occurrence. These, and a curious sun-dial in the court, are worthy of attention. The outlook from the top of the castle, on the fertile expanse and rich woods of Strathmore, will be found not less so. We ought not to omit to say that the railway runs up from Perth along the course of the Tay, commanding very beautiful views, as far as its junction with the Isla, where the scenery is picturesque. On the right will be seen Dunsinane Hill, a name associated with that of Macbeth. It is crowned by what has been a fortified station, which may have owed its origin to him. [There is some very fine wooded, river, and cliff scenery at Craighall, on the Ericht, near Blairgowrie, of much the same character, though not on so grand a scale, as that of the Findhorn. Between Blairgowrie and Dunkeld, a distance of twelve miles, the drive by the lochs of Marle, Cluny, Butterstone, and Lowes, is very pleasing, and especially as we approach Dunkeld. The pass into the Deeside Highlands, by the Spittal of Glenshee, presents some fine rocky mountain peaks towards the summit level.]

Progressing from Dundee, the next point of special interest is Arbroath, supposed to be the "Fairport," and its "Redhead" crabs and coves to have been in the novelist's eye, in depicting some of the scenes of the Antiquary. It possesses a more palpable interest in the ruins of the celebrated Abbey of Aberbrothock, founded by William the Lion, who lies interred within its walls, and dedicated to Thomas A'Becket, shortly after his murder, and rather a singular recognition, if it be so regarded, of the principle of ecclesiastical supremacy to which he fell a martyr. The abbey has been a magnificent building, but now a mass of rather unsightly fragments, having sadly gone or been reduced to decay, none of the pillars remaining, and the friable stone having yielded up all vestiges of the decorative parts; but the Barons of Exchequer have interfered to prevent further demolition, and have had the area cleared out.


42. There are not many points of particular interest in the further way north. A slight divergence at the Montrose Station, on one hand, leads to Montrose, and a short branch, in the opposite direction, conducts to Brechin.

Montrose is a considerable and rather handsome town, built on a low peninsula stretching from the north across the estuary of the Esk, and connecting with the southern shore by one of the largest of suspension bridges, and is girt on the east by extensive links and sands.

Brechin is delightfully situated above the wooded dell of the Esk, and is remarkable for the round tower attached to the church—one of the only two such in Scotland—the other already noticed being at Abernethy. The cathedral church itself is very old, with another tower short and square, and terminating in a dwarf octagonal spire. Messrs. Henderson's nurseries here are deservedly celebrated.

The country to Aberdeen continues well cultivated, but rather bleak; but the line presents variety in crossing several small intersecting valleys; the outskirts of the Grampians cause the interior to assume a hilly character: and north of Stonehaven the railway runs, in great measure, along the face of cliffs immediately above the sea. Near the neat town of Stonehaven, we have the extensive ruins of Dunnottar Castle, built by the Keiths, Great Marischals of Scotland, which occupy four or five acres on the edge of a portion of the iron-hound coast to the south, with a deep intervening chasm. The shell of the great square tower is entire, and is surrounded by the ruins of other numerous buildings, showing how large the garrison had been. The area at top was encircled by a rampart wall, and the access was by a winding footpath, and through a gateway in a wall, forty feet high, and along an arched passage protected by more than one portcullis. During the wars of the Commonwealth, the regalia were placed for safety by the Privy Council in Dunnottar, as the place of greatest security in the kingdom. During the siege which ensued, when driven to extremity, Mrs. Ogilvie, the governor's wife, entrusted them to Mrs. Granger, wife of the minister of Kinneff, who had been permitted to visit her by the English general, Lambert. Mrs. Granger contrived boldly to carry out the crown in her lap, while her servant had the sceptre and sword slung in a bag of flax on her back. They were secreted at times under the pulpit at Kinneff, and at others in a double-bottomed bed at the manse, till the Restoration. Mrs. Ogilvie did not tell her husband where they were till she was on her deathbed. 'Wallace, about 1296, according to Blind Harry, destroyed 4000 Englishmen at Dunnottar, setting fire to the church where they had fled for sanctuary.

"Some hung on crags, right dolefully to dee,
Some lap, some fell, some fluttered in the sea."

In 1685, 167 of the Covenanters were thrust into the Whigs' Vault at Dunnottar, where many of them died. With these characteristic incidents of times to which our own form a happy contrast, we close our rapid survey of the Lowlands, by way of Supplement to our Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.



In our preliminary remarks on the roads on the west of Ross and Sntherlandshire, p. 43, it has been incorrectly stated, that "from Lilapool, through the district of Coigach, to Loch Inver, in Sutherlandshire, there is yet no public road." In the description of Sutherlandshire, p. 515, this mistake is so far rectified by the sentence" At Ledmore a road branches off south-west to Cnockan, the extreme boundary of Assyn4,towards.Loch Broom, which has now been continued to Ullapool, sixteen miles distant." We deem it right thus more pointedly to direct attention to this fact:—This short road forms a very important link in the means of intercourse on the west coast, as thereby there is a line of communication completed, though by rather tortuous windings, throughout the whole of the west coast, and thus round the whole of Scotland. From Ullapool, southwards, we may either take the Game road, or that by Loch Greinord, to Poolcwe (almost completed), and thence to the Dingwall and Jeantown road, at Anchnasheen—while, were the road formed from the head of Loch Torridon to Shieldag, a much more westerly point would be reached direct. For the formation of the road from Ullapool to Ledmore, as well as the repair, or rather reconstruction, of that to Auchnasheen, and also those round by Loch Greinord and Loch Maree, and elsewhere, the public and the Highlands are indebted to the co-operation of the highland Relief Committee with the public spirited landed proprietors in these districts—a valuable and enduring memorial of the labours of the Committee.

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