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sited these places, we did not pursue it. We returned therefore to the banks of the Dee. which grew still bolder and more rapid as we advanced towards the fine Gothic bridge of Llangollen, a little town in Denbighshire beautifully situated above the southern bank of the river, and almost surrounded by the impending ridge of the. Berouin mountains, from whose proud amphitheatre the boldest masses of insulated rock and wood appear to have started forth, and formed the irregular channel of this enchanting valley. Llangollen can claim little praise beyond what is bestowed on the transcendent beauty of its exterior ; for within, it exhibits nothing but a narrow and ill-built street. We visited from thence a cottage with some adjacent grounds, which two accom. plished ladies from Ireland had laid out and ornamented with much taste and elegance. The situation is romantic in the extreme, commanding the town and the vale below it, in which several well-wooded hills form an agreeable contrast to the wild scene behind, while encircling the summit of a huge conic mountain, the broken fragments of Dinas. Braan castle rise proudly in full front, and seem to defy every enemy but time, to which they have at length submitted.
Under the conduct of a guide not abounding in intelligence we again scaled the mountains, and pursued a very dreary and uneven track over the Berouin to the wretched village and still more miserable inn of Llanrhaidr, from whence a rugged lane led us to the celebrated cataract of the Pistill-Rhaidr. Though certainly the highest, this is far from being the most picturesque waterfall we had seen in our tour, and per. haps it fails at the first view to strike the fight fo forcibly as night be expected, in con. sequence of the great defect it labours under in the total want of all external scenery, Here are no leafy groves to relieve the eye, no verdant lawns ta sinooth the approach, but a narrow valley between two barren hills carried us straight forward to the object of our search, which met our eyes with a disadvantageous sameness of appearance long before we arrived at it. We could not, however, but be impressed with its magnitude when we came upon the spot, though the stream was rather more scanty than usual from a temporary deficiency of water. A lofty barrier of black rocks closes the vale here, from whose summit the torrent descends in a perpendicular but uneven fall of about one hundred and fifty feet, at the bottom of which it has worn its passage through a ridge of the projecting rock, and rushes into the valley through an ex. traordinary arch of its own making in another descent of near fifty feet. The
object was altogether fingular and stupendous, and though the peculiar imagery of · landscape was wanting, our most fanguine expectations could not but be exceeded by so great a production of nature, which seemed to invade the realms of fancy, and ape the magic drapery of an oriental romance.
CHAP. V. - Llanvilling. — Welch Pool. — Powis Castle. - Vale of Montgomeryshire.
Newtown on Severn. - Llanidloes. - Sources of the Severn and the Wye. — Pass of the Mountains between Montgomery hire and Cardiganshire, to the Devil's bridge. T-Spwtty-1/twith. — Strata Florida Abbey. – Tregaron. Llanbadern Vawr. – Talypont. — View of the Æftuary of the Dovey. - Machynthleth. - Aberdovey and Barmouth Ferries. — Town Merionydd. — Wild Country at the Back of Cader: Idris. Grand View of Dolgelly and its Vale from thence. - Romantic Scenery of the Dovey above Dinafmonthy. - Mallwydd. - Cann's Office. - Llanvair. - Montgomery. - En. trance of England. — Bishop's Castle.- Downton Castle. -- Grandeur of Ludlow, its. Castle, and public Walk. — Croft's Castle, Shobdon Court, and Berrington. Leominster. — Hampton Court. -- Weobly. — Return to Radnordshire and BreckrockShire.
FROM Llanrhaidr we had a pleasant ride to Llanvilling a small town in Montgo. meryshire hanging on the side of a hill, and after passing a cheerful valley washed by the river Vernieu, we crossed several high ridges, and descended to Welch-pool, the county town of Montgomery. This is one of the most flourishing places in North Wales, considerable works being established near it, and an unusual air of opulence prevailing both in the town and its vicinage. It consists principally of one very handsome street, perpetually enlivened with the shew of considerable trade; its situation also is delightful, in a charming vale a little above the bank of the Severn, and close to the fine grounds of Powis Castle. Lord Littleton's animated description of that man. fion taught me to expect more beauty and grandeur than I found there, though its situation is certainly very striking, and the prospect it commands finely varied. The whole vale of Montgomery lies spread beneath the eminence on which it stands, and the hills bounding it on all sides rise in the boldest forms, while the Severn, though it does not here assume the appearance of a great river, shews itself pleasantly dispersed in feveral distinct points of view, and sufficiently enlivens the scene. The town of Welchpool also adds a beauty to the whole, from its fortunate position, while the opposite mountains of Briethen and Moel-y-golfa rise at once out of the level of the vale with great fublimity; on the summit of one of which the county of Montgomery has erected a high pillar to commemorate the victory of Admiral Rodney. In addition to these distant objects, the sloping hills and swelling lawns of the park, covered with thick plantations, and decorated with abundance of fine timber, form a magnificent outline to the place, and command views wonderfully extensive on every side, taking in the summits of Cader-Idris, and some of the highest niountains in North Wales. Graced with these striking advantages of position, Powis castle does not in itself present that majestic object which tradition and imagination would teach a traveller to look for, and the neglected state it has long languished in, deducts still more from its consequence. Built with a dusky red stone, which strikes the eye at a distance with the aspect of an ill co. loured brick, an irregular mass of heavy walls and towers displays itself, almost without a front to be distinguished. The mournful solemnity of the wildernessas and grass. grown terraces of the gardens, descending in the forsaken grandeur of the last century, is exceeded by the general desolation and melancholy which prevail within, where a range of ill-shaped and uninhabited apartments exhibits the cumbrous pomp of old fafhioned decoration, and seems tottering to decay with the few remaining turrets that surround it. A long roon near the castle, which was once connected with it,
has been lately fitted up in the modern style as a ball-room, but the proportion of 117 feet in length by only 20 in breadth is extremely deficient. Such is the present appearance of this grand but neglected place, on which if a very little of that taste and expence which have been lavished on inferior spots could be successfully bestowed, it would soon shine almost unrivalled in beauty and magnificence.
A rich vale watered by the Severn, here majestic in its infancy, conveyed us between fine meadows, pleasing enclosures, and populous villages, to the delightful spot which Newtown cecupies, almost encompassed by the river, and surrounded by high wooded hills, on one of which a gentleman has built a temple, from whence some of the finest views in the country may be obtained. The plain now began to contract itself, and the mountains to close round it, through the various apertures of which several valleys opened, bringing their tributary waters to increase the Severn, which rolled its meandering stream between hills finely tufted with wood and variegated with pastures, as it descended from the heights of Plinlimmon to the little town of Llanidloes. The pe. culiar mixture of grandeur and population which distinguishes this tract of country, forn:s its principal ornament, and unites in a happy assemblage those objects which please the eye with their tranquil beauty, and surprise it with their stupendous appearance. Woods, orchards, corn-fields, and pastures, are scattered every where in profusion; neat farm houses and others of a fuperior order occupy fome of the best positions, and many rough bridges of timber thrown across the river make a piču. resque addition to the landscape, in which a degree of rustic elegance prevails, not incompatible with the general air of poverty and simplicity which seems annexed to the mountaincus character of the country. Llanidloes, the only town of note in this diftrict, though a poor place, is well laid out in four wide streets, with a spacious market-house in the centre; its wooden bridge over the Severn is very antient and much out of repair ; but it appears to be used by carriages only in times of flood, the river here being fordable.
The sources of this river and the Wye are not far distant from Llanidloes in the recesles of Plinlimmon, each of which has formed the channel of a different valley, both being at first inconsiderable streams, and undistinguished by any peculiar objects. The Severn flows from the north-west, and bears at first the original British name of the Hafren river; the head of the Wye is at no great distance from it towards the south, and its course at first inclines southward. As we quitted the banks of the Severn, and advanced towards those of the Wye, the wooded aspect of the country began to change, and cultivation contracting itself within narrower limits, became loft at length in an immense expanse of bare and dreary mountains. After an arduous ride of some miles, unmarked by any pleasing object, we descended to the Wye, at the melancholy village of Llangerig, and keeping some time on the side of it, crofled it by a marvel. lously rocky ford, where it was little more than a rivulet. Our road now became in. expreflibly latorious, being in great part unfinished, and even where it was made, impending frightfully on a narrow self over tremendous precipices. At length we reached one of the heights which form the base of Plinlimmon, and descended precipitately to the banks of the Rhydol, which we followed to the wretched village of Spwity, and soon afterwards crossed our original track from Aberystwith to Rhyadergowy near the Devil's bridge in Cardiganshire.
Pasling beneath the woods and numerous plantations of Havod, we foon reached the village of Sputty-Ystwith, and crossing a ridge of hills in which the Tivy finds its source, descended to the banks of that river to visit the few mouldering fragments of Straifleur, or Strata Florida abbey. A fine circular gateway which formed the west
end of the church, is all that remains sufficiently entire to convey an idea of its origi. nal structure, which was rebuilt by Edward I. after having been burnt in his wars with the Welch. The Tivy here is a small stream, and the town of Tregaron, to which it led us, an inconsiderable place, remarkable only for its church. 4 very wild track from thence led us back to the banks of the Y/twith, just below Lord Lifburne's feat of Crosswood park; from whence we passed by Mr. Powell's pleasant place of Nantios,' and leaving Aberyst with about two miles on the left, crossed the Rhydol to reach the ancient town of Llanbadern Vawr, which is thought to have been a Ro. man station. As Aberystwith has fwelled into importance in its neighbourhood, this place has funk into insignificance, and can now be reputed as little better than a village, the fine Gothic edifice of whose church, which was the cathedral of a British bishop, alone denotes its former grandeur.
At a short distance from Llanbadern Vawr we joined the great road leading from Aberystwith to North Wales, and after passing the village of Talypont gained a view of the coast, just where a bold range of mountains extend along the Merionethshirt bank of the great river Dovey, which divides that county from Cardigan and Montgomeryshire. ---This stream, which is here an æstuary, ravages a considerable plain with its inundations, and proves how strongly its irregular and violent supplies from the mountains at times perponderate over the regular current of the river, and the settled acceflion of its tides. The opposite range of mountains rises abruptly in those rocky piles for which North Wales is justly celebrated, while the river winds in a broad sheet of water, sometimes approaching their bafes, and at others disporting. itself in bold curves through the vale. The vale itself appears abundantly enriched with woods and the appearance of population ; a variety of neat villages are spread over it, and several iron works are established within its confines : large vessels also are moored in different points of the river, so that the whole scene, as viewed from the road, which frequently occupies a high shelf above the southern bank of the Do. vey, partakes in a very remarkable degree of the scenery appropriate to mountains, intermixed with the busy and artificial display which attends manufactories and navi. gable rivers.
Re-entering Montgomeryshire by the stream of Llyfnant, which divides it from Cardiganshire, we foon reached the town of Machynthleth, which may be considered as the capital of this pleasant and populous district, consisting of three handsome streets, with a good bridge. The Dovey, or Dyffi, which rises in the mountains between Dinafmonthy and Bala, flows beneath it, and falls into the sea at Aberdovey where a ferry is established across its mouth to the Cardiganshire bank; from whence a road leads on the coast fouthward to Aberystwith, and northward by another ferry over the æftuary of the Mawdoch and Avon to Barmouth. These ferries are very inconvenient, and the roads leading to them being narrow and ill-made, are frequently formed on a shelf on the cliffs, impending over the sea in frightful precipices, without the security of a parapet. In the course of this pass along the coast we came to the little town of Towyn, or Town Merionydd, backed by a range of high mountains, which (though not immediately on the coast) has been resorted to as a fea bathing place, after the manner of Barmouth, but has not much beauty or convenience to recommend it; Machynthleth is about twelve miles distant, and a good road is made across the hills, to that town, by which we returned to it.
As we advanced up the vale of the Dovey from Machynthleth towards the north, feveral beautiful points of view displayed themselves from every eminence, and the country, as far as the neat village of Mallwydd, bore a pleasant, populous, and cul.
tivated aspect. There nature began to assume her rougher dress, and when we reached the wretched and almost defèrted town of Dinalmonthy, rocks appeared piled upon rocks before us, and the southern base of Cader-Idris seemed to block up all further passage. Winding through the hollows beneath that great mountain, we soon lost all traces of cultivation, with the appearance of human habitations; the river shrunk into a rivulet, and fjon afterwards that rivulet was lost as we passed the several torrents which fed it in our laborious ascent over one of its protruding masses. Having at length gained this subordinate summit, we enjoyed a delightful view of the vale we had before visited, where the Mawdoch and the Avon uniting form a vat æftuary, and halten to join the sea at Barmouth. Huge craggy mountains environ this spot and towards the west the high pointed summits of Cader-Idris are exalted ; the valleys of the Avon and the Mawdoch present two charming stripes of cultivation below, encir. cling their rivers, and the town of Dolgelly appears to great advantage in the centre of the plain, with its high tower and the Gothic arches of its old bridge,
Returning to Dina[monthy, which, though once a place of importance, can hardly now boast the consequence of a village, we penetrated into the recesses of those heights in which the Dovey finds its source, by the road which leads from thence to Bala, and were abundantly gratified with the display of mountains, rocks, and torrents, with which nature has fuperbly decorated this wild and romantic part of North Wales. At length, fully satiated with its wonders and beauties, we returned into Montgo. meryshire at Mallwydd, and passing over a considerable eminence, descended into a cheerful plain, in the centre of which a little above the river Verniew, we found the inn of Cann's or Canon's office, which was formerly an ecclesiastical or military station, and is surrounded with several traces of ancient fortifications. Another ascent at the extremity of this plain brought us to the small town of Llanvair, agreeably situated in a deep hollow surrounded by cultivated and wooded hills, rising in perpetual undulations. After traversing a long succession of inequalities formed in the cavities of these hills, we reached one of the points where they terminate in the vale of the Severn between Welch-pool and Montgomery, and crossed that river near our for. mer track, passing by Nant cribba, a pleasant seat of Lord Hereford, to visit the latter place. We found it an ill built and irregular town, but the eminence on which it is situated is striking; the fragments of its castle, which are mere walls, stand boldly on a high mount projecting into the vale. This town was made a free borough by a charter of Henry III., and was a considerable place till the increasing importance of Welch-pool eclipsed it ; fince that time it has fallen into insignificance, and now bears rather a deserted appearance; its castle was reduced to ruins in the time of the civil wars, when it yielded to the parliament forces, after having experienced great variety of fortune since its foundation in 1092.
At the distance of a few miles from Montgomery, we finally quitted North Wales, and re-entered England; ascending a steep hill, from which we enjoyed a molt extenfive and beautiful prospect over the Severn, its vale, the town of Montgomery, and the plantations above Powis castle near Welch-pool. A downish tract of country in the remotest corner of Shropshire succeeded, where the old irregular town of Bishop's Castle lay spread over the side of a considerable eminence. Soon afterwards we passed through a fine park belonging to Lord Clive, within sight of the house, and proceeded through a rich and fertile vale to Ludlow.-- About four miles before we reached that place, we deviated a little from the road, turning to the right towards the valley formed by the Teme, to visit Downton castle, the much admired seat of Mr. Knight. Great expence and peculiar tafte have been bestowed on its formation, nor is there a