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THE MIRROR MONTHLY MAGAZINE

FOR APRIL, 1848.

THE HIGHLAND BIVOUAC OF 1845. BY THE AUTHOR OF “HIGHLAND SPORTS AND HIGHLAND QUARTERS."

" Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndsay,

Will you go to the Hielands wi' me ?
Will you go to the Hielands, Lizzy Lyndsay,

The beauties of nature to see ?"

OLD BALLAD.

CHAPTER I. The city of Perth is justly entitled to the appellation of the Fair City, if so be that the term is derived from its locality. As a town it ranks with most others anent the Borders, save Edinburgh, which the eye of a stranger cannot behold, or in which the foot of the wanderer cannot linger without admiration, whether in reference to its splendour of position, gratification of the new town, or interest in the old. Aberdeen has one noble street, all else is bleak, dreary, dirty, and desolate; and from Glasgow, city of smoke, commerce, and filth, Heaven defend us! But in truth Perth, the birth-place of fair maidens, chosen city of Agricola, washed by the bright and rapid Tay, truly art thou fair to look on, if not agreeable as an abiding place; thy streets are narrow, thy alleys filthy, and thy public buildings little graceful, and rare in interest ; for all this thy importance is admitted. And if the rigours of winter hang with a heavy gloom over thy brightness for several long weary months out of the twelve, when the sun of summer once more sends forth his cheering and welcome rays, and deep purple of autumn paints in sombre hue the distant Grampian range, or gilded by its rich roseate tinge, then the busy scene of life makes all merry as marriage bells, for thy ancient streets are thronged with the stranger, the tourist, and the sportsman. In fact, there are few places in Europe whose features are so entirely changed by seasons as the fair city of Perth ; and notwithstanding its locality is in the present day almost as well known as the beautiful spot from which we have sent forth these pages, we venture to affirm that among ten individuals not actually residing there, you will scarcely find two who having beheld it from the same spot will mentally trace the same picture of

Alike when covered by Alpine snow, amid Siberian coldness, summer sunshine, and autumn's brightness, have we looked on the waters of the Tay, and selecting the palmy season of midsummer, we may venture fairly to declare that there are few more pleasant sights which discerning man can look on in such season, than that which is said to have so gratified the Romans, as with unblushing generosity they compared the clear and glittering waters of the Tay to the muddy, slothful meanderings of the Tiber. This is

, however, an old story. And Sir Walter has also immortalised the fair city, without, in this instance, allowing his unequalled imagination to carry him, as

VOL. III.-No. 1,392.

its charms.

G G

regards Scotland, beyond the limits of the painter's varnish. In fact, when approaching Perth from the south, nothing can be finer than the landscapes which present themselves after passing south of the range of mountains called the Oichill hills.

The first of these views is the richest part of Strath Earn, and the junction of the river Earn with the Tay, taking in the bridge of Earn, the wooded hill of Moncreiff, and the plantations of Dupplin, the seat of Lord Kinnoul, for its northern boundary. After ascending the hill of Moncreiff, two miles north of the bridge of Earn, we approach the charming spot where the Romans in admiration halted. To the right, in many picturesque windings, glides the river Tay, sweeping from the north round the base of Kenworth Crags, and flowing calmly to the east, towards the rich carse of Gowrie and Dundee. Below, glittering in the sun's rays, you behold the spires of many churches, which form the chief beauty of the Fair City; its handsome bridge crossing the Tay, the Inches, the foreign-looking avenue approaching the southern entrances; all nestling snugly enclosed by wood-clad hills and distant mountains.

The waving corn in the fertile district of Strathmore, with the grand chain of the Grampian mountains in the back-ground, all pleasingly combining to make this scene one of considerable beauty and undoubted interest; in fact, one addition alone is wanting to make that which is already charming, grand, rich, luxuriant, and of unsurpassing beauty,—that which, with few exceptions, is everywhere missed in the land of the mountain and the flood--that which is alone seen in its native grandeur in merry England, wide-spreading woods of oak, and beech, and elm, to clothe the mountain side, and cause rich valleys to look richer still; instead of the cold, bleak fir and pine forests, and the still colder though lovely hanging birch tree. We do not presume to infer that there are not fine trees, and many, in the Highlands, but they are chiefly met with in the west and on the route we are about to take you ; whereas the east is as bare of timber as is Salisbury Plain. There are fir woods and plantations in abundance hanging around and about the neighbourhood of the Fair City; woods, however, there are none; yet many snug and graceful villas, enshrined in shrubs and growing plantations, cast their shadows on the waters of the Tay, and some few modern mansions, and others of less recent date, grace the imme diate hill sides, beyond the city's noise ; . yet, when the moon is hidden, from these pleasant abodes the myriads of lights are seen to glitter o'er the rippling surface, as it glides rapidly onwards to the German Ocean.

In one of these villas or small country seats which we have already named, in a pleasant airy room, the French windows of which opened on a wide lawn, surrounded by graceful evergreens—were assembled one evening of midsummer time a merry and a happy party, consisting of six individuals, all English. Four of the party were of the male sex, the remaining two fair ladies. The whole group may be termed young, as not one among the number had attained the age of forty ; while the majority were far younger. These persons it is unnecessary we should dwell on, save the ladies. In reference to and as regards them, both were pretty-one fair, the other dark; both agreeable—the one possessing sense and heart, the other laughing eyes, and ready to make what she termed love, or be made love to by any of the poor chevaliers, married or single, who might be inclined to the tender pastime.

The windows of the room were wide open. The landscape was pleasing, the city of Perth lay peacefully in the distance, the surface of the Tay was unruffled. It was not a bright or splendid summer's evening, though grey, fair, and soft-for bright summer's evenings are few and far between in the Highlands. Such, however, is a grave reason to hope for & period of fine weather, and stimulated by such hopes the party had anxiously locked forward with pleasing anticipation for the morrow; for they had determined on a week's absence from their present head quarters. And after a variety of discussions and pleasant railleries, their line of march was decided on, and thus was it carried out. As, however, the route selected-the traversing of which was to occupy six days—that is, starting on the morning of Monday, home was again to receive them on the night of Saturday—was through one of the most beautiful parts of Scotland, and undertaken in a manner by no means usual, it may not be uninteresting to some to join their party now; while many may thus be induced hereafter to take the same pleasurable excursion.

In the first place a good strong pair of post-horses was hired, with a trusty and intelligent post-boy to drive, man and beast being entirely under the control of the excursionary party as to time and distance each day, consistent with humanity and circumstances. These hardy animals were then harnessed to a roomy though not heavy britska, in which, on as fine a morning as ever broke o'er the Grampians, two ladies and two of the gentlemen were seatedthe remaining two, being inveterate smokers, being satisfied with seats in the rumble, as there they could puff, stand up, and talk, &c., ad libitum.

The light baggage consisted of a few clean shirts, and for aught we know to the contrary, a few clean chemises, with other light articles appertaining to male and female attire usual on such occasions. The heavy baggage, however, was of far more importance, so much so, indeed, that we find it necessary to mention it in detail for the advantage of those who may be similarily inclined to bivouac on the flowery heathered mountain side, on the border of a Highland lake, or beneath the woodlands, as was our intention, instead of being delayed for hours in a roadside inn-bad in most places, but abominable in Scotland. Freedom to go where we liked, halt when we liked, and enjoy all we saw was our determination on starting, and this admirable arrangement was duly adhered to; therefore the heavy baggage consisted of a cold round of beef, a cold ham, sundry tongues and fowls, cold pies ad infinitum, sherry and cognac, some fresh bread—which is only to be obtained in large towns-various sauces, a good large stew-pan, and an equally large saucepan for the purpose of boiling potatoes, Protean matches, &c. Such was the commissariat department. ** What would not the followers of the Iron Duke have given to have cut off such a party wandering amid the Pyrenees, as were we about to wander amid the Highlands? We question whether the smell of the stew we concocted on these friendly mountains would not have put a whole regiment, instead of a few shepherds, on the scent, who forth with left their flocks, and approached our bivouac to taste and pronounce it excellent. Thus packed and provisioned, with light hearts and cheering weather, we drove from the door, ere the sun began to scorch the vales. It is not, however, our intention to trace each mile we pass over; we shall leave such details for guidebooks, referring ourselves only to such spots as more particularly interested 178-sufficient, however, we trust, to excite in others a curiosity, having read of them, to look or view personally instead of mentally.

The high road from Perth to Creiff is known in the present day almost to the whole excursionising world; we shall therefore content ourselves with showing that it is a very pleasing road to travel on, and the approach to Creiff, having passed the residence of Sir David Baird, particularly striking, At Creiff we halted. This was our first stage, seventeen miles ; enough, and more than enough, to secure, in health, a most untiring appetite; and well were we satisfied by the ample fare speedily set before us by the worthy boniface of the Drummond Arms.

Few men, we venture to assert, have travelled more in Scotland than have We, and yet this was one of the only places where we truly realised the oft-told tale of å Scotch breakfast. What these meals may have been in days lang syne, ere steam-boats and railways brought English writers by tens of thousands to eat them, we pretend not to assert ; but now, alas! the peasant and no slender portion of the gentry thrive on porridge-though, perchance, the season admitting, the stranger may luxuriate on broiled salmon, and ex

once discarded from repletion by the menials of the Land of Cakes. But on nature's beauties, not on Scotch breakfasts, let us now briefly dwell, for we

celling,

are about to enter the jaws of the Highlands-jaws, justly so termed, for we have observed in most grand passes rugged hills are placed at the entrance as sturdy guards to defend the way and obstruct the path from all obtruders.

Those that stood sentry over the pass towards Loch Earn, by which route we were desirous to advance, were peculiarly beautiful, having all the appearance of having been formerly covered with wood; and it is by no means improbable that strongholds of lawless chieftains were, in days ' lang syne," perched thereon, as their Gaelic name denotes. To the south-east of Crieff, about two miles distant, stands Drummond Castle, the beautiful domain of the Lord Willoughby d'Eresby, in itself sufficiently interesting for a journey from England; but so well known since the Eglinton Tournament as one of the chosen restingplaces of our gracious Queen Victoria during her first visit to the Highlands, that we will not delay our forward route by a recapitulation of its beauties here; suffice, that we passed onwards through the mountain, warriors rejoicing, till we reached the House of Ochtertyre, embosomed in trees on the left bank of the Earn. To do justice to such a scene requires an abler pen than ours; but this far we dare say—the approach to it, on so bright a morning as that on which we travelled, was truly lovely, and, by the distant variety of ground, woods, lakes, and western boundaries of the sublime and picturesque hills around Loch Earn, it is rendered one of the most enchanting spots in the Western Highlands. In the woods are two falls ; the first and highest fall is rendered the most beautiful by the scenery about it, which is strikingly pleasing ; indeed, all that here meets the eye shows forth nature in its most luxuriant charms. But onwards rolls our britska, with merry laughter sounding from within, and white smoke curling from without; brilliant was the scenery, ever-changing in variety of form and foliage, till Comrie is reached. Unhappy town of earthquakes, sad are thy disasters, bonnie Comrie! Yet beautiful is thy locality; and yet thy very houses stand as if in awe of earthquakes, while thy inhabitants look as were they shaken out of all cleanliness and bed. Here we crossed the river Earn, still gently travelling on through unrivalled scenery till another charming spot claimed our attention—a spot, if equalled, certainly not surpassed in its romantic position throughout the Western Highlands. We speak of Deneira. If we err not, this charming retreat is the occasional residence of Sir David Dundas. Envy is a sin—a grievous sin; nevertheless, we committed it to the fullest extent, in the desire that he might better suit himself, and we call the Paradise master for the brief months of August and September—du reste, give

us, for choice, the humblest cot in merry England to the proudest castle in the Land of Cakes. But of Deneira it is scarcely possible to speak in terms too high, and it would require far more time and space to dilate thereon than these brief pages ; travel by that road, however, good friends, it is a pleasing summer excursion, and will well contrast with your last year's trip to the Channel Isles or steaming up the Rhine. That spot has left a lasting impression on our minds, particularly in reference to its singular position and truly romantic beauties. Indeed, we fearlessly declare, though no lovers of bonnie Scotland—the bonnie, we presume, in some measure being read as “bonnie Dundee,” the most obnoxious of all towns—that for rich, luxuriant, indeed, splendid scenery, the whole strath, from Drummond Castle to Loch Earn, where we are about to form our first bivouac, for sublimity and variety is not surpassed by any other part of Scotland. Still onward rolls our carriage, while many a pleasant joke is passed around, and many a joyous exclamation of delight is uttered from the blue-eyed blonde, who turns her head to answer some passing remark of us sõokers in the rumble, as to the exhilirating effects of the bright morning, on the still more pleasing sensations derived from the beauties of nature on which we looked; while the dark-eyed, laughterloving, dark-ringletted damsel by her side, now approving of this, and then of that, approved still more of the gentle flirtation she was carrying on with an amiable gentleman, fat, fair, and forty, who sits before her—to her taste a more pleasing picture than the towering pinnacles of Mealfournich and Morven now seen in the distance. If heart to heart be really bound by the ties of love, communion amid such beautiful pictures of God's painting will bind them still more fondly: But of all the pests on earth is a flirt requiring man's attention when standing by her side on the mountain's brow. You look down on the rich valley and the distant mountain, and the winding stream-without one echo of enthusiasm being uttered from lips which almost ask to be kissed; save you pay a compliment to the particular hue of her pink bonnet or the luxuriance of her tresses, instead of dwelling with excitement on the glories which God here on earth has given to man, and which man so rarely appreciates. But the sun has not yet passed the meridian, and we approach Loch Earn, our intended halting-places for a few short hours—the western end of the lake being our point selected for a first night's resting-place. Already the glittering waters of the lake now seem calm and placid like a sheet of glass in the division, and we fast approached

“ The witch-elm that shades St. Fillan's spring.” In good truth, it was like coming out of one world to give a peep down into another on the contrary side of the mountain. We now halted before the little hotel, celebrated as the spot where the Highland revellers of the district are yearly wont to meet, and for the season casting care into the loch, many a Highland reel is danced, and many a whisky dram quaffed off to the health of St. Dunstan. But here we lingered not, save to inform the good landlord that our horses would be sent to his stables for rest and refreshment; while we, a joyous party, puerile as it may appear, bivouacked on the bright sandy shore of the loch. With this intention we proceeded on the south side of the lake till having reached an opening in the thick birch and hazel coppice which borders these beauteous waters, sufficiently large to admit our carriage, and, well hidden by the trees, we then halted, and having detached the faithful animals who had conveyed us thus far, sent them back to St. Fillan's; while we, selecting a beautiful spot shaded by graceful foliage and rocks, through and over which rushed a clear mountain rivulet, into the very lake at our feet, thus formed the bivouac. Cushions and provisions were taken from the carriage—the most active of the party set to work in good earnest to prepare the sylvan feastpotatoes were washed in the clear lake-dry wood collected, and a bright fire kindled near the rocks; and while the cooks were actively employed and others endeavouring to fish,—though fishing weather it was not-we crave leave, for the sake of those who love such scenes, still more for the sake of those who may desire to behold them, to give a mere sketch of its charms.

Should the traveller approach this small lake-in our humble opinion one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful, in the Highlands of Scotland—as we did from Crieff, we may suggest that the route by the north side of the waters, to Loch Earn head, holds forth to the admirer of nature a far wider and more noble prospect-on the south, Benvoirlich, Mealfournich, and Morven raise their lofty and picturesque forms; while Eden Ample, an ancient and romantic Highland stronghold, is not the least pleasing feature of the distance; 'tis a beautiful spot, surrounded by wood, and washed by the water of the lake; while the glen at the mouth of which it stands is a deep and wild ravine, through which flows a rapid stream from Benvoirlich.

The road on the southern side, rising near the spot where we had pitched our bivouac, is far more wooded and hilly_indeed, so secluded that in few spots even is the lake beheld; and yet nothing can be more sequestered and more thoroughly wild and sylvan than is every yard of it. In fact, Loch Earn is beautifully surrounded by hills, mountains, and crags; and at the foot of the lake the eye is charmed with a small island, beautiful in shape, and covered with wood the picture on which we looked from our encampment, while the high summits of Benvoirlich, Mealfournich, and Morven, haunts of the eagle, gratify the sense of its sight. Such were the scenes, such the bouquet from nature's jewels offered to us on this, our first day's dining-table. Those who love such pictures, far more beautiful than man can paint or works can tell of, go and dine

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