The banks of this river differ from those of the mountain streams in general; they were decked with the most beautiful wild flowers, which bloomed luxuriantly on the bushes, and growing from the deep clefts in the rock, scented the air with their perfume.
The glen is here so filled with large blocks of granite, that to accomplish our passage through it, it was necessary to transfer by manual labour the loads of the baggage animals across the obstructing masses: the difficulties we encountered, and more particularly the romantic scene itself, are still imprinted on my memory.
The wind whistling round the jutting points, the dashing of the waters, and the cries of one of the most timid of our followers, who to save himself from wet feet had mounted an overladen pony, and was now in imminent danger both of Scylla and Charybdis, added to the interest of the picture; but, occasionally, the reverberation caused by the fragments of rock, which, detaching themselves from the upper regions, came tumbling down, not far from where we stood, warned us not to dwell upon the spot. We took the hint, and hastily extricating man and beast, though not until they had experienced a severe ducking, we proceeded onwards to where the waters enclose within their fertilizing arms the grassy fields of the mountain Doa[=u]b. Here it was that we caught the first glimpse of the extensive plains where the Toorkm[=a]n mares are turned out to graze; those in foal are left for several months; and after foaling, the animals are put into smaller pastures provided with enclosures, where they are shut up at night. The extent of the larger savannahs is very great, some of them exceeding twenty miles, and the horses that are allowed to range in them become so shy, that their owners only can approach them, and the animals are considered safe from depredators.
As we gradually emerged from the hard bosom of the mountains, we were struck with the simple beauty of this little garden of nature. The vale is triangular, its greatest breadth being about five miles; its whole extent is covered with a rich turf, intermingled by just sufficient cultivated land as to supply the inhabitants with grain. Every wild flower that enlivens our English meads grew here luxuriantly, while the two streams crept along on either side like silver threads bordering a jewelled carpet. This gay and brilliant sight was enhanced by the lofty range of dark frowning hills which encompassed it. It was worthy of being sung as the “Loveliest vale in Toorkisth[=a]n.”