The next day I walked on to Perth, passing through a very interesting section, which nature and history have enriched with landscapes and manscapes manifold. It is truly a romantic region for both these qualities, with delightful views in sudden and frequent alternation. Glens deep, winding and dark, with steep mountain walls folding their tree-hands over the road; lofty hills in full Scotch uniform, in tartan heather and yellow grain plaided in various figures; chippering streams, now hidden, now coming to the light, in white flashing foam in a rocky glade of the dell; straths or savannas, like great prairie gardens, threaded by meandering rivers and studded with wheat in sheaves, shocks and ricks, seen over long reaches of unreapt harvests; villages, hamlets, white cottages nestling in the niches and green gorges of the mountains,—and all these sceneries set in romantic histories dating back to the Danes and their doings in Scotland, make up a prevista for the eye and a revista for the mind that keep both in exhilarating occupation every rod of the distance from Kinross to Perth.
The road via Glenfarg would be a luxury of the first enjoyment to any tourist with an eye to the wild, romantic and picturesque. Debouching from this long, winding, tree-arched dell, you come out upon Strathearn, or the bottom-land of the river Earn, which joins the Tay a few miles below. The term strath is peculiarly a Scottish designation which many American readers may not have fully comprehended, although it is so blended with the history and romance of this country. It is not a valley proper, as we use that term; as the Valley of the Mississippi or the Valley of the Connecticut. If the word were admissible, it might be called most descriptively the land-bay of a river, at a certain distance between its source and mouth, such for instance as the German Flats on the Mohawk, or the Oxbow on the Connecticut, at Wethersfield, in Vermont, or the great onion-growing flat on the same river at Wethersfield in Connecticut. These straths are numerous in Scotland, and constitute the great productive centres of the mountain sections. They are generally cultivated to the highest perfection of agricultural science and economy and are devoted mostly to grain. As they are always walled in by bald-headed mountains and lofty hills, cropped as high as man and horse can climb with a plough and planted with firs and larches beyond, they show beautifully to the eye, and constitute, with these surroundings, the peculiar charm of Scotch scenery. The term is always prefixed to the name of the river, as Strathearn, Strathspey, etc.