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Earn, River

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2016.

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Earn, a loch and a river, giving the name of Strathearn to its basin. The lake impinges, at its head, on Balquhidder parish, but elsewhere belongs to the western or upper part of Comrie. It commences near Lochearnhead village, at the foot of Glen Ogle; is approached there by the Callander and Oban Railway; and extends in a direction of E by N to the village of St Fillans. Lying 306 feet above sea-level, it is 6½ miles long; its breadth varies between 3¼ and 61/3 furlongs; and its depth, in many places, is 600 feet. Its temperature varies so little throughout the year that, not only does the lake itself never freeze, even in the keenest frost, but the river Earn, which flows from it, seldom, if ever, freezes till it has run a distance of at least 5 miles. Its waters contain abundance of fine trout, and can be fished conveniently from either Lochearnhead or St Fillans. Its shores and foreground screens, to the mean breadth of about ½ mile, are clothed with wood; its midground screens are a diversity of waving, rolling, receding hill and mountain intersected by ravines; and its sky-line on the S side soars into the broken fantastic heights of Stuc-aChroin (3819 feet) and the monarch mountain of Ben Vorlich (3224), whilst to the N rises Sron Mor (2203). Streamlets and torrents enter it from the ravines, and one of them-the Burn of Ample, near Lochearnhead-just before entering it, forms, in the grounds of Edinample, a picturesque double waterfall. Ardvoirlich House, on its southern shore, has beautiful grounds, and is the ' Darnlinvarach ' of Sir Walter Scott's Legend of Montrose; and its one islet, Neish, near its foot, is clothed with wood, and has curious historical associations. Good roads go down both sides of the lake, and each commands a pleasing series of views; but only the northern one is travelled by public coaches, though the southern commands the finer prospects. The scenery, on the whole, is more charming than imposing, more beautiful than grand, yet compares advantageously with the scenery of other admired lakes, and has features of at once picturesqueness, romance, and sublimity. ' Limited as are the dimensions of Loch Earn,' says Dr Macculloch, ' it is exceeded in beauty by few of our lakes, as far as it is possible for many beauties to exist in so small a space. I will not say that it presents a great number of distinct landscapes adapted for the pencil, but such as it does possess are remarkable for their con sistency of character, and for a combination of sweetness and simplicity with a grandeur of manner scarcely to be expected within such narrow bounds. Its style is that of a lake of far greater dimensions; the hills which bound it being lofty and bold and rugged, with a variety of character not found in many of even far greater magnitude and extent. It is a miniature and a model of scenery that might well occupy ten times the space; yet the eye does not feel this. There is nothing trifling or small in the details; nothing to diminish its grandeur of style, to tell us that we are contemplating a reduced copy. On the contrary, there is a perpetual contest between our impressions and our reasonings. We know that a few short miles comprehend the whole, and yet we feel as if it was a landscape of many miles, a lake to be ranked among those of the first order and dimensions. While its mountains rise in majestic simplicity to the sky, terminating in those bold and various and rocky outlines which belong to so much of the geological line from Dunkeld to Killiecrankie-even to Loch Katrine, the surfaces of the declivities are equally various and bold, enriched with precipices and masses of protruding rock, with deep hollows and ravines, and with the courses of innumerable torrents which pour from above, and, as they descend, become skirted with trees till they lose themselves in the waters of the lake. Wild woods also ascend along the surface in all that irregularity of distribution so peculiar to these rocky mountains,-less solid and continuous than at Loch Lomond, less scattered and less romantic than at Loch Katrine, but, from these very causes, aiding to confer on Loch Earn a character entirely its own. If the shores of the lake are not deeply marked by bays and promontories, still they are sufficiently varied; nor is there one point where the hills reach the water in that meagre and insipid manner which is the fault of many of our lakes, and which is the case throughout the far greater part even of Loch Katrine. Loch Earn has no blank. Such as its beauty is, it is always consistent and complete.'

The river Earn, issuing from Loch Earn at St Fillans village, takes a general easterly course along Strathearn, and falls into the Tay, at a point 1½ mile NNE of Abernethy, 1 mile W of the boundary between Perthshire and Fife, and 6¾ miles SE by S of Perth. Its course abounds in serpentine folds, which contribute much to its beauty and to its abrasive power; and, measured along which, it has a total length of 46¼ miles-viz., 13 3/8 to Crieff Bridge, 24¾ thence to Bridge of Earn, and 8 1/8 thence to its mouth. It draws not only from the numerous mountain feeders of the lake, but also from numerous mountain streams on both flanks of the upper part of its own proper basin, so that it always has a considerable volume and a lively velocity, and is liable in times of rain to swell suddenly into powerful freshets; and it sometimes bursts or overflows its banks, particularly in its lower reaches, with devastating effect on the crops or soils of the flooded district. Its chief tributaries on the left are the Lednock at Comrie and the Turret at Crieff; on the right, the Ruchill at Comrie, the Machany at Kinkell, the Ruthven at Trinity-Gask, and the May at Forteviot. The first 13 miles of its course, from Loch Earn onward, lie through the parish of Comrie and the parish of Monzievaird and Strowan; and the rest of its course, though occasionally intersecting wings or districts of parishes, is mainly the boundary line between Crieff, Monzie, Trinity-Gask, Findo-Gask, Aberdalgie, Forteviot (detached), and Rhynd on the N, and Muthill, Blackford, Auchterarder, Dunning, Forteviot, Forgandenny, Dunbarny, and Abernethy on the S. Its flow is so comparatively rapid, and so briefly affected by the tide, as to prevent it from being navigable, even for vessels of from 30 to 50 tons' burden, higher than to the Bridge of Earn. Its waters contain salmon (running up to 48½ lbs.), perch, and pike, and have great abundance of common trout, yellow trout, and sea trout. Its scenery, throughout the upper reaches onward to the vicinity of Crieff, vies with that of Loch Earn in all the elements of natural beauty and power, and, throughout the middle and lower reaches onwards to its foot, is unexcelled by that of any Lowland tract in Britain. The Highland features, excepting varieties of detail, have already been sufficiently indicated in our account of the lake, and the Lowland ones will be described under Strathearn.Ord. Sur., shs. 46, 47, 48, 1868-72.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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