Aberfoyle


Aberfoyle
   ABERFOYLE, a parish, in the county of Perth, 14 miles (W. by S.) from Doune, and 20 (W. by N.) from Stirling; containing 543 inhabitants. This place derives its name from the situation of the church, near the mouth of a rivulet called, in Gaelic, the Poll or Foile, which forms a confluence with the river Forth, at this place an inconsiderable stream. The lands originally formed part of the possessions of the ancient family of the Grahams, earls of Menteith, and on failure of heirs male, about the end of the 17th century, became the property of the ancestors of the Duke of Montrose, the present sole proprietor. The parish, which is in the south-western portion of the county, forms the extreme precinct of the Highlands, in that direction, and extends for nearly fourteen miles from east to west, and from five to seven miles from north to south; comprising the beautifully romantic vale of Aberfoyle, which abounds with all the varieties of highland scenary. The vale is inclosed by lofty mountains on the one side, forming a part of the Grampian range, of which the highest in this parish are, Benvenue, having an elevation of 2800, and Benchochan, of 2000 feet above the sea. From both these mountains, beneath which lies the celebrated scenery of the Trosachs, are obtained extensive views of the "windings of the chase," and the most interesting parts of the surrounding country described by Sir Walter Scott, in his poem of the Lady of the Lake.
   In the vale of Aberfoyle are the lochs Katrine, Ard, Chon, Auchray, and Dronky. Loch Katrine, which is about 9 miles in length, and one mile broad, has a depth of about 70 fathoms; and the lofty, and in some parts precipitous, acclivities on its shores, are richly wooded nearly to their summits, adding greatly to the beautiful scenery for which it is so eminently distinguished. Loch Ard, about 4 miles in length, and one mile in breadth, is divided into two portions, the Upper and Lower Ard, connected by a channel 200 yards in length; it is bounded, on one side, by the lofty mountain Ben Lomond, of which the richly-wooded declivity extends to its margin. On a small island in the lake, are the ruins of an ancient castle built by the Duke of Albany, uncle of James I. of Scotland. Loch Chon, about 2½ miles in length, and one mile in breadth, is beautifully skirted on the north-east by luxuriant plantations, and on the south-west by the mountain of Ben Don, 1500 feet in height, and of which the sides are covered with forests of aged birch and mountain ash. Loch Auchray, in the Trosachs, and Loch Dronky, which is two miles long, and about half a mile broad, are both finely situated, and embellished with rich plantations. Between the mountains, are several small valleys, about a mile in length, and a quarter of a mile in width, formerly covered with heath, but which have been cleared, and brought into cultivation. The river Forth has its source at the western extremity of the parish, at a place called Skid-N'uir, or "the ridge of yew-trees," issuing from a copious spring, and flowing through the lochs Chon and Ard, about half a mile to the east of which latter, it receives the waters of the Duchray, a stream rising near the summit of Ben Lomond, and which is also regarded as the source of the Forth, though the former is the larger of the two.
   The arable lands bear but a very inconsiderable proportion to the pasture and woodlands. The upper, or highland, part of the parish, which is by far the greater, is divided principally into sheep-farms, upon which scarcely sufficient grain is raised to supply the occupiers and their shepherds; the lower grounds are chiefly arable, and in good cultivation, yielding grain of every kind, for the supply of the parish, and also for sending to the markets. The soil in the lower portions is fertile, producing, not only grain, but turnips, with the various grasses, and excellent crops of rye and clover; the farmbuildings, with very few exceptions, are commodious, and mostly of modern erection, and the lands are well drained. The sheep are of the black-faced breed, and great attention is paid to their improvement; the cattle on the upland farms are of the black Highland breed, and in addition to those reared on the lands, great numbers are pastured during the winter, for which many of the farms are well adapted by the shelter afforded by the woods; the cattle on the lowland farms are chiefly of the Ayrshire breed. The whole of the woods, from the head of Loch Chon to the loch of Monteith, in the parish of Port of Monteith, are the property of the Duke of Montrose; they consist of oak, ash, birch, mountainash, alder, hazel, and willow, and are divided into twenty-four portions, of which one is felled every year, as it attains a growth of 24 years, within which period the whole are cut down and renewed, in succession. On the west side of the mountains, is limestone of very superior quality, of a blue colour, with veins of white, and susceptible of a high polish; it is extensively wrought near the eastern extremity of the parish, for building, and for manure, solely by the tenants of the several farms. To the west of the limestone range, is a mountain consisting almost entirely of slate, occurring in regular strata, in the quarries of which about 20 men are employed. The prevailing rocks are conglomerate and trap, or whinstone; but the want of water carriage, and the distance of the markets, operate materially to diminish their value.
   The village is situated near the eastern extremity of the parish: the making of pyroligneous acid affords employment to a few persons. A post-office has been established, as a branch of that of Doune; and fairs are held in April, for cattle; on the first Friday in August, for lambs; and on the third Thursday in October, for hiring servants. The lakes and rivers abound with trout, pike, perch, and eels; and char is also found in Loch Katrine. The ecclesiastical affairs of the parish are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunblane and synod of Perth and Stirling. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., of which part is paid from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe containing 15 Scottish acres of good land, partly arable and partly meadow; patron, the Duke of Montrose. The church, built in 1774, and thoroughly repaired in 1839, is a plain structure, containing 250 sittings: divine service is also performed occasionally, by the minister, in the schoolroom. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £28, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £6 per annum. Near the manse are the remains of a Druidical circle, consisting of ten upright stones, with one of much larger dimensions in the centre. The Rev. James Richardson, whose son was professor of humanity at Glasgow; and the Rev. Patrick Graham, eminent for the variety and extent of his talents, and employed in revising an edition of the Sacred Scriptures in the Gaelic language, were ministers of the parish.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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