Glenfarg (place)
A glen in Perthshire, approximately four miles in length, that follows the River Farg. Ruskin wrote two poems about the glen, “Glen of Glenfarg” (“Glen of Glenfarg thy beauteous rill”) and “Glenfarg” and “Glen of Glenfarg” (“Papa how pretty those icicles are”).
In The Scottish Tourist, and Itinerary (1825; 3d ed., 1830), a guidebook available at the time of Ruskinʼs poems, Glenfarg is described as “a romantic little valley embosomed by the Ochils” (p. 125). As treated in this guidebook, which a scholar classes among “short, portable books” emerging in the 1820s that “led readers on a series of tours” of Scotland (Grenier, Tourism and Identity in Scotland, 66), Glenfarg was a place one visited, not when taking a day excursion from Perth, but when departing Perth altogether—proceeding southward, on the way to Loch Leven and beyond. That this was the route taken by the Ruskins is supported by “On Scotland”, which, describing a departure from Perth, crosses the River Earn. Just so, according to The Scottish Tourist, and Itinerary, the traveler would go south from Perth to Strathearn, cross the river at Bridge of Earn (an important crossing since the Middle Ages), and proceed to Kinross and Loch Leven.
The main feature in Glenfarg, according to this guidebook, was the Ochils: “These hills are dwarfish when compared with the lofty Grampians, and contrast with them in many respects. They present a smooth surface, and are clothed to their summits with the deepest verdure, possessing also a pastoral serenity and softness, which give a new and pleasurable tone to the mind of the tourist, who returns from contemplating the magnificence of Highland scenery” (p. 125). The appeal of the glen, therefore, appears to have lain in its modesty and domesticity rather than in the sublime grandeur that tourists typically sought in the Scottish landscape.
There were views to be captured, however. In an article on the Parish prepared for The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845), a clergyman boasted that “the prospect from Cairn Geddes. . . is particularly splendid, comprehending the Frith of Tay, Carse of Gowrie, the Sidlaws, terminating in Moncrieff and Kinnoull hills, the upper part of Strathearn, and a considerable portion of the Grampian Range” (p. 883).