In the beginning, the world was sheathed in ice many thousands of feet thick. With its melting over millennia it became the sea, which in turn gave way to the land. The continents drifted apart creating much of the form of the world as we know it today. Great Britain floated away from the landmass known as Europe, and it can be said, with truth, that this event occurred well before my time! It is hypothesized that the rift which created the North Sea, and the cut we know as the English Channel, was the result of movement in the tectonic plates, coupled to a warming of the Earth’s atmosphere creating glacial melt. It was this joint action which created our island. It is unlikely that its creation was synthetic or a deliberate act by God of distancing us from the French! It is also conceivable, but doubtful, that this distancing of land mass may have come about in reverse with Europe floating away from Britain! As this distancing from Europe continues to this day, one can speculate that given several billion years from now Great Britain will lie next to the New York and New Jersey shoreline!
In the northern part on the eastern side of our island in what today is called Scotland, many glens, straths and valleys were created such as the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Tay, both gentle in nature and cloaked on either bank with fertile earth. On the opposite coastline, and no further than 100 miles or so to the west, the northern and western flanks display topography which is quite different - large salt water inlets similar to fiords surrounded by steep-sloping and jagged mountain ranges consisting of solid rock and sparse topsoil.
Situated midway between these parameters is the County of Perthshire (Siorrachd Pheairt), the “Big County.” It encompasses both types of landmass, and is the geographic centre of Scotland. It borders Invernesshire (Siorrachd Inbhir Nis) in the north-west, Aberdeenshire (Siorrachd Obar Dheathain) in the north-east, Argyllshire (Earra-Ghàidheal) in the west, Forfarshire (Aonghas – Angus), Fifeshire (Fioba) and Kinrosshire (Ceann Rois) in the east, and Clackmannanshire (Siorrachd Chlach Mhannainn), and Stirlingshire (Siorrachd Sruighlea) to the south. Due to elected political “czars” of recent years, Perthshire today, as an entity, no longer exists. It has been divided into five different regions known as Tayside, Central, Fife, Strathclyde, and the Highlands and Islands. Achoan, Achoan!
Map of the County of Perthshire
Scotland itself has devolved into a country quite separate in many regards from its closest neighbour, and traditional national enemy, England. Scotland, with its most recent vote, may now be considered as an appendage to Europe, rather than England, its southern neighbour!
At approximately 56 degrees north the topography of Strathearn was established during this great and long-lasting ice-age/mountain-building period. It probably lasted many hundreds of thousands of years, and still continues to this day. Evidence suggests a peeling away of several thousands of feet of ice from the Braes of Balquhidder in an eastwards and southwards direction. The melt created havoc in its path. Concomitantly, huge tectonic plates ground against each other, pushing up mountains, creating land rifts and shaping areas. Between both events they lacerated the softer, and lower-lying, rock formations and earth, causing numerous fissures and land cuts of considerable magnitude as witnessed in what is now known as Strathyre and Glen Ogle (the “Khyber Pass of Scotland.” Underground fault lines several thousands of feet deep exist as a result of tectonic pressure. Valleys (straths) and glens such as the one running from Glen Beich in the northeast, and Glen Ample in the south-west were created.
To the north, the Grampian Mountains, and more masculine in composition, range into view. They are made of tough Precambrian Dalriadan Metamorphic rock with a large deposit of granite in Glen Lednock. Numerous other fissures of magnitude in the north created Glen Tarken, Milton Glen, Glen Turret, and others. In its progress the ice gouged out an enormous hole from the softer upper layer of landmass soils, creating Loch Earn (approximately three hundred feet deep and six miles in length), and a smaller one at Ochtertyre eight miles to the east. Through these land divides, the northern rivers Earn, Lednock, Milton Burn and the Turret, and other lesser streams were formed.
To the south the softer gentler more rounded slopes on the south side of Glen Artney display more feminine characteristics and appeal. The very significant Highland fault line which created Glen Artney cuts right across the flat lands of Strathearn in a north-easterly direction at Comrie. Here the great divide is evidenced. The contrast allows us to consider their separate charms. It was as if, almost by accident, a natural division between Highland and Lowland Scotland had occurred, whereas in the south rolling curves of land allowed for, in time, cultivation. Numerous other smaller rifts came into being which over time helped by differing climactic conditions spawned the Water of Ruchill.
Highland Strathearn (Bartholomew, 1933)