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wild road, which led us back through the village of Llandrillo to Corwen, a distance of about seventeen miles, forming altogether one of the wildest mountain walks I have ever taken in our own country.
The waterfall we thus accidentally came upon is called Pistill Rhaiadwr, and is little known to tourists, as it is a long way from any beaten track, but it is undoubtedly the finest in Wales, and has a peculiar feature which is, I think, unique in the British Isles. Between the upper and the lower part of the fall the water passes under a natural arch of rock, along which it is possible to crawl, though when there is much water the arch is drenched with spray. The photograph here copied shows this remarkable feature, as well as the double fall, the upper one being about 150 feet high, the total height being 240 feet. George Borrow, in his “Wild Wales," considers this curious bridge to be a blemish, and remarks, “This unsightly object has stood where it now stands since the day of creation, and will probably remain there to the day of judgment. It would be a desecration of nature to remove it by art, but no one could regret if Nature herself, in one of her floods, were to sweep it away." The ancient geology and theology of this passage are very characteristic.
Two years later we had another excursion together, accompanied by my friend Geach, going first to Beddgelert, and then on to Pen-y-gwryd, where we found the little inn crowded, and had difficulty in finding the roughest accommodation. Next morning we started at five, and had a most delightful walk up Snowdon by this very picturesque route. Reaching the summit with excellent appetites, we enjoyed our breakfast of coffee and bacon in the little hut on the top, and then, as it was a glorious day with floating clouds whose shadows below us were a delight, we spent an hour or more in the enjoyment of the splendid views, with the numerous lakes in almost all the surrounding cwms and valleys which render this mountain especially interesting to the glacial geologist. Numbers of swifts were flying about over and around the peak, and when Mr. Mitten climbed out on some
crags in search of rare mosses, they dashed about so close to his head as to cause him to retreat. After returning to Beddgelert we went up a small valley to find a very rare watermoss, which Mr. William Borrer, the well-known botanist, had told Mr. Mitten was to be found there; and after a long search in every rock-hole that seemed a likely place, he, at last, found the treasure, as he almost always did when he went in search of any rarity. While stopping at a cottage during a shower, and noticing some large birds of prey screaming on a mountain near, he asked the woman of the house what birds they were. To which she replied, “Harpies," which made us wonder what remote part of the world we had got to. We afterwards went to Dolgelly and Cader Idris, where, in a small lake, we found the uncommon Lobelia Dortmanna.
In 1875 we went again to Snowdon, and afterwards to the curious ravine called Twll-da, or the "Devil's Kitchen," near which I found an umbrella, and Mrs. Mitten, who accompanied us, found somebody's lunch, consisting of a baked trout and grapes; while Mr. Mitten revelled as usual in the rare mosses, and later at the Swallow Falls, on the way to Bettws-y-Coed, he found a moss quite new to him.
Our next excursion was to South Wales, when my wife and Mrs. Mitten accompanied us, as I wished to show them the beautiful scenery of my favourite Vale of Neath. We stayed a few days at a cottage at Pont-nedd Fychan and visited the beautiful waterfalls, the rocking-stone, the subterranean river, and the fine Dinas rock. While here one day we passed a labourer at work on the roadside, and Mrs. Mitten, thinking to gratify the patriotism of a Welshman, remarked on the beauty of the scenery, and asked him if he did not think it a privilege to live in such a fine country? Rather to our amusement, he told us that he did not think much of the country, it was all hills and stones, and there was no good land, and he much preferred his own country, which was Lincolnshire !
Another year I and Mr. Mitten went to Glen Clova in the Highlands in search of the many rare plants for which it is
celebrated. But we had little success because we had no guide to the exact localities of the rarities. But we much enjoyed the excursion and the wild scenery, though we had some difficulty in getting the keepers to allow us to enter the glen. Being at the inn on Sunday a number of farmers and their wives came in after church to meet their friends and drink whisky, and on listening to their very voluble talk I could not understand a word that they were saying. I concluded, therefore, that they were speaking Gaelic, and was much pleased to have heard it. But the landlord's daughter told me afterwards that no one spoke Gaelic there, and that all the people I had heard were speaking English! I could not have believed that pronunciation and accent could have produced such complete unintelligibility. On passing through Edinburgh we called on the late Professor Balfour at the Botanical Gardens, and he much regretted that he had not accompanied us, as he could have shown us all the rarities of that botanical treasure-house.
In the spring of 1877 I accompanied Mr. Mitten to Spa in Belgium, where he was taking his youngest daughter to a school to acquire French conversation. We stayed a few days there, botanizing on the moors and hills around, and were interested in noticing some peculiarities of the vegetation as compared with our own. Nowhere did we see a single primrose, but its place was taken by the true oxlip (Primula elatior), so local with us. Our rare little fern, Asplenium septentrionale, was common by the roadsides. Our Swiss tour has been noticed in Chapter XXXIII. Even during Mr. Mitten's occasional visits to us in Dorsetshire, he had found several plants new to the district or to the county. The most notable of these were the crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), never before noticed in Dorsetshire, a quite large bush of which was found on Studland Heath, a well-searched botanical locality. Even more interesting was his discovery of the rare aquatic grass, Leersia oryzoides, which he thought should grow in the ditches near Wareham, and knowing its flowering season, he went there and found it, though the very ditch had often been searched by other botanists !