A glen in Perthshire, approximately four miles in length, that follows the River Farg (or Farg Water). In an account of Arngask Parish in Perthshire, prepared for The New Statistical Account of Scotland (1845), the Farg is described as “a small stream which rises near the western extremity of the parish, and, for upwards of a mile, separates it from that of Forgandenny. It then flows through the parish, separating, till it reaches Damhead, the county of Kinross from that of Perth. Then it begins to separate the county of Perth from that of Fife, and continues to form the boundary between these counties till it arrives at the point where it leaves the parish, about the middle of the romantic and beautifully wooded glen [i.e., Glenfarg] to which it communicates its name, and which travellers so much admire” (Burt, “Parish of Arngask”, in The New Statistical Account of Scotland, 10:883). In the New Statistical Account of Scotland, Glenfarg is most clerly identified on the northwest corner of the map of Fife and Kinross counties that is published with volume 9 of the series. The map also shows the road to and from the town of Perth that runs through the glen alongside the river, and that the Ruskins followed.
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 Ruskinʼs poem, “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 the town of 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.