...and they spent the night at Tummel Bridge where Mendelssohn continued the letter he had begun that morning; this is one of his few letters home from the Highlands:
Felix Mendelssohn – letter, Bridge of Tummel, 3 August 1829, evening:
A wild affair! The storm howls, rushes, and whistles, doors are banging and window-shutters are bursting open. Whether the watery noise is from the driving rain or foaming stream there’s no telling, as both rage together; we are sitting here quietly by the fire, which I poke from time to time to make it flare up. The room is large and empty, from one of the walls the wet trickles down, the floor is so thin that the conversation from the servants’ room below penetrates up to us: they are singing drunken songs and laughing; dogs are barking. We have two beds with crimson curtains; on our feet, instead of English slippers, are Scottish wooden shoes; tea, with honey and potato-cakes; there is a wooden winding staircase, on which the servant-girl came to meet us with whisky, a desperate cloud-procession in the sky, and in spite of the servants’ noise and a door-banging there is repose. It is quiet and very lonely here! I might say that the stillness rings through the noise. Just now the door opens of itself. This is a Highland inn. The little boys with their kilts and bare knees and gay-coloured bonnets, the waiter in his tartan, old people with pigtails, talk helter-skelter in their unintelligible Gaelic. The country is far and wide thickly overgrown with foliage, from all sides ample water is rushing from under the bridges, there is little corn, much heather brown and red, precipices, passes, crossways, beautiful green everywhere, deep-blue water – but all stern, dark, very lonely. But why describe it? Ask Droysen, he knows it better, and can paint it: we have been constantly repeating lines from his “Hochland” to each other. Dear Droysen, how is that you know Scotland? It is just as you describe it.
This evening I am reading the "Flegeljahre", and my sisters are looking at me wistfully. Hensel understands his business: he knows how to see faces and how to fix them. But the weather is discouraging.
I have invented a new manner of drawing on purpose for it, and have rubbed in clouds today and painted grey mountains with my pencil. Klingemann is rhyming briskly, and I finish my sketches during the rain.
There is a “Beinecke” sketch of Tummel Bridge which shows the distinctive single-arch bridge with a building on the left which is presumably their “Highland Inn”, and we see an empty cart with piles of luggage beside it which probably belonged to Mendelssohn and Klingemann. The presence of the cart is significant. Previous writers about this Scottish journey have suggested that they only hired a horse and cart the following day in either Aberfeldy or Kenmore to speed them on their way to Fort William, but from this sketch it appears that they had availed themselves of this mode of transport on the day of their journey from Blair Atholl to Tummel Bridge – and they would have needed it, as it is a journey of over 25 miles which would have been a challenge to complete only on foot.