The great natural divisions of the profitable lands are, the rich and fertile vales of the Roe, the Faughan, the Foyle (with the liberties of Londonderry), the Moyola, the shores of Lough Neagh, the half valley of the Bann (with the liberties of Coleraine), and the sea coast with the flats of Lough Foyle. The longest of the vales opening from the mountains is that of the Roe, environed by hills appropriated as sheepwalks, and in many places having midway up their declivities a sort of natural terrace, frequently two or three hundred yards in breadth. To the west is the nearly parallel vale of Faughan, which, next to those of the Roe and the Moyola, displays, from Clondermot to the coast of Lough Foyle, one of the most delightful tracts in the county: a considerable portion, however, is occupied by rough though valuable turbaries, while other parts are clothed with natural wood: in the higher part the scenery is frequently romantic, and in other places is improved by round alluvial hills.

The vale of the Foyle is highly improved, and comprises the western extremity of the county, in which stands the city of Londonderry. The rich vale of Moyola extends from the eastern side of the mountains of Ballynascreen, towards Lough Neagh, being bounded on the south by Slieve Gallion. The borders of Lough Neagh form a low tract which presents a rich landscape, its surface being composed partly of gentle swells, and its fertility broken only by some extensive bogs. Around Ballinderry are considerable steeps, and at Spring Hill and over the town of Moneymore is a beautiful range of high land: beyond this extends a rich low tract called "the Golden Vale of Ballydawley." Lough Neagh bounds the county for nearly six miles, when the Bann, issuing from it, immediately falls into Lough Beg, the Londonderry shore of which is five miles in extent. The half valley of the Bann is composed of bleak ridges or tummocks of basalt, with a few more favoured spots near the streams, but accompanied by a series of scattered bogs, bordering the course of the river. These sometimes comprise high and barren swells, with lakes and small bogs intervening.

About Tubbermore, Fort William, and Maghaer, however, there is a pleasing and more fertile tract; and the interior of the district bordering on the Bann is greatly enlivened by the woody scenery around Garvagh. The sea coast, formed by the Atlantic for 12 miles from Portrush to Magilligan point, and thence for 16 miles by Lough Foyle, exhibits a succession of varied and interesting scenery. Commencing with Portrush it presents a number of creeks and inlets, of which the most remarkable is Port-Stewart, whence to the mouth of the Bann is a strand of great extent and beauty, succeeded by a range of cliffs rising boldly from the sea, on the summit of one of which is the mansion of Down Hill and Mussenden Temple, built by the Earl of Bristol, Bishop of Derry. From Down Hill to Magilligan Point, a distance of 7 miles, is a strand extending a mile in breadth from the base of the mountains to the water's edge, and on which the whole army of Great Britain might be reviewed. Thence the coast turns nearly due south to the mouth of the Roe, presenting a dreary expanse in which is seen only a deserted house half covered by drifted sand, and a martello tower, after which a varied tract of highly improved land continues to the mouth of Londonderry harbour.

The soil is of great variety. The vale of the Roe chiefly consists of gravelly loams of different degrees of fertility; the levels on the banks of the river are very rich; and though the higher grounds are sometimes intermingled with cold clays, there is scarcely any unproductive land in it. In the vale of Faughan good loams are found in the lowest situations. Bond's glen, which joins it, and rests on a limestone base, is one of the most fertile spots in the county. The valley of the Foyle is also a strong loam below, declining in fertility and depth towards the heights. In the vale of Moyola are levels of the richest quality, but liable to great ravages by floods. In the district bordering on Loughs Neagh and Beg are found sharp gravelly soils of decayed granite, with some moorland, and then extensive swells of sandy loam with intervening flats of great fertility and some bog. Along the sea coast the soil is an intermixture of silicious and calcareous sand, occasionally covered with peat.

At the mouth of the Bann these sands form hillocks, kept from shifting by the roots of bent-grass and available only as rabbit-warrens; nearly the whole of Magilligan strand is warren, followed by sandy hills covered with bent, and extensive tracts of bog. Beyond Walworth, along the shores of Lough Foyle, the beach is covered with herbage, forming salt marshes greatly esteemed for grazing horses. Lough Foyle is a large gulf, which, communicating with the Atlantic by a very narrow mouth, opens into a fine expanse, extending 15 miles into the country to the city of Londonderry, and being 7 miles across where broadest. Though there are shifting sand banks in some parts, the largest vessel may ride in safety in it in all weathers. The principal part of the mountain soils is based on basalt, generally presenting nothing to the view but bleak knolls rising out of the bog and covered with heath or marshy plants: In some more favoured situations the soil, though poor and loose, produces an herbage greedily depastured by sheep; and in the slacks or glens are found loams of better quality, varying in texture according to the soil of the hills from which they have been deposited.

County Londonderry | Londonderry History | Londonderry Government | Londonderry Topography | Londonderry Loughs | Londonderry Agriculture | Londonderry Geology | Londonderry Manufactures | Londonderry Rivers | Londonderry Residences | Londonderry Antiquities | City of Londonderry

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