Cycling in Scotland.

Pelotome –
around Scotland on a bicycle.

~ Nauticus in Scotland – Charles E. Reade (1883).

My Life and Times

by Jerome K. Jerome

From £4,75

1873 – published in 1876

The Modern Bicycle.

This updated version of Charles Spencer’s pioneering book from 1869, “containing instructions for beginners; choice of a machine; hints on training; road book for England, Wales, &c, &c,” was part of “Warne’s Useful Books” series and, together with a comprehensive list of routes and mileage, includes an 18 page chapter providing “the detailed account of the trip from London to John o’ Groats, the longest on record which has ever been undertaken,” in June 1873, by four members of the Middlesex Bicycle Club over fourteen days, and an estimated 800 miles (“a very moderate estimate when the winding of the roads is taken into consideration, to say nothing of the continual ascents”).

  • by Charles Spencer.
  • with practical illustrations.
  • published by Frederick Warne and Co., London.


Bicycling; Its Rise and Development.

“A text book for riders” aimed to cater for the rapidly developing bicycle movement by filling the void, after early books about the wooden wheeled machine had become valueless. With numerous illustrations to assist the beginner, the book is packed with informative chapters on routes in England, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, The Battlefields of 1870, Upper Rhine, Belgium, Germany, Holland, and France – each highlighting the points of interest, hotels, museums, mileage, gradients and road conditions along the way,

  • Published by Tinsley Bros., London.

1877 – with later editions in 1878 & 1879

The Bicycle Annual for 1877.

With British maps and routes – complete with mileages and a description of the state of the road – and an important review of the previous year, the weekly Bicycling Times magazine’s annual release arrogantly boasted by its third edition, in 1879, that “its success last year was simply unprecedented in bicycling literature. It would be in the worst taste to refer to the fact that the only rival to this publication [Alfred Howard’s “The Bicycle for…” guide] will not this year appear, having fairly been run off the field.”

  • Edited by C.W. Nairn & C.J. Fox Junior.
  • Published by Bicycling Times Office, London.

1880 – revised and renamed in 1881 and 1891.

The Bicycle Road Book.

Famous gymnast and author of the pioneering 1869 book “The Bicycle – Its Use and Action”, Charles Spencer, returned in 1880 with yet another influential guide, “compiled for the use of bicyclists and pedestrians. Being a complete guide to the roads of England, Scotland, and Wales, giving the best hotels, population of the towns &c.” It was an improvement on his 1876 guide “The Modern Bicycle” with more than 130 routes in England and Wales, and a further five in Scotland, plus the Isle of Man and Isle of Wight, indexing over 5,000 towns, listing principal hotels, distances and directions for cyclists to follow.

Following the introduction of the tricycle, a new and revised edition appeared in April 1881, and again ten years later, as “The Cyclists’ Road Book: compiled for the use of bicyclists, tricyclists and pedestrians.

  • by Charles Spencer.
  • Published by Griffith and Farran, London.

May 1880 – Published Dec 1880.

Icycles of the Wheel World.

“The Xmas Annual” of The Wheel World magazine contains a treasure trove of information about the state of cycling in 1880, including “The Incident”, which details a humorous misunderstanding on a summer 1879 ride from Bonar Bridge in the Scottish Highlands. The section “What to Eat, Drink, and Avoid” provides an insight into the isotonics of the day; “a small quantity of Liebig’s extract of beef in a quarter of a pint of warm water is very good, with some stale bread in it, and is very portable”, while “a pint of Bass or Guinness will be appreciated at dinner, and a glass of old port afterwards is not amiss.”

  • edited by Lacy Hillier and Harry Etherington.
  • published by H. Etherington, London.

June 1882 – published in 1883.

Nauticus in Scotland.

Charles “Nauticus” Reade returned with his second humorous log book, which was also partly published in the Boy’s Own Paper, “A Tricycle Tour of 2,642 Miles : Including Skye & the West Coast” – on his new rear-stearing Cheylesmore tricycle. Starting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in June 1882, he cycled to Crieff; from where he made a circular tour to Stonehaven, before embarking on a 42 day tour of Scotland, in July and August; heading as far north as John O’Groats, before returning to Penrith.

  • by Nauticus (Charles Edward Reade).
  • published by Simpkin, Marshall & Co., London.

June 1882 – revised in 1883, 1884 and 1889.

The Roads of England and Wales.

One of the most important books ever published in the history of bicycle touring, and far more in depth than Charles Spencer’s road books, “an itinerary for cyclists, tourists, and travellers; containing an original description of the contour and surface with mileage of the main (district and principal cross) roads in England and Wales, and part of Scotland; particularly adapted to the use of bicyclists and tricyclists; together with topographical notes of the chief cities and towns; also a list of hotels and inns in each town, suitable for cyclists was the work of Charles Howard, a member of both the Wanderers’ Bicycle Club (of Clapham Common) and the Bicycle Touring Club (renamed the Cyclists’ Touring Club in 1883 to take into account the popularity of the tricycle, particularly with women, who were unable to ride the “Ordinary” high bicycle).

Based on the “Paterson’s Roads” coaching guide of 1826 – which had become obsolete due to the introduction of the steam train – , it was a large book originally published in June 1882 and, by May 1884, four editions had already been released. A fifth and final corrected edition of the original book would be published in March 1889. The book would also spawn the cheaper and smaller pocket-sized “The Handy Route Book of England and Wales”, in 1885, with “An Itinerary and Road Book of Scotland” following in 1887.

  • by Charles Howard (of the Cyclists’ Touring Club).
  • originally published by Letts, Son & Company, London.
  • 1889 edition published by Mason & Payne, London.

September 1885 – published November 1886.

Land’s End to John o’ Groats on a Tricycle.

“Being a full account of Mr. T.R. Marriott’s marvellous ride written by Tom Moore, a member of the Sutton Bicycle Club and the editor of the Tricycling Journal. Captain of the Nottingham Bicycle Club, T.R. Marriott’s 1885 ride “from one end of the kingdom to the other”, on a Marriott & Cooper “Humber” tricycle, had smashed all records, covering the 900 miles in 6 days, 15 hours and 22 minutes.

Obviously familiar with the route, Tom Moore had also accompanied J. H. Adams, “the well-known Facilist”, of the Lewisham Bicycle Club, on the same route a year earlier, in 1884. The ‘Facile’ was the first ‘safety bicycle’ produced, albeit still a form of “high-wheeler” but with a smaller front wheel (36″–42″) than the ‘ordinary’ or ‘penny farthing’ (50″-56″).

  • by Tom Moore.
  • printed by H. Etherington, London.
  • (image, of the Humber Tricycle not from book).


An Itinerary and Road Book for Scotland.

Published by cycling map specialist Mason & Payne – who had continued to sell many of the Letts back catalogue – a Scottish version of Charles Howard’s in depth “The Roads of England and Wales” appeared, “being a complete guide to the main roads of Scotland and its principal islands; particularly describing their hill-contour and surface, and adapted for the use of cyclists, tourists and road travellers, together with topographical notes and references to antiquities, natural curiosities and places of interest; and giving special information as to hotels and inns in each town,

  • by Charles Howard.
  • published by Mason & Payne, London.
  • (image, left, from Howard’s “Handy Route Book”, 1885)


“I was riding at a moderate pace through the suburbs of Forfar, when observing some little girls dancing in the road ahead of me, I repeatedly sounded my gong. All cleared off except one little thing about seven years old.

As she still continued to act the part of a teetotum, I shouted, whereupon she ceased to turn round and made to the right. I steered to the left, when suddenly she darted in front of me. In an instant she was down, and bump, bump, bump, went the three wheels over her !!

Horror stricken I leapt of (my tricycle did not capsize) to pick up the mangled remains.

These Scotch children are chips of the old block ; she was off like a bird before I could get near her, but once within the shadow of her own home, a torrent of tears burst forth.

Finding that the child had only sustained a few scratches, I thought that a silver coin might prove a sovereign remedy. By her direction I gave it to the sufferer’s sister, who looked at me as much to say, ‘I wish you run over sissy every day’.

I, who had expected to be torn to pieces by an infuriated mob, was surprised to find that the bystanders were indignant with the poor little dear for getting in my way.”

~ Charles E. Reade, Nauticus in Scotland, 1883.

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