around Scotland on a bicycle.
“One of the charms of riding in Scotland is the diversified scenery.
The bleak moor quickly gives place to the lovely lake, cradled amid woodland hills, and from a gloomy pass one may emerge on to a quiet strath, watered by its softly-flowing stream. All this, with the pure, bracing air, and the exhilarating exercise, combine to give both mind and body healthy recreation.
In conclusion, I strongly advise, from my own experience, a tour in the ‘Land of the Mountain and of the Flood’.”
~ Nauticus in Scotland – Charles E. Reade (1883).
My Life and Times
by Jerome K. Jerome
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)
June 1888 – Published May 1924.
Trips to Hell.
“And other countries” was George Thayer’s 564 page insightful follow-up to his 1886 “Pedal and Path” ride across America. Aged 71 at the time of publication in 1924 – some four years before his death – it followed his many trips around every corner of the globe, mainly taken between 1912 and 1922 on foot, train and boat, however it also includes brief accounts of his bicycle rides in 1888 and 1897 through Britain, Europe and Canada.
Briefly detailing his ride through Scotland, including a chance encounter in Edinburgh with James G. Blaine, the favoured Republican Presidential candidate but who had broken off all communication with his party back home, and was therefore replaced by Benjamin Harrison, who would go on to be elected the 23rd President of the United States.
He details his ride through Glasgow, Balloch, “Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine, along some fine roads to Stirling and the next day to Edinburgh,” where he visits Portobello, “then, in a few days, began the ride to Abbotsford, Melrose, Dryburgh and over the Cheviot Hills into England.”
- By George B. Thayer.
- Published by Case, Lockwood & Brainard, Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A.
July 1888 – published in 1889.
Our Journey to the Hebrides.
The Pennells returned with their fourth travelogue, although not strictly a cycling book as they ditched their trusty tricycle – a decision they would regret – instead travelling around the Scottish Highlands on foot.
Originally written for the “Harper’s New Monthly Magazine“, (September to November, 1888), they described the trip as being “the most miserable” they had undertaken and it is written throughout from a cyclist’s perspective: “Used as we both were to cycling, the slowness and monotony of our pace was intolerable. We longed for a machine that would carry us and our knapsacks with ease over the hard, dustless road.”
- by Joseph and Elizabeth Rose Pennell.
- Published by T. Fisher Unwin, London.
August 1888 – Published 1895.
From the Clyde to The Jordan.
“Narrative of a bicycle journey” was the first illustrated account by a rider of a “modern day bicycle”, and followed Scottish clergyman Hugh Callan’s ride from Glasgow to Jerusalem, which had previously appeared seven years earlier as a series of more in depth articles in the Glasgow Herald in 1888.
Charting the author’s four months, 2,800 mile ride on a “Singer” safety bicycle, the self-described first “Knight of the Cycle and the Pen” to “have gone forth to conquer and describe” South-Eastern Europe and Asia Minor, dismisses Thomas Stevens’ earlier efforts in the same lands, by claiming “everybody knows, he did not so go around the world, or anything like it,” yet he barely mentions his own “trial trip” from Glasgow to Carlisle and presumably catches the train to London, starting his ride in Calais rather than the Clyde.
Two years prior to the book being published, he was ordained as the Reverend of Catrine Parish Church in Ayrshire, Scotland, before moving to Montrose in 1898.
- By Hugh Callan.
- Published by Blackie & Son, London.
June 1889 – Published 1890.
Round About The World on Bicycles.
“The pleasure tour of G.W. Burston and H.R. Stokes, Melbourne Bicycle Club, Australia,” follows George Burston and Harry Stokes on their 56-inch high-wheel bicycle journey around the world, setting off from Melbourne, on 1st November 1888, arriving back in Australia on the 14th December 1889.
The Scotland section of their journey was chronicled in The Australasian, on 1st and 8th March 1890.
From Carlisle, they “crossed an imaginary line, leaving England behind, and entering on the land of cakes and whisky” passing through Langholm. Hawick, and Melrose, where they “visited the celebrated Melrose Abbey, generally admitted to be the grandest of Scottish ruins,” before catching the train to Edinburgh, “in order to witness the great meet of wheelmen in that city.”
Exploring the city by tram, they took in Arthur’s Seat and all the sights, before cycling to the Forth Bridge, which, at the time, was seven years into construction (eventually opening nine months later, in March 1890),
Hiring a boat, they rowed across the Firth of Forth, remounted their bikes and “wheeled along through Kelty, and then around Lake Leven, a nice open stretch of water, with an island and castle in the centre,” on their way to Glenfarg —”a bit of almost perfect scenery,” – Perth, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, and Aberdeen – “a splendid place.”
Taking advantage of the “marvellous” long June days – the sun being visible at midnight – they cycled on to Banchory, and Aboyne, they “then fairly entered the Highlands”, passing through Ballater, and Balmoral – “the Royal Standard flying, and signifying the presence of the Queen” – where they “pushed ahead through the vast forest of Balmoral on one side and the Prince of Wales’ shooting box on the other,” to Braemar. Spittal of Glenshee, and Pitlochry, where, “in order to keep an appointment,” they caught the train to Inverness.
Returning to Blair Atholl. they resumed their ride, cycling to Kenmore, “on the edge of Loch Tay,” – “The scenery round about beat anything we had seen in Scotland.” – and continued through Killin, Crianlarich and Ardlui on the “most beautiful” Loch Lomond – “often considered the pick of Scotch scenery,” on their way to Helensburgh, Dumbarton, and Glasgow.
Pushing on through East Kilbride, Muirkirk, Cumnock, Sanquhar, Dumfries, and Annan, they turned a little out of their way “to see the celebrated little village of Gretna Green.” before crossing “the bridge over the rivulet that divides England from Scotland” on their way back to Carlisle.
- “by G.W. Burston and H.R. Stokes.
- Published by George Robertson and Company, Melbourne, Australia “for private circulation only”
June 1890 – Published in 1891.
A Summer’s Cycling Reminiscence.
“The story of a three months’ bicycling tour through Europe and an account of some of the impressions received” compiled a series of articles which first appeared in the Canadian “Cycling” journal in February 1891, following its editor F.F. Peard, “one of the party” of six members of The Torontos Bicycle Club, on their June 1890 trip of Europe, starting at Greenock, Scotland, from where they caught the train to Glasgow, having sailed from New York.
In Glasgow for five days before his new 32″ Rudge Safety Bicycle finally arrived on the train from Coventry, Peard played catch up with the rest of the group by taking the train to Edinburgh; arriving in time for the annual Scottish Bicycle Meet (14th June 1890) and cycling on to admire the Forth Bridge, which had opened just three months earlier,
Reunited, the group headed south through Heriot, and Galashiels, taking a tour of Abbotsford, the home of 19th Century author Sir Walter Scott, on route to Selkirk, Moffat, Johnstonebridge, and Gretna Green, before passing into England for Carlisle,
On returning to Glasgow by ferry from Belfast in August, they spent a few days before their return voyage to New York, by visiting Ryton, “in the vicinity of Newcastle-on-Tyne”, catching the train back to Glasgow via Edinburgh and making a “prospective tour through the Trossachs.”
- by F.F. Peard, C. Langley & R.H. McBride.
- published by Press of “Cycling“, Toronto, Canada.
- (illustration, not from the book, of an 1890 32″ Rudge Safety Bicycle, as ridden by F.F. Peard).
“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.