Robert and John Naylor were wealthy brothers from Cheshire who in September 1871 set off to undertake what was probably the first continuous walk from John o' Groat's to Lands End. It seems likely that they came up with the idea after reading books published in 1864 and 1865 by the US Consul to Birmingham, Eilhu Burritt, entitled A Walk From London to John O'Groat's and A Walk From London to Land's End and Back. This isn't set out explicitly in the foreword, but Eilhu Burritt does get a mention within the body of the book, so the brothers certainly knew of his existence.
Although the brothers made notes at the time of their walk, this book was only finally published 45 years later, in 1916. Much of the work was done by John Naylor after the death of Robert Naylor, though both are credited as authors.
This book is a magnificent read. The Naylor's were clearly incredibly fit, and thought nothing of major diversions (all on foot) to see places of particular interest. They also adopted a fairly fluid approach to planning. They had initially intended to get off the boat from Aberdeen at Wick and walk to John o' Groat's, but on being told this would mean walking the same route twice, they instead travelled to Orkney via Shetland, then to Thurso: taking a week even to get to the start of their walk!
Once en route the brothers followed their instincts and the suggestions of those they met, keeping up a daily average of 25 miles per day and often much further. Their route through Scotland was by no means the shortest distance between two points and their comments on many places we know today make fascinating reading.
Like other eBooks whose texts are reproduced on Undiscovered Scotland, From John o' Groat's to Lands End is long out of copyright. What sets the Undiscovered Scotland version apart is the cross linking between the text of the book and geographical and biographical features elsewhere on the site, allowing the reader to explore beyond the text itself, finding out more about the places and people mentioned. Note that Undiscovered Scotland has only reproduced the text and images relating to the Scottish part of the brothers' walk south and their preceding journey north.
A note about image copyright. Images that do not belong to Undiscovered Scotland but are used on the site usually carry an attribution in the caption, or a link to an explanatory note about the copyright position. This is absent from the images used to illustrate this book, because almost every image would have had to carry an identical second line in its caption. The copyright position of these images is that they were sourced, like the text, from Project Gutenberg, and, again like the text, are long out of copyright.
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