Robert Louis Stephenson’s history tour from Edinburgh to California

 from the Glasgow Herald, Monday 8 June 2015


Robert Louis Stevenson one of the world’s best-loved writers, with a life story spanning the globe from Scotland to the South Seas.
Now 120 years after the Scots writer’s death, thousands of people will be able to follow a European network linking places that inspired the likes of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Travels With A Donkey
The new route has won official accreditation as a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.
The European Network “In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson” links Scotland, England, Belgium and France through a series of places associated with the life and works of the Scottish author.
It begins in Edinburgh where Stevenson was born on November 13 1850.
It moves onto Colinton, Stevenson’s second childhood home where he would often stay with his Balfour cousins at the Manse, where his grandfather was the Minister.
Next on the trail is North Berwick in East Lothian, where the young Stevenson spent holidays and walked to the isle of Fidra, curiously reminiscent of Treasure Island.
It also includes the Highlands, which Stevenson toured with his father, gathering material for Kidnapped. In Bristol, Hispaniola was berthed. It was here that Jim Hawkins and his friends sailed in search of treasure, along with Long John Silver’s pirates.
In Belgium, Brussels and the Rivers and Canals of northern France provide the backdrop. The Belgian capital helped Stevenson on his voyage by canoe from Antwerp to Pontoise near Paris.
In Fontainebleau, Stevenson found freedom among the artists painting in the Forest of Fontainebleau, where he also met and fell in love with American Fanny Osbourne.
When Mrs Osbourne had to return to the US, Stevenson took himself off on a walk through the Cévennes mountains in southern France, which he wrote up as Travels With A Donkey.
The furthest point is California – where the author travelled by ship and train to persuade Mrs Osbourne to divorce her husband and marry him.
Launched in 1987, there are now 30 Cultural Routes ranging from the music of Mozart to the Santiago de Compostela religious pilgrimages.

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