Magazine article Geographical

The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail: The Man Who Wrote "I Travel Not to Go Anywhere, but to Go", Is Enshrined in the Leafy Hills of Southern France. Many Still Make a Pilgrimage in Celebration of His Memory

Magazine article Geographical

The Robert Louis Stevenson Trail: The Man Who Wrote "I Travel Not to Go Anywhere, but to Go", Is Enshrined in the Leafy Hills of Southern France. Many Still Make a Pilgrimage in Celebration of His Memory

Article excerpt

Robert Louis Stevenson's 12-day journey in 1878 with his recalcitrant companion Modestine was popularised the following year in his Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes. While Stevenson's star continued to brighten with the success of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Kidnapped, the Cevennes remained in the dark; a crescent of remote upland hidden between the misty forests of the Massif Central and the scrubby garrigue of Provence. Now, a long-distance footpath, the Stevenson Trail is etched for eternity into this region of chestnut woods and spectacular gorges, where wild boar still roam.

Disciples of RLS have been treading his footsteps for years, the most eloquent being the writer Richard Holmes, whose efforts to replicate his subject's journey included wearing the same clothes and puffing a similar pipe. True believers make a point of starting on September 22, as did Stevenson, tramping south from Le Monastier to St Jean de Gard armed with maps, a paperback Stevenson, and often a "diminutive sheass", too. Such pilgrimages were eased in 1991 when the 225-kilometre trail was finally adopted by the Federation Francaise de la Randonnee Pedestre as the GR70 long-distance footpath. …

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