Item description for A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe by Brian R. Kologe J. MacGregor...
A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe recounts the travels of John MacGregor in a "decked" canoe, known now as a kayak, on the lakes and rivers of Europe in 1865.
The book outlines the joys and difficulties of this pioneering paddler from his first "shakedown" cruise down the Thames and on the edge of the English Channel to his final triumphal paddle up the Seine into Paris.
As MacGregor was making the trip in 1865, his voyages became an international event that was cataloged in newspapers as far away as the United States. "Canoe spotting" became a popular pastime in Europe as MacGregor made his way as whimsy dictated down some of the most well known waterways in the world.
His observations recall a fascination with the glorious days of life that many find missing in the rush of our modern world. His prose is easy to read, much more modern in pace than his Victorian contemporaries. Altogether, this book is a wonderful read for the armchair traveler.
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Reviews - What do customers think about A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe?
Not only a significant part of history, but a great read. Jul 28, 2008
This is the book that single-handedly launched not only modern canoeing and kayaking, but most modern small boating. It is absolutely marvelous to read-- fun in it's own right, and also a time capsule that allows you to travel back in time 150 years and see how many things have changed and how many things have not.
One of the earliest kayaks Jun 6, 2007
Scottish sportsman John Macgregor was an outdoor writer and distant relative of Scottish folk hero and outlaw Rob Roy. Macgregor designed and built a hybrid canoe / kayak with a sail and kayaking paddle which he named the "Rob Roy". He then paddled through the rivers, lakes and canals of Germany, France and Switzerland, portaging between waterways on a cart or on trains. This was a completely novel idea for the time, traveling alone, by water, in a boat so light it can be carried, and it fired popular imaginations across Europe. His account of the journey became a best seller read by royalty and laymen alike, attracting newspaper attention and crowds along the route.
"A Thousand Miles" was written as both an account of the journey and a sort of travel guide for those wishing to follow in MacGregors wake. Indeed, fellow Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson was so enthralled by MacGregors trip, he soon made his own Rob Roy, which he wrote about in An Inland Voyage, Stevenson's first published book. One can profitably find comparison between MacGregor and Stevenson's accounts, Stevenson being the genre imitator, but superior in writing quality.
MacGregor's account has a degree of Victorian optimism that is refreshing, not unlike Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days", the world is an Englishman's oyster with new and exciting modes of transportation making outdoor expeditions available to everyman. At times his account becomes journal-like and banal, commenting on every town, supper and rapid he comes across, and there is no central narrative other than the curious mode of travel and incidental encounters - but for learning about the details of European life in the 1860s and the zeitgeist of the time it is an authentic and pleasurable journey that was influential.
Originally published in 1866, there were many later editions while Macgregor was still alive, I think up to nine, that had additions including a map, discussions of the Prussian War in the 1870s etc.. the success of "A Thousand Miles" would spur Macgregor to take many more voyages and other travel accounts of his trips in the Rob Roy, but this was the first.
Great Book Feb 1, 2001
This is a delightful book by a Victorian gentleman who obviously had some dash and a sense of the theatrical, but also a wonderful dry humor and spirit of daring. It is a wonderful book to read as you get ready for an extended canoe or kayaking trip, or just to read by the fire on a cold winter evening. It is interesting to see that MacGregor faced many of the same challenges of traveling by kayak through Europe that you still find today.