“All the World is Travelling to Scotland”: Elizabeth Diggle’s 1788 Journal of a Tour from London to the Highlands of Scotland

by Nigel Leask

“All the world is travelling to Scotland and Ireland” wrote Elizabeth Diggle on 7 July 1788, near the end of her fourteen-week Scottish tour.1 The rise of the ‘home tour’ in the last two decades of the 18th century saw the beginnings of a substantial tourist presence in Scotland, representatives of a newly affluent British middle-class with money and leisure time on their hands. Best-selling publications by earlier 18th century ‘philosophical’ travellers like Thomas Pennant and Dr Johnson had popularised two preferred tourist routes, known as the ‘petit’ and the ‘long’ tour of Scotland, while William Gilpin’s picturesque tour of 1766 (published in 1788–89) promoted the visual appeal of Highland landscapes, especially for middle-class women tourists. Landscape sketching (like diary-keeping and letter-writing) was an expected accomplishment of socially privileged women in the 18th century. Although only four women actually published Scottish tours in the period 1770–1830, Betty Hagglund has listed 55 manuscript tours written by women prior to 1830, certainly an underestimate, especially if one considers numerous tours described in women’s letters and diaries not exclusively focused on travel.2