Mrs Sarah Murray (1744-1811)

A Companion and Useful Guide to the Beauties of Scotland, to the Lakes of Westmoreland, Cumberland and Lancashire, and to the Curiosities of the District of Craven, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, to which is added, a more particular Description of Scotland, especially that part of it called The Highlands… and of the Isles of Mull, Ulva, Staffa, I-Coumkill, Tirii, Coll, Eigg, Rum, Skye, Raza, and Scalpa. To which is now added An Account of the New Roads in Scotland, and of a Beautiful Cavern lately discovered in the Isle of Skye, 2 vols, 1799, (3rd extended ed., London, 1810).

"No set of beings can surpass the inhabitants of the Highlands (of every description), in hospitality and attention to strangers; but at the same time they are extremely curious, and must know every thing, of every body who comes in their way; who they are, what they are, whence they come, and whither going. They in an instant combine circumstances, and are aufait in a moment. They put me in mind of what Doctor Franklin mentions of the Americans. That their curiosity about strangers and travellers, took place of every other consideration; that they would not stir an inch till that curiosity was satisfied."

Mrs Sarah Murray
Mrs Sarah Murray was a 52-year-old widow when she left London in May 1796. She covered nearly 2000 miles in a custom-built carriage with a maid, a manservant and a driver over five months. Travelling extensively through the Highlands (and later Islands), she recorded her picturesque enthusiasm for Scottish scenery in overblown terms that might have made Gilpin blush. Her lively account, claiming to be the first Scottish 'guidebook', is full of practical advices. Aiming to “be really useful to adventurers, who may follow my steps through Scotland by informing them of those objects which are worthy of notice, and at the same time acquainting them where, and by what means they can get at them in the safest and most comfortable manner”, it instructed her readers where to go, where to stay, and what prices to expect to pay for horses, accommodation, or food. First published in 1799, Murray’s A Companion and useful Guide… was among the most popular travel guides to Scotland of its time.
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