In buying our boots we did not both adopt the same plan. I made a special journey to Manchester, and bought the strongest and most expensive I could find there; while my brother gave his order to an old cobbler, a particular friend of his, and a man of great experience, who knew when he had hold of a good piece of leather, and to whom he had explained his requirements. These boots were not nearly so smart looking as mine and did not cost as much money, but when I went with him for the boots, and heard the old gentleman say that he had fastened a piece of leather on his last so as to provide a corresponding hole inside the boot to receive the ball of the foot, I knew that my brother would have more room for his feet to expand in his boots than I had in mine. We were often asked afterwards, by people who did not walk much, how many pairs of boots we had worn out during our long journey, and when we replied only one each, they seemed rather incredulous until we explained that it was the soles that wore out first, but I had to confess that my boots were being soled the second time when my brother’s were only being soled the first time, and that I wore three soles out against his two. Of course both pairs of boots were quite done at the conclusion of our walk.
Changes of clothing we were obliged to have sent on to us to some railway station, to be afterwards arranged, and soiled clothes were to be returned in the same box. This seemed a very simple arrangement, but it did not work satisfactorily, as railways were few and there was no parcel-post in those days, and then we were always so far from our base that we were obliged to fix ourselves to call at places we did not particularly want to see and to miss others that we would much rather have visited. Another objection was that we nearly always arrived at these stations at inconvenient times for changing suits of clothes, and as we were obliged to do this quickly, as we had no time to make a long stay, we had to resort to some amusing devices.
We ought to have begun our journey much earlier in the year. One thing after another, however, prevented us making a start, and it was not until the close of some festivities on the evening of September 6th, 1871, that we were able to bid farewell to “Home, sweet home” and to journey through what was to us an unknown country, and without any definite idea of the distance we were about to travel or the length of time we should be away.
HOW WE GOT TO JOHN O’ GROAT’S
Sept. 7. Warrington to Glasgow
by train—Arrived too late to catch
the boat on the Caledonian Canal for Iverness—Trained to Aberdeen.
Sept. 8. A day in the “Granite
City”—Boarded the s.s. St. Magnus
intending to land at Wick—Decided to remain on board.
Sept. 9. Landed for a short
time at Kirkwall in the Orkney
Islands—During the night encountered a storm in the North Sea.