On this page you will find information about RLS’s travels in Perthshire, including Blair Atholl, Lochearnhead, Perth and Pitlochry.
On 22 August 1880, the Stevenson party (RLS, his parents, Fanny and Lloyd) stopped at Blair Atholl en route to a holiday in Strathpeffer. For more information about their stay in Strathpeffer, see the section devoted to the Highlands.
“It was the last of many journeys with my father. It was the first time I had travelled with him since we were at all on a footing of equality”
(From The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol iii [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 330).
From 8-16 June 1882, RLS and his father visited Lochearnhead, Ballachulish and Oban. RLS was planning to write an article on the Appin murder (Colin Campbell, “the Red Fox”, and government factor over Stewart lands was murdered in 1752 in Appin. Alan Breck Stewart was the chief suspect. When Alan escaped, James Stewart, the Stewart chief’s half-brother was tried, convicted and hung for the crime) and hoped to find inspiration in these places. Although the article was never written, RLS did use the Appin murder in Kidnapped (1886).
According to J.R. Hammond in A Robert Louis Stevenson Chronology (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997), RLS and his parents were in Perth in July of 1859. From 14 June – 6 July the family had been staying in Bridge of Allan, travelling afterwards to Perth and Dundee.
“Here I am in my native land, being gently blown and hailed upon, and sitting nearer and nearer to the fire”
(Letter from RLS to Edmund Gosse, 6 June 1881, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol iii [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], p. 186).
RLS spent the summer of 1881 writing in Pitlochry and Braemar. He stayed in Pitclochry from 3 June – 2 August (although he went to Edinburgh on business from 12-15 July). He initially stayed in the Fisher Hotel, Pitclochry (from 3-6 June) with Fanny and his mother.
On 7 June the party moved to Kinnaird Cottage, Moulin, which was just a mile from Pitlochry. Here Stevenson worked on “Thrawn Janet” (1881), “The Merry Men” (1882) and “The Body Snatcher” (1884).
RLS seemed to love the land surrounding Kinnaird Cottage: “We have a lovely spot here: a little green glen with a burn, a wonderful burn, gold and green and snow-white, singing loud and low in different steps of its career, now pouring over miniature crags, now fretting itself to death in a maze of rocky stairs and pots; never was so sweet a little river. Behind, great purple moorlands reaching to Ben Vrackie. Hunger lives here, alone with larks and sheep. Sweet spot, sweet spot” (Letter from RLS to Sidney Colvin, mid-June 1881, from The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, ed. by Bradford A. Booth and Ernest Mehew, vol iii [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995], pp. 188-89).
On 1 August, the party left Pitlochry for Braemar. They spent the 1st at the Spital of Glenshee and arrived in Braemar the next day. For more information about their stay in Braemar, see the section devoted to Other Scotland.
Plaque at Kinnaird Cottage
Images courtesy of Alan Marchbank