------ Molly WOOD
Molly Wood (near Uzes, France) is a translator, writer, website manager and botanist.
Hilary Macaskill (London) is a journalist and travel writer
Downhill all the Way
On September 22nd 1878 Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous Scottish writer, set off on a 252 km journey through the Cévennes with his donkey Modestine. You may wonder why someone would be driven to tackle these inhospitable mountains.
Well, two charming English ladies who live in our region did wonder why, however they went one step further. They put it to the test! And so Molly Wood, Hilary Macaskill and Whiskey the dog followed the Stevenson Trail. It took them nearly five years whereas R.L.Stevenson did it in twelve days. It’s not just that they lost their way, although they did. They tackled the challenge in stages, and with a number of donkeys.
And yet this whole adventure almost never took place. There were bad omens. Molly visited her friend Hilary at her holiday home in the Gard and they decided to go for a walk around the area to discuss their project and… lost their way through the neighbourhood!
The first attempt at following the Stevenson Trail did not quite work out and after a miserable day of losing their way, suffering from the wrong size boots and fighting the strong will of an indomitable donkey our two ladies decided to give it a rest.
However they did get back on the trail and have now collected all their experiences and tons of good advice in a book entitled: “Downhill all the way” (Frances Lincoln, London).
Whether you are planning to follow the Stevenson Trail or any other trail or, like me, just like to read about these things you will enjoy this little pearl of a book. What makes their recounting of the adventure even more charming is that Molly and Hilary have illustrated the book with their own drawings and maps.
This adventure inspired by the crazy undertakings of Stevenson 120 years ago has in turn inspired other people to follow. A friend of Hilary’s, Astrid, followed the same trail with her friend and a donkey but she added a baby for good measure.
If you are tempted to follow the Stevenson Trail (GR70 footpath) in addition to “Downhill all the way” you can check several websites such as www.gr70-stevenson.com
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The sun is out, bank holidays are in, we all want to go and explore, although this can sometimes be ruined by the dreaded mistral (p14). But let’s not spoil things. How about a visit to St Jean du Fos (p20) or if you’re feeling more urban, a nice shopping day in Avignon with a healthy tea break (p23) or a visit to an art gallery in Nîmes? (p17) If you’re feeling extra energetic like me, how about entering the Pont du Gard race on 30 June to raise money for a fantastic local charity? Also in this issue, the remarkable story of a simulated space mission by Claire (p18) and a very funny article by Bernice on her pathological inability (or so she says) to learn languages (p22).