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Tourists on the summit of Snowdon and the huts in which shelter
and refreshments could be found from the 1830s

This site contains classified extracts from over 1,500 published and manuscript accounts of tours of and guide books to Wales, 1700-1900.
Author:  Michael Freeman, curator of Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth, 1991-2012

This site was originally designed to create very detailed evidence for my article ‘Perceptions of Welshness: tourists’ impressions of the material and traditional culture of Wales, 1750 – 1850’ published in ‘Folk Life’ Vol. 53, No. 1, (May 2015), pp. 57–71 but now contains much more than that article covers.

This site includes many fully referenced quotations on over 200 different subjects about which the tourists wrote and illustrated.

Some of the data on this site was first uploaded in May, 2015. The site is constantly under review.

The author – Michael David Freeman – has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

Any comments, corrections, additions or questions, will be very welcome. Please contact me.

Where available, individual entries link to freely available digital copies provided by Third Party repositories. I kindly ask the users of this database to follow these links at their own discretion as I do not take responsibility and I are not liable for any opinions expressed or damage incurred by Third Party Content.

I digress too much, but it is my wicked way and I cannot help it. I wish to arrest floating ideas as they come in my way.’
Edward Williams, (Iolo Morganwg), Agricultural observations, Made in a Journey thro some Parts of Glamorganshire and Carmarthenshire In June 1796, NLW MS 13115B, f. 51

Iolo Morganwg wrote to Evan Williams, editor of the magazine which was published under the title ‘The Cambrian Register’, (3 volumes, 1795, 1799 and 1818). In the same letter, Iolo defined smatter-dashers as those, ‘with a very slight smattering of what they could never understand, dashed away through thick and thin at an uncommon rate’.
I am glad to hear that you intend to publish, quarterly, a Cambrian magazine {Comments on inaccuracies in Welsh publications, some of whom he accused of being smatter-dashers}. We have had a swarm of Welsh tourists of late years, ambling on their hobbies in old beaten tracks. They are also smatter-dashers. Their purblind eyes discern nothing of nature. Something that is unnatural they now and then see through a hugely magnifying medium. They see a few instances of singularity, oddity and eccentricity in a few individuals. These things they set down for national manners!!! Poor devils!!! … I do not include tourists amongst those who have pretended to write Welsh history. It is sufficient for them to give the history of their own travels and of their own observations and ideas. These things have nothing, or very little, to do with ancient history.
Iolo Morganwg to Evan Williams, Bookseller, Strand, London, 31 March 1811
Cambrian Register, vol. 3, (1818), 381–385
Jenkins, Geraint H., et al; The Correspondence of Iolo Morganwg, (2007), vol. 3, letter 846, p. 61

I have explored every old account I could lay hold upon … find amusement and recreation as well as utility and instruction in this seemingly barren and dry pursuit far above anything I ever anticipated.’
Ebenezer Thomas, (Eben Fardd, 1802 – 1863) diary, 7th August 1843

‘I have been so busy about my garden and orchard this fine weather … that I could not spare an hour … to mope over antiquities or to write letters.
Lewis Morris, Penbryn, April, 1760

I shall now set out upon my journey, and take with me the principal ingredients of an ordinary Antiquary, tradition, conjecture, and credulity. And before I return home again, you will think they have been necessary Pioneers to clear the difficulties of the Way in this walk if Knowledge.
Anon, Tour in North Wales, 1776, NLW MS 16351C, p. 5 [probably William Warrington, (1735-1824), author of The History of Wales (1786)]

“Good en
tertian
ment for M
an an
d Hor
se”
[and, I hope, women too]

Sign on a public house 6 miles from Beddgelert on the Dolgellau road, 1825
Jadis, Henry Fenton, Journal of a pedestrian tour in North Wales: through the counties of Montgomery, Merioneth, Caernarvon, and part of Denbigh, (London, 1826), p. 87

When a magazine published the first part of the serialisation of Joseph Cradock’s account of his tour of north Wales, they almost appologised for doing so:
Mr Craddock … undertook this Journey late in the Autumn of the Year 1776, and visited a great Number of unfrequented Regions, which are, though Part of our own Island, almost as little known to the generality of its Natives as the Deserts of Arabia, or the Mountains of Chili; and therefore we trust a faithful Account of them will not be thought underserving the Attention of our Readers.
A short Account of Welshpool, Dynys-Mouthy [Dinas Mowddwy], Cader Idris, and some other Romantic Parts in North Wales. The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, Volume 61, (July 1777), p. 11

I warn the reader not complain of a disappointment if he does not trace me in every part of the kingdom; and if I request to content himself in many cases with the researches of others, though I will not offer such an insult to his discernment, as to intrude on him the rude observations of every rambler, now the rage of travelling about Britain is become so contagious, that every man that can write or read makes a pocket Britannia.
Camden’s Britannia, Gough Edition, (1789), vol. 1, preface, p. vi

1791 Mary Morgan
I was much surprized, on entering Llandovery, to see, instead of a few women walking barefoot, an hundred of that sex mounted on horses, and clad in, what appeared to me a kind of uniform, a blue cloth jacket and a black beaver hat. How different was this from the idea I had formed of the Welsh peasantry! Every thing that I have since seen concurs in making me think, if people who travel into a distant part of the kingdom would use the eyes of their own understanding, instead of taking every thing for granted that has been said by former writers, we should not have so many false accounts of countries as we have. Of North Wales, for aught I know, it may be true, that wretched clothing, wretched penury, clogs of pren (wooden shoes), or bare feet, are the lot of the poor; but in South Wales there is not the least appearance of any such things. – I do not say, that none of the common people ever walk without shoes or stockings; but I say, that not one in an hundred does.
Morgan, Mary, A Tour to Milford Haven, in the Year 1791, (London, 1795), p. 268

Robert Southey toured parts of Wales in 1798
While one of the flocks of fashion migrates to the sea-coast, another flies off to the mountains of Wales … some to minerologise, some to botanise, some to take views of the country – all to study the picturesque, a new science for which a new language has been formed and for which the English have discovered a new sense in themselves.
Southey, Robert, Letters from England, (1807), letter 30.

No man must venture beyond his own district. I mean not the district of his birth or habitation, but of intimate acquaintance. Beyond this he will not properly and correctly understand idiomatic modes of expression … nor form good ideas of local customs, will never be well acquainted with local traditional history. No one should venture beyond his own depth.
Letter from Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg) to William Owen Pugh on 23.10.1805
Jenkins, Geraint H., et al; The Correspondence of Iolo Morganwg, (2007), vol. 2, p. 720
He went on to criticise Henry Rowlands’ Mona Antiqua Restaurata (1723), and praised William Williams’ Observations on the Snowdon Mountains, (1802)

1799
Lord Littleton [sic] wrote an eulogium on Ffestiniog and ever since [,] it has been one of the first objects of Welsh Tourism[.] places of equal and in some very important respects superior beauty have been passed over unnoticed.
Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg), Iolo Morganwg papers E5/18, f. 20v

It would be endless to point out the absurd conjectures and misrepresentations of those, who have of late years undertaken to describe this country. Some give manifestly wrong interpretations of the names of places, and others, either ignorantly or maliciously, have, as it were, caricatured its inhabitants. Travellers from England, often from want of candour, and always from defect of necessary knowledge, impose upon the world unfavourable, as well as false accounts of their fellow-subjects in Wales …
Williams, William, (1738-1817), Observations on the Snowdon Mountains with some account of the customs and manners of the inhabitants, (1802)

‘It is now high time for me to apologise, for having troubled you with so unmerciful a scrawl – and after all I suspect that you will think me very fanciful – It is true, I have galloped my Hobby, at a pretty sound rate – but am not too proud to acknowledge, that he may possibly stumble, and often times carry me astray – neither am I ashamed to submit him to the correction of so able a master – Jones [Theophilus Jones, 1759-1812, the author of The History of Brecknock (1805)] thinks us all Roman Road Mad – but we may very fairly retort  upon his druids – He was here yesterday, and tells me that he is now nearly ready for the Press. …’
Letter from Henry Payne of Llanbedr, Breconshire, 1759-1832, to Sir Richard Colt Hoare of Stourhead, Wilts. 14th September, 1804. They had recently met at Hereford and Payne was corresponding about Roman sites and roads. NLW ms 15257D, f. 25v

Every tourist into Cardiganshire has mentioned Lêch yr Ast, Lêch y gawres, Meini hirion, and Meini cyvirol, as still existing, though they have been destroyed many years ago. These and innumerable falsities and inattentions, constitute tours in Wales, and show how little they are to be depended on.
Meyrick, S., The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan, (1808), p. 298, Meyrick, S., The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan, (1907), p. 265, note.
[All these prehistoric standing stones were mentioned in the 1722 edition of Camden’s Britannia, pp. 772-773]

“Well, what have we got here?” says the snarling critic, “more tours, more trash, more plagiarism. If a man walks a few miles, he now publishes his observations and cannot keep it a secret that he has moved out of the place where he was born: thus are the public inundated with what are called descriptions and remarks,” “Softly, splenetic Sir, suspend your ire, description is not necessary and our remarks I hope will not displease you.”
Webb, Daniel Carless, Observations and Remarks During Four Excursions Made to the Various Parts of Great Britain in the Years 1810 and 1811, performed by land, by sea, by various modes of conveyance and partly in the pedestrian style. (London, 1812), p. 1

Whereas it is presumed, that many inquisitive and curious mortals will be anxious to be made acquainted with the particulars of the about-to-be-described tour, this, with considerable trouble and loss of time to the author, has been written for their satisfaction – and it is to be hoped that many may profit by the valuable information which is contained in it. If however any should have the depraved taste not to turn their steps directly to the enchanting country which is depicted in these leaves, let them never again to dare to peruse any such pages as it is certain that it was mere idle curiosity that tempted them to open these leaves, and not a laudable desire of acquiring useful knowledge.
D., A., A Journal of a tour in South Wales and the adjoining counties of Hereford and Monmouthshire in the months of September and October [1824]. NLW GLYNNE OF HAWARDEN 57, preface.

… not one of these sage scribblers know a syllable about the history, the traditions, the superstitions, or the pastoral manners of the people whose peculiarities they have attempted to pourtray [sic]. A young lady, or a young gentleman, the former, perhaps, holding the situation of governess in some respectable tradesman’s family in Cockaine ; the latter, having escaped for a month or six weeks from the shop or counting-house, flies through Wales on the top of a stage coach; and, having seen Snowdon and Cader Idris, gazed on the battlements of Caernarvon castle, tasted cwrw dda at Llangollen, mutton at Wrexham, and browas at Ruabon, bathed, moreover, at Barmouth, and danced at the assize balls at Dolgelly, returns to dear London, and perpetrates a novel or a tale. This is the way these things are done; shall we say how they ought to be managed?
Anon, ‘Welsh Manners and Traditions’, The British Magazine; a monthly journal of literature, science and art, volume 1 (Jan-June 1830), pp. 94-97
Attributed to both Edward Trevor Anwyl and Thomas Richards (Killick, Tim, British Short Fiction in the Early Nineteenth Century: The Rise of the Tale, (c. 2008), p. 120)

Oikophobia [an aversion to a home environment, or an abnormal fear of one’s home]
The principal street [of Barmouth] is literally a bed of sand, ankle deep, and if there is any wind, so much does a man inhale of it at every breath, that before night he becomes a perfect hour-glass; yet such is the oikophobia that prevails the whole kingdom over, that people of the first rank, to fly from and to be fashionable, prefer this arenaceous prom to the velvet surface of their own lawns, content to occupy bedrooms no bigger than band boxes, and subject themselves to associate with all sorts of company at an ordinary here.
[Fenton, Richard], A Tour in Quest of Genealogy Through Several parts of Wales, Somersetshire, and Wiltshire, in A Series of Letters to a friend in Dublin; … By a Barrister, (London: 1811), pp. 310- 311

A LOYAL EXTRACT, FOUND IN AN ALBUM OF A SMALL INN, IN SNOWDONIA, 1818.
ATTRIBUTED TO MR. DUNCOMBE.
CAMBRIAN! O Cambrian! hold fast to your mountain,
Cambrian! 0 Cambrian! hold fast to your glen,
Nor quit your pure air, and your pure welling fountain,
For streams of pollution, the vice-floods of men;
Bright sparkling as health is your Dee’s foaming torrent,
Translucent and clear, from all tumult secure,
But Mersey and Thames, and each wealth-freighted current,
With the foul, slimy offspring of wealth are impure;
Ah! fly not from scenes full of rapture and wonder,
Where virtue and peace long in union have trod,
To where Até and Hunt shout the war-whoop of plunder,
And Satan and Carlisle defiance to God.
The Ladies’ Monthly Museum, Volume 13, (1821), p. 177

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