The Cruise of the Land-Yacht Wanderer


Dr William Gordon Stables (1837-1910) was an early but enthusiastic proponent of the caravan holiday. Famously, he was also author of possibly the first caravan holiday guide.
Titled “The Cruise of the Land-Yacht Wanderer - 1300 Miles in my Caravan” the book is, perhaps predictably, an account of his 1300-mile horse-drawn caravan journey around Britain and was published in about 1886.

Described as a "shed on wheels", his two tonne 30ft long caravan came complete with a china cabinet and was pulled along by Captain Cornflower and Polly Pea Blossom - his two horses. His dog was named Hurricane Bob.

Dr Stables was particularly taken by the Aberdeenshire coastline and, in an attempt to murder prose, infamously described the town of Banff in glowing terms: “I have discovered Banff … it is by far and away the most delightful town on the coast … the scenery all around would delight the eyes of poet or artist.”

Reviewers took a dim view of his travelogue and one even went so far as to describe it as “a dull narrative with occasional attempts at elaborate description and fine writing which are not very successful”. The reviewer continuous “A more expensive and uncomfortable way of spending a holiday cannot be imagined and the experiences of the author certainly do not invite the reader to imitate him. “

Dr Stables however was to have the last laugh. In 1907 he was elected as the first vice president of The Caravan Club who, some 110 years on, still celebrate the maiden voyage of what they claim was the world’s first purpose built touring caravan.

There are more such tales in The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire by Duncan Harley

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