The Women Who Walked Into History

Written by Sam

Looked with an emergency in her own life and an unverifiable future, Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt discovered break in long, strenuous and frequently unsafe strolls. Endless ladies have emulated her example.


Touching base in Edinburgh on 21 April 1822 on board the Leith smack Superb, Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt ventured onto the docks towards an unverifiable future. She had ventured for seven days up Britain’s east drift from London so as to be separated by her significant other of 14 years, the writer William Hazlitt. He had turned out to be beguiled by an adolescent barmaid in the English capital. Coming up short on the money related assets or the social impact to get a separation by Act of Parliament, Hazlitt brought forth an arrangement to be ‘got’ by his better half in the arms of a whore in Edinburgh, where their marriage may be broken up under Scottish law significantly more rapidly, and reasonably, than in England.

Throughout the following three months, while she lived in Edinburgh, Stoddart Hazlitt would be tormented by her better half’s companions, submit prevarication and turn out to be sick from the blame and tension at her complicity in his debasing plan. She dealt with the mind boggling feelings that twirled amid this period by keeping a succinct journal in which she reported both the conditions of her separation and the miles of strolling she attempted when she got the opportunity to take away. By walking, Stoddart Hazlitt could appreciate something moving toward opportunity as she drifted unreservedly crosswise over Edinburgh and its encompasses, as opposed to the suffocation of attorneys’ workplaces and the upsetting prospect of a restless future as a solitary lady.

Amid her initial couple of weeks in Edinburgh, Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt’s time was part between legitimate issues and investigating the city. Correspondence with her significant other was led by means of her specialist or a go-between, the better to save the false hallucination that their concurrent nearness in Edinburgh was adventitious. The terms of their plan were that Hazlitt would take care of his better half’s expenses amid her stay in Edinburgh; and, consequently, she would swear – dishonestly – an Oath of Calumny declaring that she had no earlier learning of his exercises, in this manner empowering the separation to continue. Amid the many postponements in acquiring specialists, authoritative reports, or simply finding a straight solution to a straightforward inquiry, Stoddart Hazlitt strolled crosswise over Edinburgh and some separation past, investigating understood visitor frequents (Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat) and off the beaten path places (Lasswade, Rosslyn Glen) with equivalent excitement. On these journeys she for the most part strolled alone, normally for quite a long time and miles at any given moment.



Amidst May, William Hazlitt left Edinburgh for a brief span, first to address at Anderson’s College in Glasgow, at that point to stroll in the southern Highlands. His nonattendance, and the resulting delay in the legitimate procedures, empowered his significant other to disappear of Edinburgh. On 14 May she came back to Leith to load up another ship, this time traveling north and west along the Forth to Stirling. With minimal expenditure in her pocket and without comment in her diary, Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt was going to set out on an exceptional experience.

By the 1820s it was sensibly normal for visitors to be discovered going all through the southernmost Highlands, particularly after the production of the various works by Walter Scott set in the zone. It was relatively unfathomable, however, for a remote lady to be discovered strolling alone, yet that is the thing that Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt did. Without buddy and just incidentally with a guide, she set off from Stirling on seven days’ voyage through the southern Highlands that took in numerous outstanding sights – the Falls of Leny, Loch Katrine, the Falls of Clyde – however which veered significantly now and again from the standard visitor courses. Amid this period she secured separations of somewhere in the range of 20 and 30 miles every day and persevered through impressive physical threat. Throughout her visit, Stoddart Hazlitt strolled 180 miles back to Edinburgh by means of Lochs Katrine and Lomond and the settlements of Dumbarton and Glasgow, before a 17-mile stroll in the Southern Uplands to come back to her Edinburgh lodgings. She savored the shot experiences and chance occasions that happened en route and found, after the hardship of strolling 30 miles or more in multi day, noteworthy physical delight in the most straightforward acts: eating, washing, resting.

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Two days into her adventure Stoddart Hazlitt had strolled similarly as Loch Katrine in the Trossach slopes, made celebrated by Scott’s 1810 sonnet The Lady of the Lake. Settled in a bowl underneath the excellent slopes of Ben Ledi and Ben Lomond, the loch charmed the singular walker, who procured a boatman to take her up and down its ‘extraordinary and lovely windings’. Her voyage through the loch’s twisted banks finish, Stoddart Hazlitt landed the vessel and set off by walking for the go between Lochs Katrine and Lomond that would take her south towards her night’s convenience in Luss, on Lomond’s western bank. The land between the lochs was right now remote and rarely voyaged. With the climate shutting in, Stoddart Hazlitt wound up in threat.

In her diary for that day, Thursday 16 May 1822, she recorded that ‘in intersection the most bleak, swampy and pathless part’ of the moorland past Loch Katrine, ‘an overwhelming tempest went ahead, there was not the slightest haven, and the warmth in climbing such a rising, together, with the dread of losing myself in such a forlorn place nearly conquered me’. Stoddart Hazlitt had no guide or compass to encourage her, yet regardless of this, she composes:

I guided myself by the heading of the Loch and also I could, and finally, to my extraordinary bliss, recovered a track, yet the street currently was stony and troublesome, over a wide and terrible field, loaded with swamps, till you touch base at Inversnaid Garrison. [I was directed] to the ship over Loch Lomond, in the wake of intersection which, I had a most awesome stroll on its banks.

What could have been a fiasco turned into an excellent experience. She gloried in her journal, upon her landing in Luss ‘around ten o’clock during the evening’, at how she had been ‘very enchanted with my walk, and the extraordinary assortment of remarkably wonderful landscape I had gone through over the span of the day’.

Stoddart Hazlitt strolled the following day to Dumbarton before going by vessel to Glasgow. From that point she achieved Edinburgh by walking on 20 May, where she arrived depleted however excited. In her journal she made a table posting every day of her adventure with its mileage gladly recorded close by, the ruin of what she happily alluded to as her ‘trip’: ‘I was exceptionally happy to get into my very own lodgings’, she composed with dry modest representation of the truth,

what’s more, truly wash the residue from my feet: for sure I made an intensive bathing, and the solace of that, and clean garments, in the wake of being stifled with residue, is more reviving than can be envisioned by the individuals who have not under gone the past difficulty: it animated me so much that I appeared to have almost beaten my exhaustion.

Purified of earth, and maybe the corrupt of the cheap separation procedures as well, Stoddart Hazlitt reflected with bliss upon what she had achieved amid her Highland walk.


The arrival to business in Edinburgh was unexpected and troubling. Inside days, the sentiments of rapture and prosperity had disseminated in the perplexity of legitimate procedures. Stoddart Hazlitt’s body responded agonizingly to the misery. ‘Extremely apprehensive and inadequately to-day’, she noted only four days after her happy return. Her choice seven days after the fact, on 31 May 1822, to leave on a second strolling visit, should consequently have been a significant alleviation to body and psyche. This time Stoddart Hazlitt was determined to investigating further east in the Highlands and set off finished, as opposed to along, the Forth, towards Perth. From that point she strolled to Dunkeld, to Crieff and in the long run to Stirling. Strolling this time not crosswise over remote mountain passes, but rather through sensibly very much populated zones, Stoddart Hazlitt’s diary has a lot to state about the general population she met. Amidst a 25 mile day from Crieff to Stirling she appreciated a paramount discussion with the nearby individuals. ‘It’s varra warm the day’, one of them commented. ‘O warm’, Stoddart Hazlitt reacts enjoyably.

In the event that you if you don’t mind how far are ye come the day?

From Crieff &c

O, affirmative! ye’ll be vera tired. A whar ar ye gaun?

To Stirling.

Ou, its a sair way: ye’ll ne’er arrive the night.

O yes I’m a decent walker. I strolled a hundred and seventy miles three weeks prior.

Gude sauf us! Ye’re no a Crieff lady?

What gigantic accomplishments of pedestrianism the Crieff ladies of this period routinely performed is yet a puzzle, yet Stoddart Hazlitt was satisfied by the compliment that was planned by the comment.


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Stoddart Hazlitt was by all account not the only lady to build up an affection for daring and testing strolling, however existing narratives of pedestrianism may have us accept something else. Strolling had been a steady component of the lives of ladies – and men – of a specific class for a considerable length of time and there is a rich and long-standing writing commending the old courses utilized by drovers, angle spouses, creel-haulers, workers, tinkers, warriors, vagabonds and homeless people all through Britain. The kind of strolling for which any semblance of William Wordsworth, Edward Thomas and Robert Macfarlane have been commended – cheerfully and innovatively alone in nature – has, be that as it may, been considered solely a male movement, and most books about the historical backdrop of strolling notice just men. Since the eighteenth century, however, ladies have observed strolling to be as innovative, moving and important to their lives as men have, regardless of whether the records of those encounters have been overlooked or rejected.

The journal in which Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt reported her strolling was never expected for distribution. Nor were the movement records of Dorothy Wordsworth, who strolled for a great many miles, including a spearheading rising of Scafell Pike in the Lake District in 1818 with her companion Mary Barker. Dorothy Wordsworth visited Scotland by walking various occasions, once in a while with female buddies, and strolled the Isle of Man in later life. The tutor Ellen Weeton additionally strolled over the Isle in the mid nineteenth century and delighted in ascending the mountains of both the Lake District and Snowdonia. The journals in which she recorded her accomplishments were distributed long after her demise in the twentieth century, however they are once in a while perused. There are handfuls and handfuls more ladies who expounded on their strolling, from the eighteenth century researcher Elizabeth Carter, to Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf in the twentieth century, to Rebecca Solnit and Linda Cracknell in the 21st. You would not know it from distributed writing, but rather the historical backdrop of strolling is particularly ladies’ history.

Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt embraced no further person on foot visits after her arrival to Edinburgh on 5 June 1822, however she kept on getting a charge out of strolls in the city for the rest of her habitation there. Multi month later, the separation was closed, however the official Decree was not issued until 2 August. Stoddart Hazlitt arranged to come back to London. ‘I was presently Miss Stoddart’, she wrote in the last passage of her journal, ‘and was not I happy of that … that my circumstance as I would see it, was basically equivalent to it had for quite some time been.’ She was as valiant notwithstanding an indeterminate and mysterious future as she had been on the risky go between Lochs Katrine and Lomond, a lady who lived as she strolled: with strength and goals.


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