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Across Country from Thonon to Trent: Rambles and Scrambles in Switzerland and the Tyrol
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Across Country from Thonon to Trent: Rambles and Scrambles in Switzerland and the Tyrol (Paperback)

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Synopsis

This is a true 'Boys' Own' adventure story of how three English schoolboys spent the summer of 1863 trekking through the Swiss and Italian Alps before conquering Mont Blanc. It is an utterly unique journal written by one of that party who would go on the become one of the great mountain and travel writers of the Victorian era and make a huge contribution to the Royal Geographic Society and the Alpine Club. His name was Douglas William Freshfield. Douglas William Freshfield was born on Sunday, 27 April 1845 in London, the only son of Henry Ray Freshfield and Jane Quinton Crawford. After being educated at Eton College and University College, Oxford, he followed his father into the legal profession and was called to the bar in 1870. One of the features of his privileged childhood was the opportunity to travel with his parents and enjoy long summer holidays abroad. At the age of eight he had his first experience of the Swiss Alps undertaking a journey from Basel to Chamonix. Eventually, in 1863, he was ready to undertake an Alpine adventure of his own planning.

This volume, which he arranged to have printed privately in 1865 was his first work of mountain literature and also his rarest. It is his journal of that trek made from the southern shores of Lake Geneva, in the company of two schoolfriends, through the Swiss Alps and into northern Italy during the summer of 1863. Freshfield was only 18 when he made the trip, and in the narrative of the journal can be found the beginnings of the style and observational genius that was to serve him well over the course of his writing career. The reader is engaged at once with the three young men as they begin their adventure and is bowled along as an unseen travelling companion through the high routes and passes, the valleys and gorges until making the summit with them on Mont Blanc. It is an engaging and informative journal of how privileged young Englishmen once spent their leisure time and reveals a lifestyle long gone now but still worthy of reminiscence.

Travel & MapsTravel writingClassic travel writing Publisher: Neil Wilson Publishing Publication Date: 14/01/2010 ISBN-13: 9781906476120  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Douglas William Freshfield was born on Sunday, 27 April 1845 in London and was the only son of Henry Ray Freshfield and Jane Quinton Crawford. After being educated at Eton College and University College, Oxford, he followed his father into the legal profession and was called to the bar in 1870. One of the features of his privileged childhood was the opportunity to travel with his parents and enjoy long summer holidays abroad. At the age of eight he had his first experience of the Swiss Alps undertaking a journey from Basel to Chamonix. Eventually, in 1863, he was ready to undertake an Alpine adventure of his own planning. Freshfield did not limit his endeavours to the Alps, however. In 1868 he became the first foreigner to climb the eastern summit (5,621m) of Mount Elbrus in the western Caucasus of Russia, having failed narrowly to reach the western summit (5,642m) with his guide Akhia Sottaev. He was to explore the Caucasus further, and wrote extensively about the region in Travels in the Central Caucasus and Bashan which was published in 1869. In November of that year he married Augusta Charlotte Ritchie, a member of an old Anglo-Indian family and settled in London. They were to have four daughters and a son who died aged 14 in 1891. From 1872 to 1880 he edited the Alpine Journal and became the Joint Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society in 1881; he was a prolific contributor to the society's meetings and his articles featured in many issues of the society's proceedings. He became President of the Alpine Club in 1893 and Chairman of the Society of Authors from 1908 to 1909 while also holding the presidency of the Association of Geographical Teachers from 1897 to 1910. His body of work had by this time extended to Italian Alps: Sketches in the Mountains of Ticino, Lombardy, the Trentino and Venetia (1875), The Exploration of the Caucasus (1896), and Round Kangchenjunga: A Narrative of Mountain Travel and Exploration (1903). In 1904 he became President of the Geographical Section of the British Association having been awarded the Founder's Gold Medal of the RGS the previous year. By 1906 he was a Vice-President of the RGS and its President from 1914 until 1917. In the first year of his term of office as president he published Hannibal Once More followed in 1920 by The Life of Horace Benedict de Saussure, a biography of the 18th-century Swiss botanist considered by many to be the founder of Alpinism. Below the Snow Line followed in 1923 and in 1924 he was made a trustee of the RGS. He was then recognised academically and awarded an Honorary Fellowship of University College, Oxford while honorary degrees were bestowed on him from the universities of Oxford and Geneva. Freshfield died aged 88 on Friday, 9 February 1934 in Forest Row, Sussex.

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