'An unexplored region offered to the curiosity of the tourist'  

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 Frontispiece to Rambles Beyond Railways.

Frontispiece of Lands End from the first edition in 1851


An illustrated travel book narrating Collins's 1850 walking tour of Cornwall with his artist friend, Henry Brandling.  Published in 1851 and dedicated to the Duke of Northumberland.  In those days 'even the railway stops short at Plymouth' and the travellers have to sail to their first destination at St Germains.

Title-Page to first edition of Rambles Beyond Railways.

Title-page from the 1851 first edition

Collins found the locals hospitable, though inquisitive, and Rambles became an amiable mixture of travelogue, vivid descriptive writing, Cornish history and legend, and social observation.  The route of 234 miles took them along the south coast to the Lizard and Penzance, returning through northern Cornwall to Tintagel and Launceston.  An appendix gives precise details of the itinerary, the miles walked and the inns at which they stayed.  Some of these, such as the Ship at Looe, still exist. 

Collins's notebook was filled with stories about the wreckers; the plague of rats in Looe, solved by eating the rodents cooked with onions; royalist supporters of Charles I at St Michael's Mount; the destruction and re-assembly of the Loggan stone; and the graves of fishermen either drowned or frozen to death.  The legend of a supernatural storm sinking a ship in an instant re-appears in 'Mad Monkton' (1855).  At Kynance Cove, Collins was exhilarated by the Devil's Throat which inspired the description of Mannion's death in Basil (1852). Inland, he saw the prehistoric remains known as the Cheese-Wring and the Hurlers.  A highlight of the book is a long description of a visit to the Botallack copper mine, where the  workings extended beneath the sea and the ghostly sound of the surf could be heard as 'a long, low, mysterious moaning.'


Collins also collected numerous statistics.  He noted the population was 341,269 at the last census, that nearly five per cent of those in the Penzance area emigrated to Australia or New Zealand in 1849, and that St Ives exported an average of 22,000 hogsheads of pilchards, each containing up to 3,000 fish.


Rambles sold well and a second edition was published the following year.  Collins added an 'advertisement', noting 'Since this work first appeared, the all-conquering Railway has invaded Cornwall; and the title of my book has become a misnomer already.'




Chapters 8 and 11 were published as 'The Pilchard Fishery on the Coast of Cornwall'; 'A Visit to a Copper-Mine' in Harper's New Monthly Magazine, April 1851 and 'Down a Cornish Copper Mine' in The Green Book for Boys, (Hodder & Stoughton [1910].

 Sights A-Foot - US title to Rambles Beyond Railways.

Front wrapper of Peterson's 1871 US edition

Book Publication

First Edition

1 volume, Richard Bentley, London 1851.  Beige cloth, covers blocked in blind, spine lettered in gilt, yellow end-papers printed with publishers' advertisements.  No half-title.  Twelve full-page tinted lithographs by Henry Brandling, printed separately.  Published 30 January 1851.


          (viii) + 304 pp


Second edition

Published 9 January 1852.  As for the first except for minor differences in blocking of covers, cream end-papers and darker illustrations. 


New editions

1861 and 1863.  Now dedicated to Henry C. Brandling.  Omit two chapters and have only two black and white illustrations.  Also contain 'The Cruise of the Tomtit'.  Modern reprints 1948 and 1982.

US edition

As Sights-a-Foot, Philadelphia: Peterson, [1871].


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