On the trail of Miss Jemima

June 22, 2013, 2 Comments

Miss Jemima's map

It started with the Swiss. And with Thomas Cook in June 1863. That was the moment when grand tours for the rich became popular tours for the masses. It was the dawn of the age of modern tourism  – and Switzerland was its birthplace. Time to celebrate 150 years of Swiss tourism.

Almost exactly 150 years ago, on 26 June 1863, the first Conducted Tour of Switzerland set off “to Geneva, Lucerne and other principal places in the Alpine Districts.” Those package pioneers went by boat and by train, on foot and on horseback through the Alps. One of them, Miss Jemima Morrell from Yorkshire, recorded every detail in her Swiss Journal. That book not only inspired my to write my new one but also forms the basis of the anniversary tour which starts today.

Miss Jemima's Swiss Journal

Over the next week I will taking part in a much shorter version of the original tour, organised by Switzerland Tourism. In fact I’ll be one of the tour guides, giving our modern band of intrepid travellers an insight into what that first trip was like. And how much it changed both Switzerland and the world of travel. Luckily I’ve already done the research!

But I won’t be alone when it comes to writing about this new tour: there will be a new Miss Jemima as well, in the guise of Yorkshire poet Helen Morton. But she will be a thoroughly modern version of Miss J, blogging and tweeting her way round Switzerland. And occasionally wearing a big dress, just as her Victorian counterpart did.

You can also follow the tour on Twitter, either via my tweets (@dicconb) or the official Swiss Tourism feed (#swissgrandtour), and on my Facebook page.

And of course you can read all about that first tour, my re-tracing of the whole route, and its after-effects in Slow Train to Switzerland, my new book coming in October this year. For a taste of that, have a look at this Financial Times article I wrote last week.

I’m off to Valais to meet my fellow tourists. Next stop: Sion.

2 Comments on "On the trail of Miss Jemima"

  1. Ray Branton Thursday May 8th, 2014 at 02:50 AM · Reply

    Diccon, I loved Swiss Watching, and especially like Slow Train to Switzerland. I have been hiking in the Alps for from two weeks to one month for the last fifteen years, based out of Kandersteg. I began bringing groups a few years ago because I enjoy sharing Switzerland and the Alps with others. I am 80 years old, but still able to do all but the most strenuous hikes. I share your interest in and curiosity about Switzerland. If you have time, check out my website. We will be in Kandersteg (16 Americans) August 14 – 28. If time and interest so inclines you, you would be most welcome to join us at any point. I live in Shreveport, Louisiana in the USA.

    Thanks so much for your books. I will be recommending Slow Train to everyone who travels with me, as I have already recommended Swiss Watching. I do not have any ideas about how I might find people in the UK who might be interested in my hiking vacations. I would be grateful for any thoughts you might have about this.

  2. david wade Monday December 28th, 2015 at 12:23 AM · Reply

    I live in Pa. Winter in Florida. Would like to join you for the hiking trip in Switzerland. do you have itinerary and price.

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