Littlehouse Media

Three female adventurers to take on epic 1936 cycling trip

As part of their 90th Anniversary celebrations and in support of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, Hostelling Scotland have teamed up with The Adventure Syndicate, a group of female adventurers and storytellers who promote mental and physical wellbeing through their outdoor endeavours, to recreate an epic 500-mile cycle and youth hostelling adventure from the 1930’s. 


The original two-week, two wheeled holiday was carried out by 17-year-old hosteller Mary Harvie, from Shotts in Lanarkshire, with her two older sisters, Ella and Jean, in 1936. This epic journey, that began in Glasgow and saw the women explore the North West Highlands, Skye, Highland Perthshire, and Stirlingshire, was documented in Mary’s diary. 


The diary extracts, that capture the true spirit of hostelling, are a very poignant and insightful account of this epic journey, both on and off the bike, featuring some of Scotland’s most iconic sites, stunning countryside, environment and natural heritage. The extracts were recently published in Hostelling Scotland’s 2021 Members’ Handbook in celebration of the charity’s 90 Anniversary.

On Thursday 14 October 2021 Lee Craigie, Alice Lemkes, and Phillipa Battye from The Adventure Syndicate set out from Glasgow Youth Hostel on their own seven-day, 500-mile, on and off-road cycle adventure, an appreciation of the Harvie sisters’ incredible cycling trip. In order to avoid some busy traffic on their planned [but not set in stone] route, they will head off-road making use of old drove roads and forgotten singletrack, while also facing sections of mountainous ‘hike a bike’ and bog trotting.

The Adventure Syndicate’s chosen route, inspired by Mary Harvie’s diaries, will depart from Glasgow Youth Hostel and incorporate overnight stays at Crianlarich, Glencoe, Ratagan, Portree, Torridon, Gairloch and Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostels. 

Lee Craigie, the founder of the Adventure Syndicate, said: “We’re so excited to take the inspiration for our next challenge from a journey between Hostelling Scotland’s Youth Hostels, first made in the 1930’s, and add our own modern day twist!

“Bike technology has evolved since the 1930’s but the mentality of exploration and adventure has always been present [see]. People have been using bikes to explore remote places for generations so now, with the increased traffic on our roads since this journal was first written, we’re keen to explore the off-road alternatives where possible. Our ambitious route around Scotland will take us to lots of remote places that cars can’t access. It might mean slower going and wetter feet but that will just make arriving in the evenings at our warm, dry accommodation all the more welcome.” 

In recognition of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories (2022) the Adventure Syndicate will document their adventures through daily social media posts, mobile phone photography, and a travel journal, their own 20th Century diary. A short video of their cycle challenge will be launched in 2022.


Media contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: [email protected] | M: 07913 951717

Free use Images:

For various images of Mary Harvie and her sisters on their cycle adventure, together with photos of the three cyclists from the Adventure Syndicate on previous challenges – go to

Notes to Editors:

Hostelling Scotland and the Adventure Syndicate 500-mile cycling project

Mary Harvie was born in Shotts, Lanarkshire, in 1918.  In the summer of 1936, when Mary was just 17 years old, she joined her two older sisters, Ella and Jean, on an epic 500-mile cycling adventure touring Scotland’s Youth Hostels, on a route that took her from Glasgow to the North West Highlands and Skye, Highland Perthshire, Stirlingshire and back home to Shotts.

Mary kept a diary of her two-week holiday. The diary extracts make fascinating reading and are a real gem of a reminder of days gone by and the true spirit of Hostelling that is still alive and thriving today.

The Hostelling Scotland led cycling project to recreate [where possible] Mary’s cycling trip in 2021 was born from a chance conversation between Mary’s son, Harvie Paterson, and Karl and Lorna, who manage Hostelling Scotland’s Port Charlotte Youth Hostel on the Isle of Islay.

Like his mother, Harvie has been a Hosteller for many years.  He has made regular trips to Islay on his bike over the last 12 years. In 2020 he told Lorna that as a Covid-19 Lockdown project he had transcribed the diaries of his Mother’s cycling tour of Scottish Youth Hostels in 1936.

He has also provided the Northern Irish Hostelling Association with diary extracts from a trip his mother made to Ireland which now has pride of place in their archives.

With the kind permission of Harvie, Hostelling Scotland published the diary entries of his mother’s trip in their 90th Anniversary issue of their annual Members’ Handbook.  Harvie, who is in his 70’s, was delighted to see his mother’s story being brought to life in print.

However, the management team at Hostelling Scotland always felt that there was more that could be done to bring this fantastic story to life, not only to celebrate Hostelling Scotland’s 90 Anniversary in 2021 but also in recognition of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories in 2022.

Lee Craigie, Alice Lemkes, and Phil Battye will write a daily journal, post regularly on social media channels, and take photos on mobile phones. A six-minute video of their adventure will be launched in early 2022.  The Social media posts and video, their 21st century take on an adventure diary, will kick off Hostelling Scotland’s celebration of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories.

The route chosen by the Adventure Syndicate is a close representation of the original journey.  The daily route:

Day one – Glasgow to Crianlarich – 55 miles

Day two – Crianlarich to Glencoe – 43 miles

Day three – Glencoe to Rattigan – 100 miles

Day four – Rattigan to Portree – 66 miles

Day five – Portree to Torridon – 80 miles

Day six – Torridon to Gairloch – 30 miles

Day seven – Gairloch to Aviemore – 116 miles

This collaborative project between the Adventure Syndicate and Hostelling Scotland will be used to promote positive mental health through outdoor adventure, activity, and cycling; as well as cycling as an accessible form of sustainable tourism.  It will also highlight Youth Hostels as comfortable and affordable bases for on and off-road cycling adventures throughout Scotland.

Through this project Hostelling Scotland are also keen to build engagement across their social channels and inspire cycle tourism and the use of Hostelling Scotland’s accommodation network for cycling based adventures.

Hostelling Scotland

Useful links:

Hostelling Scotland –

Hostelling Scotland on Twitter – #ourplaceisyours

Hostelling Scotland on Facebook –

Hostelling Scotland on Instagram –

Hostelling Scotland on LinkedIn –

Hostelling Scotland is a self-funding charity operating a network of nearly 60 exceptional youth and affiliate hostels for the benefit of all those wishing to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer. Their unique sites provide affordable, comfortable, safe and quality-assured accommodation with a warm friendly welcome, local knowledge, activities and services for guests travelling around Scotland.

Following a strategic review of the organisation, early in 2018, the much-loved hostelling accommodation provider is now known as Hostelling Scotland. The new identity follows on from extensive marketing research and reflects the organisation’s commitment to understanding the needs of its members, guests and employees as the modern face of Scottish Hostelling.  The name also more clearly indicates its representation of Hostelling International within Scotland.

Both the changes in trading name and logo highlight a commitment to ensuring Scotland’s leading hostelling organisation remains relevant in the modern context.

The Adventure Syndicate

Useful links:

Adventure Syndicate Mission –

Adventure Syndicate Website –

Instagram –

Twitter –

Facebook –

The Adventure Syndicate are a not-for-profit organisation made up of female adventurers and storytellers whose ambitious endurance endeavours inspire, encourage and enable others (especially women and girls) to adventure sustainably for the good of their health and happiness and that of the environment. 

The Adventure Syndicate is led by Lee Craigie, the former British Mountain Bike champion, child therapist and the Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland 

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