Littlehouse Media

‘What would Mary do?’ at the Fort William Mountain Festival

The diaries of 17-year-old Mary Harvie’s epic 500-mile cycle and hostelling holiday in 1936 were the inspiration for a new cycle adventure film, ‘What would Mary do?’ from Hostelling Scotland and The Adventure Syndicate.

Hostelling Scotland and The Adventure Syndicate premiered their new off-road biking and adventure tourism film, ‘What would Mary do?’, at the Biking Night of the Fort William Mountain Festival on Saturday 19 February 2022.

Left to right – Philippa, Lee and Alice

‘What would Mary do?’, a cycling film that beautifully captures Scotland’s majestic and remote landscapes, environment and natural heritage together with the true spirit of hostelling, was created by Maciek Tomiczek.  It follows Lee Craigie, Philippa Battye and Alice Lemkes from The Adventure Syndicate, a group of female adventurers and storytellers who promote mental and physical wellbeing through their outdoor endeavours, as they take on a five-day, 300-mile, cycling and Hostelpacking journey, from Glasgow to the Highlands and Skye.

The film, commissioned by Hostelling Scotland as part of their 90th anniversary celebrations (February 2021/22) and in support of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, was inspired by the poignant and insightful diaries written by 17-year-old Mary Harvie, from Shotts, Lanarkshire, in the summer of 1936, and published in Hostelling Scotland’s Members Handbook, after her son Harvie Paterson transcribed them during lockdown.

The diary recounts Mary’s epic two-week 500-mile cycle and hostelling holiday she took with her two sisters Ella and Jean, exploring the North West Highlands, Skye, Highland Perthshire, and Stirlingshire, both on and off the bike. Her journal encapsulated the true spirit of active adventure and sustainable tourism that, to this day, comes from exploring Scotland on a bike, while accessing affordable, flexible, and welcoming hostel accommodation. 

‘What would Mary do?

Lee Craigie from The Adventure Syndicate said: “Our respect and admiration for Mary Harvie’s spirit grew and grew the more we thought about the trip she made with her sisters in 1936. In her diaries Mary comes across as someone totally up for a challenge, really curious, full of energy and above all, humble and understated about the things she did.

“Mary’s willingness to stay in each moment and make the very best of every situation became our guiding mantra. If we were cold, lacking enthusiasm or looking for the easy way out we asked ourselves, ‘What would Mary do?’.  She developed superhuman attributes by the end of our trip.”

The Adventure Syndicate’s reimagined and ambitious route had to embrace and commemorate the Harvie sisters’ original route.  However, to avoid the busy traffic they were keen to explore the off-road alternatives while taking into account winter light and weather conditions, as well as the locations of today’s Youth Hostel network. It made use of old drove roads and forgotten singletrack, while also encompassing sections of gruelling mountainous ‘hike a bike’ and bog trotting. Wild swimming, hitching rides on a Model T Ford, a ferry, and a bus, and brewing coffee in the most incredibly scenic spots were all features of the trip. They also made the most of the time and space at the seven Youth Hostels they stayed at to stretch, enjoy each other’s company, read, sketch, play cards, cook for each other, and even some singing!

Margo Paterson, CEO of Hostelling Scotland, said: “The great thing about hostelling is the sense of community and the unique relationships our members and guests have with our hostel teams. This adventure was born from a chance conversation between Mary’s son Harvie Paterson and Karl and Lorna who manage our Port Charlotte Youth Hostel on Islay. Harvie told them that he had transcribed his mother’s diaries during lockdown and wondered if we would be interested in adding them to our archives, but Mary’s story was far too exciting to be hidden away.

“We were delighted that Lee, Philippa and Alice shared our vision and at a time when sustainable, active travel has never been more relevant, they have created a fantastic story of their own. This has been brilliantly captured on film by Maciek Tomiczek who has managed to tell a fantastic adventure story showcasing the outstanding beauty of Scotland (no matter what the weather!).”

In recognition of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories, The Adventure Syndicate documented their expedition through daily social media posts, mobile phone photography, and a travel journal, together with their 18-minute film, their own 20th Century diary.

Ends

Media contact:

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

Free first use Images attached – Please credit Maciek Tomiczek

Go to  https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qe4lf3ipvmfofjq/AABsXNwUS-mgwIVvbSeh7_i0a?dl= for:

  • Images of Mary Harvie and her sisters on their cycle adventure
  • Images Lee Craigie, Phillippa Battye and Alice Lemkes from the Adventure Syndicate on their trip
  • Film trailer links and downloads  
  • Archive images of Hostelling Scotland’s Youth Hostels
  • A PDF of Mary Harvie’s diary

Please credit photographers where indicated

Notes to Editors:

Background to Hostelling Scotland and the Adventure Syndicate Mary Harvie 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 in October 2021 to commemorate Mary’s cycling trip 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 and cyclist 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 – https://issuu.com/hostellingscotland/docs/1936_cycling_tour_of_nw_highlands.

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 support of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

When the three adventurers from The Adventure Syndicate headed out from Glasgow Youth Hostel on Thursday 14 October 2021, Lee Craigie, 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 https://www.rsf.org.uk/]. 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.” 

The Adventure Syndicate spent nights at Glasgow, Crianlarich, Glencoe, Ratagan, Portree, Torridon, and Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostels during their trip. 

During the trip Lee Craigie, Alice Lemkes, and Philippa Battye wrote a daily journal, posted regularly on social media channels and took photos on mobile phones. The social media posts and the film, their 21st century take on an adventure diary, kicks off Hostelling Scotland’s celebration of VisitScotland’s Year of Stories 2022.

The 18-minute film of their adventure, ‘What would Mary do?’, created by Maciek Tomiczek, was launched at the Fort William Mountain Festival 2022, as part of Biking Night.

This collaborative project between the Adventure Syndicate and Hostelling Scotland is being used to promote positive mental health through outdoor adventure, activity and cycling; as well as cycling as an accessible form of sustainable tourism.  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.

For this journey, Lee, Alice and Phillippa were all on fully rigid drop bar gravel bikes. Lee’s was a Julianna Quincy with 650b wheels and 2.00 tyres. Alice and Phil rode Mason bikes.

Hostelling Scotland

Useful links:

Hostelling Scotland – https://www.hostellingscotland.org.uk

Hostelling Scotland on Twitter – https://twitter.com/hostellingscot #ourplaceisyours

Hostelling Scotland on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hostellingscotland

Hostelling Scotland on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/hostellingscotland

Hostelling Scotland on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/hostellingscotland/

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 Website – http://theadventuresyndicate.com/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/adventuresynd/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/adventuresynd

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/adventuresynd

Adventure Syndicate Mission – http://theadventuresyndicate.com/mission

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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