This observation brings me to the prompt for my own back-country tourism. I was in pursuit of my Scottish great-grandfather Arthur Sinclair, from Turriff in Aberdeenshire. In a chapbook, The Story of His Life and Times as Told by Himself, published in Columbo [Ceylon] in 1900, Sinclair briskly sketches a career that had some parallels with John Clare (an elective Scot when the humour took him). Born in 1832, there was a mean village upbringing. A book-hungry lad leaving school at 12 years of age and commencing his education, ‘such as it was and is’. Sinclair describes a farming family of ‘discounted’ Jacobite stock, a father getting work when he could as a thatcher and a barely literate mother. With his first earnings as a garden labourer, the boy walked to Aberdeen and bought six volumes of James Hervey’s Reflections on a Flower Garden—just as Clare had tramped from Helpston to Stamford, before the bookshop opened, to secure a coveted copy of James Thomson’s The Seasons. And like Clare, Sinclair paused on his return journey to investigate his purchase. ‘As I walked from Aberdeen I could not help sitting down occasionally by the wayside to dip into it.’ My great-grandfather soon discovered Oliver Goldsmith and Thomas De Quincey. ‘The beauty of the prose poems and the neatness of the humour was such as I had never before met with.’ The practical mysteries of propagation and grafting now cohabited with another less focused compulsion, the urge to write. The village boy rose at 4 a.m. to cultivate his own small patch among ‘a wilderness of moorland farms’. His special pride was a plot of potatoes. He bathed in a burn and caught trout. The pattern of his life, the intimacy with the ground, the eye on the weather, the threats from landlords and remote investors, was a northern version of the subsistence regime of the Ash à ninka. After reading Alexander Humboldt’s Essay on the Geography of Plants, Sinclair conceived an ambition to follow in the author’s footsteps over the Andes.