The Desperate Journey

Kathleen Fidler

Out of print

Quick Look

The story of the Highland Clearances as they affect one small family, who finally end up on an emigrant ship to Canada.

198 x 130 mm
Floris Books
10 illustrations
Age Range:
From 8 to 12 years
192 pages
Publication date:
01 Mar 2002


The Desperate Journey tells the story of the Highland Clearances as they affect one small family. The Murrays are forced to load their possessions onto a cart and travel across Scotland to Glasgow. Here the children have to work in a mill and live in overcrowded and dirty lodgings. The family are offered the chance to join an emigrant ship bound for Hudson Bay in Canada, and make a perilous journey into a new life in the Red River Colony.

The spirit and resourcefulness of Davie and Kirsty shines through all their hardships as they witness the evictions and burning of the crofters' homes; endure the hardships of child labour in a Glasgow cotton mill; survive the Atlantic crossing on a disease-ridden ship; and witness bitter feuding among rival colonists.

Kathleen Fidler's skill at bringing characters to life has enthralled generations of readers and will no doubt do so for many more years to come.


'This is a Scottish children's classic set in the 19th century, when a family is evicted during the Highland Clearances. Their journey is full of hardship, courage and adventure. A real must-read.'
Wendy McCusker, Waterstone's Guide to Children's Books

'A stirring tale of adventure, hardship and new beginnings.'
-- Shelf Life, Summer 2002

'What an action-packed tale!'
-- Education Otherwise, June 2002

'Kathleen Fidler's well-paced narrative skilfully conveys the Murray's epic journey and the historical settings are convincingly portrayed. David and Kirsty Murray are spirited and resilient characters who engage the interest and sympathy of the reader.'
-- Treasure Islands: A guide to Scottish fiction for young readers aged 10-14, Summer 2003


Kathleen Fidler has enthralled generations of readers. She is the author of over eighty books for children, many of which were broadcast on BBC Radio Children's Hour. She died in 1980. The Kathleen Fidler Award helped launch the careers of many talented children's authors in the following two decades.


Don't miss the Discover Kelpies website for children with exclusive author interviews, fun stuff and latest gossip on your favourite Scottish stories.

Download or print a free Teacher's Guide for this book:
Desperate Journey Teacher's Guide

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