The Desperate Journey

Kathleen Fidler


Quick Look

  • A must-read adventure of hardship, courage and adventure set during the Highland Clearances
  • The Desperate Journey is the most famous novel by classic Scottish children's author Kathleen Fidler
  • Kelpies Classics bring classic Scottish children's fiction alive for a new generation

Ten-year-old twins Kirsty and David Murray are forced to leave their croft in the north of Scotland. How will they manage in Glasgow, and will they survive a dangerous Atlantic crossing?

Floris Books
Age Range:
From 8 to 12 years
168 pages
Publication date:
20 Mar 2014
Classic Kelpies


Ten-year-old twins Kirsty and David Murray love their crofting life in the north of Scotland. They collect shellfish, milk the cows and help their father grow oats and vegetables. Then one day the Countess's men come and burn their house, saying they must leave.

The family travel across Scotland to Glasgow. City life is dirty and overcrowded, and work in the mills is hard and dangerous. The chance comes to join a ship sailing for Hudson Bay in Canada, and once again they start a long, perilous journey.

Will they survive the treacherous Atlantic crossing, and what will they find in the strange new land?

Kathleen Fidler had a gift for bringing characters from history to life for today's children. The Desperate Journey is her best-known story, a true Scottish classic whose thrilling plot will keep children gripped from start to end.


'This is a Scottish children's classic... A real must-read.'
Wendy McCusker, Waterstone's Guide to Children's Books

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

'What an action-packed tale!'
-- Education Otherwise

'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


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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