"A thousand years ago it must have been a noble work...It is nominally sixteen feet wide, the actual flagged roadway measuring eight feet. The bridges are built solidly of stone. The ascents and descents are made by stone stairs. More than a millennium ago an emperor planted cedars at measured distances on both sides…Many of these have attained great size…and…the first ascent from Lu-fang under their solemn shade is truly grand."
Bishop is one of a handful of famous British women travelers of the Victorian era. She supposedly traveled for her health, but often chose to visit remote and rugged areas that would seem more likely to endanger health than to improve it. She later became quite a prolific author and was the first woman admitted into the Royal Geographical Society. Her travels along the Road to Shu occurred in 1896 as part of a 15-month trip up the Yangzi and into the interior of Sichuan, a journey which she described in a two-volume work called The Yangtze Valley and Beyond. Her vivid description of the start of her trip traversing the rapids of the Yangzi Gorges and of the end of her journey which took her deep into the interior of Sichuan where no foreigner had ever traveled before are the highlights of her book. In between these two more exciting destinations she traveled the Road to Shu for five stages between Puan and Mianyang, then headed to Guanxian (the site of the Dujiangyan irrigation system) and to Chengdu. She is the only early traveler to have taken pictures of the Road to Shu and today the road she traveled in many places looks exactly as it did when she photographed it one hundred years ago. Bishop was widowed after a brief marriage between 1881 and1886. In addition to her love of travel, she was also interested in missionary work and funded several hospitals in China. She made one final trip to Morocco in 1897 and her bags were packed for another trip to China before illness finally grounded her and she died in Edinburgh in 1904.