Since leaving Jhansi I have travelled a few hundred miles, and the scenery was simply grand. It took us four days to go from Jhansi to Nowshera, and we passed through a lot of the big cities on the way. At Nowshera we stayed a week, and then returned to Rawal Pindi. We crossed over the River Kabul, the bridge being set at a great height, between two mountains, and the water underneath was rushing down at a great pace. Two companies got on the march for Barian, the other two companies following two days after; it is a four days’ march. The first day we did about 12 miles to our first rest camp, which was a place called Baracoa, here there was a nice camp. These camps are pitched at the beginning of the season for all troops that are moving to the hills stations. The roads are very good. We had all our tents and baggage with us; these are carried on camels and mules, and the heavy baggage is packed on bulgharries or bullock carts which follow on, but the camels and mules have to keep up with the troops. The second day we were off early to our next rest camp, which was about ten miles, but it was nearly all uphill, the roads winding round the sides of the hills; in fact, if one looked over the side one could see the rear part of the column coming up some feet below, they going one way while we had turned and were going the other. We were between 3,000 and 4,000 feet up by the time we reached our next camp, which was prettily situated by the side of the road, with lovely scenery all round, this was named Tret.
Plenty of motor-cars passed us on the road with people going up to the hills for the summer; there were several of Aveling and Porter, Rochesterm steam-rollers at work on the roads. The mornings and nights were much cooler.
We were again on the move early next morning for our next camp, which was about 12 miles. Soon after we started we had to climb steeper roads, and more winding, and much steeper down the sides of the hills (they call them hills, but they are more like young mountains). The slopes are very woody, in fact you are under trees all along the roads. This morning we heard the cuckoo, and it made me think we were home; we were now over 6,000 feet up. We passed nice bungalows built among the trees, just off the roads we were on. About five miles along the road we came round the side of the hill, and looking back saw out last camp, which seemed only a mile away, so you can guess how these roads twist about. However, we kept on climbing till we came to a brewery called the Murree Hill Brewery. Here they gave every man a pint of beer, and it was jolly good stuff, and a good advertisement for them, as they supply all the people and camps round the Murree Hills; in fact we used to have some of it in Jhansi. Soon after this we saw our camp in view; this was called Sunnybank. We were now 6,500 feet up, and looking straight up above we could see bungalows all along the top, and that was Murree, where a lot of the people stay for the season.
The next part of our journey was about seven miles, over much rougher road, and not very wide. From the camp we started climbing for some distance, and then had to go down hill for a mile or two. Then we came to another hill, which did want climbing. The road was very rough and narrow and we were wondering how the heavy baggage was going to get up here, but at Sunnybank they had lighted the loads and hired some carts. There were quite a lot of other folk going up these hills, but their baggage was being carried by coolies, who cut across by-paths with such heavy loads on their backs that it is marvellous how they get along. I think you can hire them for five annas a day, or two annas the journey – what price our boys carrying parcels seven or eight miles for 2d.! The women and children are carried in a kind of chair, with two coolies in front and two behind, with a stick across the shoulders. They go at a trot and get over the ground very quickly.
Our camp at Lower Barian is very nice, it being scattered among pine trees. There is a wide path through the pines, and the tents are pitched on either side. We are 7,000 feet up now, and as we came up the last part we could see range after range of hills mounting higher and higher behind one another on the tops of the far ones one could see nothing but snow; these must be a part of the Himalayas. We had had several heavy thunderstorms and hail; last night the hailstones dropped larger than marbles and the ground was soon covered quite an inch deep with them; it has been bitterly cold of a night. We have to wear serge clothes and overcoats, quite the reverse to Jhansi; however, it is very pleasant in the day-time. All the boys are busy gardening as there are small pieces of ground round the tents for this purpose, and they are making them nice. They go down the ?? or side of the hills, and gather forms, and they can buy flower and vegetable seeds, so in a week or two the gardens will look pretty. There are some married people belonging to other regiments attached to us. There is a school and a schoolmaster for the children; for the men there is the Royal Army Temperance Association library and coffee shop. There is also a theatre and a nice football ground, but I do not know what will happen if the ball is kicked to hard at one end of the ground , as it will go rolling down the side of the hill.
At Barian, about a mile away, there is a nice hospital, used more for a convalescent home for troops. One thing I have noticed since we have been up here is how short-winded one gets. I suppose it must be owing to the air being so much lighter; sometimes we are above the clouds, which drift below us along the sides of the hills.