The William A. Bates journal chronicles Bates' travels through Scotland and England in July 1912. In a series of daily diary entries, Bates covered the entire trip, including his transatlantic passages on the Baltic and Oceanic . Bates and two companions, John S. Bates and Dudley Bates Lawrence, set off on the Baltic on July 3, 1912, and spent 8 leisurely days onboard making acquaintances and playing shuffleboard. The author pleasantly noted a large number of Yale graduates also making the trip, and discussed the trio's indecision regarding their upcoming plans. On July 11, the passengers arrived in Liverpool, and the three companions made their way to Glasgow by train, where they began a month of sightseeing around Scotland and England. As the group journeyed across the country to Edinburgh, Bates paid particular attention to the landscape, and often noted golf courses and cricket pitches. After spending a few days in Edinburgh, the travelers went to St. Andrews, where they spent two days on its legendary golf links (July 16-17), and then on to North Berwick, where they again played golf.
On July 21, they left Scotland for York, where they viewed the city's cathedral, and moved onward to Cambridge, where Bates recorded his impressions of university students and of the pleasant town. After arriving in London on July 25, they spent several days touring local landmarks, including the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, where they attended a church service. Following a week filled with theatrical outings and museums, the three companions boarded the Oceanic in Southampton on July 31. During the return journey, Bates noted several aspects of life on the ship, including his first-class view over the steerage deck and the presence of several Olympians onboard.