10 of the most inspiring contemporary female adventurers

October 22, 2016

Following our article on female adventurers of the past, were bringing things up to date with a look at the explorers making their mark today and inspiring others to get out and blaze a trail

Journalist Nellie Bly jumped off the page at me as I was researching Victorian female travellers. The more I got to know her, the more I was intrigued by this fearless character who wouldnt take no for an answer. Her crusades in print brought the restructuring of womens asylums, orphanages, sweatshops and prisons.

The story that brought Bly the most acclaim was circling the globe in 72 days in 1890, beating the fictitious record in Jules Vernes Around the World in 80 Day. One hundred and twenty 5 years later, I followed in her footsteps.

We both travelled alone with one small suitcase. She went by ocean liner and train. I flew. She journeyed through the Victorian age. I travelled through the information age, blogging along the way. Tracing Blys race around the planet expanded my own world of adventure, and I became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. The UK and Ireland have made many bold female travellers. My objective is to put them on the map as role models encouraging us to travel out of our consolation zones.

Anna McNuff

Anna

Just start; thats the best way to get going on an adventure, according to Anna McNuff who exhorts people to leave their anxieties at home and get outside. She would know. In 2013, she cycled seven months and 11,000 miles on a pink bike taking in every state in the US. Last year she ran 1,911 miles along New Zealands Te Araroa road. McNuff calls them her mega-adventures, but shes also a fan of mini-adventures, such as running along Hadrians Wall, rollerblading 100 miles around Amsterdam, and midweek camping escapades around London. She lately strolled out of her back gate with a bivvy suitcase, backpack, and an open European itinerary to be decided by referendums from her followers on social media. McNuff is also on a mission to get infants outdoors and investigating. Through her endurance challenges, shes raised awareness, as well as more than 20,000 for the charities Right to Play and The Outward Bound Trust. Im inspired by people who dive so deep into their personal well of self-belief that they attain things which most would deem impossible, she says.
annamcnuff.com

Justine Gosling

Justine

Gosling is a time traveller: she fuses all the things she loves best history, exercise and inspiring narratives into momentous challenges that reignite the past. She had never been on an expedition when she set off in August 2015 to travelling 5,000 miles on foot and bicycle along the 15 countries bordering the iron curtain separating western Europe from the former Soviet Union. Postwar history came alive for her, an NHS physiotherapist, who was four-years-old when the Berlin Wall came down. Gosling will be closer to home, but further back in history, with a 240 -mile Tudor-themed run away from Bosworth Field, site of the last combat of the War of the Roses, to Westminster Abbey, final resting place of Elizabeth I. Shell be running 12 -1 5 miles a day over two weeks( she started 26 March) and she wants you to join her along the way. Follow the route on Justines blog.
justinegosling.com

Belinda Kirk

Belinda

Kirks quest is to get people to live more adventurously. She has strolled across Nicaragua, searched for camels in Chinas Taklamakan desert, so-called Desert of Death, detected boulder paintings in Lesotho and was skipper of the first female crew to row non-stop around Britain, in a punishing 2,101 -mile, 51 -day voyage. An expert expedition leader, she has managed remote trips for outdoor survival gurus Ray Mears and Bear Grylls. She launched Explorers Connect, a social enterprise connecting people to adventures in the UK and overseas in 2009. Its now their home communities of 25,000 from total novices to experienced explorers who can link up with adventures, team-mates and adventure industry tasks. Currently, shes establishing Britains first national day of adventure, Wild Night Out, to assist disadvantaged children get outdoors. Ive considered adventure change peoples lives, by giving inspiration and building confidence, creativity and a reconnection with nature, she says.

Hannah Engelkamp

Hannah

Engelkamp trekked 1,000 miles around the circumference of Wales with a headstrong donkey named Chico. The pair strolled for nearly six months in 2013 starting and ending in Engelkamps hometown of Aberystwyth. Although the inspiration for her journey came from the fact that Wales had recently become the first country in the world encircled by a continuous footpath, she detected, a little too late, that her donkey couldnt manage the 964 stiles and 783 kissing gates ahead of them. With no define course and no itinerary, they travelled as close to the coast and borders as they could; mainly wild camping, and sometimes sleeping in tipis, yurts and fodder barns. Engelkamp embarked on a dream and returned with a plan to capture the journey in a book and movie through crowdfunding. Eight hundred and twenty nine backers pledged 35,000 to make it happen. Seaside Donkey recounts the story of Hannah and Chicos odyssey in print and DVD. Engelkamp says: Walking with a donkey was merely strange by being about 60 years late. We were strolling on green lanes and drove roads attained for animal traffic get out of your vehicle and that history is still there, and easily revived.
hannahme.com

Jacki Hill-Murphy

Jacki
Jacki Hill-Murphy is greeted by villagers who had arranged a welcome rite for her in Chinyke, Yakutia, eastern Siberia. Photograph: Ulyana Vasilieva

Former English and drama teacher Hill-Murphy has travelled to inhospitable places to recreate the journeys of daring female adventurers from the past. In tracking four valiant women who left inhibition at home and headed into the unknown, she pays tribute to their spirit and achievements. She has followed in the footsteps of Victorian explorers Isabella Bird, who travelled by yak across the Digar-La Pass in Ladakh, India, and Mary Kingsley who pioneered the route to the summit of the volcano Mount Cameroon; and also Kate Marsden, who trudged from Moscow to Siberia in search of a remedy for leprosy( a doctor had tip-off her off about the curative properties of a herb there ). Hill-Murphy also braved piranha-infested water in a canoe to replicate the 1769 expedition of Isabel Godin, the only survivor of a 42 -person, 3,000 -mile expedition along the Amazon. Hill-Murphys travels and those of her heroines come to life in her recent book Adventuresses. Shes now writing a biography of Kate Marsden.
jackihill-murphy.co.uk

Karen Darke

Karen
Karen Darke crossing Greenland sitting on skis. Photograph: Pasi Ikonen

A fall on a rock-climbing expedition in 1992 virtually changed everything for Karen Darke. She believed she would rather be dead than paralysed; that her adventures were over. But with friends, creativity and perseverance, she has found that most things are possible, including becoming a Paralympics silver medallist and an irrepressible traveller. Among other astounding accomplishments, she has crossed Greenlands ice cap sitting on skis, utilizing her arms to propel her; kayaked from Canada to Alaska over three months, and handcycled over the Himalayas. She denies being an adrenalin junkie, but admits to an addiction to the outdoors. Now shes on the Road to Rio, training with the British paracycling team for the 2016 Paralympics in Brazil. Along the style, shes squeezing in adventures on wheels, water and snow. Darke is the author of If You Fall and Boundless: An adventure beyond limits. She explains: I think adventures can be anything small or large in your garden or on the other side of the world. Its all about entering into the unknown and doing something that seems to some degree unachievable.
karendarke.com

Sarah Outen

Sarah
Outen, and her bicycle, in the Gobi Desert. Photograph: EPA

Outen set out from Tower Bridge in April 2011 on her global expedition London2London via the World. Her body was her only engine. Four and a half years and 25,000 miles afterward she had rowed, cycled and kayaked her style around the northern hemisphere. Nothing stopped her; not even hurricanes, cyclones or loneliness. Outens first major expedition was a solo row across the Indian Ocean in 2009, where she set records as the first woman and youngest person to accomplish such a feat. She has captured her epic expeditions in the books A Dip in the Ocean: Rowing Solo Across the Indian Ocean, and Dare to Do chronicling her world journey and due out in November 2016. She was named Adventurer of the Year at the National Adventure Awards on 16 March in Glasgow.
sarahouten.com

Sarah Williams

Sarah

Shes a athlete, skydiver, bungee jumper, climber, cyclist and world traveller and a former banker. In 2013 she swapped the rat race for marathons and other gruelling challenges and is currently training for the worlds toughest footrace, the 200 -mile Marathon des Sables across the Sahara. Now an adventure aficionado, Williams new vocation is to motivate and inspire women and girls to challenge themselves. Shes the founder and host of the Tough Girl podcast, weekly interviews where female adventurers share their journeys first-hand. From gold medallists to grandmothers, Williams podcasts include celebrated polar explorers Ann Daniels and Felicity Aston, and dozens of other female adventurers.
toughgirlchallenges.com

Emma Timmis

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