6 British Female Adventurers to Watch Out For

Into the wild in Patagonia
Into the wild in Patagonia | Lauren Williams
Photo of Lauren Williams
Freelance Travel Journalist22 November 2017

The world of adventure travel is usually dominated by men, but there are countless inspirational women out there who are challenging perceptions. They climb mountains and run across whole countries, stick it to the man and live a life of wonder. Once a year, some of these women come together at the Women’s Adventure Expo in Bristol to build each other up, tell stories and motivate each other to get outside and experience all that life has to offer. Here are just six of those amazing British women.

Beth French

Beth went from wheelchair-bound to world-class athlete and has pushed her limits further than she ever thought possible. In 2012, she swam the English Channel and was home in time to tuck her son into bed. She’s faced sharks in deep water, trudged on through deep seas with an injured shoulder for 12 hours and beaten M.E. with sheer determination. She was the first person to cross the Scilly Channel and first British female to cross the Molokai Channel in Hawaii. Beth is honest, frank, a total inspiration and someone who was humble enough to know when it was time to go home.

Anna McNuff

Anna has adventure in her bones, and although she’s run the length of New Zealand and cycled through both the Andes and every state in America, she’s modest, laughs at herself and thinks that everyone should be getting away from their computers and into the outdoors. Anna believes this so much that she’s created The Adventure Queen Grant, which funds one woman’s adventure, however great or small. Anna is never far from taking on her next challenge.

It's our third day back on the road and we unzip our tents to find that the skies are still shrouded in a murky smoke-filled haze. . . It's a hot and humid morning and both of us confess that we're finding it hard to get going. There's an underlying lethargy that festers in my bones, I can't stop yawning and everything feels a little, well – flat. Of course that's okay, and entirely understandable when getting back into the swing of things. We've both admitted to some anxieties about returning to life on the bikes, about shrugging off the comfort blanket of familiarity, and pedalling back into the unknown. . . So I take today as my mind and body's way of readying itself slowly. That said, I can't help but feel that the oppressive skies aren't playing a part too. Ever have those days when you look out of the window at a cloudy sky, and feel a little cloudy inside too? . . We crack on down the way, slowing to nudge our bikes over a narrow (and rickety) footbridge, and by mid afternoon we've sanctioned ourselves a roadside lunch stop. The smoke seems to gradually be lifting, and with each kilometre that we put between us and the city, the landscape becomes ever more beautiful. It's as if a giant camera lens is being adjusted on the world around us – somehow the surroundings now seem in sharper focus. Great swathes of granite rock shoot up from the ground, the trees seem taller out here and the river more swift in its meanders. . . #cyclinglife #theoutbound #adventurecycling #getwild #chile

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Cal Major

Cal is one serious nature lover. Not only does she SUP and surf, but she’s also a vet and a pioneer for the end of single-use plastics. She has SUP’d over 260 around the coast of Cornwall and North Devon in strong headwinds and currents to engage with people and raise awareness of the damage plastic is causing to our beaches and oceans. Recently, Cal SUP’d solo around the remote and untouched coast of the Isles of Skye with her Paddle Against Plastic campaign.

FRIDAY! (Day 12… Continued…) It is with the greatest pride, joy, relief, disbelief, thanks and utterly humbling gratitude that this evening I paddled under the Kyle of Lochalsh bridge, signifying the completion of my solo circumnavigation of the Isle of Skye! I hadn't planned to complete tonight, but today I was on a roll, tomorrow the wind is returning, so I dug deep and paddled the 27 miles needed to get to the finish line. I feel so grateful to have had this experience. Being alone on the water for such long periods of time I have felt all the feels! Elation that has had me singing at the top of my voice, amusement enough to make me laugh uncontrollably, fear that has left me shaking, joy that has had me grinning from ear to ear, boundless gratitude for all I have and all that is beautiful in this world that has left me in floods of tears, peaceful solitude all the way through to loneliness, physical pain enough to make me grimace and powerlessness against the force of nature which is so much stronger than me. I've seen more plastic on the beaches than I ever anticipated I would in such a stunning and wild place, and its effects on animals – wildlife and livestock, that I hadn't even imagined. I've met some incredibly kind people along the way, and am pleased to be reunited with parents having realised that my people are the most important thing to me. I've felt a connection to nature that has brought immense contentment. I've laughed at myself and the hilarious sea birds and seals, and have relished in sharing my stories with my parents tonight. Thank you so, so very much for all of your support; your kind and encouraging messages all mean so much and have really, really helped get me round. Seriously, thank you 🤗. Thank you to all of you who have already joined the resistance against single use plastic, and if you haven't yet, please go to www.plasticfree.org.uk. Thank you so much to my amazing supporters – @starboardsup @palmequipment @kleankanteenuk @bureo @finisterreuk. Thank you so much to the awesome @willcopestake for photographing my arrival. Stay tuned for videos to come in the following few weeks :). #jointheresistance #plasticfreecoastlines

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Sian Lewis

Sian is a blogger, writer and award-winning travel journalist who knows that big adventures aren’t always possible but that the simple act of getting outside and breathing in fresh air is enough of an adventure from the 9 to 5. Whether that’s in the form of sleeping in a van on the cliffs of Cornwall, wild swimming in fairy pools or wandering the coast path, Sian stresses the importance of just getting out there. That’s not to say that she will shy away from the extreme; Sian has recently jumped into arctic waters in Greenland, surfed in Sri Lanka and slept on a suspended ledge off the coast of Dorset.

I am living proof that you can hike yourself happy ⛰

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Antonia Bollingbroke Kent

Antonia has driven a pink tuk-tuk from Bangkok to Brighton, has gone totally off the beaten path in Arunachal Pradesh in India and come up with many extreme adventures for The Adventurists. Antonia travels slowly and deeply to remote corners of the world, learning about people in places where nobody usually ventures. She’s got bucket loads of stories from Borneo to Burma, each one filled to the brim with the kindness of strangers.

Mollie Hughes

Not only has Mollie summited Mount Everest twice, but she done it from both the south and the exceptionally hostile north face. Mollie was one of the youngest British climbers to stand on top of the world, the youngest woman in the world to summit from the north side and first English woman to successfully summit from both sides. Mollie is not someone to be taken lightly. Read her tales of mountains, altitude and exhaustion; she makes it all almost seem easy.

Squash Falconer

Oh, Squash! Squash was the first British woman to fly from the top of Mont Blanc and is a confident, lovely, adventurous female bonanza of inspiration. She skis, she hikes, she climbs, she paraglides, she talks to large groups of people to get them to get out there and follow their dreams. We love you Squash, we do!

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