Meet the First British Woman to Go Around the World on Her Motorbike

Culture Trip

You’re 23, your heart’s been broken and there’s a long, hard slog of study stretching out in front of you. What do you do? For Elspeth Beard, a round-the-world trip on the back of her 1974 BMW R60/6 flat-twin motorbike proved the ultimate remedy for a wounded heart and weary head.

Thirty-two years after making history as the first British woman to ride solo around the globe, clocking 35,000 miles and crossing 20 countries along the way, she sat down to complete the equally epic task of penning a biking memoir to match the adventure. Lone Rider, published by Michael O’Mara in July 2017, retraces her two-year journey from a dockland warehouse in Brooklyn to her parents’ garage in central London, via outhouses in the Outback and hostile hotels in Middle Eastern war zones.

Elspeth on her bike the day she rode to Dartford to get her bike shipped to New York, 1982

Culture Trip filmmaker Souleyman Messalti and animator Joe Brooks caught up with Beard at her home in Godalming, Surrey: an award-winning, 130-foot, brick-built water tower that she painstakingly converted over a seven-year period after she returned from her travels and completed her architectural studies. (Just in case you hadn’t gathered by now, this is a woman who likes a challenge.)

She discusses the liberating power of anonymity, the painful trade-off between independence and isolation, the possibility of finding love in the mountains of Kashmir and the opportunity, fast disappearing from the world, of getting lost.

Elspeth on the road to Leh in Ladakh, 1983

If you’ve ever heard the call of the road, her words of advice are the ones you should follow.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

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