We all know about the exploits of great and famous explorers like Ranulph Fiennes or mountaineers like Chris Bonington etc. Their achievements are well publicised as part of the activities they excel at. But what about absolute unknowns who do great things? I'm talking about the bloke down the road who cycled around the world on a unicycle or the woman you once met who swam in every Lake and Tarn in the Lake District. You get the picture. Very ordinary people who the public don't know about who have done something incredible in the outdoor environment and shunned publicity in the process.
Have you met anyone like this? What did they do?
That's exactly what I mean. Fantastic really. Sometimes I feel jaded at seeing the names of the usual suspects and their never ending achievements every time you look at news about the great outdoors. I long to hear about the amazing things that 'ordinary' unknown people achieve.
I met this guy at Ladybower a few months before his record attempt. (On his penny farthing, he was out for a training ride and had just been over the Snake Pass.)
We once had a very quiet lady teaching supply at my school, spent all her breaks and lunches sitting alone in a corner, knitting. Grey hair, steel rimmed glasses, possibly fifteen or twenty years older than me.Then a week or so after she started i saw a couple of cyclists powering off a roundabout , standing on the pedals and one of them was the lady in question, looking not a bit like her staffroom persona.
So obviously I had to know a bit more and approached her at the next opportunity; turns out she and her husband were very well respected club cyclists . She told me that her favourite experience was beating Beryl Burton in a road race ("... quite easily, actually....")but the thing she was most well known for was holding the women's 24 hour endurance record.
That was about thirty years ago . i haven't checked the papers lately to see if she is still racing but I wouldn't be at all surprised. Her name is Christine Minto.
Yes, it appears that she was 24 hour record holder for three years in succession with her best result being 427.86 miles. I'm pretty sure that she told me that her moment of glory regarding Burton was in a road race as opposed to a time trial.
> Yes, it appears that she was 24 hour record holder for three years in succession with her best result being 427.86 miles. I'm pretty sure that she told me that her moment of glory regarding Burton was in a road race as opposed to a time trial.
I just can't wrap my head around what it takes to achieve that! It's so far above what I was capable of that I just can't process it. Something like 17.5 miles per hour average for 24 hours. Don't think I could even reach that speed now unless it was downhill. What a great cyclist!
If this was around South Yorkshire then its very likely the same Christine Minto that is still involved in Cycling Time Trials and can be found most weekends time keeping at Time Trials or Hill Climbs. You're not really a competitive cyclist until you've been b*llocked by Minto for doing something daft at the start of a Hill Climb imho
When I lived in the lakes in the mid 80's I met a guy who was attempting to canoe on every lake, tarn, and standing bit of water in the Lake District ( not swimming pools though) I wonder if he did it?
Explorersweb highlights some good stories.
But they also highlight some crap and people use it to get their blog a few more views as they climb Broad Peak with 3 HAPs and a load of Oxygen.
But there are some good stories.
While on a train to Oban to get the ferry to Barra to cycle the Hebridean Way I met a guy who was attempting to cycle all the rhyming coast to coasts in the UK, and was off to do Mull to Hull.
He had studied maps of the UK and thought there were only a couple of others left to do. Can't remember the other rhyming coast to coast unfortunately.
A rather eccentric guy, but certainly made the train journey very enjoyable.
Thinking back, I think he said he was writing a book about it, but I couldn't find anything with a quick Google search
> Have you met anyone like this? What did they do?
I used to sail with someone a few years back who was extremely experienced but not really the sort that would do anything out of their comfort zone of sailing locally, etc.
Not having seen him for a while, I Googled him (Jeremy Warren) and discovered this:
(This one has a photo of somewhere many will recognise)
Rick Collier was in our climbing club and unfortunately I didn’t get to know him before he was killed in a climbing accident. He climbed all the Canadian Rockies 11’000ers without mechanical assistance. More people have stood on the moon than climbed all those peaks, with or without mechanical assistance*
* driving to the trail head is ok, but it’s a beast from there. Most people use helicopters quite a lot.
Not so amazing but odd. I once met a guy who was doggedly visiting (by land - no flying allowed) everywhere in the world that had been compared to Venice ("the Venice of the North/ the Venice of Asia" and so on). There's a surprisingly large number of them. And he wasn't doing it because he liked canals, or Venice. He'd just got the idea into his head
A former work colleague windsurfed around the UK, presumably the mainland.
I was also following on fbook last year and the year before, two separate attempts at paddle boarding around the UK mainland. The first one was stopped due to covid.
Or Frank Dye who, with one other, sailed a Wayfarer dinghy from Scotland to Iceland and Scotland to Norway in the 1960's
Their only navigation aids were a compass and sextant and during their Scotland - Norway trip they were capsized four times and had their mast broken.
He said he was self sufficient carrying everything he needed including tent, etc., when in the remoter areas where he could be away for days at a time. He did use B&Bs/hostels and the likes though if he could; it was just for practical reasons he went with tent when necessary.
He also made sure he did at least 3000 ft ascent for each day’s walking. He said though that was easy to achieve mostly since he was cycling often significant distances up and downhill on the roads to those with high start points which counted.
I met him on Skye when he was ticking off the Cuillin hills over five days which was near the end of his bagging Munros. I think it was around 10 years he had been going at that point (iirc). I helped him to do Blaven on a foul weather day on one of his days on Skye (when sensible folk wouldn’t normally be on the hills, but I was a keen bagger back then and was going anyway!) which allowed him to complete all his Cuillin Munros within the five days before he had to head home.
Just in case that chap is still at it, I'll go ahead and describe Grimsby as the 'Venice of North East Lincolnshire'. Enjoy it mate.
I once heard of a chap trying to do all the munros in winter under his own steam. Don't know if he ever did it but the guy who'd seen him cycling in B3s in the rain said he was in surprisingly high spirits.
My Dad's wake was a few weeks ago and met one of his mates from the local rambling club, with whom he started fell running many years ago. I remember dad telling me this mate had progressed to doing ultra runs and had been pretty successful.
I told him my wife had completed the Wainwrights earlier that year and it was a bit of a relief as we could now just do the walks we fancied, rather than feeling "tied" to ticking the list. He mentioned that he was now on his 53rd round!
I met someone cycling round the entire coast of great Britain on a ferry in the western Isles a few years ago (technically islands weren't part of his route but he fancied a bit of a diversion). Started in Reading, headed down the Thames and just got going. Not the first to do so, but still very impressive. He did have a blog (so not quite sure if he meets the criteria) but I can't find it now.
Again not quite meeting the 'shun publicity' criteria but I have a couple of books by people who walked round the coast, or did some other long journey, but aren't household names at all. An interesting reminder that for every story you hear on the news there are probably at least 10 people who have done the same thing but didn't make the news!
Not quite such a large scale goal but I had a friend at university who would do various huge runs without even mentioning them until someone happened to ask where he'd been or how he'd got somewhere. At least once he ran home at the end of term, which would have been around 150 miles (or more depending on his route, which I'm not sure of). The reason he gave was not wanting to shell out for a train ticket! Not spoken to him for a while now, but I suspect he will have some a number of similar journeys since just because he felt like it.
> Just in case that chap is still at it, I'll go ahead and describe Grimsby as the 'Venice of North East Lincolnshire'. Enjoy it mate.
You might be surprised at the places compared to Venice!
I was surprised, even though I was the one who invited them to the town.
Met a guy in the Highlands was travelling from his home in North Wales who was travelling around Britain using just his pensioner's bus pass. He might have been the first boss at Plas y Brenin.
A long time ago but ? Jackson I think.
Some friends of ours sold up a few years back to cycle round the world, unsupported. Some great whacky bits of homebrew technology to keep vaguely connected. Some fairly 'exciting' wild bivvies in Russia by the sounds of it.
>Not so amazing but odd. I once met a guy who was doggedly visiting (by land - no flying allowed) everywhere in the world that had been compared to Venice ("the Venice of the North/ the Venice of Asia" and so on).
I wonder if anyone has attempted to visit all the places that have been compared to Reykjavik? Edinburgh, for one. Two? Not so sure.
> While on a train to Oban to get the ferry to Barra to cycle the Hebridean Way I met a guy who was attempting to cycle all the rhyming coast to coasts in the UK, and was off to do Mull to Hull.
> He had studied maps of the UK and thought there were only a couple of others left to do. Can't remember the other rhyming coast to coast unfortunately.
> A rather eccentric guy, but certainly made the train journey very enjoyable.
> Thinking back, I think he said he was writing a book about it, but I couldn't find anything with a quick Google search
Just looked them up....apart from Mull to Hull there are these:-
Stranraer to Dunbar
Barrow to Jarrow
Barmouth to Yarmouth
Poole to Goole
Lynmouth to Teignmouth
No doubt there are others too.
> Some friends of ours sold up a few years back to cycle round the world, unsupported. Some great whacky bits of homebrew technology to keep vaguely connected. Some fairly 'exciting' wild bivvies in Russia by the sounds of it.
A friend of mine, solid Yorkshire Dales lad who'd never been abroad because 'why bother,' decided one day to get a passport and ride his motorbike round the world.
My now elderly uncle after he left Uni in 1960 drove south to Cape Town all the way through Africa with 2 mates in a landdrover then caught a ship to Rio and drove all the way through South America and up to Canada.it was called the Imperial College Africa and Americas expedition. He always tells me it was the first time anybody had done it
40,200 miles.expenditure £1700.
> My now elderly uncle after he left Uni in 1960 drove south to Cape Town all the way through Africa with 2 mates in a landdrover then caught a ship to Rio and drove all the way through South America and up to Canada.it was called the Imperial College Africa and Americas expedition. He always tells me it was the first time anybody had done it
> 40,200 miles.expenditure £1700.
Hold on - my elderly uncle did the same, at about the same time! He now lives in Victoria, BC. Perhaps it was the same trip? Or at least one inspired the other.
My wife was the first English woman, and possibly the first European woman, to canoe down the remote Mishwapskpaksi n River in the North Western Territories Canada.
And she was a grandmother when she paddled it!!!
OwdJockey walked round British coastline, including Skye and Isle of Seil, between 2016 and 2021, after finishing the Munros, Corbetts, Donalds and English Marilyns. Contacted Radio Shropshire a few days before he did his last few miles and didn't even receive a reply.
I had the good fortune to interview, and then climb with, some of the 1991 Range West trespassers this year, and think that what they did - taking on the MOD, with a real risk of prosecution, and getting 3-4 miles of unclimbed sea cliff, with hundreds of routes, opened up - is worth celebrating as much, or more, as much better-known exploits of climbing superstars of that time. (I wouldn't say they shunned publicity, though, as the point was to get the access campaign into the papers).
In the late noughties I had the privilege of caring for some of our military personnel injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. I spoke about climbing with one guy who had suffered a devastating spinal injury, and was thought unlikely to ever walk again. He'd initiated the conversation in response to an offhand remark, and we spoke quite extensively about climbing over a few days. I remember mentioning Andy K's exploits helping people with physical disabilities up El Cap, spurred by a talk of Andy's I'd attended.
I was gobsmacked a couple of years later when I heard Phil had climbed El Cap with Andy, to raise funds for Help for Heroes. Phil also rowed the Channel, and completed the London Marathon, using nothing but his upper body.
Maybe I sowed a seed with the El Cap thing, but regardless Phil found exceptional things to do post-injury - he's an incredible person, really down to earth and truly inspiring.
> Just looked them up....apart from Mull to Hull there are these:-
> Stranraer to Dunbar
> Barrow to Jarrow
> Barmouth to Yarmouth
> Poole to Goole
> Lynmouth to Teignmouth
> No doubt there are others too.
If Mull counts (it's an island not a town) then I think a good case could be made for Skye to Rye. Admittedly Rye isn't on the coast any more - though it used to be - but if Jarrow counts then I think Rye should as well. Both towns are a bit over two miles by water from where their respective rivers (Tyne & Rother) open to the sea (at Tynemouth and Camber Sands) but more importantly the OS has both marked as being on the tidal stretch of those rivers, so It should be perfectly possible to finish at Rye by dipping a toe into tidal waters (which I notice he actually failed to do at Jarrow!)