Ice maidens: 10 first ascents by female mountaineers

Norwegian adventurer Cecilie SkogFair Use

In a world dominated by men, a select group of women have shattered the ice ceiling. Here we review some daring first ascents by female mountaineers

I’ll be honest: it rankles to write the words ‘the first female’ to do such and such. It feels patronising, as if to say you weren’t good enough to play with the big boys but I’ll pat you on the head anyway. 

10 Christmas gifts for travellers

Our annual list of 10 Christmas gifts for travellers, be they bookworms, shutterbugs, adrenaline junkies or culture vultures

This year was going to be the year that life went back to normal. Instead, we found ourselves in a strange liminal space of sullied plans and half lives. Some valiantly tried to reclaim their lives – Peter, for example, managed trips to Switzerland, Greece and Cyprus – but many more of us wilted into this new reality, like trees skewed by persistent wind.   

Introducing the Highlander Olympus trek in Greece

peter during his Highlander Olympus trekAtlas & Boots

Peter joins the Highlander Adventure team on Greece’s highest peak to scout the new Highlander Olympus trek launching next year

Trekking may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a visit to Greece. Ancient ruins steeped in mythology, island-hopping across the Aegean or feasting on the country’s delectable cuisine will all likely register first. Enter Mt. Olympus, the highest and most storied of all Greek mountains.

Diving in Cyprus: our first dive in two years

A friendly turtle visits us on our dive in CyprusAtlas & Boots

After two years at home, we go diving in Cyprus and rediscover the joy of subaquatic life

There was a time when I used to record my dives with all the zeal of a swot on her first day of school. I took my battered logbook on every trip abroad and fastidiously noted down the date, location, depth, temperature, points of interest and so on.

The seven second summits: a tougher challenge

seven second summits k2 - 1

The seven second summits are considered to be a much harder mountaineering challenge than the more popular seven summits

Previously, I’ve written about my dream of climbing the seven summits and laid out a realistic if not deeply challenging and expensive program of how to achieve that goal.

This week I look at the seven second summits; the second-highest mountains on each continent. The highest summits are a dream of mine, but I draw the line at the second-highest – they’re simply too scary for an amateur enthusiast like me!

Winter hiking: 6 tips to get you started

winter hiking featuredEmerald_media/Shutterstock

Winter hiking without experience is taxing at best and lethal at worst. We share some tips to help you prepare properly

Winter hiking is a polarising sport: some love it, others hate it. Too often, people have bad experiences not because they’re inherently resistant to cold, but because they’re under-prepared. They make not just basic mistakes like packing the wrong gear but also arrive mentally unprepared.

Real-life hobbit houses that you can actually stay in

One of our favourite real-life hobbit housesNature.house

As travellers turn to nature in a post-pandemic world, we share 10 real-life hobbit houses that offer the perfect retreat

It’s said that humans are one of the most adaptable species on the planet. We have settled the High Arctic and explored the deep sea, making homes in the unlikeliest places. When circumstances change drastically, as they did in 2020, we are able to adapt rapidly to a new way of living. In fact, our collective slowdown last year was so profound, we saw immediate effects on the natural world

10 great outdoor destinations – and their British twins

Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast is one of our favourite outdoor destinations in BritainBilly Stock/Shutterstock

From Alpine-esque peaks to Basque-country beauty, there’s a world’s worth of wonder right here at home

It’s strange that in a place literally named ‘Great’, we the British like to self-deprecate. We as a nation tend to regard blind ambition and gaudy success with a sense of mild distaste. We value modesty and restraint and seldom shout about our strengths.

Coast to Coast Walk tips: all you need to know

Coast to Coast Walk guide lead imageAtlas & Boots

We’ve collated all our Coast to Coast Walk tips in a detailed Q&A-style guide to help you along this classic English journey

I recently hiked England’s Coast to Coast Walk which crosses northern England from St Bees Head in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire. As the route practically passes my home in Richmond, I decided to walk the footpath twice and experience the celebrated trail in both directions.

How to prevent and treat blisters when hiking

How to prevent blisters when hiking lead image

Don’t let a pesky injury ruin your time in the outdoors. Our guide on how to prevent blisters will keep you on your feet

Whether you’re an experienced trekker or a newcomer to the trails, you will invariably suffer from one of the most common hiking injuries. To help you minimise the risk, we’ve put together a simple guide on how to prevent and treat blisters when hiking.

Virgin peaks: the world’s unclimbed mountains

unclimbed mountains Mount KailashDreamstime

The world’s unclimbed mountains are the last great challenges in mountaineering. We look at the most coveted of these unconquered summits

In early 2021, Nimsdai Purja and his team of Nepali climbers became the first to reach the summit of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, in winter. K2 was the final 8,000m peak awaiting a winter ascent after Nanga Parbat – Pakistan’s “Killer Mountain” – was scaled in 2016.

Best mountaineering books: 27 great reads

lead image of climber for best mountaineering books 2021Vixit/Shutterstock

Updated for 2021, we list the best mountaineering books ever written, drawing on accounts of world-class climbers in the harshest environments

As I’ve mentioned many times before, my bookshelves are filled with tales of adventure travel, survival against the odds and obsessive searches.

I’m an avid climber keen on winter mountaineering and wild camping so, naturally, mountaineering books take up a good chunk of space on my shelf.

The travel that changed me: Tharik Hussain

Stari Most, an Ottoman bridge in Bosnia and HerzegovinaMehmet/Shutterstock

Kia speaks to author Tharik Hussain and explains why his book about Muslim Europe is changing her thoughts about her own religion

If I had read Minarets in the Mountains in my youth, I would have almost certainly felt differently about my religion. My parents were Bangladeshi immigrants to the UK and in an effort to cling on to their identity, followed a highly prescriptive version of Islam that wasn’t very much fun.

Altitude sickness symptoms and how to avoid them

divisive destinationsDreamstime

Being young, fit and healthy doesn’t mean you won’t suffer from altitude sickness symptoms. Here’s how to identify, treat and prevent them effectively

Gracie is a student at Johns Hopkins, which offers one of the best medical training programs in the world. She is slim, fit and active. She doesn’t smoke, rarely drinks and always watches what she eats.

National parks in Wales: which one is right for you?

Llyn Fan y Fach is a 20,000 year-old glacial lakeAndreac77/Shutterstock

When it comes to Britain’s breathing spaces, the national parks in Wales compete with the best of them. Here, we explain why

Surrounded by sea on three sides, Wales is a dream destination for outdoor enthusiasts. While not as rugged as Scotland, or romantically perceived like Ireland, deepest Wales is just as beguiling. 

Lonely corners abound on dramatic mountain passes, deep river valleys and weather-lashed cliffs. Scattered seamlessly across the natural landscape are Iron Age hill forts, Roman ruins and over 600 castles – more per capita, it’s said, than any other country in the world. 

20 (typically modest) natural wonders in the UK

Natural arch of Durdle Door. natural wonders in the ukDreamstime

The best natural wonders in the UK may not equal those in the US, Canada or Australia, but the sometimes quirky, always striking sights are still worth seeing

When the ArcelorMittal Orbit was foisted on the London skyline in 2012, it split opinion rather starkly. I, for my sins, thought it was quirky and interesting while Peter thought it a blight on the landscape.