Millican Dalton, Jean Brown and Mabel Barker having a brew-up in 1935. Photo Mabel Barker Collection
Milican Dalton (Apr 20, 1867 – Feb 5, 1947) the British self-styled “Professor of Adventure”, was never motivated by adrenaline fuelled adventure, by speed, or by winning races. He lived in a cave in England’s Lake District and led camping and climbing trips up the local mountains.
He outfitted himself and his clients in lightweight gear he designed and sewed himself, specializing in tents made of tightly woven Egyptian cotton. In the rain the fibers would swell, tightening the weave and rendering the shelter water resistant, if not exactly dry. He sold handmade rucksacks, advertising them as “half the weight and one-third the cost” of the Norwegian packs in vogue at the time.
Millican did most of his sewing in the winter, when not climbing trees or, weather permitting, skimming across icy ponds on handmade wooden skates or sliding through the forest on skis—a skill he acquired in the Alps before the First World War. His handmade clothes were habitually left un-finished as frayed testimony that in Millican’s eyes, hemmed shorts should never stand in the way of a good ramble.
Millican didn’t see any reason why Barker or other women shouldn’t climb hard rock, or otherwise do as they pleased. That was only one of his unorthodox beliefs, all of which he espoused freely. He relished a good argument, and though he was sometimes called him the “Borrowdale Hermit” he was as sociable as he was opinionated. He welcomed visitors, occasionally leaving handwritten invitations to take tea with him at “Sinbad’s Cave.” Those who obliged would often be goaded into political discussions, which Millican pursued with gusto. He was a socialist and an outspoken pacifist who once wrote Winston Churchill during the height of the Blitz, demanding the Prime Minister make peace with the Germans. It seems the local air raid warden had climbed up to the cave to demand Millican douse his fire, infringing the Caveman’s liberty and provoking his ire.
Filmed across two years in The Lake District National Park, Michael Lazenby‘s video takes you on a grand tour of the most breathtaking vistas and sights this stunning part of the world has to offer, including Derwentwater, Cat Bells, Blencathra, Buttermere, Ullswater, Helvellyn, Angle Tarn, Castlerigg Stone Circle, Grasmere, Windermere, Langdale, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Great Langdale, Striding Edge, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Wasdale, Scafell Pike, Loughrigg Tarn, Rydal Water, Whorneyside Force, Great Gable, Styhead Tarn, Swirral Edge, Catstycam, and The Scafells.
“The limited range of electric vehicles can put people off,” said Paul. “But Orkney, with its proliferation of rapid-charge points that take a battery from empty to full in 40 minutes, coupled with the vehicle’s 120-mile range on an island that is only 26 miles across, is the perfect place to try them.”
Over the next couple of days we explored the island’s landmarks, continuing our oscillation between time periods. We strolled along the beach at the Churchill Barriers – causeways created in the second world war to stop U-boats from entering Scapa Flow. Snorkellers were exploring the rusting wrecks that poked out from the waves.
While the campervan was plugged into a handy rapid-charge station in the island’s capital, Kirkwall, (I only charged it once in three days, and that was just to play it safe rather than necessity), we wandered around town, taking in its old Viking cathedral – built in 1137 – and Orkney Distillery, where the hydrogen is harnessed to produce gin with no emissions other than water.
At a latitude of 64.1466° N, Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city. Only Nuuk, the capital city of Greenland, which sits at 64.1814° N, is further north than Reykjavík. However, Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark. Geographically, Greenland is part of the continent of North America.
In comparison, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada sits at a latitude of 45.4215° N.
Fun Face » Reykjavík is the only Western European capital without a McDonald’s or a Starbucks. The only other European capital without a McDonald’s is Tirana, Albania. Rome, Italy is also Starbucks-free.
*Russia, is so vast, being the largest country in the world, and most of it within the continent of Asia. However, Moscow is considered part of eastern Europe.
With the smell of the North Sea in my nostrils, I feel a long way from central London, where my journey began amid the tangier aroma of delivery driver diesel. My plan was to go in search of the old road between London and Edinburgh: the one that had served the mail coaches, witnessed marching soldiers and highway robbery, and had an ancient and evocative name: the Great North Road.
Over the last 300-odd miles I’d been pretty faithful to the old road – or at least as faithful as you can be while avoiding dual carriageways and speeding drivers. The key is to find stretches where the new has been built next to the old, rather than on top of it: an orphaned mile or so at Tempsford in Bedfordshire, Stilton in Cambridgeshire or Cromwell in Nottinghamshire. On these forgotten high streets I find it remarkably easy to visualise a time when the mail coach was the king of the road – the horses’ hooves clattering and the guard blowing his horn.
On June 25th, 2021, at 12 noon, the exuberant 74-year old Rosie Swale Pope restarted her 8,500km run from Brighton, England to Kathmandu, Nepal.
In July 2018, Rosie started her 8,500km run that would have taken her through 18 countries. But for pandemic, she was ordered to stop her run in Turkey.
Rosie has remained determined to reach Nepal, but instead of continuing on from Turkey, she has restarted from the UK and is taking a different route in an effort to reach Katmandu and raising funds for the “charity PHASE Worldwide who work with remote Nepalese communities.”
Rosie previously ran around the world from 2003 to 2008.
Walking Land’s End to John o’Groats wasn’t the original plan. All I wanted was freedom. I had worked as a civil servant for three years, first in central government as the country grappled with Brexit, then, after the pandemic hit, on the Covid response. Through the tumult, my colleagues were pleasant and supportive, and the material circumstances of my life did not change. When I took a burnout questionnaire, though, I ticked every box: tiredness, torpor, tetchiness. I’m normally a silly person. But I wasn’t smiling much. I’m normally a creative person. But nothing was happening in my brain. I felt bleached.
All I wanted was to be free, of emails and objectives and obligations which could only disappoint, of defined, quantifiable purpose. I wanted to luxuriate in pure freedom, to walk in a wild, blank void. If our culture of metrics and targets and progress were more receptive to the idea of pointlessness as a point, I might instead have quoted another naturalist, Henry David Thoreau. He wrote that creative thoughts are like birds, coming to us only if they have branches to settle. “If the grove in our minds is laid waste – sold to feed unnecessary fires of ambition – they no longer build or breed with us.” I needed to do nothing but walk and wallow in swamp and marrow for the trees to heal, for the birds to come back. The walk was more to do with that.
How do you choose your next adventure when there are so many options available?
Wizarding up ideas for adventures is one of my favourite things to do. I find it enjoyable, exciting, but also easy. If I was a specialist I would need to search for something higher, harder and faster within my niche every time I wanted a new challenge. But because I am a generalist, I make the next adventure more challenging by making it differently challenging to previous projects. It is an important part of keeping adventure fresh for me.
I am surprised how often people tell me that they really want to do an adventure but don’t know what to do. Hopefully this walk-through of the way I come up with ideas might get your own adventure cogs whirring…