wilderness LECTURES

Wilderness Awards

The 2017 Award Winner is Hannah Meinertzhagen

who is setting out with a small team to the Borkoldoy Mountain Range, south of Lake Kara-Say in Kyrgyzstan, to attempt two unclimbed 5000m peaks.


Wilderness Awards have been made to the following:

Hannah Meinertzhagen

Hannah, from Hambrook, near Bristol, is setting out with a small team to the Borkoldoy Mountain Range, south of Lake Kara-Say in Kyrgyzstan. Their primary aim is to complete first ascents of two previously unclimbed 5000m peaks. They also intend to identify first ascent objectives for future expeditions to the area.

Joe Johnstone

Joe carried out a solo unsupported crossing and return crossing of the frozen Lake Khuvsgul (Khuvsgul Nuur) on foot, a total journey length of c300km. He photographed, filmed and interviewed local people to gain a snapshot of the winter way of life for those currently living on the shores of the lake where climate change and worsening ice conditions are reducing the use of the winter trade routes across the ice.

Gina Moseley

Gina Moseley, together with her colleagues Robbie Shone (a National Geographic Photographer), polar explorer Clive Johnson, and rope access technicians Mark Wright and Chris Blakeley hiked to and explored the barren and difficult limestone terrain of Kronprins Christian Land in the Arctic Circle region of Northeast Greenland. They discovered, explored, surveyed, photographed and obtained samples from caves in this area of true wilderness.

More information about their trip can be obtained here: North East Greenland Caves Project

Michelle Blaydon

Michelle Blaydon, together with her companions Ross Hewitt, Tom Grant and Marcus Waring went on a ski mountaineering trip to explore, ski and climb new lines in and around the remote Clyde River area of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. They skiid 26 new lines in the Sam Ford Fjord and Walker Arm area.

jamie maddison.jpg

Jamie and his companion, Matt Traver, intend to recreate and re-imagine a journey made by the Anglo-Irish explorer Sir Charles Howard-Bury, to the Tien Shan - or Celestial Mountains - in 1913. They aim to leave 100 years to the day after Howard-Bury first set off, travelling in the exact manner he would have done so a century before. Their journey will involve travelling 30,000km overland through 22 different countries to the heart of Central Asia, including 2000km of unsupported horse-riding, 1000km of Russian barge-hopping and over 3000km of cycling.. The target destination is to visit the wild and remote Jungar Alatau mountain range of Southern Kazakhstan.

James Bingham

James and his team mates attempted a first winter ascent of the Mir Samir in Afghanistan (19,878ft , 6,059m) the peak made famous by Eric Newby in his book "A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush"

David Lewis and Anthon Jackson

David and Anthon's Danakil Expedition aims to follow in the footsteps taken by Wilfred Thesiger on his Awash Expedition to Ethiopia in 1933-34, but by camel. They hope to use writing, photography and film to document the Afar people and their lifestyle in one of the world's most inhospitable environments. (Anthon replaces India Bourke who had to drop out, for personal reasons) The photo shows Anthon, left, and David, right.

Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and Kerry Burns

Ants Bolingbroke-Kent and Kerry Burns are setting out to circumnavigate the Black Sea on a pair of Honda C90 motorcycles called Zulu and Ken. Zulu is latitent in leopard livery whilst Ken is the zebroid zephyr.

Matt Traver & Steve Beckwith

Matt Traver is a climber and caver currently based in Cardiff, owning and managing an outdoor equipment manufacturing business. Originally from Hong Kong, the sub-tropical jungle and his interest in climbing nurtured a curiosity in the potential for first ascents and climbing objectives both at home and elsewhere in the tropics of South East Asia. He has climbed extensively back home, establishing new routes both free, aid and sometimes solo. In addition to this he has climbed throughout the UK and Europe, as well having experience on some moderate big walls in Yosemite. Steve Beckwith is a climber also based in Cardiff, studying towards a Masters degree in Geology. He has well rounded experience in Scottish winter/Alpine climbing, notable routes in the French and Swiss Alps including a Traverse of the Matterhorn, the West Ridge of the Peigne and several solos of moderate peaks in the Chamonix Aiguilles. The Peruvian Andes are the next targets.

Felicity Aston

Felicity Aston joined the British Antarctic Survey as a Meteorologist in 2000 and spent three years at Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. Since returning from the Antarctic, Felicity has worked for the British Schools Exploring Society, competed in the Polar Challenge as part of the first all-female team to complete the Arctic endurance race, led an adventurous expedition to Iceland for a group of young people who had suffered an ABI (Acquired Brain Injury), led the first British all-female team to cross the Greenland ice-sheet and skied a frozen river in north-eastern Siberia to investigate the story of a Victorian nurse who journeyed to the region in the 1890's. In the UK, she is also an established travel writer. Felicity was our 2008 Wilderness Award winner.

Alistair Carley-Smith

A recent graduate from Exeter University, Alistair has always craved adventure. Perhaps the most significant of his early family holidays were those spent in the Sultanate of Oman: Christmas Eve beneath the stars in the Wahiba Sands, surrounded by dunes hundreds of feet high, a plastic Christmas tree and camel spiders. These early experiences of Arabia's deserts, mountains and bustling souqs never faded and led to further trips to Oman, the Emirates, Egypt, Turkey and Morocco. Eventually Alistair studied Arabic for 4 years at University and lived in Egypt for a while. Always looking for the next adventure, it seemed appropriate to undertake an extended journey through the whole of the Middle East, and after a lot of planning, 'The Great March' was realised.

Rob Eavis

Rob Eavis, the winner of our 2005 Award, is a final year student at Sheffield University and a member of SUSS, the University's Speleological Society. Despite a setback when the University temporarily withdrew financial support from this long established club, its reputation has continued to grow as its current members have built on the history and experiences of their predecessors. Rob is no exception - he's a member of a small select group that has been 'pushing' extensions in Titan - the deepest underground shaft in the UK and is he is the youngest person yet to participate in an expedition to the great caves of Mulu, in Borneo.

Martin Lis

Martin is a writer and photographer based in London. He is a keen skier, horserider and trekker with a passion for exploring the adventure and culture of the world's great mountain regions, especially the Andean countries of South America. Martin writes for Travel Intelligence and a wide range of publications. He has just written the Adventure Guide to Scotland (Hunter Publishing, http://www.hunterpublishing.com).

Martin's previous adventures have included riding a horse across the Namib Desert, trekking to the base of Bhutan's most sacred summit, close encounters with black bears in Alaska and rafting the thundering rapids of Panama's Rio Chiriqui.

Michael Riddell

Michael is an experienced traveller with a clear commitment to conservation. He has led a conservation based expedition to central Namibia, spent 2 months in Equador working in forest reserves and 7 months travelling solo from S.Africa to Uganda. His writing and photographs have appeared in Nomad magazine and the International Parks Bulletin.

Jon Telling

Jon Telling has recently finished a Research Fellowship in the Earth Science Dept at Leeds University, and is presently working in Bristol at various jobs to obtain money for further caving expeditions. He has previously participated on caving expeditions to Austria (1999), The Dominican Republic (2002) and Thailand (2000), as well as helping out with Sam's fieldwork in the submerged caves in the Yucatan.

Sam Smith is presently completing a PhD at Bristol University investigating the microbiology and chemistry of submerged caves in Mexico. She previously worked for two years in the Yucatan, Mexico, as a volunteer at the Akumal ecological centre. While working here she developed a love of diving and cave diving, and is now an experienced dive instructor and cave diver. She participated on the previous U.B.S.S. expedition to Thailand (2000).

Katie Moore

Katie Moore is the winner of our 2002 Wilderness Award. A true adventurer, she has worked for several years as an adventure travel guide, speaks fluent Spanish and has travelled throughout South America. In addition to her canoeing, she has taken part in paragliding expeditions to Chile and Mongolia and a skiing expedition to Chile.

What is the Wilderness Award?

The Wilderness Award is a cash award made to a UK resident over the age of 18 who intends to travel overseas, returning before 31st January of the following year, to undertake an unusual and adventurous objective in a geographically remote wilderness area.

We very much regret that we are unable to accept applications from individuals who are taking part in organised trips, irrespective of the value of their charitable or environmental aims, nor is the Award intended to support student research activities, unless these contain a very high element of adventure.

The Award is made to a named individual but we recognise that it will often be shared amongst team members to benefit all members of an expedition.

The successful applicant will demonstrate a combination of enthusiasm and imagination. He or she will be expected to deliver a lecture in the Wilderness Lectures series in Bristol in the spring following their expedition (and should therefore expect to be able to support this lecture with appropriate photographic material).

The application will be expected to show clearly an idea with achievable objectives, good research, careful planning, minimal environmental impact and a commitment to follow the plan through. Referee's comments will be sought to confirm both the nature of the project and the applicant's character.

The closing date for the Award will be November 30th of each year, for expeditions taking place the following calendar year. For guidance, please see our latest Award Guidelines.

Our Award is now set at £650

The award is made by Wilderness Lectures.


Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowships: The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust offers a limited number of travelling fellowships. These are prestigious awards and frequently include a category for explorers. Details can be obtained from the Trust's website.