Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Journey of a Lifetime Award

Every year since 2001, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), in partnership with BBC Radio 4, has enabled someone’s dream travel project to come true. Whether it’s reporting on conservation in the jungles of Sierra Leone, training with traditional wrestlers in Mongolia, or searching for the tigers of the Sundarbans forest, the Journey of a Lifetime Award aims to support informed travel and discover new radio talent. Continue reading

Wilderness Lectures in Bristol 2015-2016

Wilderness Lectures - Images Copyright Ben Wakefield

Stanfords has teamed up with Wilderness Lectures to bring travellers and explorers to venues in Bristol.

The Wilderness Lectures are a winter series of public talks in Bristol; the theme of which is worldwide adventure. The lecturers are well-known explorers, mountaineers, travel writers, TV and adventure sports personalities or anyone who has an epic story to tell and can entertain the audience with a good story. The talks usually include slides and/or film.

Wilderness Lectures tickets are available on the Stanfords website (up to 72 hours before each event) and in-store from the Bristol shop. See the programme guide below for further details.

2015-2016 Wilderness Lectures programme guide.

Season Tickets

Season tickets are no longer available


07th October 2015 – 7:30pm – Dervla Murphy – Dervla Murphy in Conversation with Hugh Thomson

Dervla Murphy Buy Tickets for Dervla Murphy: in Conversation with Hugh Thomson
Tickets are now only available at our Bristol shop until the afternoon of the talk but need to be collected at the door.

Dervla Murphy was born in Lismore, Co. Waterford in 1931 where she still lives when not travelling. She is best known for her 1965 book Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle, about an overland cycling trip through Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. She followed this with volunteer work helping Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal and trekking with a mule through Ethiopia.

Dervla took a break from travel writing following the birth of her daughter, and then wrote about her travels with Rachel in India, Pakistan, South America, Madagascar and Cameroon. She later wrote about her solo trips through Romania, Africa, Laos, the states of the former Yugoslavia, and Siberia. She has normally travelled alone and unaided; she is now is now 83.

Her daughter, Rachel, and three young grand-daughters live in Italy and have joined Dervla on her travels when possible.

21st October 2015 – 7:30pm – Andrew Harper – Last Man Walking: Australian Desert Exploration:

Andrew Harper Buy Tickets for Andrew Harper: Last Man Walking: Australian Desert Exploration
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

Andrew Harper is the Founder, Managing Director & Expedition Leader of ADE, Australian Desert Expeditions, a not-for-profit environmental organisation that conducts scientific and ecological surveys in remote desert regions. ADE works with leading national research institutions and universities, government and private land management agencies and indigenous landowners across Central Australia. His deep desert trips include a 4637km solo crossing of Australia along the Tropic Of Capricorn, raising funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service; a 720km, 35 day, 2 man, 5 camel expedition across the Tanami Desert to link the routes of explorers John Stuart and Augustus Gregory; a nomadic walk from the western side of the Simpson Desert to the Warburton River near Lake Eyre – a two person, 6 camel, 1 dog journey which took over 35 days and covered 430 kilometres and the reconnXpedition – a 35 day, 700km west-to-east solo walk across the Simpson Desert, the world’s largest parallel sand-ridge desert. Andrew is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and on Australia Day 2015 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to environmental science, research and adventure tourism.

28th October 2015 – 7:30pm – Reel Rock Tour – Reel Rock Tour 10

Reel Rock Tour Buy Tickets for Reel Rock Tour – Reel Rock Tour 10:
Advance Tickets: £9.50 >
Concession Tickets: £9.00 >

The final line-up for the 2015 tour has just been confirmed. We’ll be showing ‘A Line Across the Sky’ the film about Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold’s first ascent of the Fitz Traverse involving the 7 major summits of the Patagonian range; ‘High and Mighty’ – a film featuring Daniel Woods about highball bouldering; ‘Showdown at Horseshoe Hell; about the 24 Hours annual endurance rock climbing competition; a Tribute to Dean Potter, the free climber, alpinist, BASE jumper and highliner who died recently in a wingsuit accident in Yosemite; and a teaser for the film of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson’s stunning ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan.

04th November 2015 – 7:30pm – Alain Robert – With Bare Hands

Alain Robert Buy Tickets for Alain Robert – With Bare Hands:
Advance Tickets: £11.50 >
Concession Tickets: £11.00 >

Alain Robert is a global household name – if only by his Human Spider nickname. He is famous in 150 countries for climbing 145 of the world’s tallest buildings with his bare hands. In addition to his reputation as a solo climber on rock, his exploits at climbing the world’s highest buildings have brought him into the public eye many times. Despite his extraordinary reputation, the consequences of falling are not unknown to him. Astonishingly he remains 66% disabled following terrible injuries received in a fall in 1982. Even more astonishingly he also suffers from vertigo, epilepsy and had a fear of heights. Yet despite these ordinarily overwhelming challenges he has gone on to achieve worldwide celebrity status as one of the greatest climbers of all time. Despite being arrested on multiple occasions, he continues to climb and, in the process, has raised thousands of dollars for charity. If you search YouTube for his name you get 6,300 results, Google his name and you get 73,600,000 returns – the Dalai Lama only gets 29 million!

18th November 2015 – 7:30pm – Leo Houlding – One Step Beyond:

Leo Houlding Buy Tickets for Leo Houlding – One Step Beyond:
Advance Tickets: £11.50 >
Concession Tickets: £11.00 >

If modern British adventure has a face, it looks a lot like Leo Houlding. Based in the Lake District, UK, he is one of Britain’s top climbers and among the best in the world. At 34 he is already a veteran of a score of epic ascents specialising in free climbing the most technical peaks and biggest walls in the world.

Recently he has led a motley crew of characters on a string extreme expeditions up the most spectacular and demanding peaks, in some of the most hostile environments imaginable. From first ascents on Yosemite’s mighty El Capitan, to the frozen drama of Mount Asgard in the high Arctic, through the depths of the Amazon jungle and into the great white desert of Antarctica. Acclaimed photographer & film maker Alastair Lee’s documentation of the expeditions has set new standards in adventure film production value collecting more than 30 awards around the world.

02nd December 2015 – 7:30pm – John Pilkington – A Balkan Adventure:

John Pilkington Buy Tickets for John Pilkington – A Balkan Adventure:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

John is a regular Wilderness Lecturer, and always lives up to his reputation as ‘one of Britain’s greatest tellers of travellers- tales’. He was among the first people of our generation to retrace the Silk Road across Asia, and one of the first Westerners to explore the Central Asian republics after the break-up of the Soviet Union. More recently he has mapped the source of the Mekong and walked the 1,600-mile ‘Royal Road of the Incas’ through the Andes of Ecuador and Peru. In 2006 he joined a camel caravan carrying salt across the Sahara Desert from the mines of Taoudenni to Timbuktu. Between 2009 and 2011 he visited remote parts of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, countries which he says “are in the news for all the wrong reasons”.
John’s Radio 4 programmes have won him several appearances on Pick of the Week and one on Pick of the Year. But it’s for his lectures and photos that people know him best. He has spoken to over 1,000 audiences in five countries, and holds the Royal Geographical Society’s Ness Award for popularising geography and the wider understanding of the world.

09th December 2015 – 7:30pm – Brit Rock Tour 2015:

Buy Tickets for Brit Rock Tour 2015:
Advance Tickets – Coming soon
Concession Tickets – Coming Soon

Leading adventure film maker Alastair Lee is back with a brand new mountain film for 2015 ‘The Citadel’ featuring UK alpinists Matt Helliker and Jon Bracy embarking on a first ascent in a stunning and remote corner of the Alaskan wilderness. The world’s first 4k mountain film, a truly amazing spectacle. This feature is supported by the new film from Jen Randel ‘Operation Moffat’ an inspiring and charming archive account of Britian’s first female mountain guide, the amazing Gwen Moffat (now 92). Adding to the program will be the superb short ‘Wild Atlantic’ a montage of all things climbing on the west coast of Ireland by climbing photographer Craig Hiller.

The Brit Rock film tour is the first home grown adventure tour to emerge from the vibrant UK film making industry. After the success of its inaugural 2014 launch we’re back with a bang for 2015. Brit Rock comes right from the heart of the UK adventure scene, with liberal splashes of the inimitable British spirit.

16th December 2015 – 7:30pm – Maria Liejerstam – Doubt, fear & bad hair!:

Maria Liejerstam Buy Tickets for Maria Liejerstam – Doubt, fear & bad hair!:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

Maria is an adventurer, a business owner and a mother. She has run across the Sahara desert, cycled across the frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia, raced on the World Series Adventure Racing circuit and in 2013 set a major polar record for becoming the first PERSON in the world to cycle to the South Pole. Having studied mathematics at university, Maria’s career began in rocket science and she moved later into Business strategy and consulting. With only 24 hours in her day she soon realised that she needed to combine her passion with her business and in 2010 she established the Burn Series Adventure Races. These are multisport events held across Wales, suitable for all ages and abilities.

6th January 2016 – 7:30pm – Niall McCann – Nature Red in Tooth and Claw:

Niall McCann Buy Tickets for Niall McCann – Nature Red in Tooth and Claw:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

Dr Niall McCann is a biologist, explorer and TV presenter who has spent over two years on expeditions all around the world. Born into a family of biologists and adventurers, Niall has specialised in working on endangered species in remote and challenging locations from the Namib Desert to the Amazon Rainforest and the lawless highlands of Honduras. Niall made his television debut in 2011 and his wildlife documentary programmes, which focus on human-animal conflict, are aired all over the world.

20th January 2016 – 7:30pm – Dave Cornthwaite – Say Yes More – A Decade of Adventure:

Dave Cornthwaite Buy Tickets for Dave Cornthwaite – Say Yes More – A Decade of Adventure:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

Since quitting his job as a really bad graphic designer in 2005, Dave Cornthwaite has developed a successful career based around his passions. At the core, he is a record-breaking adventurer. He has also written three books and his uniquely entertaining and motivational keynote presentations have been enjoyed on six continents. His passionate advocacy of the word YES has contributed to the sprouting of countless adventures worldwide, big and small.

In between adventures Dave is committed to enabling others to reach their own potential through social journeys, workshops, group expeditions and mindset-shaping projects. If his enthusiasm for simple living, the power of adventure for good and the glorious pursuit of enjoying Mondays isn’t enough to get you ready for a new challenge, nothing will.

3rd February 2016 – 7:30pm – Martin Boysen – Hanging On:

Martin Boysen Buy Tickets for Martin Boysen – Hanging On:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

Martin Boysen started climbing on the sandstone outcrops of Sussex 55 years ago and rapidly became one of Britain’s outstanding rock climbers. famed for his silky technique. He made a huge contribution to British rock climbing, especially in North Wales where he discovered Gogarth in the 1960s and climbed some of the best new routes of his era: Nexus on Dinas Mot, The Skull on Cyrn Las and the magisterial Capital Punishment on Ogwen’s Suicide Wall. For more than two decades, Martin was also one of Britain’s leading mountaineers; a crucial member of Sir Chris Bonington’s team that climbed the South Face of Annapurna in 1970, he was also part of Bonington’s second summit team on the South West face of Everest. In 1976 he made the first ascent of Trango Tower with Joe Brown.

He studied Botany at Manchester University where he met his wife Maggie, and worked as a teacher in a career interrupted frequently by expeditions. He still lives near Manchester and maintains his love of climbing and nature. He has one married daughter, and he greatly enjoys trying to keep up with his grandchildren as they scamper over the rocks.

09th February 2016 – 7:30pm – Squash Falconer – Esser Memorial Lecture: Fundraiser for the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust:

Buy Tickets for Squash Falconer – Esser Memorial Lecture: Fundraiser for the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust:
Tickets will be available shortly and they will only be on sale at our Bristol shop.

Venue: Anson Room, Bristol Student Union.

We are intending to run an event to raise funds for the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust. Check back later for further details.

This will be an event run in association with the University of Bristol’s Mountaineering Club and Speleolical Society as a Paul Esser Memorial Lecture. As such it will not be covered by our season ticket.

Jonathan Conville died on the Matterhorn in the winter of 1979, aged 27 but his remains were not recovered until 2013, he was cremated and his ashes will rest in Zermatt. His family established the Trust in his memory to encourage and assist young people to train for and pursue their love of the outdoors in the spirit of adventure.

Paul Esser died in the early 70s in a cave diving accident in S.Wales. A fund was established to endow an annual lecture in his memory but low interest rates made this impossible. UBSS has now received permission to revise the lectures by spending down the capital on the fund.

17th February 2016 – 7:30pm – Gina Moseley – Caves of North East Greenland:

Gina Moseley Buy Tickets for Gina Moseley – Caves of North East Greenland:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

Gina developed a love for caving during a family holiday to Cheddar when she was 12. Later, whilst studying Geography at Birmingham her underground interests developed into cave research, which developed further and led her here to Bristol to study for a PhD in sea-level reconstruction from Caribbean caves. The research won a number of awards. Gina’s exploratory caving began around the same time with a student expedition to Crete, and has since been followed up with expeditions to Borneo, Libya, Turks and Caicos Islands, India, the Dolomites, Swiss and Austrian Alps, and France. Gina is currently undertaking cave research at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, where she is making the most of everything that the alpine life has to offer.

02nd March 2016 – 7:30pm – Bob Shepton – Sailing and Climbing with the Wild Bunch:

Bob Shepton Bob Shepton – Sailing and Climbing with the Wild Bunch:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

Bob Shepton has been a Royal Marines Officer, a full time youth leader in the east end of London, and chaplain to two schools. Voyages include a circumnavigation of the world with school leavers via Antarctica and Cape Horn, several Tilman type expeditions to Greenland and the Arctic, sailing and making first ascents of mountains and rock climbs, fourteen Atlantic crossings and 140,000 miles of sailing. He discovered and pioneered climbing on the sea cliffs of Lulworth and Portland. Awards include the Blue Water Medal, Tilman Medal (twice), Barton Cup (twice), Goldsmith Medal for Exploration, Vasey Vase (three times) , Piolet d’Or 2011, Yachtsman of the Year 2013. He has written a book ‘Addicted to Adventure’.

16th March 2016 – 7:30pm – Lois Pryce – Helmet & A Hijab – A Solo Motorcycle Journey around Iran:

Lois Pryce Buy Tickets for Lois Pryce – Helmet & A Hijab – A Solo Motorcycle Journey around Iran:
Advance Tickets: £9.00 >
Concession Tickets: £8.50 >

(Lois is standing in for our booked speaker, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent who has unfortunately had to cancel her appearance)
(NB your ticket will show the name of the speaker as Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent)

Lois Pryce is a British travel author, journalist and broadcaster. She is also co-founder of the Adventure Travel Film Festival.

In 2003 Lois left her job at the BBC in London to ride twenty-thousand miles from Alaska to the tip of South America on a small dirt bike. Her book about this trip, Lois on the Loose, has been published throughout the world. In 2006 she rode the length of Africa, taking in the Sahara, the Congo and Angola, which resulted in her book, Red Tape & White Knuckles.

In 2013/14, intrigued by the negative image of Iran and its stormy relationship with her homeland, she made two solo motorcycle tours of the Islamic Republic – and discovered a misunderstood country full of warmth and kindness. This is the subject of her next book.

With her husband, adventure film-maker, Austin Vince, she is founder/curator of Adventure Travel Film Festival which occurs annually in the UK and Australia

All lectures are held at the Chemistry Theatre, University of Bristol.

For more information on Wilderness Lectures, go to