By: Blonde Two

To continue our week of blog posts related to International Women’s Day we have ten interesting facts (with suitable Blonde comment) about outdoor women, their outdoor achievements and some things that have helped them along the way.

  • The first women joined Ordnance Survey in 1902 and their job was colouring maps. However, during WW1, between 1917 and 1918 46 women braved the channel crossing to France to set up a map making factory on the frontline. (Blonde note – we happen to enjoy colouring maps.)
  • In 1975 Junko Tabei of Japan became the first woman to summit Mount Everest. The slogan of her Ladies Climbing Club was, ‘Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves’ and she was once accused of only climbing so that she could find a husband. (Blonde note – there are other, far less dangerous, ways to find husbands.)
  • The first all-women farm run by the Women’s War Agricultural Committee was at Great Bidlake in Devon and staffed by a forewoman and three girls. (Blonde note – that’s four women with the forewoman!)
  • In 1926 Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel. When she was told by her coach to stop before finishing her first Channel swim attempt, she did so but later sacked him before making her successful attempt. (Blonde note – only five men but rather a lot of fish had made the swim before Gertrude.)
  • In the early days of female mountain climbing, women risked arrest or a fine if they wore bloomers or knickerbockers instead of a skirt. To solve this problem many of them carried a skirt to put on as they returned to civilisation. (Blonde note – it has been suggested that a hooped crinoline would, in fact, be the ideal underwear for a woman needing to wee outdoors in the company of men.)
  • Tampons have made the outdoors easier to deal with for many women. The first telescopic applicator tampon was not invented by a woman but it was a woman, Gertrude Tendrich, who bought the patent and started distribution in 1931. (Blonde note – there is a suggestion but no evidence that medieval woman used moss, similar to that found on Dartmoor, in a tampon-like manner.)
  • Girls were first officially allowed to join some UK Scout groups in 1990 but there is evidence to show that some girls did form Scout patrols before Girl Guides was introduced in 1910. (Blonde note – Baden Powell was a forward-thinking chap in more ways than one.)
  • In 1994 Norwegian Liv Arnesen became the first woman to ski solo to the North Pole. The expedition took her 50 days and she covered a distance of 745 miles. (Blonde note – Liv describes herself as ‘keen’ but not ‘fanatical’ about the outdoors… we agree!)
  • Women have a sense of humour about the outdoors. To prove it, here are a few of the names chosen by teams in Breast Cancer fund-raising events… The Rack Pack, Breast Foot Forward, Jug-gernauts’, Support Squad!

  • Women can read maps… you might already know this because we have certainly told you so but if you don’t believe us, or is, as many of our navigation trainees tell us, your husband always has the map, why not join us on one of our navigation courses (ladies only course available) or wild camping weekends?