Adventure writing without a beard – Part 2


Outdoor sports and Adventure books written by female adventurers – Part 2

In Part 1 (you can read it here) we celebrated some of the most adventurous women on two wheels and two feet … up some very big hills. Now we are taking to the water with some record-breaking swimmers, kayakers and sailors and hearing from those amazing women who take their speed up a notch and run their way around the world.

Hoping to fill the gap that bookstores seem to have when it comes to female adventure writers, this list was formed with help from the lovely Adventure Queens and Love her Wild: Women’s Adventure Community.

Here are some epic adventures from inspiring women for you to curl up with …



Taking on the World – Ellen MacArthur 


Described perfectly by The Guardian as ‘As different from other sailing books as she is from other sailors’, ‘Taking on the world’ is no sailing book. It steers away from boat jargon and crashing waves and documents the extraordinary skill, strength and heart that it took for Ellen McArthur to become the Fastest woman ever to circumnavigate the globe. She writes in a refreshingly ‘ordinary’ way about her childhood and her preparations for an adventure of a lifetime.

Dare to do – Sarah Outen 

Following rescue from a terrifying tropical storm during her first attempt to circumnavigate the globe by cycling, kayaking and rowing, Sarah Outen gives us an insight into the determination needed to overcome ill health and depression to continue her adventures. We experience the kindness of strangers and how to try, fail and try again as well as basking in her glory at conquering Japan to Alaska by kayak, cycling North America and taking on the treacherous Aleutian chain.

Leap in: A woman, some waves and a will to swim – Alexandra Heminsley 

leap-inA book that has you immediately hunting out your cossie and getting the first bus down to the swimming baths or your closest lake. It begins with a memoir of Alexandra’s journey from novice to swimming from Kafalonia to Ithica, we learn of her triumph over her fear of water and the calming power of the sport. The second half looks at the history of swimming, the changes in strokes, attitudes and accessibility and really does encourage the reader to ‘Leap in’.

Find a way – Diana Nyad 

With a gold star review from power lady herself Hilary Clinton, ‘Find a way’ is perfectly placed in this list as a book to help you face the toughest challenges. Another book that begins with a failed attempt and the road back. This time it was the huge Cuba Swim that Diana Nyad had to abandon after 42 hours and 79 miles when she was blown desperately off course. After 30 years without swimming, the author decides to give it another try and so this book tells of pushing your mind and body to the limit and never ever giving up on your dream.

Four Corners – Kira Salek


Kira Salek’s expedition by foot and dugout canoe through the jungles of Papua New Guinea has readers on the edge of their seats throughout. With detailed accounts of the lives and customs of the tribespeople alongside discussions of her interaction with guerilla groups defending their land and resources, the reader gets a glimpse of this incredible journey. Bravery, skill and true strength of character come through Kira’s writing and inspire all those with an adventurous spirit.

Paddling my own canoe – Audrey Sutherland

Set in the 1950s and 60s, ‘Paddling my own canoe’ is a series of paddling adventures in Hawaii. Audrey Sutherland’s stamina and strength allow her to take on arduous swims in order to find peace and tranquility in the wilderness. Many women considered this book a ‘life-changer’ that gave them to confidence and drive to chase their own dreams.

Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmerswimming-to-antarctica

The extraordinary life of world record-breaking swimmer Lynne Cox leaves us treading water far behind. From the English Channel to the Straits of Magellan, the Baring Straight to the Cape of Good Hope and even the zero degree waters of Antarctica , Lynne gives us a joyous peek into what it really takes to achieve the impossible.

Cape Horn is not a gift – Freya Hoffmeister

Another visit to Cape Horn but this time in a kayak and as part of the world’s first circumnavigation of South America by sea kayak. Freya Hoffmeister describes her incredible 27,000km journey from the Panama Canal to Cape Horn against the elements, alongside spectacular nature and even up close and personal with the local wildlife.


The Pants of Perspective – Anna McNuffthe-pants-of-perspective

One from our favourite Adventure Queen Anna McNuff, this book is a bundle of positivity and inspiration. Anna takes us on a 3000km running adventure through New Zealand back country over 148 days and shows us that ordinary really can become extra-ordinary. Colourful, witty and truly honest at times, The Pants of Perspective will get you off the couch and into your running shoes in a heartbeat even if its to do your local 5k rather than the Te Araroa Trail!


Mud, Sweat and Tears – Moire O’Sullivan

Moire O’Sullivan’s book takes us from failure to triumph on her solo attempt of the Wicklow Road in Ireland. After collapsing 2 summits from the end in 2008, she returned to become the first person ever to complete the challenge. This is her story from the newbie fell runner with the wrong shoes to one of the best long distance mountain runners in Ireland.

Just a little run around the world – Rosie Swale Pope

just-a-little-run-around-the-worldFollowing the loss of her husband to cancer, Rosie Swale Pope set off to run around the world with nothing but a small rucksack and the proceeds of the sale of her cottage. From her heartbreak came strength and that strength took her on a journey of 20,000 miles, 5 years and 53 pairs of shoes. Her stories of trudging through snow, -62c temperatures and being chased by wolves will keep you reading and ignite in you a real yearning for adventure.

Run the World – Becky Wade

Elite marathon runner and olympic hopeful Becky Wade took the ultimate gap year where she travelled the world to discover the running culture and training techniques of far flung places. She hiked mountains in Ethiopia, rode shotgun with Usain Bolt in London and got lost in Tokyo whilst clocking up over 3500 miles of running in these wonderful settings. Her research came in handy too as she incorporated the skills she had learned into her training and went on to become the third-fastest woman marathoner under the age of 25 in U.S. history.