Gertrude Emily Benham's Tibetan Boots

Contributed by Plymouth City Museum

Worn by  traveller and mountaineer Gertrude Emily Benham on her 'tramps to Leh'. © Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery

A world-class mountainer, in 1909 Gertrude Benham was the first recorded woman to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro.In 1928, Gertrude Benham surmised, "The spirit of wanderlust has entered my soul". Benham was a remarkable traveller and mountaineer who journeyed through the world at the beginning of the 20th century. She kept a notebook listing the many objects that she collected and notes that these boots were: "worn by me on my tramps to Leh". Leh, was historically a busy town on the Silk Route from China. Gertrude was particularly fond of the Himalayas and as a result she spent a lot of time in the north of India. Interviewed for a book published in 1935, she describes how she was viewed as something of a curiosity by the people that she met in this region: "One chief in a small village hamlet exhibited me to his people with pride". This pair of boots was donated to the museum by Gertrude Benham along with hundreds of other items.

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