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17 June 2006 

The geographic ring which crowns the northern hemisphere of the globe is an area which embraces diverse landscapes, wildlife and communities.  Explorers, who have ventured into the Arctic Circle, describe it as one of the most beautiful, inhospitable and desolate regions of the earth.

Four women known as The Arctic Foxes have just travelled into the Arctic heights and become the first British all-female team to cross the Greenland ice-sheet.  Sandi Toksvig finds out from Felicity Aston and Rachel Pearson, two of The Arctic Foxes, how they achieved this record while battling through some challenging weather conditions.

Polar explorer Pen Hadow and author of The Explorer's Daughter, Kari Herbert talk about their arctic adventures, and discuss how women, the young and old, disabled and novices are finding ways to experience the special qualities presented by the Polar Regions.

Presented by Sandi Toksvig

The Arctic Foxes

Photograph: The Arctic Foxes

This week's guests:

Felicity Aston is a travel and adventure writer. Felicity has travelled to Greenland, South America, Canada and the Antarctic.  In 2000 she joined the British Antarctic Survey as a meteorologist and spent three years living and working at Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula.  Felicity was also part of the first all-female team to complete the notorious Polar Challenge, a 360-mile endurance race across the Canadian Arctic. 

Rachel Pearson has trekked in Thailand, rafted the rapids in New Zealand, snowboarded in France, scaled Cotopaxi in Ecuador - the worlds highest active volcano, parachuted in Australia and in May 2005 completed her first triathlon at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.  This latest expedition in Greeland with The Arctic Foxes was her first Arctic adventure. 

The Arctic Foxes (Felicity Aston; Jenny Pugh, Jo Vellino and Rachel Pearson) are the first British all-woman team to cross the Greenland ice sheet. They covered 650km from Kangerlussuak in the West to Ammasillik in the East.

Pen Hadow, author and polar explorer.  Pen was the first man to walk solo and unsupported from the northern coast of Canada to the North Pole.  He has made over 30 trips to various areas within the Arctic Circle and now offers advice, support and a carbon offset scheme for people interested in travelling to the Polar Regions.

Solo: The North Pole: Alone and Unsupported
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 014102058X

Pen Hadow's travel website

Kari Herbert, writer and photographer.  Polar explorer Sir Wally Herbert took his wife and 10 month old daughter Kari to northern Greenland where they were to live for almost two years whilst he documented the fading culture of the Polar Eskimo. 

The family made several return visits during Kari's childhood, then as an adult in 2002 she returned alone to reacquaint herself with the people she regards as family.  Kari's new book is an account of that visit, interwoven with reminiscences of a most unconventional childhood.

The Explorer's Daughter: A Young Englishwoman Rediscovers Her Arctic Childhood
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 0141011491

The Snow People: Life among the Polar Eskimos
By Marie Herbert

The Arctic Club

Scott Polar Research Institute

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Sandi ToksvigSandi Toksvig:
The daughter of a foreign correspondent, Sandi has been travelling all her life more info

John McCarthy John McCarthy is a widely travelled journalist and presenter with a particular interest in the Middle East.
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