For sailing, climbing and other groups keen to find out more, the illustrated talk on ‘Travels with Tilman’ will bring to life the real experience of travelling with Bill Tilman.  Containing many unpublished photographs and letters, the talk offers a unique opportunity to gain awareness and understanding of this remarkable man based on a friendship that endured until Tilman’s loss at sea in 1977.

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H.W. ‘Bill’ Tilman, ‘The Skipper’ as we knew him, was one of the most extraordinary characters of the twentieth century.  Like many other members of Tilman’s crews, I knew virtually nothing about the man when I first sailed with him.  He survived the Great War with distinction before carving out a new life in Kenya, where his climbing partnership with fellow farmer Eric Shipton began.  Their expeditions to the Himalaya and Nepal included the ‘orgy of mountaineering’ which marked the 1935 Everest Reconnaissance, with two dozen virgin peaks over 20,000 feet bagged in a single season. The following year, Tilman was to stand atop Nanda Devi, at 25,600 feet the highest mountain yet climbed by man.  During the Second World War, he returned to his military calling, at first in conventional operations in Northern Europe and North Africa, before the maverick in him led him behind enemy lines, by the end of the war becoming a local hero in the liberation of the Italian city of Belluno.  After a brief return to the Himalaya and an even shorter steady consular job in Burma, Tilman bought a boat, taught himself to sail and became the pioneering high latitude navigator recognised by all those who follow in his wake today.

Given that new material is regularly coming to light, the content of the talk has evolved considerably since it was originally presented in 2008.  To discuss how the talk might fit your event, please take the ‘Contact’ option on the menu at the head of this page.

‘Travels with Tilman’ – 2017/2018 confirmed dates
March ’17 The Henley Offshore Group
March ’17 Berkhamsted School – Tilman House
July ’17 Sheffield ‘Outdoor City’ Adventure Book Festival
 August ’17  Chichester U3A
 November ’17  Channel Sailing Club
 January ’18  Royal Southern Yacht Club – Hamble


Previous Years


February Fort William Mountain Festival
June Three Peaks Yacht Race, Barmouth
November The Royal Cruising Club Dinner at the Royal Thames Yacht Club, London
November Kendal Mountain Festival
February Cardiff Bay Yacht Club
February Portsmouth Sailing Club
March Market Drayton Cruising Association
May Bromsgrove Boaters Yacht Club
June Havant Probus Group
June Hayling island U3A
October Lymington Town Sailing Club
November Bath Sailing Club
November Solent Old Gaffers Association
March Chipping Norton Yacht Club
December Little Ship Club – London
December Arthur Beales Lecture – Shaftesbury Avenue, London
February Portsmouth Offshore Group – Civil Service Yacht Club – Gosport
February The Mackenzie Building, Edinburgh
March RAF Yacht Club
May Ashdown Sailing Club
September Crawley Mariners Yacht Club
October Portsmouth Sailing Club, Wyllie Lecture
October Guildford Coastal Cruising Club
October Harwich Town Sailing Club
February Marchwood Yacht Club
February Gilbert White House, Selbourne
April Yately Offshore Sailing Club
October Royal Naval Club/Royal Albert Yacht Club
October Royal Harwich Yacht Club
 May  Barmouth Tilman Festival


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