To the Poles without a Beard by Catharine Hartley

About the book

The story of an ordinary thirty-something city girl who became the first British woman to walk to the South Pole. ‘We called ourselves Plebs to the Pole. It was the first time travellers with no previous polar experience had the chance to attempt such a journey. Before our expedition, Antarctica had been sacred territory – the preserve of scientists and real explorers. No one had any idea how amateurs would perform in such extreme conditions.’ In January 2000 Catharine Hartley, a thirty-four-year-old Londoner with no previous polar experience, walked into the record books by becoming the first British woman to reach the South Pole on foot. Just over a year later, she topped her achievement by manhauling her sled to the much more physically challenging North Pole. TO THE POLES WITHOUT A BEARD is a wonderfully humorous tale which differs considerably from the usual (male) polar account, as Catharine is no polar-bear eating, athletic toughie who exalts in as much physical discomfort and misery as possible, but an ordinary, Chardonnay-loving girl from London who decides with remarkable willpower to achieve the impossible. Catharine’s story is an inspiration to all those who have ever wanted to make their dreams a reality.

Reviewed by The Villager Reading Group:

The best thing about this book is the cover. We would not want her on our expedition.

Star rating: **

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4 thoughts on “To the Poles without a Beard by Catharine Hartley”

  1. Review by Earls Close Group:
    Easy to read. Interesting that a person with Catharine’s background an personality should make such a trip. Good insight into logistics of polar exploration.
    Star rating: ** and a half

  2. Review by Shipton Bellinger WI Reading Group:
    Very easy to read. Catharine Hartley managed to irritate all of us at some point during the book. Having said that we were impressed by her journeys and all learnt something about polar exploration.
    Star rating: **

  3. Review by Petersfield U3A Book Circle 3:
    Much discussion regarding the character of the author. It was refreshing to read some first hand experiences and to learn how they lived in the North and South Poles.
    Star rating: ***

  4. Review by Goodworth Clatford WI Reading Group:
    Dull and disappointing. Doubt about the truth of the account, felt a lot had been embellished. Why did the publishers think it worth while? Stimulated a lot of discussion.
    Star rating: *

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