Wednesday 14th October

Bob Comlay

Travels with Tilman


Bill Tilman’s climbing and sailing achievements rank amongst the greatest in the fields of twentieth century mountaineering and high latitude sailing. By the time of his disappearance in the South Atlantic in 1977, he had left a legacy of some of the finest travel books ever written. Quoted as an inspiration by both Chris Bonington and Robin Knox-Johnston, Tilman’s books remain essential reading for those who embark on similar ventures.

Born in 1898, Tilman was a highly decorated military leader who survived the brutality of the Great War and volunteered for covert operations behind enemy lines leading Albanian and Italian partisans during the second World War. Apart from this extraordinary wartime service, the rest of his life was spent climbing and sailing in remote parts of the world, stopping only to write the fifteen books that document his travels.

Bob Comlay was one of only a handful of crewmembers who chose to return for a second high latitude voyage, earning a level of trust that gives him unique insight into the character of this self-effacing legend of twentieth century exploration.

This talk includes a brief biography of Tilman with a detailed account of the two Greenland voyages of 1970 and 1971. The presentation contains a large number of unpublished colour photographs, archive documents, rarely seen film clips and extracts from personal letters.


I think we can agree that Bill Tilman had a fascinating life.  Bob Comlay has been working to bring Tilman’s memoirs back into print, and these are now available from www.lodestarbooks.com.  There are quite a few to collect:

 Lodestar Books - Tilman Memoirs


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