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Six Great British Explorers

With the current vogue for things Great British, we thought it would be fun to write about six Great British Explorers from the last six centuries!  We are not saying these are the greatest explorers ever, but each of them was or is great in their own way!

So, starting with the 16th century we have Sir Francis Drake – he was born in Tavistock in Devon and with the sea in his blood he is probably best known for his piracy and illicit slave trading.

Six Great British Explorers - Sir Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake

The Spanish thought of him as a pirate but we Brits hailed him as a hero, particularly as he was knighted by Elizabeth 1st after his exploration of the coast of South America. He was involved in the Spanish Armada, but died from dysentery and fever. He was apparently buried in a lead coffin at sea near Portobello, Panama and even today divers continue to search for his coffin.

Moving to the 17th century our hero is William Dampier who was born in East Coker, Somerset. Like Drake, Dampier was a sailor but his real claim to fame was as an author.  It would appear that he wasn’t the best leader as he had little ability in managing the crews placed under him, and in 1702 a court martial declared him unfit to command any of His Majesty’s ships!  He was however a very popular writer and his works set an entire fashion in travel literature and influenced men like Swift and Defoe. His account of the winds and currents of the Pacific in a 1699 volume has earned the respect of navigators and meteorologists to the present day.

Six Great British Explorers - Cook
Captain Cook

Everyone will have heard of our 18th century explorer – Captain James Cook.  Cook was born in Middlesborough in Yorkshire on the banks of the river Tees. When he was 17 he joined the navy. In 1769, the planet Venus was due to pass in front of the Sun, a rare event visible only in the southern hemisphere. The British government decided to send an expedition to observe it with the secret motive to search for the fabled southern continent. Cook was chosen as commander of HMS Endeavour. His achievements in mapping the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia radically changed western perceptions of world geography.

Six Great British Explorers - Livingstone
Stanley Livingstone

Famous for being found by Stanley, Dr David Livingstone is the entry for the 19th century.  Born in Blantyre, just south of Glasgow. Livingstone studied medicine and theology and became a missionary. He was posted to the Kalahari and became convinced his mission was to bring Christianity to the people in the interior of Africa. He discovered the Victoria Falls and was the first European to cross the width of Southern Africa.  He spent years trying to find the source of the Nile despite very poor health and after nothing was heard of him for many months Henry Stanley, an explorer and journalist (born in Denbigh) set out to find him. After meeting him at Lake Tanganyika he uttered his immortal line “Dr Livingstone I presume”.

Most of the world had been discovered and explored by the 20th century but the Antarctica and Arctic were still largely unexplored and Robert Falcon Scott, born in Plymouth became known as Scott of the Antarctic. He was a naval officer and explorer, who sadly died attempting to be the first to reach the South Pole.

Described by The Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s greatest living explorer” Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet, OBE was born in Windsor.  His other claim to fame is as the UK’s top celebrity fund raiser who has raised over £14m for UK charities.

Who do you think is a Great British Explorer? Best idea (as chosen by Aaron, our General Manager) will receive a free Trail. Submit your ideas on our facebook page or through twitter – we need to hear from you by 30th June to be in with a chance.

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19th June 2013

Posted In: Did you know, Ideas


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Easter Fun and Games

With Easter fast approaching, we hope that you are looking forward to enjoying a Treasure Trail or two!

In the interim, we’ve had a think to come up with some fun, alternative Easter games to entertain the family with. Let us know your own activities and ideas that you enjoy by leaving us a comment below.

Easter Fun and Games - cracking eggHunt for Hidden Eggs

If you haven’t already, join in the fun and have a go at Steve’s Eggstra Special Easter Challenge. We’ve hidden six Easter eggs all over the internet, each containing a special prize. Our clever talking rabbit will give you a clue to where you might find each egg, so be sure to listen carefully.

You can search for as few or as many eggs as you like, but you must find all of the first five eggs in order to find the golden egg, which contains an extra special prize!

If the weather is less than pleasant, then why not replace the traditional outdoor Easter egg hunt with an indoor version to entertain little ones? If chocolate eggs are too easy to find, try hiding jelly beans, with a series of cryptic clues to help seek them out.

You can read our previous blog post, Sprinkle Some Fairy Dust – How to Write Great Clues, in order to gain some inspiration.

Remember to make a note of the number of jelly beans you have hidden to avoid finding sticky sweets at a later date!

Egg RollingEaster Fun and Games - eggcellent

This is a lot of fun for all ages, and all you need is some eggs and a large hill. Remember, the steeper the hill, the more thrilling the race, but the harder the climb afterwards!

Have fun decorating your boiled eggs beforehand with dyes and paints, and then take them along with you on your next Treasure Trail to add some extra excitement to your day. You never know what landscapes you may find that will make the ideal egg racing track!

Easter Crafts

Easter crafts are good fun and an ideal boredom breaker if the weather is just too horrid to be outside. Learning how to create origami chicks and bunnies is an enjoyable exercise and your creations can be used afterwards to decorate Easter cards, create bunting or even place names for your Easter table.Easter Fun and Games - Knitted little bunny

Instructions are easy to find on the internet, ranging from the easy to the more complex.


Knitting is another traditional craft that can be taught to children and enjoyed by adults alike. There are plently of fun patterns and kits available that only require simple stitches and a ball of yarn, aside the odd googly eye.

You can win one of three Easter Bunny Kits, courtesy of Gift Horse Knit Kits, in our Easter Challenge!

27th March 2013

Posted In: Easter

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