Travel | Alternative Britain
It seems to be the prevailing belief that there is little left of the world to explore; Antarctica, the north pole, the Himalayan peaks, various inpenetrable rainforests and raging rivers, all have been “discovered” or, at least, provided a picturesque backdrop to the achievements and glory of a rakish adventurer or two.
Perilous challenges of exploration or — depending on your opinion — desperate howls for attention, now have to try that bit harder and skiing down K2 or swimming the 2,000 miles of the Volga have become the next adventures. After that we’ve only got an attempt to pedalo up the Congo, hang-glide around a hurricane or cartwheel across the Kalahari left, although it should be noted that someone has already cycled to the South Pole.
In this relentless quest for daredevil derring-do we miss the sublime and exotic on our own doorsteps. In that spirit, I would like to present seven amazing and exotic natural spectacles that can be seen, simply by paying closer attention to the world around us. You can hurl yourself off mountains, tightrope your way across the Andes or do the triathlon in space, but exploration starts only when you stop and take notice.
It was a relief to see Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, win his case for a new category — the undulatus asperatus — to be added to the World Meteorological Organisation’s International Cloud Atlas. He made the case that it probably isn’t a new kind of cloud at all, just one suddenly brought to the fore as it is captured more frequently with the worldwide ubiquity of smartphones.
2. The night sky
A dark vault of void speckled with pinpoints and twinkles, an occasional meteor, the part-time moon and the milky way, the night sky is endlessly fascinating as befits its status as a tiny excerpt of the most astonishing…