Wild Woman

Lilly Wild

Lilly Wild Helen Turton

Helen has two life manifestos and she's a testament to them both;

“You get out life what you put into it”
“Get out there and believe in their dreams”

Helen has done various things all linked to the outdoors, from teaching, managing a residential Outdoor Centre, off-site safety management trainer, first aid trainer, and outdoor education advisor! 

However, since putting on skis for the first time in 2001, Helen fell in love with polar exploration and has now made it her life.

Helen's passion has led her to visit both the North and South Poles on several occasions (including skiing full distance to the South Pole), crossed Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland icecaps, guided groups in polar regions for the past 9 years and guided adult and young people’s expedition teams (including those with complex medical and physical needs and learning difficulties) in far-flung parts of the planet, such as the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland!

Helen now runs the UK office of Newland Expeditions, which provides unique, exciting, fun and safe polar tours, and is one of their main guides. Whenever I talk to Helen, she has always just come back from a polar trip and about to embark on another, which makes me very jealous, along with her life experiences!

Helen's trips comes with a Warning: Our trips will lead to a lifelong addiction and a strong desire to continue to explore for the rest of your life!

Join me on one of Helen's Beginner Polar Training Courses in Norway this February! Discover more here!


Adventurers like Helen can seem super-human, so I asked her 5 wild-fire questions so we can see that she is just like you and me!

Tea or coffee? 

Coffee

If you were an ice cream flavour, which one would you be and why? 

Non-stopp (Norwegian smartie flavour) – love bright colours and lots of variety in my life

What’s your greatest fear?  

I’ll eventually have worn out my body before I’ve achieved all I want to do. Big polar expeditions can be physically tough, but a good training and recovery plan means I’m still holding up so far…

Favourite adventure? 

The next one! I’m constantly excited by the fact that ‘life is happening now..’

Geographic North Pole stands out for location – there really is nowhere else on earth like it. An ever-changing moving icescape (nothing is permanent so a map is useless), mesmerizing lighting effects, being thousands of miles from any permanent landmass…and the weird facts that everywhere is south and all the time zones meet at this place….

…oh and I simply love Svalbard – a real wilderness ‘gem’ on the edge of Europe

…and many small and big adventures on the fjell and fjord (summer and winter) in my favourite country, Norway. So difficult to choose just one adventure as my favourite!

Lilly Wild Helen Turton

If you could only bring one piece of kit with you on an adventure what would it be and why?

My passport…symbolic (for me) of freedom to travel. 

Outdoor gear-wise…my huge furry bonkos votter (brushed wool mitts used inside an outer shell mitt and can fit a liner glove inside too) – these are specially made by a handicraft co-operative in the north of Norway. Warm hands warm heart etc. and its essential to look after your fingers on very cold trips.


1. What did it feel like putting on your skis for the first time in 2001? 

In some ways ironically, I was forced into it…foot and mouth disease closed the UK mountains and hills in 2001. I suddenly realized I’d taken for granted my need for being out hiking in big wide open spaces, so I booked on a last-minute cross country ski holiday to Norway, and realized immediately it just made sense as a great way to travel in the mountains in winter.

Lilly Wild Helen Turton

2. Have you always been interested in polar exploration or did something spark your interest?  

I’ve always loved the outdoors from a very early age. It was an interest that my dad inspired in me – to go out hiking in the mountains whatever the weather, albeit at the time my love for the outdoors was perhaps more about being ‘bribed’ by fish and chips afterwards! 

I also love the ‘magic’ of snow….I’m still like an excited child whenever the white stuff starts to fall…. It makes me feel alive :)

I became increasingly fascinated by the front two pages in my atlas – the polar regions. I love cold places and wondered if it was really possible to survive/live in relative comfort in such places.

Lilly Wild Helen Turton

3. How did your passion for exploring the polar regions by ski grow? 

One trip led to another and another... My first winter cross country ski expedition was in Svalbard, followed by North Pole last degree…and then Greenland icecap crossing… then South Pole the first time around, before I began returning to these places again (and again!)…as an assistant leader and guide. 

The love for the polar environments just grew…also inspired by the people I was travelling with – Norwegians with a great sense of humour and passion for having fun, who were confident to be in these remote and very cold places…people who I respected and could trust.

4. How did you go about building up your skills in polar exploration to transform yourself into Polar Girl?!  

Learning by doing…and making some mistakes. I took the wrong kind of skis and boots and got stuck with many language translation issues, which all added to a very steep learning curve on my first polar ski expedition with an all-Norwegian group to Svalbard. 

I believe most people are helpful and keen to help others to succeed in life…I surrounded myself with people who gave me this confidence and many opportunities to learn. 

Polargirl was the name of the boat that came to pick us up from my first Svalbard winter trip – the boat got stuck in the sea ice in the fjord and we had to ski out to the ship, leaping from one floating ice block to another (whilst a pair of young polar bear cubs played on the ice nearby!) In the same way the ship got stuck in the ice, the name ‘Polargirl’ just stuck with me and became my identity.

Join me on one of Helen's Beginner Polar Training Courses in Norway this February! Discover more here!

5. What is your favourite element of polar exploration? 

Simplicity – I have everything I need to be self-sufficient in my pulk (sledge) which I drag behind me. If I haven’t got it, I have to improvise or go without….

Lilly Wild Helen Turton

6. Why do you encourage others to participate in polar adventures? 

Teaching, instructing, empowering others by developing in them the necessary skills – this is at the heart of how I believe we learn the best.

Learning has to be at a pace that’s right for the individual – some will be well out of their ‘comfort zone’ simply setting off out the door on the first day with their skis and wearing the right layers of clothing (or not!)

7. What do you enjoy most about leading an expedition? 

The buzz of others learning new skills and gaining confidence, meeting some great and fascinating people…and of course, seeing some of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth

Join Helen on our Beginner Polar Training Workshop, London to learn about what it takes to join Helen on her Beginners Polar Training, Norway Trip in February >> claim your free spot here.

8. What are the top 3 things you’ve learnt from leading in extreme environments? 

1. Earn the trust and confidence of the participants – so you can take people beyond their comfort zone. Then you really see them develop and grow.

2. Teamwork, communication, how we work together – its essential especially when living in such close confines with others whilst on expedition. 

3. Be humble – you are no better than the next…(something I learnt very early on from Norwegian ‘philosophy’)

9. How have you found combining leading with co-founding your Norwegian polar guiding company called Newland? 

Simple – I run Newland Expeditions with my colleague, Svante Strand, who is the best. His years of experience from being in the Norwegian Special Forces, excellent practical outdoor skills, as well as business guidance…and more than anything, confidence in me, means that we each work to our strengths. We both have the same business ethos – safety is always number one – we work hard to provide the best on our polar expeditions…and to have fun! That’s so important :)

10. I love your life’s manifesto “you get out life what you put into it”, how did you develop this? 

I’m on a ‘gap life’ – I’m passionate about wanting to make the most out of every situation.

Sometimes you have to learn patience, failure (still find this one very difficult!), be prepared to change your plan, spend endless hours training and preparing, and sacrifice or adapt to going without other things to achieve your goals…but no one hands these opportunities to you on a plate.

You are the one who has to work hard to ‘make it happen’. If it means that much to you, you will succeed…eventually.


Join me on one of Helen's Beginner Polar Training Courses in Norway this February! Discover more here!


Head on over to Newland Expeditions to find out about all of the amazing trips they run and discover what it's like to go on a polar expedition by liking their Facebook page.