AN ANTARCTIC explorer, the Geographer Royal for Scotland, and the presenter of the BBC’s ‘Planet Oil’ documentary series are among the inspirational figures set to visit Helensburgh for a fascinating series of talks this winter.

The Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) has unveiled details of its 2018-19 lecture series, taking place at venues around the country – and Helensburgh’s Victoria Halls will once again play host to some fascinating talks between late September and the end of March.

Speaking at 13 different locations across the country, audiences will hear from some of the leading explorers, film-makers, communicators and scientists working today.

The Helensburgh line-up was to have begun on September 27 with Amazon adventurer Pip Stewart, who teamed up with fellow adventurers Laura Bingham and Ness Knight to take on a world first – paddling the entire length of the Essequibo, South America’s third largest river, from source to sea, earlier this year.

But Pip contracted the flesh-eating bug leichmaniasis on a visit to Guyana this summer and is currently receiving treatment at the NHS’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases.

As this article was published Pip’s appearance had yet to be confirmed – but the list of speakers who are due to appear in Helensburgh later in the season also includes the following...

Jo WOOLF, writer in residence at the RSGS (Beyond The Horizon, October 25), whose 2017 book, The Great Horizon, was the result of two years’ work digging through the society’s archives in search of the remarkable stories of 50 half-forgotten figures in the field of exploration.

Professor Charles Withers (Mapping Scotland’s Islands, November 29), the first man to hold the post of Geographer Royal for Scotland for 118 years, who will take the audience on a journey from the first – distorted, incomplete and infrequent – attempts by cartographers to depict, and define, Scotland’s islands to the computer-led mapping of the 21st century.

Professor John Briggs, vice-principal of the University of Glasgow (21st Century Challenges For Africa, January 31), who has extensively researched development problems in Africa, with a particular interest in rural areas, and whose talk will consider some of the key contemporary challenges facing the continent and how its people are dealing with them, in a very positive manner in many cases.

Beth CHRISTIE, lecturer in outdoor environmental and sustainability education at the University of Edinburgh, whose talk on February 28, Journey To Antarctica: Learning For Sustainability, will focus on her experiences on an all-female three-week trek across that continent earlier this year.

Professor Iain Stewart (Planet Oil: A History of Addiction, March 28), the geologist and broadcaster whose TV documentary, ‘Planet Oil’ in 2016 attracted high praise from reviewers and audiences alike.

Currently director of the Sustainable Earth Institute at the University of Plymouth, he has presented a number of science programmes for the BBC, including Earth: The Power Of The Planet (2007) and 2002’s Helike: The Real Atlantis, part of the broadcaster’s Horizon strand.

Mike Robinson, chief executive of the RSGS, said: “By its very nature, geography is intrinsically varied, appealing to a vast range of different interests, skills and approaches.” “The RSGS Inspiring People talks programme reflects this fascinating variety, and I hope it will inspire people to get outside exploring and learn more about the world around them.”“Many consider the RSGS Inspiring People talks programme as the best in Scotland. And with this line-up, there can be little doubt about this assertion. There is something for everyone and everyone is welcome – so please come along!”

The RSGS ‘Inspiring People’ talks series is run in partnership with the Tiso outdoor clothing company.

Admission is free for students, under-18s and RSGS members, while Tiso Outdoor Experience cardholders receive discounted entry.

Tickets are available on the door or online in advance from