Aiming high

Scottish women have always been as brave, adventurous and intrepid as their male counterparts.

From solo travellers to the Far East like Isabella Bird Bishop in the 19th century to the first all-woman expedition to the Himalayas in 1955 and beyond.

These women aimed high, pushed physical and societal boundaries and left a quiet, enduring legacy.


This feature looks at the achievements of 11 pioneering women from the 18th to 20th centuries through some of their recollections and items in the National Library of Scotland. In 2021, it was updated to feature new research and content drawn from the 'Petticoats and Pinnacles: Scotland's pioneering mountain women' exhibition.

From Greenland to Everest, China to the Alps, we celebrate some of their remarkable adventures.

'Aiming high' also includes downloadable learning activities mapped to the Curriculum for Excellence and a family-friendly mountain climbing game.

About the exhibition

The 'Petticoats and Pinnacles: Scotland's pioneering mountain women' exhibition reveals the changing attitudes to women climbing and walking in the mountains. It runs until 28 May 2022 in the National Library of Scotland's George IV Bridge building in Edinburgh. Admission is free.