History, mysteries and memories



When I get together with my old trekking friends the stories (and wine) flow and we are easily transported back to those heady days of mountains, remote trails and extraordinary people. The doors to old recollections open wide and we all remember things we thought we had forgotten.

Since my trekking days I have also done much by way of reading, lecturing and leading historical tours to the Himalaya and the great sub-continent. Enmeshed in all this are wonderful characters, exceptional events and periods in history and endless tales of magic and mystery.

Rather than storing all of this in my head, letting it loose only when people or events call for it I decided to write this blog, so that I can share some of it with like-minded souls who might appreciate a random tale or two from this extraordinary part of the world.

I hope you enjoy the occasional read. I will certainly enjoy the telling.

  • Old Tiger and Sherpa Legend - Ang Tharkey
  • 10 Apr 2020
Ang Tharkay 1909-1982

Ang Tharkay is a Sherpa legend – among our own Sherpa people and among most of the pre and post war climbers from abroad. No.19 on the Sherpa register of porters at the Darjeeling Himalayan Club he was a Sherpa of the old order – dignified, loyal, supremely capable and eternally good-humoured and tolerant. Just mention his name among the older climbers in Darjeeling, Britain, France, Kathmandu or in Switzerland and the U.S. and you will doubtless see on every face a warm and knowing smile appear for they all remember this remarkable man of the mountains and all hold him in the highest esteem.
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  • Colonel James Skinner of the East India Company Army
  • 7 Apr 2020
The history of the British in India is often romanticised and mythologised by historians and commentators yet it takes little effort to understand and acknowledge the absolute greed and opportunism with which the British, among other colonial powers of the time, pillaged and exploited the subcontinent – first in the name of trade, then in the name of empire and the civilising zeal of the Christian west. Yet, there can be no doubt that there were some – many – characters throughout Britain’s 250 years in India who intrigue and enchant readers and students of its history. Col. James Skinner was one such man. Here is his story.
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  • On first meeting Tenzing Norgay
  • 29 Mar 2020
I had long admired Tenzing and his story from yak herder to one of the first two to summit Everest. When my chance came to meet him, I was beyond excited - yet also a little ill at ease. Perhaps he was not the man I had read about since childhood. Fame may have spoiled him. I had heard stories. Yet this was an opportunity not to be missed.
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