FEMALE adventurers will take centre stage at the 2020 Peebles Outdoor Film Festival, with hand cycling Paralympic gold medallist Karen Darke, natural history presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff, and World Record breaking cyclist Jenny Graham among the headline names coming to the Eastgate Theatre next month.

Building on record audiences in 2019, the festival has launched an expanded programme of films and speakers for 2020. Now a major event that pulls visitors to the Tweed Valley from far and wide, the festival features a range of big name and ‘local hero’ speakers, award-winning adventure films, plus a host of outdoor sessions led by local activity providers.

In addition to screenings featuring more than 30 short films from around the world, the event also includes two critically-acclaimed feature films: Home – the story of British adventurer Sarah Outen’s self-powered journey around the world by bike, kayak and rowing boat – and Final Ascent: the Legend of Hamish MacInnes, an intimate portrait of a Scottish mountaineering icon.

As well as films, the appearance by Karen Darke, a true one-of-a-kind adventurer, will be a major draw. Paralysed from the chest down following a climbing accident aged 21, Karen’s current Quest79 project – nine rides on seven continents to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association – has already seen her claim a hand cycling gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, shatter the women’s hand cycle land speed record in Nevada, and ride along the Ganges from its source in the Himalayas. Karen will reveal more about these and other remarkable adventures.

Audiences will also be treated to an evening with author, diving and natural history presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff. Taking a tour of the UK and Irish coastlines, including some of the best stories she has filmed for the BBC’s COAST and The One Show, Miranda will provide a behind-the-scenes look at how the items are filmed and what happens when it all goes a bit wrong.

The Adventure Syndicate’s Jenny Graham, who recently became the fastest woman to circumnavigate the world by bike, takes to the stage on the final day. Completing her ride solo and unsupported she covered 18,000 miles in just 124 days, knocking almost three weeks off the previous (supported) record. From dodging tornados and negotiating bear country to dealing with Russian traffic and more, Jenny will offer a humorous take on the highs and lows of one very big adventure.

The festival also features appearances by a host of other inspirational figures, including father and son endurance cyclists Rich and Tom Seipp; Luke and Hazel Robertson, Explorers in Residence for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and guides for The Polar Academy, an initiative that takes teenagers on life-changing expeditions; Anna Neubert-Wood, founder of WanderWomen Scotland; and acclaimed writer and photographer David Lintern who will tell the story of writing the first complete guide to Britain’s three classic 24-hour mountain running challenges (the Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsay Rounds).

As always, the festival also includes a range of outdoor sessions, including ride outs with the Seipps and Jenny Graham, a mini sunrise WanderWomen experience with Anna Neubert-Wood, plus a rare opportunity to enjoy a rustic overnight camp at the John Muir Trust’s Glenlude property near Traquair.

Programme director Rich Rowe told us: "We are particularly pleased that this year’s festival features not just a fantastic line-up of female presenters, but also a really strong mix of films either directed by or featuring women.

“It’s all set to be another exhilarating weekend – and a perfect way to kick start the New Year!”

The 2020 Peebles Outdoor Film Festival runs from January 24 to 26, and is kindly sponsored by the John Muir Trust, Tontine Hotel, Marine Conservation Society, Peebles Physiotherapy, FINDRA, Endura, Go Ape, The Hub on the High Street, , Wild Tree Adventures, Pocket Mountains, Bspoke Cycles, Pirn Road Holiday Apartment, Cleikum Mill Lodge, Biggar Adventure, Ridelines, No 1 Peebles Road and Out & About.

For tickets, call Box Office on 01721 725777, or go online at www.eastgatearts.com