Barbara Swindin, 70, reveals how close she came to becoming the first British woman to climb the highest mountains in the Alps

Barbara in 1990 signing the summit book at the top of the Schreckhorn - one of the 52 highest mountains in the Alps. Climbers sign the books to show they have reached the summit of a mountain

Barbara Swindin with her book All But One which describes her attempts to climb the 52 highest mountains in the Alps

Barbara and Les Swindin in the Pennine Alps in 1986

Barbara and Les climbing in the Dauphiné Alps in 1984

First published in News Stroud News and Journal: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

BARBARA Swindin's life has been a series of uphill struggles in her quest to become the first British woman to climb the 52 highest mountains in the Alps.

Nearly 20 years after her Alpine climbing career came to an abrupt and unexpected end, Barbara has completed an autobiographical account describing her attempts to reach the summits of the Alpine Fourthousanders - one of the mountaineering world's major tick-list challenges.

In 1993, with just one peak left unclimbed, Barbara suffered a slipped disc and was unable to finish her list.

Barbara, now 70, said: "When I realised that my dream was at an end I started to write to get it all out of my system.

"But I abandoned the book and it was only recently that I took to writing again. I have been able to relive all of my fantastic experiences through this book."

Barbara grew up in Stroud before studying a degree in French at Birmingham University.

As teachers at what now is called Gloucestershire College, Barbara and her husband Les were able to take long trips to the Alps in France, Italy and Switzerland during the summer break and the husband and wife team - who met through the Gloucestershire Mountaineering Club - explored together for more than 30 years.

She said: "I wanted to get away from the rest of the world, to feel free. You feel a real sense of peace when you are up there. It is just magical. For me it is like being in heaven."

Barbara, who lives in Upton St Leonards with Les, is now in the process of painting all 52 mountains at the Painswick Centre Art Studios and hopes to exhibit her work in the future.

All But One is available to buy at £24 from Stroud Bookshop, Amazon or the Painswick Centre Art Studios, published by Vertebrate.

Barbara will be signing copies of her book at Stroud Bookshop in the High Street on Saturday, December 8 from 10.30am to noon.


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