Where the Experts Holiday: Harriet Norton of The Polar Front

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Harriet Norton

Harriet Norton

What do you like to do on holiday?
Adventure and exploration – I like to find the ‘behind the scene treasures’ and meet the local people; learn about the cultures and traditions from the source. I do like to be well off the beaten track, away from mobile phones and far from the tourist hotspots! I also completely cherish the relaxation, although my way of achieving this is usually quite active; be it cycling or diving, or suchlike!

Where did you last travel?
I flew out to join yacht Polar Bear in Greenland and sail her home to the UK via Iceland and the Shetlands – but on a personal level, I was lucky enough to honeymoon in incredible Indonesia to include 8 days diving all over the Komodo National Park. Dreamy!

Do you know where you’re going next?
Off to southern Italy next summer (for a family wedding) and planning to visit lots of old haunts as we lived out there during my school days. Italy is one of my favourite spots; helped enormously by the incredible food and way of life, and such a great balance of good summers and ace winters!

Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
Ooooh, tough question! Can I have three?
1) I cycled across Vietnam and Cambodia a few years ago with two great friends and thoroughly enjoyed the experience; cycling through a country really allows you to absorb and learn about the country at your own pace.
2) I cannot recommend highly enough a sailing holiday! I have been lucky enough to sail in a few excellent destinations but a recent Croatian adventure was to die for; blue skies and seas – and all of my favourite folk onboard for the ride!
3) I also love the simplicity of the Scottish Outer Hebrides, so beautiful, wild and unspoilt, and amazingly on the doorstep! The world is a giant adventure but one really cannot underestimate destinations close to home!

Which destination do you wish to travel to but haven’t been there yet?
I have a great yearning to explore South America and hope to before too long – but fear I need at least 6 months?! On slightly more realistic terms I would like to expand my Arctic exploration and visit Svalbard – definitely top of the list!

In your own area, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel
guides?
I’m not sure how much I should promote this area, given its beauty lies in the unexplored, natural landscape dominating the area but ScoresbySund, East Greenland is absolutely out of this world and makes up the largest fjord system in the world allowing huge amounts of exploration and discovery. We travel in by yacht so our footprint is absolutely minimal and allows us to silently creep whilst admiring the glaciers, pristine icebergs, sea cliffs and wildlife. There is virtually no other traffic in the area and so few folk get to really experience this destination so one feels super spoilt!

How do you plan a vacation? (guidebooks/website/agents/friends etc)
I like to use a combination of friends’ recommendations, websites and guidebooks although to find the real ‘treasures’ it is often good to contact local agents or folk who run local ventures.

Where do you see tourism in your destination/attraction in 10 years time?
One of the beauties of the Arctic destinations we visit is that there are few other operators in the area; many of the more ‘extreme’ locations are inaccessible to cruise liners and there are no airports, and therefore the serene untouched magic is not spoiled. We work with local operators to ensure we are getting the best from the area without damage.
On a general level, however, the world appears to be getting smaller year on year and folk are getting more adventurous with their travels, so who knows?! With the likes of Bruce Parry, Paul Rose and various other well known explorers and adventurers, world coverage is on the up and destinations are all being promoted as accessible to one and all. The beauty of yacht Polar Bear is that she can access so many places, and we are always keen to explore new areas within the Arctic so as long as there are keen adventurers/scientists/explorers then we are here to help!
Sadly we are not in control of climate change and this is more likely to have a serious impact on the places we visit, and will steer the direction in which we take The Polar Front.

The Polar Front will be at Adventure Travel Live, Royal Horticultural Halls, Victoria, London

PS We manged to call Harriet, Hannah for a while. Apologies to Harriet and our readers for our sloppiness!!

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