Time out in the Arctic

It’s been quite a long time since I last posted thanks to a fantastic five weeks in the Arctic. No internet, no email, no phone – no contact with the outside world whatsoever. This was my fifth expedition with the British Schools Exploring Society and my third to the Arctic island of Spitsbergen.

Spitsbergen was discovered by the Dutch explorer Willem Barents who named the newly found island after its pointed mountains. It is the largest island in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard which lies between 74 and 81 degrees north. We travelled to Oscar II Land on the western side of Spitsbergen and climbed some of the pointed peaks Barents may well have seen from his ship in 1596. We also carried out meteorology fieldwork and investigated whether or not kite aerial photography was a suitable technology to use on BSES expeditions. Kite and camera turned out to be perfectly suitable and we managed to take some brilliant aerial shots. Of course there were also lots that weren’t quite so brilliant and had to be discarded!

Kite aerial photography on the Sefstrombreen

Since we got back at the end of last week I’ve been entering and analysing our fieldwork data as well as sorting out our photos. There’s a selection on my Flickr site .

I was rather expecting to spend quite a bit of time during the expedition thinking about my running book. To my surprise it didn’t work like that at all. Everyday expedition life was completely absorbing and it was only very occasionally that I remembered with a slight sense of shock that back in the ‘real world’ I was writing a book.

Now the expedition is over it’s time to get back into it. I’ve started running again which wasn’t quite as painful as I’d imagined it would be and very soon I’ll be finding out whether or not the research and writing comes back similarly easily!