Mark’s bearing up well after close encounter in the Arctic

Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont

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Adventurer Mark Beaumont has had found himself having a close encounter with Arctic wildlife – almost too close for comfort.

The round-the-world cyclist was approached by a polar bear during his Arctic expedition.

He is part of a six-strong team, led by adventurer Jock Wishart, currently rowing 500 miles through freezing Arctic waters.

But after deciding to camp on land for a night, he had a lucky escape when his tent was approached by the polar bear.

Mr Beaumont wrote on his blog: “I was hoping for a glimpse of a polar bear in the Arctic – I have seen six already, and last night one got a bit too close for comfort! Mark D managed to take the photo of the bear before it ran off.

“Due to the very cramped sleeping space onboard, Dave Mans and myself decided to take a tent ashore for the second night. I fell asleep at about 9.30pm, only to wake an hour later with Billy calling out from the boat (anchored 20 metres away) ‘whoa bear!’ I half woke to this, then properly woke up with Dave saying ‘I don’t think he is joking!’

“The bear was standing about ten feet away, and Billy’s call had the unintended effect of luring it closer instead of scaring it away! Still inside the tent, I heard Rob firing two bear bangers high into the air above, which had the desired effect, of sending the bear off.

“However, Dave and I decided it might be best to move back on board.”

Mr Beaumont and the rowing team set off on July 31 from Resolute in northern Canada, heading for the 1996 position of the magnetic north pole, which Mr Wishsart has previously visited on foot.

The breaking up of the Arctic ice, however, has now made it possible to visit by water.

Mr Beaumont is filming the adventure for a BBC documentary. Before setting off on the challenge, he told the Evening News: “This is a step into the world of true exploration. Nobody rows through sea ice. The last time someone was rowing through sea ice was Shackleton.”

sgyford@edinburghnews.com