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Rower 'exhilarated' by polar first

An explorer has said he was "exhilarated" after he and his crew became the first people to row to the magnetic north pole.

Jock Wishart and his five-man team took just under four weeks to complete the 450-mile route.

They encountered polar bears and collided with icebergs as they travelled through the Arctic waters in their specially designed vessel.

The trip has only recently become possible because of an increase in seasonal ice melt in the Arctic which has opened up the waters.

Mr Wishart organised the Old Pulteney Row To The Pole to highlight the effects of climate change on the ice in the region. He said: "I think this is one of my greatest achievements. It was a dream four years ago but now it's reality."

Crew member Mark Delstanche, 35, from London, had another reason to celebrate as he became a father to a baby son a few days ago.

The group set out from Resolute Bay in Canada on July 29 in their specially designed boat-cum-sledge the Old Pulteney, which has runners on its underside so that it can be hauled over the ice. They slept in shifts between rowing stints and were fuelled by 7,000 calorie per day dry rations.

The group saw around eight polar bears on their journey, one of which came within five feet of them. Another challenge was floating ice which blocked their route, particularly towards the end of their journey as the ice closed in.

The other rowers in the crew were Billy Gammon, 37, from Cornwall; Rob Sleep, 38, and British Army officer Captain David Mans, 28, both from Hampshire. Captain Mans, who is with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, was selected from around 300 international entrants of a competition to find the last crew member.

Cyclist Mark Beaumont, 28, from Fife, was also on board making a BBC documentary about the voyage. The documentary, Rowing The Arctic, will be shown as part of BBC Scotland's Explorers Season this winter.

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