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Arctic team set out to retrace Orcadian explorer’s steps

Dr John Rae’s achievements will be celebrated as a four-man team retrace his footsteps.

A four-man expedition team are making their final preparations as they set out to retrace Orcadian arctic explorer Dr John Rae’s footsteps.

Canada-based Scot David Reid will lead the expedition, along with filmmaker Gary Tutte, fellow Scot Richard Smith and Frank Wolf, trekking 400 miles from Naujaat (Repulse Bay) in Canada, across Booth Peninsula to Rae Strait — the stretch of water named after Rae.

It will be the same route covered by Rae during his 1854 exploration — paying tribute to and raising awareness of the explorer’s achievements.

The quartet is due to begin their 40-day journey next week, hauling 90-kilogram sledges for up to nine hours each day.

Rae is credited with discovering the missing link of the shipping lane, the Northwest Passage, and discovering the fate of Capt Sir John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition of 1845 when he and his entire crew died.

It was Rae’s findings, reporting that Franklin’s crew had resorted to cannibalism in a last desperate attempt to stay alive, which horrified Victorian society, leading to Rae and his achievements being condemned to obscurity.

Mr Smith said: “The Arctic Return expedition will be extremely tough but ultimately our aim is to raise awareness fo the exploits of John Rae and to help restore his rightful place as one of the greatest Scottish explorers in history.

“It is also our hope that this awareness will inspire the public to support fundraising efforts by the John Rae Society, to restore Rae’s birthplace at the Hall of Clestrain in Orphir.”

Keep up-to-date with the group’s progress on their website: www.arcticreturn.com

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