AN adventurer and ex-soldier will this week be heading out to embark on an expedition to break the record for occupying the remote islet of Rockall - 230 miles from the Hebrides.

Rockall record bid to survive 60 days on a ledge in the middle of the Atlantic

AN adventurer and ex-soldier will this weekend be heading out to embark on an expedition to break the record for occupying the remote islet of Rockall – 230 miles from the Hebrides.

The barren rock will become home for 53-year-old science teacher Chris Cameron and his survival pod in an effort to raise funds for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

A former Gordan Highlander, Mr Cameron intends to spend 60 days on a narrow ledge in the side of the 17-metre high granite outcrop.

The first record for occupying Rockall was established in 1985 by former SAS trooper and endurance challenge legend Tom McLean who spent 40 days there to affirm the UK’s claim to the islet. Cameron credits his own enthralment in Rockall with McLean’s survival endeavours.

Adventurer Nick Hancock managed 45 days before a massive storm robbed him of some supplies, cutting short his attempt for 60 days in 2014.

At the end of this week, the Wiltshire-based lecturer will sail from the coast of Clyde to Rockall. He’ll be accompanied by radio operator Adrian Styles and Bulgarian mountaineer Emil Bergmann. The pair will stay with Cameron for the first 10 days, supported on the mainland by Yorkshireman Harry Brayford – Expedition Communications Manager.

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Originally from Scotland, Mr Cameron attributed a large part of his desire to tackle Rockall with the lockdowns during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was something he says “made me feel remote, isolated and alone. It just got me thinking: can I challenge myself further and do some good. Rockall popped up”.

“It’s the most isolated, loneliest place in the world,” he added.

“I’m going to challenge myself to do something uncomfortable and really difficult – which is why only five people have ever stayed there for any length of time.”

Rockall – 230 miles from the mainland

Throughout the endurance challenge, the whole team will be broadcasting updates to amateur radio enthusiasts around the world.

Once Bergmann and Styles have ensured their colleague is set up for the adventure, they will return to Scotland, leaving Cameron with rations, supplies, VHF radio, satellite terminal as a router, solar panels and a laptop.

Despite preparing to watch someone attempt to break his record, Nick Hancock has actually been offering support and advice to the man who intends to take his crown, particularly some tips in how to tackle isolation and keeping his mind busy.

“Which is why I had planned to do so much: learn to play the harmonica, which didn’t happen, and to speak Italian, and do scientific research,” Hancock said.

“Being busy is probably the best way to combat that.”

For the man who tackled Rockall in 2014, there is a mild disappointment in the prospect of his record being taken, but its watered down with great sportsmanship.

“I always knew it would probably be broken at some point, but I would’ve hoped it would last longer than a decade,” he said.

“But then if Cam does break it: well done.”

You can follow the expedition’s progress here… Rockall Expedition.

Rockall: Where and what?

Image: Wikipedia

Rockall is an uninhabitable granite islet in the North Atlantic Ocean. The United Kingdom claims that Rockall lies within its territorial sea and is part of its territory, but this claim is not recognised by Ireland.

Rockall’s approximate distances from the closest islands in each direction are as follows: It is 301.3 kilometres (187.2 statute miles; 162.7 nautical miles) west of Soay, Scotland, 423.2 km (263.0 mi; 228.5 nmi) northwest of Tory Island, Ireland, and 700 kilometres (430 statute miles; 380 nautical miles) south of Iceland. The nearest permanently inhabited place is North Uist, an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, 370 kilometres (230 mi; 200 nmi) to the east.

On 18 September 1955, Rockall was annexed by the British Crown when Lieutenant-Commander Desmond Scott RN, Sergeant Brian Peel RM, Corporal AA Fraser RM, and James Fisher (a civilian naturalist and former Royal Marine), were winched onto the island by a Royal Navy helicopter from HMS Vidal (coincidentally named after the man who first charted the island). The annexation of Rockall was announced by the Admiralty on 21 September 1955.

The expedition team cemented in a brass plaque on Hall’s Ledge and hoisted the Union Flag to stake the UK’s claim. It was the final territorial expansion of the British empire.

In 1978, eight members of the Dangerous Sports Club, including David Kirke, one of its founders, held a cocktail party on the island, allegedly leaving with the plaque.

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