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Last Updated: Monday, 21 April, 2003, 08:35 GMT 09:35 UK
North man sets off on Arctic trek
Sir John Franklin
Sir John Franklin set sail in search of the North West Passage
A Northumberland man is part of a team which has set off to retrace his ancestor's footsteps through the Arctic.

Ralph Baker Cresswell, 32, from Bamburgh, is a direct descendant of a Royal Navy officer who went in search of legendary explorer, Sir John Franklin.

In 1845 Franklin, celebrated for eating his boots to survive a previous expedition, set off in his ships the Erebus and Terror, to discover the North passage - a much sought after trade route to link the Atlantic to the Pacific.

He was never to return and 129 men died when the two ships were lost.

Lieutenant Samuel Gurney Cresswell went in search of Franklin five years later aboard HMS Investigator.

Although unsuccessful in finding Sir John, the crew of the Investigator ironically became the first to complete the North West Passage by foot.

Now a team of eight has set off on Good Friday to retrace the route.

Mr Baker Cresswell is joined by six male, and one female, companions on the American Express Franklin Memorial Expedition, which is expected to take around 21 days.

The 32-year-old roofing contractor from Northumberland, said: "It's great to have such a connection with what happened all those years ago, and I want to experience some of what my ancestor experienced.

"But we're much better kitted out than they were, and know a lot more about what we're doing, so hopefully we have a much greater chance of success than they did."

The journey will cover 200 miles and take them around King William Island in the Arctic Ocean, where Franklin's ships were abandoned and bones were later found.





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