For much of early September I'm going to be transiting the legendary North West Passage through Arctic Canada on board the ship Ocean Endeavour.
For years I have been obsessed by the courage and determination of the Victorian explorers who attempted to navigate the passage to create a lucrative trading route between Europe and the Pacific Ocean.
One particular expedition has haunted me for years. The Franklin Expedition 1845-8. Under the captaincy of Sir John Franklin the expedition was well-equipped with two sturdy ships, HMS Erebus & Terror. Franklin and the British public fully expected to make history. Instead, both ships were lost and all 129 men were lost as their ships were crushed and then sunk by heavy multi-year ice. Later, to the shock of Victorian audiences, stories of cannibalism emerged among the desperate last survivors trapped on the Arctic ice.
Over the last 3 years both of the sunken ships have been rediscovered and on my forthcoming voyage I'm going to be on the first commercial vessel to see the Erebus. Through a series of interviews with characters and experts from the Arctic I'm going to try to piece together the mystery and eventual terrible end that befell the men of the Franklin expedition. Watch this space ...