Kayaker returns from Antarctic trip

Stuart McNeil, above, kayaking during his Antarctic expedition

Stuart McNeil, above, kayaking during his Antarctic expedition

First published in News by

An international mountain guide has returned from a 20-day dream expedition to the Antarctic.

And Stuart McNeil’s adventure completed a long-held quest to set foot on all seven continents.

“It was an absolutely fantastic experience,” said the 56-year-old ex-marine.

“It’s so pristine and is such amazing scenery. You can only go on to the ice-cap for short periods to help preserve it.”

Mr McNeil was born in Keighley and lived at Oakworth for many years.

He attended Guard House and Highfield schools before going to Oakbank.

He joined the marines in 1974 and after leaving in the early 80s had a spell as a firefighter in Keighley.

His passion for mountaineering and other outdoor pursuits, such as skiing, stretches back many years, and he has led numerous expeditions.

And that love has now taken him to every part of the globe – sometimes more than once. “I’ve now been to Nepal 30 times!” he said.

His latest adventure was acting as a guide on a polar cruise, setting sail into the open sea from Ushuaia.

While kayaking during the trip, his group had to make a rapid return to the ship as a ferocious storm – with 50mph winds and temperatures of minus 45C – battered the peninsula.

The expedition also included camping in bivouacs under the Antarctic skies, snow-shoeing, diving and mountaineering.

Wildlife spotted included penguins, seals, terns, blue-eyed cormorants, albatross, minke and orca whales.

And the party had the chance to visit research stations and meet scientists.

“It is a fabulous continent,” said Mr McNeil, who now lives in Buxton.

“When I got the chance to go on the trip, I thought it was a great opportunity and grabbed it – I’m so pleased I did. I would certainly return.”

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