A LECTURE to be held in Hexham's Forum Cinema will see a famed storyteller share tales of daring men and their attempts to find a fabled sea route.

Generations of European explorers spent centuries attempting to find their way through the icy waters of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

The search for the so-called North-West passage, the sea route to the Pacific Ocean via the Arctic Ocean, along the coast of North America, went on for decades as Britain, Europe, and America looked for a route that would link the Atlantic and the Pacific, and shorten the great ocean journeys between the West and the East.

But navigating the 36,000 islands in the Arctic Ocean, along with the ever-shifting sea ice, meant finding a route between Greenland and the Bering Sea was nigh impossible.

That didn’t stop many explorers from trying and, consequently, failing.

Among them was British explorer John Franklin, who set out in 1845 to find a way through the ice.

The expedition failed, and Franklin, along with his 127 men aboard HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, disappeared without a trace to a man – the wrecks of the ship were only rediscovered in 2014 and 2016.

In the end, it was Norwegian Roald Amundsen, arguably the greatest Polar explorer of them all, found a way through the North-West passage in 1903-1905, taking just a small boat and crew.

Amundsen was also famous for leading the first expedition to the South Pole in 1911, and then led the first expedition proven to have reached the North Pole 15 years later.

The lecture, which will tell tales of both Franklin and Amundsen, will be delivered by famed South African storyteller Rob Caskie.

Rob began telling stories for a living in 2001, due to a love of researching and sharing human dramas.

His career has taken him to the battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu war, as well as both the Antarctic and the Arctic.

In fact, he has often worked on board ships traversing the North-West Passage, telling stories of the brave pioneers that found the route in the first place.

“I plan to speak about the mystic allure of the North-West Passage,” Rob said. “Leading up to the John Franklin Expedition of 1845, which was destined to conquer the route once and for all, most importantly for Great Britain.

“Both ships and the 129 men disappeared without a trace.

“Scottish explorer Dr John Rae found evidence of the expedition and fate of the men in 1854. Rae’s disclosures regarding cannibalism created a vicious backlash from Victorian society.

“His reputation never recovered.”

Global warming and receding sea ice has caused more open seas, meaning large cruise ships and smaller expeditions now have a notably easier time of navigating the treacherous path.

Rob has delivered lectures on the passage on some of these vessels.

“It was the great Norwegian Explorer, Roald Amundsen who would be the first to successfully navigate the North-West Passage between 1903 and 1906, “ he added. “Having traversed the North-West Passage twice, I hope to share these epics of human struggle and endurance, interspersed with some personal anecdotes.”

It’s not the first time Rob has visited Hexham. In 2013, he gave a lecture entitled Going South with Scott and Shackleton at the Queen’s Hall, followed a year later by The Anglo Zulu War: The Battle of Rorke’s Drift at the same venue.

For his latest lecture, The North West Passage: Triumph and Tragedy in the Arctic Ice, the venue has switched to the Forum Cinema.

The event has been organised by Hexham Rotary Club, with proceeds from ticket sales going to charity.

Member Brian Massey said: “The evening is being organised under the auspices of Hexham Rotary Club to provide an outstanding lecture.

“It’s also as a fund-raising event with all the net proceeds being divided between Tynedale Hospice at Home and the Hexham Rotary Cub Emergency Disaster Fund.”

Tickets are available at www.forumcinema.co.uk, with proceeds going to the charities.