A STUDENT from Cramlington has taken time out from his studies to endure a trip with a difference – two weeks’ camping in the Arctic Circle.
Royal Marine reservist Simon Middleton braved temperatures of -20 degrees to sleep in tents and snow holes, skied long distances with a heavy rucksack and finished it all off by jumping through a hole cut in a frozen lake.
The 19-year-old, who has been part of Royal Marine Reserves Scotland’s detachment in Newcastle since studying for his A-levels was taking part in cold climate warfare training in the far north of Norway.
Simon, an environmental management student at the University of Northumbria, said: “I joined because I wanted a challenge. I’m thinking about joining the regulars so this is good experience.
“This was my first time in Norway. I was unsure what to expect but the course exceeded any ideas I had in almost all aspects.
“Skiing with a Bergen (rucksack) is particularly challenging. Your balance is offset by the extra weight and it places a lot of strain on the knees.”
Since earning his commando Green Beret, he’s been deployed in support of last year’s Olympics in London.
But his latest adventure was very different. Situated at 70 degrees north, the Porsangmoen training area is several hundred miles inside the Arctic Circle.
Simon will be returning next year for the advanced course.