A Saffron Walden environmental activist and grandfather has returned from a 6,000-mile sailing expedition to the Arctic Circle.

Edward Gildea, who is the Green Party prospective candidate for Saffron Walden, previously circumnagivated the globe in two parts, from 2013 to 2014 and then from 2017 to 2018.

For his latest adventure, he set off from Portsmouth in July and sailed across the North Atlantic to Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic Circle with the crew of a 68-foot, professionally skippered yacht.

Saffron Walden Reporter: Environmental activist and grandfather Edward GildeaEnvironmental activist and grandfather Edward Gildea (Image: Edward Gildea)

Edward said:  "The highlight was arriving on the coast of Greenland during a stunning sunset, sailing past vast and exquisite icebergs and then, as I was standing by the mast, to see a humpback whale surfacing from beneath our bow, blowing a series of steamy plumes, raising its fluke and diving. Awesome!"

In Iceland, Edward walked to an erupting volcano, which was subsiding after a massive lava emission, and saw the geyser spouting columns of steam into the air.


"Iceland feels like a very new country: geologically raw and close to the life and energy at the core of our planet," he said.

"Almost all their energy is geothermal: clean, green and sustainable, which they use to power their substantial aluminium industry, heat all their homes and the public swimming pools with saunas and open air hot tubs that even the smallest community of 50 people seems to have!"

Saffron Walden Reporter: Edward Gildea saw the effects of climate change on his voyageEdward Gildea saw the effects of climate change on his voyage (Image: Edward Gildea)

Edward sailed to Greenland twice - west to Tasiilaq and then north into the Arctic Circle to the world's largest fjord, Scoresby Sund.

There he was able to witness the impact of climate change, with fjords icing over several weeks later and thawing weeks earlier than they used to.

Edward said: "The Arctic is at the forefront of the climate crisis.

"Temperatures have already risen by three to five degrees C, well above the international limit of 1.5 degrees C, and this rise is a key factor driving the behaviour of the Jet Stream and the ocean currents which are at the heart of all our weather systems.

"My expedition was both an inspirational adventure and a wake-up call about the future of humanity."