Henry Worsley and the annals of heroic British failure

Also in our Barometer column: the fate of beached whales, and the fastest and slowest commutes

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

30 January 2016

9:00 AM

So near and yet so far

Henry Worsley died in a Chilean hospital of peritonitis after being airlifted from Antartica, 30 miles short of what would have been the first solo unaided crossing of the continent. How does this compare with Britain’s other heroic failures?
— Scott and his two surviving companions died 11 miles short of their one tonne food depot, but were still 140 miles short of their journey’s end, having travelled just over 700 miles from the South Pole.
— George Mallory was last spotted 800 vertical feet from the summit of Everest in his 1924 expedition. It is possible he reached the summit, but even so would have failed in what many regard as an essential part of conquering a mountain:  getting back down again.
— Donald Campbell averaged 298 mph in the first leg of his attempt to reach 300 mph over two one-kilometre legs in 1967. His boat, Bluebird, was destroyed on the return leg, meaning no measurement could be taken.

Whale tales

Several whales died after beaching at Skegness and Hunstanton, Norfolk. What are the chances of survival for a beached whale, dolphin or porpoise?
— In 2014, 570 cetaceans were found stranded on British beaches…
514 were dead when found
56 were alive
27 were refloated
— Of those given post-mortem examinations, the causes of death were:

Infectious disease 30
Starvation 19
Stranding of healthy creature 16
Violent interaction with dolphins 13
Entanglement 12
Boat/ship strike 2

Source: UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme

Jams today

The IEA claimed that too many traffic lights are costing the economy £16 billion a year. Where in England do car commuters travelling on ‘A’ roads have the fastest and slowest journeys? In minutes per mile:

Rutland 1.5
Telford and Wrekin 1.6
Lincolnshire 1.7
Northumberland 1.7
Thurrock 1.7
City of London 7.2
Camden  6.7
Islington 6.4
Southwark 6.3
Lewisham 6.3

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