Oxford Personality of the Week

4814

Angus Aitken’s travelling CV reads like Tintin’s wet dream. The 3rd Year historian has canoed the River Wye, climbed mountains along Corsica’s GR20 and trekked the length of Mongolia on horseback. A self-confessed David Livingstone-inspired explorer, this summer found Angus on a 7.5m wooden boat in the middle of Lake Malawi, the world’s eighth largest lake. Accompanied by a local guide, Angus successfully rowed and sailed the length of this freshwater sea, covering a mere 800km in twenty-eight days.

One of the jewels of Victorian England’s discoveries, Livingstone stumbled across Lake Malawi in 1859. Not a lot has changed since. “The tribal villages where we camped were very similar to what Livingstone described” Angus enthused. The region is very remote and has seen extremely little innovation, “We had women come out of their houses, hold up a squealing baby and say ‘this is what a white person looks like.’”

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. Living up to its alternative name, the Lake of Storms, the lake’s water was frequently swept by violent gales that saw Angus traversing waves of 15ft or more. There was a close call when he was trapped between huge swells and stony cliffs. “We had to battle our way around the headland lest we were shattered against the rocks. Our guide later told us he had been warned of bad spirits in the bay.”

More than a casual jet-setter, Angus hopes his wanderlust will prove lucrative one day. “Ultimately I’d like to make exploration documentaries,” he told Cherwell. His short film about travelling in Mongolia will be released in Oxford later this term.