John Rae Challenges

14 September 2020

We thought we would list some of the many challenges people are taking to raise money and awareness of John Rae and the restoration of his birthplace, the Hall of Clestrain.

If you are planning to do something then please email me at or if you would rather then please donate via our JustGiving page.


Liz MacInally

Liz has now completed her 300 mile challenge ! If you haven’t already sponsored here there is still time by going to our Just Giving page.

Liz cycling 300 miles
around Orkney

Liz MacInally, one of the new trustees-elect  of the JRS has chosen to do a bike challenge in aid of society funds. Seen here approaching the Mill of Eyrland, she intends to cycle 300 miles around the roads of Stenness and Orphir over the next few weeks. These are roads the young John Rae will have walked or ridden over many times, and Liz is sure if bikes had been available in the early 1800s he would have cycled as well. She hopes all her family and friends, including those on Facebook and Twitter, will support her in this worthy cause, to restore his birthplace and create a brilliant new Arctic explorer visitor centre and café at Clestrain.

President – Andrew Appleby

Andrew completes his JohnRaeChallenge
Photo by John Welburn

John Rae, our own Orcadian Arctic Explorer, achieved so much, yet he is still not properly recognised. This will happen and my challenge may help to do just this.John Rae walked 3,645 miles in sometimes terrible Arctic conditions. I intend to complete my wild swimming challenge of one stroke per mile that he strode. This might not seem a huge feat, but so much of it will be done in the autumn and oncoming winter time.I can’t do it all at once. I’m a rather asthmatic, a weak swimmer and getting on a bit: However, I’m determined to do it.This will mean so much to The John Rae Society. You can have fun funding and following my progress. You can sponsor me through our page on our website, Or, if you’d prefer, send a cheque made out to The John Rae Society to Andrew Appleby, Harray Potter Ltd, Fursbreck Pottery, Harray, Orkney. KW17 2JR.I am aiming to swim at several locations in Orkney.”

Andrew Appleby | Harray Potter Ltd.

Bernie Bell – JRS Member

Me, taking instruction
from ‘A Book of silence’
by Sara Maitland

Some years ago, when visiting a friend in St. Peter’s Old Folks Home, I would tend to do most of the talking, as Mike is The Quiet Man, and our elderly friend found making conversion tiring.  She may have found me tiring too, but I don’t think so.
One day, when visiting and jibber-jabbering away, and old lady across the room suddenly barked “Will that wife ever stop talking?”
I’m known for it – one acquaintance once said that I couldn’t stop talking.  I said I can – but I don’t choose to!
So, what would be a challenge for me?  Not to speak for  a day?  Much too difficult – can’t be done – I’d explode!
How about half a day? Mike  (with, I’m sure, no ulterior motive), suggested between the hours of 2 and 5 on the 31st of October – Halloween.
And who would like to sponsor me to do this?  Mike, who says he’ll sponsor me for £20 an hour.  Maybe Philip?  Philip is my oldest friend, who, many years ago, gave me a badge with a Mute Swan on it.  Subtle.
And anyone else who feels inclined to get ‘that wife’ to zip it for a few hours – please feel free to go to and sponsor the sound of silence, while helping to restore the sounds of life, to the Hall of Clestrain.

Bernie has completed her challenge here is a photo of her doing it. If you haven’t already sponsored some one please do so on our Just Giving site

Sebastian – A Dutch member

Sebastian – from Netherland

There wasn’t much time between the announcement of the challenge and the start of the “Schokofahrt” so I already completed the challenge of transporting 14 kg of chocolate from Aschaffenburg to Moosburg by bike on October 3rd. It took 3.5 days to complete the approx. 500 km.

The story behind the Schokofahrt is as follows: There is a company called Fairtransport ( that is dedicated to ship cargo with engineless sailing ships. One of the goods is cocoa which is used by Chocolatemakers ( to produce chocolate. A guy from Münster, Germany decided that it would be a pity if this splendid eco friendly product would be spoilt by emission during transport over land so he decided to get the first batch of chocolate from the Netherlands to Germany by bike. And now, a few years later there are many more lads and lassies that also distribute the chocolate all over Germany and also Austria twice a year. (

My wife and I lived on Orkney for some months and we still play around with the idea of returning. The Hall of Clestrain was in a sorry state back then, so it’s nice to see how things progress.

Membership Secretary – Fiona Gould

Fiona Gould

Fiona Gould, membership Secretary and JRS archivist, cannot undertake a physical challenge because of pending knee surgery, so has elected to complete a short history of the Hall of Clestrain in around 5000 words. She is seen here in the Orkney Archive Room studying an 18th century entry in the Sheriff’s Court records of an auction of the Clestrain lands.