Rockall Solo details the summer he spent on the tiny islet and the five years it took to get him there.
While a siren’s existence in the open ocean sounds poetic, Hancock veers from romanticism and focuses instead on the realities of surviving. Punctuated with descriptions of his guano-covered surroundings, he shares how he kept his mental state, like any other piece of expedition equipment, in good nick and it’s hard not to be struck by how important it is to keep a steady head.
This is also true of the run up to the event. During an attempted first landing, the author describes how media involvement and corporate sponsorship quickly became a psychological tightrope for someone due to spend six weeks alone. The contrast of the book’s busy first half to its isolated second shows the classic paradox of the expeditioner, who in wanting to go it alone still needs the sponsorship, exposure and media attention to pay for it.
Once out of the outer Hebrides, interactions with minke whales, skuas and one lone starling are a relief from the monster storms that rock his shelter. With a down-to-Earth tone, Rockall Solo is a remarkably honest depiction of living in a place that fewer people have landed on than the moon.
ROCKALL SOLO by Nick Hancock; CreateSpace; £6.50 (softback)
This review was published in the November 2015 edition of Geographical Magazine.