Briton walks 17,000 miles in seven years, and into custody

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Seven years ago Karl Bushby set off from the southern tip of Chile, promising to walk 36,000 miles back to his home in Hull on a budget of £280. The former paratrooper has so far defied Arctic white-outs, Panamanian swamplands and Colombian guerrillas in pursuit of his ambition to complete the first unbroken walk around the globe.

The 37-year-old's dream appeared to be in jeopardy last night, however: 17,000 miles in, Mr Bushby has been arrested by the Russian security service because his passport does not carry the correct border stamp. The authorities there will decide whether to deport him to the UK or allow him to continue on his quest.

His current hiking partner, Dimitri Kieffer, 40, a US citizen and expert on the Arctic, was also detained by the Federal Security Service (FSB). They are being held resident in a hotel in the remote north-eastern Chukotka Peninsula while their story is verified.

The duo's detention is a comedown from the elation they felt last Friday when they joined an elite band of explorers to have crossed the Bering Strait, the hazardous 58-mile ice bridge from Alaska to Russia, on foot. Mr Bushby is thought to be the first Briton to have achieved the feat.

Wayward currents pushing the ice floe away from Russia meant the crossing was particularly problematic, according to Bushby's accounts on his website. On two occasions they faced "minor dramas" when the ice under their tent began to disintegrate.

Their arrest on Saturday, when they were found to be carrying a GPS locator device and a Colt Magnum .44 pistol to protect them from polar bears could risk everything.

Mr Bushby's father Keith said he had been trying to inform Russian authorities of the crossing on his son's behalf, to no avail. "For about 12 months, I phoned various departments, but after hearing such a strange request, they just kept passing me from department to department," he told a Russian paper. Waiting any longer was impossible, he added, as warmer weather would have melted the ice.

An FSB spokesman said the pair "did not notify the Russian side through official channels of their crossing, which not only violated border legislation but also put their lives in serious danger".

A British Embassy spokesman in Moscow said diplomats were "still trying to clarify the situation".

Keith Bushby said his son had survived trekking through the Darien Gap - a lawless stretch of jungle between Central and South America - avoiding drug barons, arms traffickers and Farc guerrillas, and swimming down rivers. "So he won't mind a few days in a hotel," he said. "He'll certainly need a wash."

If released, Bushby Jnr hopes to walk across Russia's 11 time zones, through Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Europe, and finally through the service canal of the Channel tunnel. He hopes to complete the trek in 2009 with a short 250-mile hike up to his Yorkshire home.

If he makes it, he will have crossed four continents, 25 countries, seven mountain ranges and six deserts.

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