AN INTREPID traveller has bought the charred remains of the New Forest cottage which belonged to film director Ken Russell.

Neil McGrigor hit the headlines last year when he completed a mission to find the source of the River Nile.

He was the successful bidder at the auction of the charred remains of Mr Russell's former New Forest home, Old Tinsleys.

Mr McGrigor, who narrowly escaped death when rebel Ugandan gunmen ambushed his Nile expedition and shot dead one of his guides, parted with £605,000 for the fire-ravaged site of Mr Russell's cottage, in East Boldre.

The cottage, a 19th century thatched property which overlooks picturesque open forest, was severely damaged by a fire in April last year.

Mr Russell and his wife, Lisi, escaped the blaze unharmed, but he risked his life as he forced his way inside believing his wife was still inside.

He had returned from a doctor's appointment to find his home ablaze, not knowing that Lisi, who was taking a bath at the time, had escaped naked to the garden.

Mr Russell, 80, said he was pleased with how the auction had gone and the amount the site sold for, although he added: "It's a bit less than what I hoped it would get."

Ken and Lisi did not want to look at the remains of their old home and stayed in the auction tent. Mr Russell, who had lived in the house since 1972, said: "We can't see the property from here, which is just as well because otherwise we would cry buckets. It's a magical spot. The best sunsets in the whole of the Forest are here."

The bidding war started at £200,000 and about six bidders battled against one another until Neil's bid of £605,000 won.