A couple who won a remote lodge in Alaska after taking part in BBC show Win the Wilderness have seen their dream turn into a nightmare after the home’s former owner refused to give it up.
Emily Padfield, 37, and her partner Mark Warner, 53, from Warwickshire, competed against five other couples to win the three-storey property on the reality show, which aired in January.
To win the home, named Ose Mountain after previous owner Duane Ose, contestants had to do things including jumping into icy water and find and cook their own food whilst surviving in the wilderness.
The solar-powered ‘off-grid’ home, which was built from 2,000 spruce trees and is still unfinished, is 100 miles from the nearest road, has no running water and is an area populated by both wolves and bears.
But since signing the deeds to the property in June last year, the couple were told by Duane, 78, that he wanted it back.
Emily Padfield, 37, and her partner Mark Warner, 53, from Warwickshire, won a remote lodge in the Alaskan wilderness after featuring on BBC show Win The Wilderness. But despite being the legal owners, former owner Duane Ose, 78, now claims to want it back
Duane had previously lived there with his wife Rena, 76, who died in May after a heart operation, before retiring to Minnesota.
After their victory on the show, Mark and Emily had spent a month living with Duane and his wife and then returned to the UK.
But because of the coronavirus pandemic, they have been unable to return to Alaska to lay physical claim to the property, which legally belongs to them.
Shortly after Rena’s death, Duane became romantically involved with a woman called Ellie-Mae Blair, who he is pictured with on Facebook and claims to have married.
The couple competed against five other couples to win the property on the reality show, which aired in January. Pictured: Duane with his wife Rena, who died in May
Mark and Emily suspect that the woman may have influenced him and said he became ‘distant’.
He has since lashed out at the couple on his Facebook page in a deluge of vitriolic posts.
‘We’d been talking to him throughout lockdown, planning to go to Ose Mountain with him to scatter Rena’s ashes, but suddenly he was distant,’ Emily told The Times.
Mark added: ‘I said, ‘Duane, are you dissatisfied with us?’ I said, “Is Ellie-Mae talking to you about us? You really should take the time to meet her in person.”
The solar-powered ‘off-grid’ home, which was built from 2,000 spruce trees and is still unfinished, is 100 miles from the nearest road, has no running water and is an area populated by both wolves and bears
‘And that was the end of him communicating directly to us.’
Mark said that Duane now claims to want to return to the homestead, which can only be reached by plane.
He has also allegedly ignored emails and calls from Mark and Emily.
On his Facebook page, he has written, ‘Re Claiming My Legacy, My Home from faux foreigners who do Not Care for my Wishes [sic]’.
Shortly after Rena’s death, Duane became romantically involved with a woman called Ellie-Mae Blair, who he is pictured with on Facebook and claims to have married
In one post, he claimed Mark and Emily had ‘incited five weeks of aggressive harassment of an elderly man and a sweet caring woman who has helped me more than any one fb friend ever has.’
Emily said she and Duane had previously had a ‘really great’ relationship, explaining it had been ‘frustrating’ that they’re only able to communicate with Duane via social media and are convinced that Blair is behind the aggressive Facebook posts.
Mark said the posts contain words they had never seen Duane use and he could imagine Blair ‘banging her fingers through the keyboard.’
The couple believe that Duane never wanted to leave the property, which he built after 35 years ago after a trek through the wilderness.
The home is deep in the Alaskan wilderness and is only accessible by air