Polar exploration

Wrap up warm and take a journey to the icy ends of the earth. From the countless attempts to find the fabled North-West Passage in the Arctic Circle, to the race to reach the South Pole, read about the triumphs and the tragedies of history's polar explorers.

John_Ross_(1777-1856),_by_British_school_of_the_19th_century.jpg

After a failed attempt in 1818, John Ross returned to the Arctic to search for the North-West Passage with his nephew James Clark Ross in 1829.

The Antarctic Pole F0225_slider.JPG

Antarctica is the most inhospitable place on earth, and largely devoid of life – which makes exploration of the continent extremely perilous. 

1895, William Smith, They forged the last links with their lives.jpg

Sir John Franklin made three attempts to find the North-West Passage. His final voyage in 1845 in HMS Erebus and HMS Terror ended in tragedy for him and all his men, becoming the worst disaster in the history of British polar exploration. 

Roald_Amundsen_Svalbard_1925.jpg

Roald Amundsen is one of history’s most celebrated explorers, famous for navigating the North-West Passage and being the first to reach the South Pole.

Captain Robert Falcon Scott.jpg

Captain Robert Falcon Scott was the first British explorer to reach the South Pole and explore Antarctica extensively by land in the early 1900s. 

John_Ross_(1777-1856),_by_British_school_of_the_19th_century.jpg

In 1818 John Ross was sent to search for the North-West Passage. He turned back, mistakenly believing there was no passage through Lancaster Sound. 

Ernest Shackleton 3.jpg

Sir Ernest Shackleton was an Anglo-Irish Antarctic explorer, who made three expeditions to the continent, most famously in 1914 on the Endurance.

Foxe.map_.jpg

Explorer Luke Foxe led an expedition to search for the North-West Passage in 1631. He set out at the same time as rival explorer Thomas James.

A View of Cape Stephens in Cook's Straits with Waterspout

Polite society was thrilling to the idea of an undiscovered continent in the south. Was it even there and what would count as proof if it didn’t exist?

Martin_Frobisher_by_Ketel_slider.JPG

In 1576 Martin Frobisher was the first English explorer to search for the North-West Passage – the seaway linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Pages