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.

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?

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

In 1907, Ernest Shackleton embarked on an expedition to the South Pole aboard his ship Nimrod. He was almost successful, falling just 97 miles short.

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was the first man who successfully navigated the North-West Passage by boat, on a voyage that lasted from 1903 to 1906.

In the early 20th century the race was on to reach the South Pole. Robert Falcon Scott led the first British expedition.

In 1854 Robert McClure was credited as the first man to navigate the North-West Passage – although much of his journey was over ice, rather than water.

In the 1890s and early 1900s, explorers from various countries competed to explore the continent of Antarctica and reach the South Pole.

Samuel Hearne journeyed overland to search for the North-West Passage in 1770. He was the first man to walk from Hudson Bay to the Arctic Ocean.

In 1911, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen went head to head to be the first to reach the South Pole.

For over 300 years explorers risked their lives to search the Arctic for a North-West Passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.