“ I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor.” Steven Spielberg.

Local Hero Interview – Antony Jinman

Antony Jinman is a renowned polar explorer, the twelfth Brit to ski to both poles as well as solo skiing to the geographical South Pole. After leaving his military career in his early 20’s Antony began to pursue an adventure lifestyle leading expeditions and adventure tourism holidays. In 2010 he achieved his dream of reaching the North Pole. 

Antony is passionate about sharing his experiences through education and works hard with schools to promote polar science through his ‘Education through Expedition’ initiative. Based in South Brent, Antony has a deep love of Dartmoor. We caught up with him to ask him not only about his amazing polar expeditions, but also about his love of the local landscape. 

What made you decide to become an explorer?

‘My interest in exploring began in primary school when we were learning about the Antarctic. I have always been fascinated by the wildlife and have always wanted to see a penguin in the wild. Being from Plymouth, I am also greatly inspired by Captain Scott and his Antarctic expeditions.’ 


What training do you do? 

‘I do a lot of training, I have a gym at home and focus a lot on core fitness. I have quite an active lifestyle anyway and enjoy running, horse riding and walking my dog, all of which help me keep fit.’


What do you eat while you’re on an expedition? 

‘My food on an expedition consists of mostly dehydrated food. A normal breakfast would be dehydrated muesli. I normally burn up to 6,500 calories a day while on an expedition, so I often eat superfoods such as coconut milk to boost my calories. I do still enjoy some comfort foods – crisps and Oreo biscuits are my favourite treats.’


What’s a typical day like on a polar expedition? 

‘It depends which pole I’m at. In the North Pole it’s like a labyrinth, the sea ice you ski on is constantly moving and shifting, so it can be very different one day to the next. In the South Pole the surroundings stay very similar; you’re just continuously skiing uphill in a lot softer snow, the two are very different.’ 


How do you combat boredom while on a solo expedition?

‘I talk to myself of course but I also enjoy listening to audio books. An audio book can last for a couple of days, so if I listen to a series it can last me a couple of weeks. I try to avoid listening to music as I find myself counting how many songs I have listened to and it gets on my nerves.’


What’s your favourite memory of the poles?

‘One of my favourites has got to be when I reached the North Pole on 22nd April 2010 which also fell on World Earth Day, skiing across the Arctic Ocean was such a great experience.  Another great memory is reaching the South Pole exactly 102 years after Captain Scott. It happened by chance, as my expedition took less time than expected, but it is a very special memory.’


I understand your grandparents had a smallholding on Dartmoor. What are your memories of spending time with them? 

‘I have very fond memories of spending time with them, bottle feeding lambs in the spring and getting stuck in snow drifts during the winter. I also completed the Ten Tors challenge in 1996 despite it being cancelled due to snow.’  


What are your favourite things about the moor? 

‘I love the differences in seasons that are seen on Dartmoor. The changes in colour of the bracken throughout the year and how it all turns green in the summer. I like the fact you don’t have to venture too far from home to find a proper wilderness. I also love the history of Dartmoor.’ 


What do you regard as your greatest achievement? 

‘While many people might think my expeditions alone are great achievements, I think it’s what you do with the experiences that builds you as a person. I am working very hard to give back to my community and currently am working on a project taking 10 children on a trip to Finland. I have also worked heavily in education and have worked with over 800 schools doing science workshops. I would regard my Honorary Doctorate in education for my work with schools as my greatest achievement.’


What’s the toughest thing you’ve had to face whilst on an expedition? 

‘When I fell through the ice in the North Pole. I had no dry suit on and the water was about -30 degrees, I definitely questioned what I was putting myself through at this point and thought about going home.’ 


What are your tips for people wanting to explore Dartmoor for the first time?

‘I’d say “be prepared” – if you’re planning on going for a walk, plan your route in advance. Don’t underestimate nature is another important one, and always check the weather before you go out. But most of all “don’t get lost.”’ 


What are your plans for the future?

‘I’d love to someday own a smallholding on Dartmoor. I have also recently got into horse riding and would love to maybe own some horses in the future and be a competent enough rider to ride out on the open moors.’


Do you foresee a time when you’ll have to stop exploring? 

 ‘Never! There will always be places I want to travel to and visit. The travelling life is the best education you can get; you learn so much about the world and about yourself, there is no way I want to stop anytime soon.’


Written by Megan Smith