Captain Scott reaches the South Pole

Scott's ship 'Terra Nova' Scott's ship 'Terra Nova'

Robert Falcon Scott was a captain in the Royal Navy. He was also a very ambitious man who wanted to make a name for himself, and this was difficult in the navy when the country was not at war. Scott went to the Antarctic twice, but he was not really very interested in polar exploration: he needed money to support his family and he wanted to become famous. Scott led the Discovery Expedition, which studied the biology, zoology, geology and climate of the Antarctic, from 1901 to 1904, and when he returned to Britain he was received as a hero. 

In 1910 he returned to the Antarctic, determined to be the first man to reach the South Pole. The expedition was plagued by bad luck from the beginning, and things went from bad to worse when, on 17 January 1912, Scott and four other men reached the South Pole – and found that they had been beaten by five weeks by Roald Amundsen. Scott expressed his feelings in his diary: “The worst has happened … Great God! This is an awful place.”

Scott never returned to England. He and the men with him all died on their way back to their base camp, exhausted, hungry and frostbitten. It is ironical, but it was another Norwegian, Fridtjof Nansen, who advised Scott long before his journey to use dogs, not ponies. If he had followed Nansen’s advice, Scott may have reached the Pole first, and he and his men may have returned from the expedition alive.



Correct the information in these sentences. Do not copy from the text, but use your own words and write short answers.

  1. Scott went on the Discovery Expedition because polar regions fascinated him.
  2. The aim of the Discovery Expedition was to reach the South Pole.
  3. The Discovery Expedition began in 1910.
  4. Scott’s second expedition started well.
  5. In 1912 four British men reached the South Pole.
  6. Amundsen reached the Pole the day before Scott.
  7. Scott and his men died at their base camp.
  8. Scott listened to Nansen’s advice.


Activities for the link below

The link takes us to an audio slide show which gives us information in sound and pictures about Scott’s 1910-1912 expedition. First, look and listen to the whole presentation. Then play it again, pausing from time to time and making notes. Finally, use your notes to write a short account of what you have learnt. 150 words should be enough to cover the main points. You might like to write about

  • who took part
  • how they travelled
  • their equipment
  • their living conditions
  • the natural environment