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Shiver me timbers ( they've done it.

Byline: By Louise Redvers

A couple have become the first British man and wife team to trek unsupported to the South Pole.

Conrad and Hilary Dickinson, of Hexham, Northumberland, arrived at their destination yesterday afternoon and will begin their return trip on Boxing Day.

They will have just 25 days to kite-ski back to base camp at Hercules Inlet before the flights out from there stop for winter.

The pair have spent the last 52 days skiing 675 miles to the South Pole, carrying all their own food, fuel and equipment.

The weather has been the worst seen in Antarctica for some years with temperatures plunging to -45C, and Conrad, 49, and Hilary, 51, have been plagued by chilblains and blisters.

But the couple say the experience is more than worth the pain.

From the South Pole last night, Conrad, who owns Karpet Mill in Kingston Park, Newcastle, said: "We are ecstatic.

"To ski into the Pole with a Union Jack is a tremendous feeling. Only 38 people have done this unsupported. That is quite something."

The Dickinsons, who have daughter, Laura, 23, and son Joel, 22, are travelling with three Canadians whom they met last year while crossing Greenland.

When they get back to the UK they hope to do some talks and slide shows about their expedition and give the proceeds to Cancer Bridge in Hexham and the Alzheimer's Society.

Conrad said: "It is absolutely beautiful here and this trip is something we'd always dreamt of doing.

"We have already kite-skied in the Canadian Arctic, Norway and Baffin Island so this was the next place we wanted to come to.

"There is a strong British connection with this route, with people like Scott and Shackleton, so it is a real honour to have made it, especially as we're unsupported."

The pair, who have been surviving on re-hydrated foods and chocolate bars are looking forward to tucking into something more substantial when they get back to Hexham in January.

Conrad said: "I can't wait to have my favourite pint in my local and a chicken jalfrezi at the Indian restaurant we go to."
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Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 24, 2004
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