Did Top Gear actually go to the North Pole?


Thanks to an anonymous commenter on my previous post, who asked whether Top Gear actually went to the North Pole.

The co-ordinates shown on their SatNav when they were said to be at the North Pole were: N78˚35’7” W104˚11’9”. Steoroid.com states that, at this “finishing point”, they were 792 miles from the North Pole or 307 miles from the magnetic North Pole:

The North Pole is at N90 latitude, of course, and all the Longitudes at once. What’s the difference? According to the Great Circle Mapper, the difference is 792 miles, or 1275 kilometers. You can see the positions on a map, here.

A-ha, I hear you saying: they must have gone to Magnetic North, then? Yes, I thought of that, but it still doesn’t add up: throughout the program, they always referred to the North Pole: no mention of the word “magnetic” that I can recall, though I could be wrong about that. There’s another problem: they didn’t actually go the North Magnetic Pole.
The latest coordinates I can find for the location of the North Magnetic Pole are those from 2005, which were estimated at 82.7°’N 114°4′W. This is quite a long way from the show’s “North Pole” location: 307 miles, to be exact, according to another Great Circle Map. To be fair, however, the North Magnetic Pole has been near the location they used in the show: in 1994, according to the this map and other historical figures I looked up.

How does that compare to how far they actually went? They started at Resolute, in Nunavut, which is at 74°41′40.27″N 94°50′23.64″W. I know they didn’t go in a straight line, but if they had, another Great Circle Map tells me how far the crow flew: 308 miles.

In other words: their trip to the North Pole took them almost exactly halfway to the North Magnetic Pole.


  1. Great, they bulldozed their way through a bunch of Arctic habitats to wrongfully claim that they had reached the pole. Yet another world beater from Clarkson Liars and Selfish Polluters Inc.

  2. I'm disappointed but not surprised they didn't actually get to the North Pole, because its bloody hard to get to. I mean really bloody hard, overland anyway. That's not to denigrate what they did achieve, and it made great TV.

    I'm talking about 90N here. In Franklin's and Amundsen's day magnetic north was south of Resolute so they can't really count that (can they?)

  3. "Great, they bulldozed their way through a bunch of Arctic habitats"

    You know the arctic habitat is just water, right? It's like saying you bulldoze your way through an arctic habitat when you crush up some ice to go into your drink.

  4. They went to the magnetic pole of 1996

  5. Having looked into this all information confirms that the Top Gear team reached the magnetic north pole as confirmed in 1996. The actual challenge took place in 1997. See North Magnetic Pole – Wikipedia.

  6. The challenge took place in 2007, not 1997.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.