WOTTON-BASED polar explorer Newall Hunter is gearing up for his next mammoth challenge, a solo winter 1,600km crossing of the Gobi Desert on foot.

The trek will take Newall between 70 and 90 days depending on weather conditions, which will feature temperatures as low as -40°C and winds of up to 100mph.

Speaking of his planning for the trip, Newall, 53, makes no bones as to how difficult it will be.

“Water, or rather the lack of it, is going to be the most critical factor, if it can be located then it will probably be frozen,” said Newall, who just over two and a half years ago gained the title of the first Scot to ski solo to the South Pole and the first Briton to undertake that particular route.

“That is why I am working with a lecturer at the Ulaanbaatar University in Mongolia and local Bedouins to research the best routes for me and negotiate access to water which is often owned by the tribes.”

His official solo attempt on foot will stretch from this November into January 2018.

However, for the first part of his research for the trek, Newall is going to spend most of September on a cycle reconnaissance to identify the best route for him to take and to locate sources of water.

To help him in his search for water sources he will be flying a drone to obtain on-the-spot aerial pictures, which when he can only carry supplies to last two days at a time, may prove crucial to the mission’s success.

“If it can’t be done on a bike, then I certainly won’t be able to walk it pulling a cart with my supplies on it, but I don’t think it will come to that,” he said.

The word ‘Gobi’ means ‘waterless place’ and the desert which bears its name is a vast and arid region in southern Mongolia and northern China, it is the world’s fifth largest desert.

A few crossings have been made in summer – mostly as groups with only a couple having been made solo – however, none have ever been made in the winter.

In June last year, Newall became only the second Briton and the sixteenth person in the world to achieve the coveted Adventurers’ Grand Slam by climbing the highest peaks on each of the seven continents and reaching both the North and South Poles.

Originally from South Lanarkshire in Scotland, Newall reached the North Pole in 2013 followed by the South Pole in 2015, preceded by a successful climb of Mount Everest in 2011 and Kilimanjaro in 2004 among many other feats.

The unusual sight of Newall training for his trek by dragging enormous tyres, a mimic for his 150kg sled, has become a regular occurrence for those who live near Wotton-under-Edge.

Provided he can secure some satellite upload time for communications, Newall is planning to publish daily blogs and upload pictures and video footage of his trek.

His progress on both the reconnaissance cycle and the full attempt can be followed on www.newallhunter.com