NEWPORT explorer Richard Parks has been forced to abandon his solo trek to the South Pole.

The ex-Newport Gwent Dragon rugby player was 39 days into his punishing journey and 200km away from the pole.

On his blog, Richard wrote today: "The last week has really taken it out of me and during that 30km day I was operating at a level that was pushing the boundaries of safety in this environment in order to achieve that."

Richard had to be at the South Pole by the end of the 27th of this month, but decided he could not pull off this final part of his challenge.

He said his weight is dangerously low and had exposed his nose to the brutally cold temperatures of -20C and colder.

He says: "I was working so hard and I took my facemask off to get more breath in as it clogged up and I have cold damage to my nose now.

This combined, with mouth ulcers and his depleted physical state, forced him to quit his goal to reach the South Pole. 

He added: "This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make being so close, having progressed so well and having invested so much in to this, however expeditions are difficult things and in life we all have to make difficult decisions.  I have made this decision with all the facts on the table with a clear head and clear heart and I am really sorry to tell you guys that quite simply I have run out of time over here.

"I have been starving myself close to 40 days now, that is the nature of it as you can’t consume more calories than you burn, it’s the fine line you run but I am skin and bones over here.  I am the weakest and lightest I have ever been.  The last week has really battered me basically."

Read more on Richard Parks' blog here