Katherine Sopwith tells the tale of two brothers from rural Devon who bounced back from teenage tragedy to forge a lifetime of adventure.
Hugo and Ross Turner, twin brothers from Dartmoor, have embarked on adventures that many only dream of doing, from climbing mountains to rowing the Atlantic.
Their latest escapade came in August 2016 when they reached Australia’s ‘Continental Pole of Inaccessibility’ – the point of the landmass furthest from the sea – using Parajet paramotors.
Their aim was to paramotor from the coast of Australia to the heart of the outback, a task that had never been attempted before. They dubbed it ‘The Red Pole Expedition’, as the area is in the heart of Australia’s Red Centre, North-West of Alice Springs.
This proved no easy undertaking, as they faced the daunting task of learning to paramotor, experiencing both freezing and scorching temperatures, and getting stranded hundreds of miles from any roads when their landing spot near The Red Pole turned out to be trees instead of grass. This made it almost impossible for them to take off again.
During all of this, their enthusiasm and optimism never waned and their quest to reach the Continental Pole of Inaccessibility was a success.
Exploring the unknown has always been high on the agenda for two boys lucky enough to grow up with Dartmoor as their backyard. The area kick-started their love of the outdoors and before long they were conducting their own mini expeditions, walking long distances and camping in the wild.
Then, when they were 17, things came close to going tragically wrong. Hugo was involved in a freak diving accident, breaking his neck but just lucky enough to avoid paralysis.
That horrifying experience didn’t slow them down—if anything, it proved to be a catalyst and their thirst for adventure was reinforced. In the 18 months it took to recover from the accident, Hugo faced emotional difficulties that made him all the more determined to challenge himself on some of the world’s most hostile terrain.
What-is-more, their adventures are about more than just thrills. Hugo and Ross are working with medical researchers at Kings College, London, who study the way their bodies, as identical twins, are affected in those testing environments.
They also raise money for the charity Wings for Life, a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation which funds scientific research across the globe. Working together with Heinz Kinigadner, the two-time motocross world champion, and Dietrich Mateschitz, the founder of Red Bull, their aim is to find a cure for spinal cord injury.