Plymouth man completes 20,000-mile pub adventure

A man has driven a sports car across 21 countries, starting at the most northerly pub in the world and finishing at the most southerly.

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Ben Coombs, 38, from Plymouth in Devon, drove 20,000 miles across three continents from the Arctic Circle to the southernmost tip of Chile.

It took him seven months to complete the challenge.

Mr Coombs described the final pub as “a dive”, but said “it’s the journey that matters, not the destination”.

The idea for the adventure came while he was having a pint in a pub on Dartmoor.

The journey started on the Norwegian island of Svalbard in an abandoned mining settlement called Pyramiden, which has a population of four.

Mr Coombs said finding the northernmost bar “was an easy investigative process”.

“Pyramiden is less than 700 miles from the North Pole, is the northernmost settlement on earth with a permanent civilian population, and has only one bar,” he added.

“The residents all live in the only building still functioning – the town’s old hotel – which happens to have a still-functioning bar.”

To find the most northerly and southerly pub, Mr Coombs looked for licensed premises where anybody could walk in off the street and buy a beer.

Although there are bars in Antarctica they are located on bases and are not accessible to members of the public or are not licensed, he said.

So Mr Coombs looked for the southernmost settlement outside Antarctica, and came across Puerto Williams in Tierra del Fuego, Chile.

From Pyramiden, Mr Coombs drove his green 20-year-old TVR Chimaera, called Kermit, across Europe to Southampton from where the car was shipped to New York in August.

He then travelled across the United States to California, before heading south to Mexico.

A number of friends joined him for various stages of the journey in the two-seater convertible car.

“Central America quickly passed beneath our wheels, before we shipped the car around the Darien gap from Panama to Colombia,” Mr Coombs said.

“Then it was just the small matter of an 8,000-mile drive across Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina to get to the last bar on earth.”

The final destination was Puerto Williams, where Mr Coombs arrived on 12 February and found the southernmost bar.

“It’s a bit of a dive actually,” he said.

“We’re talking plastic patio furniture inside, Chilean line dancing on the TV, and a menu which consists only of lager and cheap whisky.

“There are probably more appealing places to travel 20,000 miles to get to, but that’s not really the point. It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

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