Do you like to read about a place/destination before you visit?
If I’m going to film there, then yes for research purposes, and to get the feel of the place. If I’m going on holiday then I’ve generally read enough to pique my interest then I’ll leave the rest to exploration.
Do you think a book can transport you to a place?
Of course but there’s nothing that wakes the senses like the real thing. Reading about love and being in love are very different.
What is your favourite nature and travel book of all time?
We live a lifetime and encounter so many books along the way it’s impossible to pin it down to one. Well, it is for me. I have a beautiful coffee table book by Michael Poliza – photographs of Africa which I never tire of. South Africa is one of my favourite places in the world so I like to be reminded.
You recently camped on top of the O2 Arena in London for charity – can you tell us more about that experience?
This was to support 2 iconic organisations in the Outdoor World. Camping & Caravanning Club for the launch of National Camping & Caravanning Week and the Duke Of Edinburgh Awards to celebrate their Diamond Anniversary. The aim was for me to do a challenge to inspire all ages to get outdoors and have a personal adventure. It certainly was one of the best “rooms with a view”!… and very cold and windy.
I know you presented a TV show called Wonders of Britain – what is your number 1 place to visit/wonder of Britain?
I loved flying into Barra airport and landing on the beach, going to the early morning fish market in Looe, zip wiring over the Eden Project, and learning to sword fight at Tintagel. We are truly spoilt in this country with amazingly diverse beautiful places and landscapes packed into a small area. To choose just one would be criminal (and impossible).
You co-hosted Countryfile for 5 years – did the popularity of the show take you by surprise?
The show’s enormous success then and its continued popularity has been a surprise for everyone. It’s something of a phenomenon in the telly world and I’m very proud to have been a part of it. The team work incredibly hard to make it happen week after week.
Could you tell us about one of your favourite moments working on Countryfile?
Releasing 20,000 slippery elvers (glass eels) into Llangorse Lake in Powys with some Year 6 students from The Grange, Monmouth Prep School as part of a 10 year conservation programme. I’m not big into touching eels but to see the excitement on those young faces and to witness them connecting with nature in a very real way was memorable. And laying a hedge with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales at Highgrove. He did accidently flick me in the face with a branch but he was very apologetic.
You also presented a show Wainwright Walks and have a book called Wainwright Walks. Has Alfred Wainwright been an influence for you?
AW actually influenced my tv career, but it’s my Dad that I have to thank for getting me in to walking as a youngster and for initially introducing me to him in the first place. Then following a meeting with a television commissioner at the BBC and realising my love of the outdoors and knowledge about AW, he ordered four walks to accompany a documentary. In some circles I was regarded as a controversial choice of presenter, but the success was overwhelming and catapulted me in to the outdoor arena – and I am now fondly known as The Walking Man’s Crumpet or the Lady of the Lakes!
We enjoyed your latest series Best Walks With a View. Do you have a favourite walk? How do you select the walks for the show?
Thank you… people (4 million viewers) really seemed to connect with the series and they keep posting photos of their own adventures on social media. It’s really lovely to see such a direct response to the programs.
Anything in the Peak District because it reminds me of walking as a little girl with my Dad, who would take me out after school (in Sheffield), and the Lakes are spectacular on every visit. The walks for the series depend on the theme of the series and there are various criteria they have to fulfil to make good TV walks. Somebody suggested circular walks. Great for families but they wouldn’t work for telly because starting in a car park and ending in a car park wouldn’t be a nice beginning or an end to the story! You need a satisfying conclusion to the end of the programme, whether that’s the view, a good story or a pub!
The Outdoor Guide is a new, online resource with an abundance of inspiring walks to download, places to stay, eat and drink and some great outdoor gear to discover… all in one place.
There are lots of ideas and personal recommendations from TV presenter and outdoor enthusiast Julia Bradbury.