With her latest book out in paperback and her last TV walking series still fresh in our minds, we talk to Julia Bradbury about tackling the UK’s trails, trekking abroad, and just what it is she sticks in her ear when she flies
In your last TV series, Britain’s Best Walks, you trekked a mix of coast, hills and countryside. Did you have a favourite among these?
It’s impossible to say. Every walk has things you like about it. The ‘Yorkshire’ episode, for example, was about getting to the top of Pen-Y-Ghent, which is a proper walkers’ route and part of the Three Peaks Challenge.
It was wild and windy, as you’d expect, but also visually stunning; and we went via Hull Pot, so it was a classic fell walk, too. Whereas the ‘Rivers’ episode was set in north Devon and took in Exmoor National Park. It was completely idyllic, the sun was with us and it was just beautiful. So how do you pick?
You mentioned the Three Peaks Challenge. Walking challenges tend to polarise people – what are your thoughts on them?
I can see their appeal. But, for me, if I’m going to do a challenge, it’s got to be the biggest mountain that I can tackle, just not necessarily in a certain time. What I enjoy is that feeling of accomplishment; of reaching the top of somewhere you’ve always wanted to summit.
Were there any walks that you wanted to film this series but couldn’t?
Always! We’re weather dependent, so we’re often trying to film in months that are going to be kind to us. That tends to be September or October, so we need to plan routes that all fit within six-to-eight weeks of travel.
In our recent Reader Travel Awards, Scotland would have won our Top Country category if it were not counted as part of the UK, while Wales also did well in our Top UK Destination section. Do you have any good walking tips for either?
Loch Lomond is a very attractive and beautiful walk, and pretty accessible for the whole family. It’s not exactly a rugged trail, but easily among the most scenic. As for Wales, I’ve always been a fan of Offa’s Dyke. I think there’s a lot of variety along this route, and it’s got a curious history – anything to do with myths and legends and gods is always good.
Loch Lomond, Scotland (Dreamstime)
If you could take the Best Walks show global, where would you go?
What we have an abundance of in the UK is variety. You’d have to go to South America – places like Argentina and Chile – to get a really good range of rivers, gorges and coastal areas.
What destinations do you think are emerging, and what do you pack first when going abroad?
Most people think of Australia as the Great Barrier Reef or Sydney. But I’ll be visiting Western Australia soon, spending time around Margaret River and Perth. For a lot of people, this is a new location to think about.
Also, the thing I pack first now is called the Human Charger – it emits a light into your ear that helps combat jetlag and overcome tiredness. But the real test of it may come on the flight to Perth.
Perth, Australia (Dreamstime)
What tips would you give readers who want to add more walking into their overseas trips?
Pre-planning can help but it really is about getting local knowledge while you’re there. Whether you’re backpacking or staying in hotels, you will want to contact your hosts and say, look, this is what I’d like to do, and ask the staff if there are any good trails in the area, or perhaps a good walking guide available.
Julia’s Unforgettable Walks is out now in paperback; £17. Visit The Outdoor Guide (theoutdoorguide.co.uk) or download the app for interactive maps of her walks.
Main image: Julia Bradbury
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