My Mountains: Julia Bradbury

© Julia Bradbury

For our series of chats with familiar hill folk, Fiona Russell talks to TV's Julia Bradbury, best known as the presenter of several walking programmes.

Julia will be well known to TV viewers as a keen outdoors fan. She is very proud of the hit 2018 programme Britain's Favourite Walks and used it as a launchpad for her website The Outdoor Guide. She grew up walking in the Peak District and now adds the Lake District to her favourite walking locations. She is happiest when enjoying the great outdoors, so long as she has chocolate in her rucksack.

"I do love a good woodland walk" - Julia in Devon  © Julia Bradbury
"I do love a good woodland walk" - Julia in Devon
© Julia Bradbury

Sometimes dubbed "the Walking Man's Crumpet" (proof that some walkers haven't yet navigated their way out of the 1970s), Julia Bradbury has presented many genres of programming from celebrity interviews to consumer affairs, but she is best known for her love of travel and the outdoors.

Earlier this year, Julia and Ore Oduba, of BBC Sport, co-presented a 2.5-hour long programme, Britain's Favourite Walks: Top 100. The programme held an average of two and a half million viewers throughout - testament to the popularity of a) walking, and b) Julia Bradbury!

Her latest TV project is a new six-programme series, 10K Holiday Homes, which has just started on ITV.

Is the outdoors an important part of your work?

The outdoors is so good for the soul and it is proven that green therapy and spending time in green spaces helps with your mental and physical health. By being in the media, I have the prefect opportunity to promote this way of life.

I am also the first celebrity ambassador for the Camping and Caravanning Club and with this I aim to encourage more families to go out exploring. Camping is a great way for families to bond.

Following the success of Britain's Favourite Walks, I co-founded The Outdoor Guide (TOG) with my sister Gina. It is an online resource that aims to inspire families to get out and explore this wonderful country.

I'm a not so secret Eco Warrior, too. Earlier this year, I teamed up with Keep Britain Tidy and helped to launch their Great British Spring Clean campaign. We got Nadia Sparkes, aka Trash Girl, involved and have come up with our own canvas litter bags.

Walking on the south coast
© Julia Bradbury

With her dad, who introduced a young Julia to walking
© Julia Bradbury

What is your first memory of walking in the hills or mountains?

I first started walking with my father when I was about six years old, which I think is a good age to get started. I went to school in Sheffield so at the weekends my dad would take me out to explore the beloved Peak District on our doorstep. He grew up there, around Buxton and Tideswell. Our favourite walks were around Monsal Head and Stanage Edge, which forms the high peak of Derbyshire and Sheffield.

When did you realise you would be a keen life-long walker?

I always looked forward to my walks with my father in the Peaks. But I don't think it is something you wake up one day and realize. If you have been introduced to walking from a young age, it is something that stays with you forever.

The biggest challenge of filming a walking series is that you have a limited number of days to film as much of the landscapes and experiences as possible. It's not flexible and you're constantly battling against the weather

Coast, hills, moorland or mountain ridges?

I love the variety of landscapes we have in the UK so I can't possibly choose. But I do love a good woodland walk.

Are you a fair weather or any weather walker?

There's no such thing a bad weather, only bad clothing choices.

What are your three all-time favourite hill or mountain walks, and why?

Castle Crag in the Lake District. The climax of this gorgeous valley walk is the much-cherished fell, Castle Crag, standing at less than a 1000 feet.

Kinder Scout in Edale. This route takes in the spiritual home of popular walking as you head up to Kinder Scout on the moor tops – the setting for the famous 1932 mass trespass.

Golden Cap in Dorset. This is a fab three-hill walk that starts with the iconic Colmer's Hill and ends with spectacular views of the Jurassic Coast from the top of Golden Cap, the highest point on England's south coast.

Above Edale in the Peak District  © Julia Bradbury
Above Edale in the Peak District
© Julia Bradbury

Is the night-time a good time to go walking?

Yes, if you have the right gear, the right experience and have told someone your route and expected time back. You should always carry an OS Map.

Have you ever been lucky to avoid/escape a difficult situation in the mountains?

I was filming a series of walks in South Africa, in the Drakensburg mountain range, and we had to turn back because of a violent lightning storm. They are renowned for them in that area.

You have presented many successful TV programmes about walking. What were the challenges?

The biggest challenge of filming a walking series is that you have a limited number of days to film as much of the landscapes and experiences as possible. It's not flexible and you're constantly battling against the weather and other people's schedules.

Your perfect walking partner?

Someone who can keep up and likes pies and pints. And chocolate!

Are you happy to go solo?

Yes. It is great for your health and wellbeing to be outside in green space having time to think and reflect.

Iceland, "the most extraordinary landscape..."  © Julia Bradbury
Iceland, "the most extraordinary landscape..."
© Julia Bradbury

Where do you walk with your family?

Mainly Regents Canal in London and Rutland Water.

Boots, trail shoes, wellies or barefoot?

Walking boots that have been properly fitted and worn in.

How do you navigate? GPS gadget, map and compass, phone or a mix…?

I always have an OS map and compass, but I also use the ViewRanger App on my phone.

What three items are always in your rucksack?

Chocolate, water and a Buff, which can double up as a hat, neck warmer or towel.

What goes in your pack as a guilty secret?!


Your favourite walking food?


If you could only pick one area of Britain to walk in, where would it be?

It has to be the Lake District.

What is your ultimate walking heaven?

I hiked to the top of Iceland's infamous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull (the big E). This was undoubtedly one of the toughest, but most spectacular, walks I have ever done. At the top of the summit you are met with stunning views over the most extraordinary landscape, it quite literally takes your breath away.

Will you be walking until you are 103?

Yes, hopefully.

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9 Aug, 2018

"Pies and pints"


Nice article too, thanks :)

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