Credited with revamping Sunday night primetime television and dubbed “Lady of the Lakes” and “The Walking Man’s Crumpet” Julia Bradbury is one of the small screen’s most popular and versatile presenters.

Although having presented many genres of programming from celebrity interviews to consumer affairs she is best known for her love of travel and the outdoors. In recognition of Julia’s popularity ITV recently dedicated a two and a half hour slot to Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100. The programme held an average of two and a half million viewers throughout. The online resource The Outdoor Guide (TOG – Julia co-founder with her sister Gina) mirrored the walks and attracted over 18,000 hits, and continues to reach an ever growing audience of outdoor enthusiasts.

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UKHillWalking’s Fiona Russell talks to TV’s Julia Bradbury, for their series of chats with familiar hill folk.
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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.

Questions answered by Julia Bradbury

Have you always had a love of the outdoors?
Yes. My Dad Michael took be exploring the great outdoors with him when I was a little girl of about 6yrs old and I’ve been out there ever since! But I do live in a house not a tree house, in London, and contrary to the rumours, I like cities too!

What are the areas in Britain which particularly inspire you?
Where do I start…Castle Crag in the Lake District, I love the way this little walk ends at an incredible dramatic summit that looks like something out of the Lord of the Rings! Cleveland Way, Yorkshire, this walk covers some really stunning coastland and all the wild, craggy heathery magic of the Yorkshire Moors.

What was it like to follow in Arthur Wainwright’s footsteps for Wainwright Walks?
I always say I am very proud to be the woman following in Wainwrights man-boots. That original series was just meant to be a bit of a diversion from my other telly projects, an opportunity to pursue a hobby at work, so the reaction to the show was amazing and a bit of a surprise to everyone I think. We filmed three series of Wainwrights including the granddaddy of all long distance walks the Coast to Coast …  

Any tips for those about to embark on the renowned journey themselves?
Don’t wear new boots, get some training in if you’re thinking about doing the walk in one go, but if you don’t have time (and I know a lot of people don’t) consider breaking the experience up over several weekends.

How would you describe your home (The style / feel etc.)?
My home has contemporary modern feel, lots of glass and limestone (and some gorgeous green slate from the bathrooms from the Honister Slate Mine in the Lakes).  I’m also a street art fan so we have graffiti artwork up some of the walls by a street artist known as Mighty Monkey.  I have an outdoor shower in the garden which is a hangover from my travels (I’ve presented several travel series over the years).  My first outdoor shower was in South Africa and I’ve loved them ever since.

What benefits do you think families can draw from outdoor life?
The list is endless and I could bang on for hours and hours but to me camping isn’t all about the actual camping, its about finding a beautiful outdoor location that you feel happy in and you think differently when you have an entirely new set of functions to perform and there is a freedom away from the routines at home.

What is your best family camp/camping experience to date?
As Matt Baker is godfather to one of my twin girls, I would count him as family and one of the funniest experiences I had was camping with him in the New Forest when he appeared wearing a duvet onesie in bright red. He looked hilarious!

What are your considerations when choosing gear?
Functional, trendy and where possible environment friendly.

What cannot you do without when camping?
Chocolate!

What advice would you offer other family campers?
Invest in a good camping mattress. A good sleep is the making of a good camping trip.

When you’re not working where do you go for holidays?
I love exploring new places and experiencing different cultures. Cathedeal Peak in the Drakensberg Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa is a favourite, as is Koa Phi Phi in Thailand and Morgan’s Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge, Nicaragua…the list could go on!

Is there anywhere where you’ve found yourself really out of your comfort zone or cragfast?
I love a good challenge. Filming Snake Canyon via Ferrata in Oman springs to mind. Hanging from a thin wire cable 100m up a vertical canyon wall certainly gets the blood pumping!

What’s your motto in life?
Work hard, play hard!

Julia Bradbury