Get To Know Julia Bradbury

In January, we announced our new ambassador, Julia Bradbury. We think she’s a perfect match to help us inspire people to actively enjoy the outdoors. So we asked Julia a few questions about her love of the outdoors and partnering with Cotswold Outdoor…

Why are you excited to be partnering with Cotswold Outdoor?

The saying ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes’ may be a cliché but it couldn’t be more true.  Cotswold Outdoor are the leaders in their field, with a tremendous range of outdoor gear from trusted brands, across all price ranges, and they care about their customers. Over the years I’ve tried and tested most outdoor brands on my TV programmes and I’m passionate about the quality of the gear which is available at Cotswold. Sometimes all you need is one item to get you through your outdoor moment and that’s OK too - the philosophy at Cotswold is to help you get the right thing – not pile you high with stuff you don’t need.

 

The Outdoor Guide offers ideas and inspiration for people across all levels of outdoor adventures. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to take your dog for a walk with a dog-friendly hotel nearby, or you’re aiming to take on a big mountain challenge, you’ll be able to find something on the website to help you along. 

 

The folks at Cotswold Outdoor are as passionate as I am about getting people out there to enjoy the benefits of the great outdoors. We’ve got so many great ideas to share, and we can’t wait to hear other people’s stories about why they love certain places in the UK too. Not only that, but The Outdoor Guide, Cotswold Outdoor, DofE, Scouts and the National Trust are all jointly aligned – one big, happy, outdoor-loving family!

Where does your love of the outdoors come from?

I first started walking with my father when I was about 6 years old, which I think is a great 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 in the White Peak and Stanage Edge on the border of the High Peak of Derbyshire and Sheffield.  My love for the outdoors grew from there and with each adventure I embark on, it continues to do so. 

Why is it important for you to share your passion for the outdoors?

It is the ultimate leveler. It doesn't matter whether you’re the CEO of a multi-national or a baker; when you're standing on a river bank or looking out from a mountain top, you're experiencing and sharing a moment within something that is, and always will be, bigger than you.   

 

I think people underestimate the power, energy and healing capability of the great outdoors. I have met many healthcare professionals who say that they often prescribe a 30-minute walk three or four times a week to patients dealing with anything from being overweight to mental health issues. A simple walk can sometimes be the best remedy.

 

It’s well recognised that time spent outdoors improves our emotional wellbeing in addition to the obvious physical health benefits. Walking helps us think clearly, too - the heart pumps faster when we walk, circulating blood and oxygen to our organs including our brain. There’s also a connection between the rhythm of an individual’s walking and the brain which can alter the nature of our thoughts. Nietzsche didn't say 'all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking'  for no reason!  

Where are your favourite places to walk?

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

 

Kinder Scout, 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. The Peak District is also the landscape of my childhood, so this walk has a special place in my heart. 

 

Golden Cap in Dorset. This is a dynamic 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. 

 

East Lynne River. A river bank and forest all in one, combining some of my favourite sounds and under-boot experiences!

What is your favourite memory of the outdoors?

There are so many! But one of my favourite long distance challenges was the Lanmannalaugar Trail in Iceland, which took 5 days to complete.  It culminated in us getting to the top of Iceland’s infamous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, that erupted in 2010 causing chaos with volcanic ash plumes! This was undoubtedly one of the toughest, but most spectacular walks I have ever done. Iceland has the most extraordinary landscape unlike anywhere else in the world. The top of the volcano which you can only access on a guided tour was like another planet - our footprints were embedded in this thick black ash and I’ll never forget the sound of the ice creaking and melting into the huge fissures surrounding the crater.  

We know you love to enjoy the outdoors with your family. What advice would you give to other families who want to spend more time in the outdoors together?

I would say there is nothing more important than outside family time. Your children will learn to respect nature, but also to respect themselves. The way the world has gone means we spend so much time indoors and on devices. Unexpected things like touching tree trunks, balancing on stepping stones or learning how to navigate cows in a field can all have a profoundly positive impact on children’s resilience, emotional and mental health. I can’t stress the importance of getting young children outdoors, to inspire the next generation to appreciate spending time in nature and learning about life. Just a walk around a park or garden is enough!

 

On a more personal level, being outside means you are in the moment and spending time in the real world created by nature, which is essential for forming relationships and having a healthy outlook on life - and what could be more important than having healthy, bonded family?