Interview With Ben Fogle

An admission that you are interviewing Ben Fogle should come with a caution, especially if you work in the GO Activities headquarters.

Ben Fogle flusters the office.

Women started suggesting questions about marriage.

“He already has a wife.”

“Is he a mormon?”

“No.”

“But could he be?”

“I refuse to answer that.”

Men, meanwhile wanted to know where he got the literal balls to go naked in the sea, to fly all over the world doing all these fantastic adventures and to still have Kate Humble’s personal number in his mobile…

Back from California on a very stop gap trip home, I managed to grab Ben for a quick chat  after Daybreak and before his next flight before he headed off to the Checz Republic to fly a fighter jet, to ask him all about his life, how he got into the outdoors as a child, and what GO Activities adventures he could see himself doing.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Whereabouts are you now and what have you been up to? 

Not a problem. I’ve just got back from California where I have been recently for a film on a ‘Year of Adventure’ taking some massive challenges on which has been really great fun. Climbing the tallest trees, a 24 hour mountain bike race, diving between tectonic plates in Iceland, solo skydiving, paragliding.. It’s been brilliant.  I’ve also been diving with crocodiles in Botswana which has been great.

Sounds amazing! So you have been all over the world with your job since Castaway back in 2000. Kaiteur Falls, Kilimanjaro in Uganda, Venezuela, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Sahara the Arctic Circle the Andes, Chile to name but a few places.  What are you favourite place in the UK?

I am a huge fan of the National Parks so I love the lakes, the peaks, the Dales, Brecon Beacons, although we are a real coastal family so we love North Devon, and South Cornwall too.

You are a President of the campaign for National parks. We recently did a blog on Mosaic and how the National Parks seem inaccessible if you haven’t been brought up with them. Did you grow up going to the National Parks and why did you get involved with this campaign in particular?

They asked me to take the president role and it is something I am extremely proud of and I feel really passionate about. Mosaic is so important because it is an important campaign for anyone who loves the national parks. We have to encourage people to visit and enjoy them so that they are preserved and maintained, so it is brilliant that Mosaic is encouraging access.

Did you visit the National Parks often as a child and where you always ‘outdoorsy’?

In my book the Accidental Adventurer I go right back to my early childhood and in truth, I wasn’t really keen on the outdoors to start with, at least camping. I remember taking a trip with my Dad Bruce with my best friend Toby when I was 13 and we went to Algonquin Park in East Canada, which is a national park about the size of Wales, and we canoed through it, which was when it came to life for me and I loved it!

We are all aware of the problems with childhood obesity and the importance of being active, what are your thoughts on it?

I think that a sense of adventure is so important in children and the best way to do this is within the schools with field trips. I remember going to field trips to Dorset and seeing the costal landscapes as a child, camping and it really brought the outdoors to life for me.

I think that our government focuses far to much on academic achievements and if I was a politician I would be trying to really get children active, which is the route I carved a career out of.  Health and Safety is also something that gets in the way, but when times are harder economically, it really is a great time to get children involved in these activities.

People might also have seen you rowing 3000 miles, doing the Marathon De Sables the London Marathon and the Royal Parks Half marathon or having icicles dangle off your nose during your Arctic trip with James Cracknell.  What challenges have been your hardest, either physically or mentally?

I’m not a natural climber, so when I was up Casetlon Rock in Utah with a 500m sheer pinnacle drop, that was a little challenging. As well as that, the Moab 24 hour race was also about endurance and was hard going, physically.

Is there anything you veto or won’t do?

I love most things, ocean diving, sailing, swimming, kayaking, cycling, hiking, skiing- but things like a base jump or even a bungee I wouldn’t do. They aren’t really my thing I’m afraid!

GO Activities offers things like kayaking, the aforementioned bungee, trike trips, falconry days, ghyll scrambling, caving days- and these are great for stag dos. We wondered what your stag do was like before you married Marina a few years back?

I never had one! I know, that does sound quite sad doesn’t it? We joke that I have a raincheck on it. It was 5 years ago but I was filming right up to before the wedding- part of the sad life of a traveller! Maybe one day..

Well feel free to book through GO Activities.  We promise to avoid the bungee ropes! What about your children? Are they growing up with a sense of adventure?

Well my boy is, he seems confident and happy outdoors, but then he’s young enough that he’s happy in a city or the country! My daughter is a little too young to be active and get a sense of it yet but we are naturally an active family, we get out the park everyday and we are always out walking. I don’t want to be a pushy parent though so I will let them draw their own conclusions on it…

So what’s next on the agenda for you now?

Well after this I’m off to the Czech Republic to fly a fighter jet, which should be good, and then in the future I will be giving talks on my new book. Soon you can see my new show Diving with Crocodiles which was filmed in the Northern Territory of Botswana and was very scary, these are big 10m long beasts!

And what about your ambassador work with the WWE and Tusk?

Yes I have some projects in the pipeline with them, and also some more stuff with the BBC, but it’s all a bit secret for now I’m afraid!

And finally – what’s your number one must have piece of gear to take with you as an adventurer?

Definitely my Leatherman, the multi tool, which always comes in handy.

You can buy Ben’s book, The Accidental Adventurer via Benfogle.com today.

Elaine