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Ben's still making a countryside alliance; Ben Fogle has rowed the Atlantic, raced across the South Pole and loves exploring all our isles have to offer for the series Countrywise: Guide To Britain. The adventurer, presenter and dad-of-two talks to KIMBERLEY LEVY about the show's appeal, teaching children to love the great outdoors and what is left for him to do on his bucket list.

Why do you think Countrywise is so popular with viewers? THE majority of people in this country live in cities and I think a lot of people have this dream of what it would be like to live in the countryside, in the rural idyll.

I think Countrywise gives a little window to lots of people who either haven't made that decision to change their lifestyle, or can't make that decision.

The countryside is not just a playground, it's a working landscape with farmers and fishermen and custodians and conservationists and people who are passionate about wildlife.

What were the biggest challenges filming this series? CLIMBING up Scafell Pike (England's highest mountain located in the Lake District) with the camera gear in freezing cold conditions is easier said than done!

It's as much the stuff that goes on behind-the-scenes as it is what you actually see on camera.

But that's the joy of the series, that's what I love about working in the countryside, just how diverse and complicated filming is.

Do you have a favourite place you visited? I AM a big fan of the West Country and the Isles of Scilly. I've been there a number of times over the years but we did have a beautiful couple of days while we were filming.

So I think the Isles of Scilly would have to stand out, although Gaping Gill (a cave in the Yorkshire Dales) is a close second. It was absolutely spectacular.

Where's left on your bucket list at this point? I'VE been doing countryside filming in the UK for best part of 15 years so I have been to most corners of the UK.

I would love to go back to Fair Isle (in northern Scotland). I filmed there last year and thought it was absolutely spectacular, so I'd like to return.

You live in Notting Hill in London. Any chance you'll move to the countryside? I WOULD love to live in the countryside, but the reality of my work is I'm probably away for the best part of seven, eight months of the year. For my wife (Marina) and family, they need to have the rest of our family nearby and that happens to be London.

I think if I ever slowed down, we, as a family would definitely consider moving to the countryside.

But right now, London is actually quite a useful transit place for me to stop off in between travelling to Outer Mongolia and North Yorkshire.

Do your children share your passion for the great outdoors? MY KIDS (Ludovic and Iona) love the outdoors and we spend as much time as we can there.

When I'm back, we're rarely at home, we're always visiting friends and family, travelling.

I'd say most of the time I spend with the children is out in the country, walking along coastal paths or forest or woods or yomping across fields.

How difficult do you find it, being away for months on end? IT'S really hard to be away, as any parent will know, but it's all I've ever known in my working career. The nature of the kind of filming I do is that it's either overseas or it's away, so I've never really known not living out of a bag and long periods of absence and my wife is completely used to it. And the children now just accept this is what their daddy does.

I try to make up for it when I have long periods of not working. I'm very hands-on and my favourite thing in life is spending time with my family.

Do you think it's more challenging to inspire children to get outside with all the distractions they have? YES and no, there are interesting adaptations. If you look at Pokemon Go, people might complain about it, but in terms of getting people outdoors, that's a great way to do that now.

A lot of the national parks are actually embracing it. As technology evolves and changes, it won't necessarily make it easier, but I think there will be many more options. As a society we need to ensure that disconnect between kids and the outdoors doesn't become untenable.

Are you writing any more books? I LOVE writing. I've written seven books so far and I'm bringing out my eighth book in October, which is the history of the Land Rover, which is just a passion of mine.

I wrote that over the last eight months while I was in-between filming, freediving off of Cornwall or descending down a cave in North Yorkshire. I was sitting in a car or in a field somewhere, my computer sitting on my lap, writing my book. I find the process very therapeutic.
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 24, 2016
Words:788
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