Guest speakers at South West Outdoor Festival 2017
This September is not all action, enjoy some inspirational down time.
Speakers, films and entertainment
An impressive line-up of inspirational outdoor celebs are taking part in activities and speaking about their lives at SWOF – and entry to all talks, films and bands is free for festival-goers. See schedule for details.
Right now Sean Conway is attempting to set a new speed record for cycling across Europe, west to east. He’ll be back, still sweaty, just in time to speak on the evening of Saturday 9 September at 6pm in the SWOF Adventure Tent. You will recognise Sean and his trademark red mane from previous adventures, such as his 2015 Great British Triathlon, during which he became the first (and only) person ever to cycle, swim and then run the length of Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats. In 2016, he took on an even bigger challenge: a self-supported continuous Ultra Triathlon around the coast of Britain, cycling 3,350 miles, running 800 miles and swimming from Brighton to Lulworth Cove, all with the Discovery Channel in tow, filming a three-part TV series: On the Edge.
A professional climber and IFMGA mountain guide, Matt grew up on the Mendip Hills. Here he found his passion for adventure amongst the limestone cliffs the area had to offer. This would give him a solid base to become a world class climber, opening up and repeating some of the hardest routes in the mountains and rock faces across the world, from the winter hills of Scotland, Alaska, Alps to the Himalaya. At SWOF, Matt will be speaking in the BMC Skills Camp on Saturday at 7.15pm, introducing the film Citadel, and Sunday morning at 11am, before a screening of the movie Moonflower.
After overcoming a serious illness as a child, Jamie McDonald has become a world-record-holding adventurer (first person to run right across Canada), bestselling author, motivational speaker and founder of the Superhero Foundation. As well as being a Pride of Britain winner, he was also was voted one of The Independent’s top 100 happiest people in the UK. Jamie will be delivering one of his notoriously uproarious talks on Friday 8 September at SWOF.
Former GB rower, now a full-time endurance athlete, adventurer and mischief-maker, Anna has cycled 11,000 miles across the US, run New Zealand’s 3,057km Te Araroa trail, and legged it along the Jurassic Coast dressed as a dinosaur. Since last year’s SWOF, Anna has cycled the spine of the Andes, ascending over 100,000 metres – more than 11 times the height of Everest. Hot on the heels of the release of her new book, The Pants of Perspective, the world’s most effervescent explorer will be speaking in the SWOF Adventure Tent on Saturday 9 September at 5pm (after joining Phoebe Smith at 2pm the same day, for a Fireside Storytelling Circle open chat about women and adventure).
Award-winning editor (Wanderlust magazine) and writer, Phoebe is the author of Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper; Wilderness Weekends: Wild Adventures in Britain’s Rugged Corners; The Book of the Bothy; and Britain's Best Small Hills. Meet Phoebe on Saturday 9 September, at 2pm in the Fireside Storytelling Circle during an open chat with Anna McNuff about women in adventure, or at 4pm in the SWOF Adventure Tent, when she delivers a talk about extreme sleeping.
Adrian is a landscape ecologist, writer and forager. He currently lives on the Mendip Hills in Somerset and has learnt a great deal about what food the countryside around us has to offer. A wealth of knowledge in local delicacies, Adrian will present to you about the abundance of food that is available on your doorstep. You’ll be hungry to create your own natural treats!
Author of Paddle, about a kayak circumnavigation of Ireland, Jasper is a self-styled slow adventurer who has cycled across the Sahara, West Africa, India and around Iceland, canoed the Danube and roller-skated across the Netherlands. Currently he is travelling the waterways of Britain as author in residence for the Canal and River Trust. Learn about Jasper’s low gear escapades in the SWOF Adventure Tent at 10am Saturday, and hear about his on-water shenanigans at noon on Sunday, in the same place.
Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for his debut novel, The Many, Wyl Menmuir is an author and editor. During this year’s SWOF, Wyl will live launch his new book, In Dark Places, a work of fiction inspired by the labyrinthine underworld that burrows beneath the Mendip Hills in the form of Cheddar’s caves. Experience this unique event and bag yourself a numbered first-edition copy of the book by attending the launch and a reading at 7.30pm on Saturday 9 September, at the Fireside Storytelling Circle.
A runner and motivational Speaker based in Bristol, Nick Butter will be attempting to run a marathon in all 196 Countries on the planet in 2018, during his ‘Running The World’ project. Throughout August he is warming up for this feat with a marathon a day… Meet this running man at SWOF on Friday 8 September at 5.30pm.
The face of the Walks Around Britain TV series, Andrew White is an author, presenter, journalist and producer… but above all he is a walker, with a passion for getting others out to explore trails around the UK. Andrew will be talking at SWOF on the morning of Sunday 10 September, before joining a free guided walk led by Cheddar Walking Group. You can also chat to him at 4pm at the Fireside Storytelling Circle.
OS Leisure #GetOutside Champion, cyclist, wild-camper, expert navigator and all-round outdoorswoman, Jana has a passion for inspiring women to ride bikes. Following a road-bike crash in August 2016, she regained fitness and completed a self-supported John O’Groats–Lands End cycle in 7 days and 65 hours (ride time) in April 2017. Next she plans cycling North–South across Europe. Meet Jana in the SWOF Adventure Tent on Saturday 9 September at 3pm.
A seasoned adventurer, Russell – who has travelled Lands End–John O Groats on a kick scooter, run home from Paris to London and traversed the widest route across the UK on foot – will MC the SWOF Adventure Tent and tell some tales of his own.
A naturalist, writer and poet, Matthew Oates is the National Trust’s National Specialist for Nature, the author of In Pursuit of Butterflies and a regular writer for the Nature Notes column in The Times. With a new book, Beyond Spring out just in time for the festival, Matthew will be talking about butterflies and his life as a naturalist on Sunday 10 September, at 10.30am around the Fireside Storytelling Circle, and at 4pm in the SWOF Adventure Tent
TV presenter, broadcaster, adventurer, anthropologist and author, Mary-Ann Ochata recently released her fascinating book about the British countryside and the marks human hands have life on it: Hidden Histories. A devotee of the outdoors, she is an ambassador for The BMC and an OS Leisure #GetOutside Champion, Mary-Ann will be talking in the BMC Skills Camp at 2pm Sunday 10 September.
In 2013, horrified at the fact that his children’s generation are the first in history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents, filmmaker David Bond launched Project Wild Thing - encouraging kids to spend more time in the outdoors, occasionally licking frogs. Join David for a screening of the film and a Q&A at 10am on Saturday 9 September in the BMC Skills Camp.
Jen & Sim Benson
Runners, writers and family adventurers, Jen and Sim are the authors of Wild Running: 150 great adventures on the trails and fells of Britain and Amazing Family Adventures. They recently spent a year living in a tent with their young children. Join Sim for a running clinic at 3.30pm on Saturday 9 September, starting in the BMC Skills Camp.
Green-thumbed author and adventurer, Simon is Head Gardener for the National Trust looking after the English Riviera portfolio (including Agatha Christie's Greenway, Coleton Fishacre, Compton Castle and Bradley Manor). Meet him on Sunday 10 September at 1.30pm in the Fireside Storytelling Circle, or at 3pm in the SWOF Adventure Tent.
Join local wild food–foraging expert Adrian Boots at 9am or 12.30pm on Saturday 9 September in the BMC Skills Camp, for a talk and tasting walk, and discover the edible delights growing all around you, from elderberries to nettles
OS Leisure #GetOutside Champion, mountain leader and long-distance walking expert, Martin is based on the Jurassic Coast, where he regularly leads adventures. Hear all about this exciting part of the South West at 2pm on Saturday 9 September in the SWOF Adventure Tent.
Amongst these intrepid explorers are eager wild runners, foraging experts, long-distance cyclists, hikers and walkers amongst other interests. Head over the festival to feel energised and find out how to get the best of your adventurous days out!