Speakers at the South West Outdoor Festival
Throughout the weekend you will be able to hear some genuinely inspirational tales of adventure and exploration from some truly incredible individuals.
Devon born and based, Monty is a writer, explorer, television presenter, marine biologist and public speaker. A former Royal Marines officer who worked for Nelson Mandela on the peace process in South Africa, he left the services in 1996 to pursue a career in leading expeditions. Over the next decade he circumnavigated the globe four times on various projects, leading multi-national teams in some of the most demanding environments on earth.
Notable expeditions included an anti-poaching project in the high montane grasslands of the Nyika Plateau in northern Malawi, the discovery of a sunken city off the coast of Tamil Nadu in India, and a (successful) attempt to find and photograph a rare crocodile species in the mountain pools of the Raspaculo Basin in Central America.
In 2002 he was awarded the Bish Medal by the Scientific Exploration Society for his services to exploration. Since 2004 he has presented numerous series and documentaries for the BBC (including The Fisherman’s Apprentice and three series of Great Escape), Channel Five (Monty Halls Diving Adventures), Discovery Channel (Lost Worlds with Monty Halls and Leo Houlding; The Great Shark Chase) and National Geographic (Perfect Weapon).
Anna is an endurance athlete, adventurer and outdoor mischief maker. Once upon a time she represented Great Britain at rowing, but after ‘retiring’ in her mid twenties, she began darting around the world on the hunt for new and exciting endurance challenges.
In 2013 she set out to ride a beautiful Pink bicycle 11,000 miles through each and every state of the USA, and more recently became the first person to run New Zealand’s Te Araroa trail, solo and unsupported - covering 1,911 miles on backcountry trails. Much closer to home, last December she ran the length of the Jurassic Coast - a 95-mile section of the South West Coast Path - dressed as a dinosaur. As you do.
Passionate about the positive impact that adventure and sport can have on the lives of youngsters, Anna uses her human-powered journeys as a platform to inspire and enable kids to get outside, and get exploring.
Jasper is a writer, broadcaster and film maker. Amongst many other trips he has cycled across the Sahara, (twice, due to a planning oversight), canoed the length of the Danube in Iron Curtain days, pedalled across West Africa, through India and around Iceland, and roller-skated the length of the Netherlands. He has ridden horses and worked with traditional horsemen in over 20 countries across five continents, and was story-consultant on the IMAX film Ride Around The World about cowboying, filmed in seven different countries.
He spent a year living and travelling with a North African Berber clan and their camels, sheep and goats as a Winston Churchill Fellow, the subject of a forthcoming book, whilst his account of a thousand-mile sea-kayak trip around the whole coast of Ireland was published as Paddle.
In between travels Jasper writes, guides long distance horse trips, and plays harmonica and guitar with The Journeymen and The Sheddonists. Determined to find adventures within Europe he has just walked the 500 miles from Munich to Paris in the wintery footsteps of film-maker Werner Herzog. Jasper writes about long walks, hammock camping, simple travel and much else on his website.
Author of the recently published book 50 Races to Run Before You Die, Tobias is an adventure journalist and (largely off-piste) endurance athlete, who can typically be found tackling extreme challenges such as the world’s toughest ironman-distance triathlon, ultra-marathons around Mont Blanc, multi-day running events like Marathon de Sables, cycle rides along the length and breadth of the UK and swim-running across islands in Sweden’s Archipelago.
He recently did a micro-adventure every day for 15 consecutive days in Britain's 15 national parks, including of course, Exmoor.
Jen and 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. They're Trail Running magazine's gear specialists and write a monthly column for Running Fitness magazine.
Sim is a qualified run leader with a wealth of experience in navigation, training, racing and wilderness survival, while Jen is a researcher and distance-runner with over 50 marathons and ultras under her belt. Recently, frustrated at spending their days apart and missing their children growing up, Jen and Sim moved out of their comfortable house and set off to explore Britain with a bell tent, a wood burner and two kids under 4. For 12 months they lived wild, discovering this country's beautiful places and learning many lessons about family life under canvas.
Serial international adventurer and Scout ambassador, James Ketchell, is the only person to have ever cycled around the world, climbed Everest and rowed across the Atlantic - a titanic triple-headed adventure described in his new book The Ultimate Triathlon.
James was galvanised into action after being told he was likely to suffer permanent physical impairment after a horrific motorbike accident. Overcoming huge odds, he learnt to walk again, and then proceeded to row solo across 3,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean (battling storms, having several near misses with container ships and eventually running out of food 230 miles from the finish line), before climbing to the summit of the world's highest mountain and then pedalling through 20 countries on his way around the globe during a 18,000-mile unsupported cycle.
His next mission - due to take place before the South West Outdoor Festival - is to become the first person to row 1,700 miles around the shore of Great Britain - unaided.
Damian Hall is an outdoor journalist and an Inov-8-sponsored ultramarathon runner, who's happiest when travelling long distances on foot in lumpy places. In May this year he set a new Fastest Known Time on the 630-mile South West Coast Path, of 10 days, 15 hours and 18 minutes, running on average 60+ miles a
He contributes regularly to the outdoor and fitness press, and authors guidebooks including the Somerset Coast Path. In October he will represent Great Britain at the Trail Running World Championships in Portugal. Come along to hear how he has gone from a very occasional runner to a world-record setting
ultra athlete in just four years.
Russell Smith is a currently-bearded seasoned adventurer with a penchant for the British Isles, although his adventures have taken him as far afield as Kilimanjaro and Nepal. He's travelled the Lands End-John O Groats route on an adult kick scooter, attempted to run home from Paris to London, and traversed the widest route across the UK on foot.
He was a speaker at the Telegraph Show 2016, has spoken at the North Face and Snow & Rock flagship stores, regularly tours the London school circuit and hosts the monthly Tales of Adventure series in the City. His next adventures will take him into the depths of Loch Ness, but first he has unfinished business with a Space Hopper...
Award-winning travel editor, writer and author, Phoebe's love of dramatic landscapes and wild places has taken her on adventures all around the world – from wild camping on the Scottish islands, to meeting sea gypsies in Burma and watching the Northern Lights from a heated wigwam above the Arctic Circle.
She is the editor of Wanderlust and the author of several books including Extreme Sleeps: Adventures of a Wild Camper; Wilderness Weekends: Wild Adventures in Britain’s Rugged Corners; and the first and only guidebook to British bothies – Book of the Bothy.
In addition to writing, Phoebe regularly appears on radio and TV talking about wild camping, travel and women in the outdoors. In 2015 and 2016 she was shortlisted for the National Adventure Awards and in 2016 she was named an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion.
The Meek family
A couple of years ago the Meek family (Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella) were unknown; an ordinary family living an ordinary life, generally working too hard and not spending enough time together. But after a conscious decision to address the work-life balance, and to value ‘disposable time’ over ‘disposable income’, they now live a life that revolves around doing more and having less.
Their story has attracted attention worldwide, appearing in National and International papers, on radio and TV. The Meek family have collectively written and produced three books, each containing ideas for mini family adventures in the outdoors. The family's love of the outdoors has also led to them becoming Ordnance Survey Get Outside champions. They document their activities on their website: dotrythisathome.com.