Rugby star launches search for nature fans

Jamie Roberts and his brother David at the top of Pen y Fan
Published : 03 Apr 2018 Last update : 04 Apr 2018

Rugby star, Jamie Roberts has revealed Pen y Fan as his favourite outdoor space and launched a search for other nature fans in Wales to encourage more people to connect with nature.

Jamie, who recalls visiting south Wales’ tallest peak numerous times as a child, revisited his favourite outdoor spot to take part in conservation work and to launch the hunt for people who have inspiring or emotional connections with nature to come forward and share their stories.

Jamie, a medical graduate who is now studying for a Master of Philosophy in Medical Science at Queens' College, Cambridge, said:

“Spending time outdoors helps me escape the everyday noise, the constant communication and is my way of de-stressing. The proximity to the mountains and the coast is the one thing I miss living in London. London does have some great outdoor spaces in the form of parks, but you can’t lose yourself in the green like you can in Wales.

As a child, up until I started playing rugby seriously at 14, my parents would take us walking every weekend. We spent most weekends staying in youth hostels and exploring the best of what the UK has to offer.

It was all about the simple things, finding new places to discover, fighting for the top bunk, helping to cook food, pub lunches, thermos flasks and ham and cheese sandwiches!

We spent a lot of time in Gower and Snowdonia but, if we weren’t away then we’d head to our closest mountain Pen y Fan. I have such fond memories chasing my brother up there in the summer and sledging down there in the snow. It’s my ‘go to place’ to escape and I’m really interested to hear stories and connections other people have with outdoor spaces in Wales.”

Over 2018, the nature ambassadors will be joined by Jamie to tell their stories through video, and social media. We’ve also joined forces with Cardiff University to investigate whether time spent outdoors can help to improve wellness.

Wouter Poortinga, Professor of Environmental Psychology at Cardiff University said:

“There is a growing body of evidence that shows that spending time outdoors in nature is good for your mental health. What we would like to find out in this research, is whether having an emotional connection with specific outdoor spaces can provide the best benefits for our wellbeing”

Whilst launching the search, Jamie joined Lead Ranger, Rob Reith, and a group of young volunteers to carry out stone pitching on the Storey arms to Corn Du permitted footpath, the more challenging route to Pen y Fan.

Jamie's keen to help raise awareness of the Brecon Beacons footpath appeal, launched in February, to raise additional funds to make urgent repairs ahead of the huge influx of visitors to the area this spring.

Jamie added: “I have walked the path to Pen y Fan at least ten times. It’s so easy to take access to these places for granted, to have the chance to take part in some of the conservation work at a place that holds many fond memories for me, just adds to my appreciation of it.”

Justin Albert, National Trust Director for Wales, said:

“We know from our own experience and research, the enjoyment and healing effect being outdoors can bring to our wellbeing. We are thrilled to have Jamie on board as an ambassador for the outdoors and are looking forward to discovering inspirational stories from people who have strong connections with nature.”

To help inspire families to plan their own spring adventure, Jamie has shared his top five places to explore, from bodyboarding in Rhossili to discovering Gelert’s Grave in Beddgelert.