You are only in a hurry till you get to the front of the queue

Saturday, 5 March 2016

TG2 - Talking to... Ray Mears

Ray Mears; man of the wild and the foremost authority on Bushcraft in the UK shall embark on his very own adventure this March; a national theatre tour to recount the tales told by remarkable human beings who, when faced with adversity have survived against all the odds.

Is there any one particular tale that inspires you the most about the capabilities of man?

No, they’re all different. Some we can learn from their mistakes and some we can learn from the individual’s courage and determination – it depends. I think what’s interesting is that we live in an age where we are being told that the wilderness is threatening and that you’ll die in minutes if you don’t do this, that or the other. And that you have to be unshaven, got to have a knife in your teeth, six foot wide and to be special-forces to survive. None of that’s true. The truth of the matter is it’s about individual determination, courage and perseverance. That’s what these tales are about, they show us that actually the most ordinary people have done the most extraordinary things. They’re stories that provide deep thought and that stay with you.

What’s interesting is sometimes why; what motivates them to survive. I think when people survive in these sort of cases they’ve chosen to, they’ve made a conscious decision, ‘I am going to get back’. But there’s normally a reason and that varies so widely it’s astonishing.

One of the stories I’m going to tell is of a man who was 196 days in the Australian outback, one of an aircrew of five, the others all perished and he survived. He didn’t even have a fire. Isn’t that amazing? Can you imagine? He had a particular motivation that brought him back that will seem incredibly mundane but in those circumstances, at that period in his life that’s what it took to come home. 

You grew up in Surrey, spending time in the North Downs countryside. Is there a particular nature spot in the area that you love or could conceivably be called your first love?

Yes very much so. I grew up in Kenley but I would come through Guildford all the time. I started teaching Bush Craft in Selbourne so I used to like to travel across the Downs, down through Guildford and across the Hogs Back and to travel cross country – that’s how I like to travel.

“Surrey is fantastic and the most beautiful county. I’ve often thought when I’m in rainforests that this is just big and hot Surrey.”

You are often travelling the world, exploring in your own right – where is home for you and do you ever employ your skill sets within a home environment (even though it’s bush craft)?

Bush craft becomes a part of your life so you can’t not. I live in Sussex and I love the South of England. On our doorsteps I think we do have some of the most beautiful countryside on the planet without a doubt, very often underestimated and as I said the skill set just becomes a part of who you are.

Since you first appeared on television screens, it seems more than ever that there are plethora of bush craft and adventure programmes. What do you think the catalyst has been for such a rise in the popularity of these programmes?

I don’t know. A lot of cloning and copying goes on in television. I think it’s good though and I think it’s good that people aspire to have adventures outside. There are obviously viewers who only vicariously do it through the television, that’s fine, it makes them think more deeply about the wild places and the environments that we share with other creatures and I think that’s important. But at the same time there are people that watch the programmes that have been inspired to go off and have their own adventures and that’s fantastic. If you can just move one person to go out and have an adventure then you’ve succeeded. It’s really important to me.

Do you have any tips for young adventurers looking to explore the wilds of Surrey?

My advice to youngsters is to start with the basics and enjoy them. Learn to navigate, learn first aid and then go outdoors and learn the other skills and progress. Start with the small journeys in local parks, then go up to the North Downs and so on. Then you explore the Hurtwood where there no footpath markers, then you move onto bigger things as you grow. Don’t rush the journey, don’t jump on the escalator enjoy taking the stairs.

Ray Mears’ ‘Tales of Endurance Tour’ will be at Guildford’s G Live on the 11th March. For more information and tickets visit

TG2 - Talking to... Ray Mears:

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