Ray Mears, survivalist, bushcraft expert, author, photographer and star of countless television series, goes out on tour this autumn under the title Born To Go Wild. A title which pretty much sums it up.
As he says, a spirit of adventure is simply something that either is or isn’t in your DNA – and Ray has got it in abundance.
“For me, it has just always been the case,” says Ray who will take as his theme the enjoyment of wild places as he gives his audiences an insight into his wilderness travels and survival techniques (Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, Sunday, October 22, 7.30pm, 01903 206206).
“As a child, I just started by going to the local common, and it has just grown from there. You move on. I think wilderness gives me a sense of comfort. I feel comfortable in wild places and I love the challenges they pose.”
His point is that their dangerousness is overstated: “I think it is more dangerous crossing the road here. Driving on the M25 causes me more concern than some of the places I have been to. Yes, you could be a long way from help, but you have just got to make sure that you are prepared. You have got to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. I have seen some young people not wanting to do that because they are worried about how it would look. I think a lot of people are too cautious.”
The point is that you have got to learn, and you learn by going there – and in learning, you develop your instinct.
“You start to build up your experience and your ability to make judgements. You learn to trust your instincts. I remember recently filming in Australia, and I could tell that something was going to go on, that there was going to be an accident. I said so, but nobody paid any attention… and the accident happened. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but you learn to develop that awareness.”
Ray’s new seven-part ITV series this autumn – Australian Wilderness with Ray Mears – includes tales of his most recent travels in Australia, trekking through mountains and deserts, rainforests and oceans to encounter the weird and wonderful animals that have adapted to survive and thrive.
For the stage show, Ray – who survived a helicopter crash when filming his first TV series in the early 90s and helped Northumbria police track down one of the UK’s most notorious criminals in 2010 – will also take the opportunity to talk about fire, what it means to humanity and the essential role it plays in our survival.
As he says, he is fascinated by those wild areas of the planet that are as yet undisturbed by civilised human activity. Ray will take audiences on a journey that he values for cultural, spiritual, moral and aesthetic reasons and explain why he believes these are vital for creativity and the development of the human spirit. And no, he is a long way still from having sated that wanderlust: “The secret is to travel with respect to the places you go to. You need to know that if there is lightning on a canoe trip, you go ashore. As for people, you need to try not to make judgements and try to see the world from their perspective. They will have different value systems and different expectations. It would be too easy to say ‘That’s nonsense!’ You have got to respect and value what they think.”
Ray’s various television series have included Tracks, World of Survival, Trips, Money Can’t Buy with Ewan McGregor and The Real Heroes of Telemark.
“But I haven’t shrunk the world yet! The world is huge!”