BUXTON FESTIVAL: Julia is just a country girl at heart

Bri0037992. The Sunday Telegraph. Portrait of British television presenter Julia Bradbury, best known for presenting Countryfile, photographed at her home in Notting Hill, west London. Wednesday February 22, 2012.
Bri0037992. The Sunday Telegraph. Portrait of British television presenter Julia Bradbury, best known for presenting Countryfile, photographed at her home in Notting Hill, west London. Wednesday February 22, 2012.

Co-presenter of BBC1’s Countryfile, bubbly Julia Bradbury clearly has a love of the countryside but as she prepares to appear at The Pavilion Arts Centre on July 17 as part of Buxton Festival she is more than happy to explain why the Derbyshire landscape in particular exerts a special pull.

“My dad, a Derbyshire lad, always encouraged me to go outdoors, whatever the weather. At six years old he would take me walking in the Peak District. Two walks that really stick in my mind are Monsal Dale and Dovedale.

“I can remember vividly thinking as I walked with him, how enormous everything was in the landscape around me.”

It did not take much to persuade her to speak at the Festival. “Our very dear family friend Averil Glatman called me and asked if I would like to come and speak at the Festival.

“I didn’t hesitate in saying yes and my manager (and sister) Gina juggled the diary to make it happen. My father was born in Tideswell, so it was very important that we should return en famille and support the Festival.”

And with a new book to promote, Julia Bradbury’s Wainwright Walks: Coast to Coast, accompanying the BBC TV series in which she retraced his steps, she will have plenty to talk about.

“Alfred Wainwright is arguably the Walking God of the Lake District. The idea behind the series was to share Wainwright’s enduring love with the area and bring to life his timeless pictorial guides. “One of the most inspiring things about Wainwright was how he ‘invented’ this walk, because he was disillusioned by other long distance walking routes. He always encouraged people to follow their owns paths and create their own adventures.”

Although she is clearly much taken with the British countryside, I cannot help wondering whether she has found more excitement abroad in programmes such as Julia Bradbury’s Icelandic Walk on BBC Four. “The UK offers variety and splendour. For such a small country, the UK has some truly diverse and fascinating landscapes; from the historic streets of London, to the Scottish highlands, the Norfolk Fens and rugged Welsh coastline.

“However when I hiked to the top of Iceland’s infamous volcano, Eyjafjallajökull (the big E!) this was undoubtedly one of the toughest, but most spectacular walks I have ever done.”

Her schedule has been so hectic that I sense any walk would be welcome at the moment. Will she be able to slot in a ramble in the Peak District? “Unfortunately I am on a whistle stop tour as since I agreed to come, I have been filming a new exciting quiz show for ITV.

“I have to say it is lovely to be in a studio for a few weeks, not careering up and down the country. I get to have breakfast with my little boy Zeph every morning and that’s a real treat!” 

There is certainly no doubting her commitment to the area as President of the independent charity Friends of the Peak District.

She explains: “Friends of the Peak District does brilliant work protecting the beautiful Peak District countryside and I’m delighted to support them.

I feel my main role is to encourage everyone of all ages to embrace the lovely country that we have.”

And as someone who makes her living doing just that, she is grateful to be able to share her passion with Buxton audiences.

“I feel very lucky to have been allowed to explore our beautiful country.... and a it’s a ‘brucey bonus’ to be paid for doing it! I love my job!”