Q&A: Kate Humble, Rachel de Thame and Julia Bradbury

The presenters of Lambing Live, Countrywise and Countryfile talk about their love of the great outdoors

Comments
Q&A: Kate Humble, Rachel de Thame and Julia Bradbury
Written By
James Rampton
Kate Humble

What's your favourite countryside spot?

My home. It's in the Wye Valley. We moved there three and a half years ago when my husband Ludo was offered a job in Cardiff. We completely fell in love with the area. We didn't want to live anywhere else.

We thought, "Why on earth would we want to hold onto our home in London? Sell it, sell it!" It was an unequivocal decision. We'd found the most beautiful part of the world.

Anywhere else?

I also love the Gower Peninsula. That section of the Welsh coastline is spectacular and should have far more protection. It's so unspoilt. We've gone there on the past two Christmas Days. We've had sausage sandwiches and walked among the dunes. It's heaven!


Which countryside walk would you recommend to a friend?

The Three Castles Walk in Monmouthshire. It's a beautiful 20-mile walk that takes in three very romantic castles - Skenfrith, Grosmont and White Castle. It celebrates the great history of the border country between England and Wales.

There are hardly any roads - just rivers, hillsides and meadows - it's a lovely mixture and a real rural idyll. Best of all, there's a magnificent pub at the end. You can sit there by the river watching your exhausted dogs and drinking fantastic cider. No guilt required!

What do you miss most about the countryside when you're in the city?

Everything! The space, the quiet, the smells. I lived in London for 20 years. I lived in a squat and did all the usual naughty things. But I grew up in the country and as you grow older you start hankering to go back.

What do you miss most about the city when you're in the countryside?

The only thing I missed to begin with was my friends from the city. When we first told them we were moving to Wales, you could see them thinking, "Delete them from the Blackberry!" But gradually we have persuaded them to come and visit us.

In London, we used to meet at the end of an exhausting day and fall asleep over a not-very-nice glass of wine. Now they come down for the weekend and we have proper time together. So no, I don't miss a thing about the city!

What's your favourite countryside smell and sound?

Three smells are competing: the smell of warm earth just after it has rained on a hot day; silage - no one understands that one; and the smell in a lambing shed. It's not perfume-y - it's just a lovely warm fug.

Weirdly, I like the sound of our cockerel Gregory crowing in the morning - although our neighbours probably wouldn't agree! It's reassuring; you know that the day has started and that all is well with Gregory and his girls.

Which month or season do you enjoy the most?

One of the joys of being in the country is that the seasons take on new meaning. In the city, things merge together - you don't notice things changing. For me, there is something special about September. The light takes on a gentler, more golden quality. You're celebrating the end of summer and the glory of autumn. Also, the days are not so long. So you can go to bed at nine o'clock without feeling guilty!

Is there one law that you would like to see introduced to provide greater protection for the countryside?

It should be obligatory for every schoolchild to experience the countryside. There's a fantastic RSPB reserve on the edge of Newport. I took a bunch of kids pond-dipping there recently. At first, they were all saying, "Whatever…" But then one of them caught a stickleback, and such was the excitement, you'd have thought she had landed a 50lb salmon!

Children are the future. If you give them access to the countryside, they'll protect it. I'm going to be at [Education Secretary] Michael Gove about this - and I'm counting on you for help!

Describe your own home in the country.

It's a stone farmhouse on the top of a hill. We've got Forestry Commission woodland on one side and a cattle farm on the other. At the moment, we have 12 laying hens, two pairs of ducks, two kune kune pigs, 24 meat chickens, two dogs and a hive of bees. It's our little bit of heaven.

Do you bake your own bread?

I don't want to make myself sound like Ma Larkin, but we do, because we live quite a long way from the nearest shop. My husband is brilliant at it. He puts the bread on at night, and we come down in the morning to the most lovely smell.

We also make our own jams and marmalade and tomato and walnut chutneys. We gave people hampers for Christmas - I'm sure they would much rather have had Amazon vouchers!

Who would you most like to take for a long country walk?

My two dogs, Badge and Bella, and my lovely husband because, even after years of training, I'm still rubbish at map-reading!

How does the countryside make you feel?

The countryside is good for you. It takes away your inhibitions. I can't be the only person who gets to the top of a hill and thinks, "I don't care that I'm 42 - I'm going to roll down it!" The countryside is great for your brain and great for your soul and great for your bum. You win all round in the countryside!


Rachel de Thame

What's your favourite countryside spot?

Anywhere in my part of the Cotswolds in west Oxfordshire. It's not all about drama and rugged scenery; it's about rolling fields and the gentleness of the landscape. I absolutely love it.

Which countryside walk would you recommend to a friend?

Our place in the Cotswolds borders a bluebell wood, which is part of the ancient Wychwood. At the right time of year, it's carpeted with bluebells and is absolutely magical.

What do you miss most about the countryside when you're in the city?

Everything! I love the huge openness of the sky and you notice the slightest shift in the seasons and its effect on the wildlife. Also you celebrate rain more in the countryside. In the city, it's just a nuisance!

What do you miss most about the city when you're in the countryside?

I miss the hustle and bustle. I'm a Londoner. I was born there, and I will always love it.

Which month or season do you enjoy most?

I used to love autumn. But now with young children, there's something I adore about endless summer days. We let the children walk through the long grass, and it's wonderful to watch them whooping and whirling around in circles. Those days are very precious.

Is there one law that you would like to see introduced to provide greater protection for the countryside?

I would like to find a means to support small rural communities, so that they're not in danger of losing their shop and their pub. If you lose those, the heart goes out of a community.

Describe your own home in the country.

It's an old three-bedroomed farmhouse built in the first half of the 19th century - it's not at all grand. We don't have livestock. I have my family, my tools and my books - that's all I need.

How does the countryside make you feel?

I'm lucky to be able to visit all these different parts of the country as part of my job. The moment I get into the countryside, I think, "This is why I do this!" It's a great privilege.


Julia Bradbury

What's your favourite countryside spot?

As a place, the Lake District is one in a million. Every single walk there is different. You could do the same one three times in one week, and every time it would be different. I particularly love the summit of Castle Crag. I've been over it in a helicopter - I lust after that view!

Which countryside walk would you recommend to a friend?

I love the Monsal Trail in the Peak District. That area is my spiritual home. There's a stunning viaduct that crosses seemingly impossible landscape. It's dramatic, dark, captivating.

What do you miss most about the countryside when you're in the city?

I miss the chance to escape. It's never entirely silent in the countryside, but I love its serenity, and that fact
that all you can hear is the leaves rustling in the trees.

What do you miss most about the city when you're in the countryside?

I'm excited by the vibrancy and culture of the city. I'm spliced between the city and the countryside - I need to flit between the two.

Which month or season do you enjoy the most?

I would say spring is my favourite. Because I'm filming outdoors all the time on Countryfile, I feel the cold terribly. I wear seven layers in the mid-winter - by the spring, it's down to four! So as soon as there's a glimmer of sun, I'm a happy lady!

Is there one law that you would like to see introduced to provide greater protection for the countryside?

I'd like to stop people littering. We need to take more responsibility when it comes to our waste. You can only do it by engendering emotion about the environment. You have to make people care about what they have.

Describe your own home in the country.

It's in Rutland. It's the calm oasis I escape to. It's not very remote, but it's quaint, picturesque and very quiet. It has a courtyard and a garden with an apple tree.

Who would you most like to take for a long country walk?

My father is my favourite walking companion. He took me striding out across the Peak District for the first time when I was a nipper, well he did the striding and I did little scampers back then.

He's very knowledgeable about all things historical, the outdoors, and as such makes a great companion on a mountain top. He also taught me to tickle trout - not that we do that any more, of course.

How does the countryside make you feel?

I'm not a tree hugger, but exposure to the great outdoors has been proven to be emotionally rewarding. Doctors say that taking a walk in the country does you a world of good.