Julia Bradbury shares her favourite places to walk in Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 11 May 2016 | UPDATED: 20:42 01 November 2017
Julia Bradbury grew up in Sheffield, so she is no stranger to walking in Yorkshire.
Popular presenter Julia Bradbury’s career has not been a straight hike from A to B. In fact, she set off towards TV stardom without so much as a map and compass for guidance. ‘Even though I’d been walking since I was a little girl with my dad Michael, I didn’t really expect my hobby and my passion to become such a large part of my career,’ she said. ‘It was a happy accident; just a conversation with a commissioner at the BBC that led to the very first Wainwright Walks series and, arguably, Countryfile.’
Now, she has a popular Friday night walking show on ITV, Best Walks With A View, her own website and a book, Unforgettable Walks, which she’s set to talk about at Harrogate’s Crown Hotel in July. Walking for Julia is not just a job though; it’s clearly a way of life. She enjoys the physical aspect of striding out, but it’s also the social benefits of walking with friends and family that give her a boost.
‘Research shows it’s good for the mind and edifying for the soul,’ she says. ‘Claire Balding and I are both passionate ramblers and we agree on this. When you’re walking, the way you communicate is different to sitting and having dinner with someone. You can amble along and talk when you feel like it. And you’re not necessarily looking each other in the eye so that makes communication more comfortable. You’re side by side, so there’s parity between you. It’s a real leveller.’
Julia was born in Dublin (her partner, Gerard Cunningham, is Irish too), her mum and grandmother are Greek and she went to school in Sheffield.
‘I’m lucky that I have a lot of places to call home,’ she says. ‘I went to school in Sheffield so, in my blood, there’s a northern girl. I love coming back. It makes my heart beat a little bit faster.’
As a dedicated walker, she’s particularly fond of Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss, a small waterfall near Malham, all of which she’s featured on her ITV show.
‘I’m a massive fan of Malham Cove,’ she says. ‘It’s such an outstanding, gorgeous piece of geography and landscape.
‘Lots of people have childhood memories of Malham Cove, on school trips or the first time they tackled it with their dad. It’s one of those very evocative places that’s just breath-taking.’
Julia is clearly driven in her career and her home life, undergoing multiple, gruelling rounds of IVF to have her children Zephyr, Xanthe and Zena. So, what motivates her?
‘My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me,’ she says. ‘I was brought up in a very confident, loving home and was told I could do what I wanted.
‘They came at it from very different angles. My father was an academic who went to Cambridge; my mother is self-taught and, like me, left school very early and was working from a young age. But they both gave me self-belief that propelled me forward.
‘Looking back, I can see I must have rubbed so many people up the wrong way because I was overly confident and pushed my way in. It makes me cringe a bit but I can’t be sorry because it got me my career.’
Having children in her forties has brought inevitable change to her somewhat hectic life, but Julia feels she owes it to her children – particularly her twin daughters – to set a hard-working example.
‘I’m extremely grateful for what I have and don’t take anything for granted,’ she says. ‘I love my career. It’s very much a part of my identity. I think it’s important to be a good example for my children as we’re all heading towards a very different world. I work hard to get the balance right, but it’s tough out there for women.’
She might have left school in Sheffield with no qualifications, but she now has an honorary degree from Sheffield Hallam University, a beautiful family, a stellar career and what she regards as a priceless opportunity to ‘bang the drum’ for causes she’s passionate about, like Sport Relief’s Famous, Rich and Homeless, which she took part in earlier this year.
And it all began with a few simple steps; one hiking boot in front of the other.