Active European Holidays
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Meet Your Guide: Mike Simpson

Mike Simpson

How did you get into active travel?
I got into active travel after doing a couple of courses at an outdoor centre as a teenager. I decided that was what I wanted to do, so when I left school, that's what I did. I worked in an outdoor centre as an instructor and I've done heaps of other stuff ever since. The opportunities I've had have never been wasted on me, and I'm always mindful of how lucky I am to do what I do and to have travelled as much as I have in my life.

What is it about active and adventure travel that fascinates you?
There is always something new to see, feel, hear or smell. Yes, smell, I love the smell of damp Lake District fells. I've done the Coast to Coast about 12 times now, and every time is different. You also meet different people with hugely different outlooks and everyone is brought together by a common urge to travel and explore.

Most of all it's life affirming and immensely good for you - the health benefits of simply walking are wonderful. I guarantee you will live longer!

What do you do to stay fit and active travel-ready?
Mountain Rescue keeps me out on the hills when I perhaps wouldn't quite get round to keeping as fit as I should. I have the Lake District on my doorstep, and Scotland a hop and a skip to the north.

Which traveller or explorer has been your greatest inspiration?
My elder brothers laid the way for me, one is CEO of a trust running several outdoor centres, the other has similarly worked in outdoor education, and now runs his own business providing first aid training. I guess it's in the blood, but if they hadn't dragged me out complaining whe I was younger, I would never have been bitten by the bug. Or midges, probably!

Do you have any advice for first-time active travellers?
The first piece of advice is DO IT! Then it's a matter of finding what to do that you can do. It doesn't have to be huge challenging Himalyan adventure, just being out anywhere, day after day, taking the time to soak it all up is what it's about.

What are your favourite active and adventure travel destinations in the world and why?
I get asked this so often, and still haven't satisfactorily answered it. It's the diversity that that makes the destination. I would have to choose between Wainwright's Coast to Coast, Alpine trekking, or the High Atlas in Morocco.

What has been your best travel experience ever?
Oh, far too many to list here, but a metre of snow on the Alpine Pass Route last August was a recent highlight. Yup, August. Of course we had to go up for a stamp around in - it looked like Christmas!