Vanessa Collingridge has travelled the world from the frozen Antarctic to Tahiti. Here, the renowned geographer, explorer, author and presenter shares her experiences with CD Traveller and reveals why Scotland will always hold a special place in her heart
What do you like to do on holiday?
I tend to be pretty active and am always exploring new places to learn about their geography or history be it at home or overseas. I also love all boats, whether they are for rowing, canoeing or sailing – although nothing beats just sitting up on deck and breathing in the view….
Where did you last go?
Because I do a lot of travelling for work, I wanted to stay at home in the UK last year so we went camping in Devon for two weeks and had an absolute ball. I spent a lot of my own childhood romping around the West Country, climbing over the moors and sailing down at Rock and I still have loads of friends down there so I enjoyed showing my boys around my old childhood haunts and meeting up with my friends and their children. Being fair-skinned, we didn’t do much sun bathing on the beach but we spent a LOT of time playing Robin Hood in the forests, going around castles and building camps on the heaths!
Do you know where you’re going this year?
I was offered two weeks in the south of France in a friend’s cottage which would have been idyllic – but the boys enjoyed Devon so much they insisted on going back there again! We’re also joining some friends in the north of Scotland later in the summer.
Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
That’s a tough one! I spent a few months in the Antarctic and that was the experience of a lifetime. It’s an incredibly powerful landscape – and very humbling. Curiously for someone who’s a bit of an extrovert, I adored the solitude and sense of isolation there, knowing I was about as far away from my normal life as it was possible to get.
I also adore Australia and New Zealand and visit as often as I can – both for work and holidays. I was lucky enough to spend 18 months on and off down under (including sailing around Tasmania in Cook’s replica ship, HMB Endeavour) for my Captain Cook series and the boys got to come along, too, which was really exciting for them. I think I’ve been to every transport museum, mountain railway and aquarium in the southern hemisphere!
However I also love Hawaii – again I’ve spent a lot of time there for my researching and filming my Cook series and have treasured friends in Honolulu. It’s also one of the few places in the world where it’s warm enough for me to swim in the sea, although I’m less keen on the idea of sharks!
Which destination do you wish to travel but haven’t been?
I’ve yet to make it to China and Japan, though I’m currently planning a trip to see friends and colleagues in Hong Kong. I also have tentative plans for a filming trip to the Arctic…
In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
Daybreak in the Abernethy Forest, mackerel fishing or shrimping in the Camel Estuary around Padstow and last but not least the sunset in Kilmartin Glen (preceded by a visit to the Kilmartin Museum – if only for their fabulous gluten-free chocolate brownies!).
How do you plan your holiday?
Haphazardly. Both my partner Al and I have the kind of jobs where you need to be flexible so we’re pretty relaxed about bookings and tend to make it up as we go along. A Blackberry and Google Earth have saved us on many an occasion…
How often do you go away?
In the glory days BC (Before Children), we used to have one big world adventure every year involving lots of mountains, boats and hiking, along with a couple of smaller hiking trips in England and Scotland. Now we tend to stay relatively close to home spending our summer hols in Devon, l long weekend in the New Forest with around 20 of our university pals each autumn, followed by a week in Perthshire each spring. However we have enjoyed discovering the Forestry Commission lodges for an impromptu weekend escape – again, these are perfect for our mini Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Little John!
Who do you travel with?
My partner, our children and Baxter – our eight and a half stone Rhodesian Ridgeback! However, I do remember those halcyon days of travelling the world solo with only a pair of walking boots, a passport and a backpack.
Where do you see tourism in your country in 10 years time?
Hopefully much more environmentally-friendly, more customer aware – and making more of the wonderful landscapes and places we have here in Britain. I’m very partial to Alastair Sawday’s Special Places to Stay and the whole idea of ‘Slow Food’ and ‘Slow Tourism’ and can see that growing more and more in popularity as people realise just what we have on our own doorsteps.
To find out where other industry experts holiday, don’t forget to keep clicking back.
Scotland Revealed – a documentary series presented by Vanessa celebrating the beauty of Scotland is available to buy on DVD (RRP £19.99) from all good retailers.