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Gone Wild Festival With Bear Grylls at Holkham Hall

Bear Grylls is bringing the Gone Wild Festival to Holkham Hall Photo: Gone Wild Festival
Bear Grylls is bringing the Gone Wild Festival to Holkham Hall Photo: Gone Wild Festival

His globe-trotting adventures have taken him into some of the world's most inhospitable locations - including the summit of Mount Everest. But this summer, Bear Grylls is looking forward to enjoying the rather more tranquil surroundings of north Norfolk when he brings his family Gone Wild Festival to Holkham Hall.

Bear was the UK’s youngest ever Chief Scout when he was appointed in 2009, aged 34. He is passionate about encouraging young people to explore the outdoors and appreciate the nature around them, and the festival embodies that.

An opportunity for families and friends to spend quality time together in the great outdoors, as well as featuring some of the biggest names in music, including McFly and Sam Ryder, Gone Wild Festival has a packed programme of activities, ranging from axe throwing to guided meditation.

Bear himself was an adventurer from an early age. He trained in martial arts and went on to spend three years as a soldier in the British Special Forces, as part of 21 SAS Regiment, honing his survival skills.

Great British Life: Sam Ryder is appearing at Gone Wild Festival. Photo: supplied by Gone Wild FestivalSam Ryder is appearing at Gone Wild Festival. Photo: supplied by Gone Wild Festival

Despite a free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, where he broke his back in three places and spent many months in and out of military rehabilitation, he remarkably recovered and went on to become one of the youngest climbers ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

He then went on to star in seven seasons of the Discovery Channel’s Man vs Wild TV series. He has also hosted six seasons of Running Wild, which feature Bear taking some of the world’s best-known stars on incredible adventures. These include former American president Barack Obama, Julia Roberts, Roger Federer, Will Ferrell, Channing Tatum, and Kate Winslet.

Bear has also filmed trips with a number of Indian superstars, including Ranveer Singh.

He has a host of awards and accolades to his name, including two Emmys for the interactive Netflix show You Vs Wild and two Baftas for his hit Channel Four programme The Island with Bear Grylls. He has also written numerous books and his autobiography, Mud Sweat and Tears, spent 15 weeks at number one in the Sunday Times bestseller list.

As well as being the youngest ever UK Chief Scout and the first ever Chief Ambassador to the World Scout Organization, he is an Honorary Colonel to the Royal Marines Commandos.

Holkham is a new second location for the Gone Wild Festival - it's also held at Powderham Castle in Devon. Alongside performances by McFly, Sam Ryder, Example, Scouting for Girls and Reef , more than 100 activities will be on offer, including axe throwing, paintballing, wild swimming, climbing, abseiling, archery, yoga, guided meditation, dance and trapeze, plus inspiring talks, nature trails, creative workshops, mass workouts and relaxation and wellness sessions.

Great British Life: Bear Grylls on a visit to Great Yarmouth in his role as chief scout. Photo: Bill SmithBear Grylls on a visit to Great Yarmouth in his role as chief scout. Photo: Bill Smith

We tracked down the legendary adventurer to find out more...

What was it that made you want to bring the Gone Wild Festival to Norfolk and to the Holkham estate in particular?

Norfolk is such an incredible place, and an old friend of mine from the Army is a director at Holkham, but the main reason is my co-founder, Oli [Mason]. He’s from Norfolk and used to work at Holkham before he also joined the military. He’s been saying for years that Holkham is the perfect venue for families to experience adventure together. We have had such a warm welcome from everyone in the community and we are so grateful for that.

Where did the inspiration for the festival come from?

One of the roles I do is as honorary Colonel to the Royal Marines, and some years back we were part of an event at the Commando Training Centre in Devon where we had hundreds of kids, Scouts and Cadets charging around the place getting wet and muddy, it was awesome. At the end of the day Oli, who was also a former Commando and was due to leave the Corps soon, and I chatted about doing something on a bigger scale, that was focused on families and supporting veterans. That was it, Gone Wild was born!

Do you know Norfolk well? If so, what are your favourite places in the county?

My aunt and uncle used to live there and I used to go often when I was a kid. I loved it always. I’m excited to be back and ready for the adventure!

Great British Life: Bear Grylls' Gone Wild Festival is coming to Norfolk for the first time. Photo: Gone Wild FestivalBear Grylls' Gone Wild Festival is coming to Norfolk for the first time. Photo: Gone Wild Festival

What are you looking forward to most about holding the festival in Norfolk?

Well both Holkham and the north Norfolk coast are just so beautiful. But I’m most excited about seeing families spending time together in the outdoors, being active and making memories. That’s why Gone Wild has grown so fast - it brings families together to experience adventure and have fun in the great outdoors. Few places are as spectacular as Norfolk as a backdrop to that.

It's so important that children grow up appreciating the nature around them. Apart from coming to the festival, what ways do you suggest for getting youngsters interested in their surroundings and nurturing their curiosity?

There are so many ways, but often the best are the most simple. Going for a walk in the woods, making dens and climbing trees - to be honest that was basically all I ever did as a kid. Nature and adventure are all around us, you just have to go and find it.

What was it that sparked your sense of adventure as a child?

My dad was a former Royal Marines Commando and he always used to take us away on mini adventures. I used to love getting home from school, packing my camping kit and disappearing into the wild for a few days. Those memories burn bright still in me.

You've spent time in the wild with some amazing people. Who have been your favourites?

Probably in terms of the TV shows, taking President Obama away to Alaska on an adventure was special, but there have been so many other trips over the years that stand out, like jungle missions where things went wrong or ocean crossings that almost broke us. All of them taught me to try to walk humbly when it comes to the wild and to also know the power of a great team and a never give up spirit.

What would you say has been your greatest adventure as an adult?

Probably parenthood! We [Bear and wife Shara] have three boys [Jesse, Marmaduke and Huckleberry], who’re all amazing but all totally different. Being a parent is the toughest and most rewarding thing and I love the journey we’ve been on as a family. The boys are growing up now, but they still keep us on our toes. But they love the ethos of gone wild - families that adventure together stay together.

And finally, what scares you?

I get nervous all the time to be honest, fear is just a part of life, whether it’s when doing a big talk for example to thousands of people, I really feel those nerves beforehand. I’m much more comfortable in informal environments. Some of my favourite moments filming are off camera at the end, having a cup of tea with the crew around a fire.

The Gone Wild Festival with Bear Grylls is being held at Holkham Hall from August 8-11. For more information and bookings visit gonewildfestival.com



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