Tristan Gooley picks me up at the quiet, rural railway station in a tangerine-coloured Land Rover equipped with a snorkel. The snorkel goes from the engine through the bonnet, so that the vehicle can traverse “deep waters”. There is also an “expedition roof rack”, an alarming array of headlights, and a winch. This, I think to myself, will be a ramble to remember.
First, a few words about the Gooleys. Tristan’s father, Mike, a former SAS officer, founded Trailfinders, the largest independent travel company in Britain. Tristan, 36, is vice-chairman of the business, and every two years takes time off to have adventures of his own. He has climbed Kilimanjaro, hiked from Glasgow to London, and parachuted off a building in Australia. Most impressively of all, he is the only man alive to have crossed the Atlantic solo both by sea and by air.
The man himself, however, is dismissive of his accomplishments. “I am no longer motivated by extremes,” he says as we roar down country lanes into the South Downs. “In my twenties I got my thrills out of mountains. But now I get them out of a gentle walk.”
This new, mellower Gooley – who has young children, a wife and a country home – has restyled himself as a “natural explorer”, the title of his latest book (his first was the popular The Natural Navigator). His basic principle is that the everyday world can offer up a wealth of exhilaration if we only open our eyes to it. “It’s a more daunting challenge to find wonder in a hill than a mountain,” he tells me, quoting his new book. “And a great achievement to find it in a molehill.” The tough guy car, he says, was bought third-hand and has never been used in an expedition. Continue reading on the Telegraph website