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Countryfile’s Sean Fletcher on his love of Wales, and why getting outdoors in winter makes him feel

As the presenter and mental health campaigner teams up with North Ridge, he talks to Abi Jackson about favourite walks and being a teenage farmer.



When asked whether he has a favourite place to go walking, Sean Fletcher needs no time to think.


“There’s quite a few walks we do around Gower in South Wales – that’s my favourite place,” the broadcaster and journalist says in a flash. “It’s lovely in summer but lovely in the winter as well, always blows the cobwebs away. It’s such a great place.”


The 19-mile-long peninsula near Swansea was the first place in the UK to become a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1956. A nature lover’s dream, its ancient landscapes are a patchwork of tufty fern, heather and boulder-strewn fields and hills, edged by rugged coastline and sweeping sandy beaches.


But for Fletcher, best known for presenting on Countryfile, Good Morning Britain and Songs Of Praise, it’s not just the beauty of the place that makes it special.



“I remember going there really early on with my wife and some of our first dates being there,” explains the 48-year-old, who began his broadcasting career in Cardiff and is married to Welsh TV producer Luned Tonderai, who grew up in Wales (Fletcher also speaks fluent Welsh after promising his father-in-law he’d learn the language). “So I cherish that place, not just because it’s lovely but for the lovely memories I have.”


The couple live in London now but visit Gower often – and every time, without fail: “I just get out of the car and take a deep breath, I look around, and I suddenly feel restored and relaxed,” says Fletcher. “And I just let my batteries recharge. It’s wonderful.”


The cold and wet weather won’t stop him getting his outdoor fix, either. In fact, taking their “quite new” cocker spaniel Meg on some wild Welsh walks is one of the things he’s most looking forward to this winter.


“We haven’t taken her down to Gower yet,” Fletcher shares, when we speak over the phone. “She’s a working cocker spaniel so she’s absolutely crazy, she just runs around – and I’m really excited, it’s like taking a child to a new playground and seeing how they react for the first time – I can’t wait to see my dog running around the Gower.”



He recently become an ambassador for outdoor clothing brand, North Ridge, which he says felt like a “perfect fit”, given their current focus on the connection between getting outdoors and mental wellbeing.


Time in nature – and especially being active in nature, whether walking or running – is a big part of Fletcher’s life, both personally and professionally. He says he owes a lot of this to spending his teenage years on a small farm, after his parents decided to up sticks and swap town life for the Essex countryside.


“My mum, who was a nurse, decided it was going to be like The Good Life and started breeding pigs, as you do! At the height of our smallholding, we had about six or seven sows. We had cattle and chickens, so we’d sell eggs by the roadside. We just went for it,” says Fletcher, who also spent time in Zimbabwe as a child, where his mum Carol was born.


“The combination of being outside and dealing with animals – working with animals is a really fulfilling thing – just turned things on their head for me, because before that I’d been a town boy. Of course, we had parks and we’d go to the countryside – but I lived in the countryside then, and worked in the countryside. It changed things, and that has dictated so many things in my life.”



This includes landing the job on Countryfile, after which he fronted Wonders Of The Coast Path in 2020 for ITV, which saw him explore Wales’ 870-mile coastline, followed by Wonders Of The Border in 2022 – as well as his love for the countryside and his active lifestyle.


Fletcher – who ran the London Marathon in 2016 for the charity Beating Bowel Cancer, after his mother died from the disease in 2006 – says the outdoors has long been integral to his wellbeing, but mental health became a much greater focus when his son Reuben, now 19, became unwell (he also has a daughter, Lili, 24).


“It’s something I’m really passionate about, particularly amongst young people because my son was ill with OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder] a few years ago, and it really opened my eyes to how young people are struggling – and will be more so since Covid, which has only made it worse,” he explains. “So I became an ambassador for [mental health charity] Young Minds and I do talks and try and help with campaigns.”


Reuben is much better now and off at university. But Fletcher is keen to highlight that taking care of our mental wellbeing is important for everyone – something that really came into focus during the pandemic.


“We all have mental health, just as we have physical health. People go to the gym to look after their body, they go for walks, for a run – and you have to do the same with your mental wellbeing. I don’t have a mental illness, but I do need to look after my mental health,” he adds. “I do notice when I’m really busy at work, if I’m not getting time to go out for a run or for a walk with my wife, I notice my mental wellbeing isn’t as healthy as it would be if I’m doing all those things. If I haven’t run much, I can feel a bit like a caged tiger – it’s just a real release to get out there. So I always try and keep a check on it, and we’ve got the dog, which forces us to go and walk, which is great.”


He’s grateful his job means he gets to try new things too. “I did some cold-water swimming for a TV item in Wales. I don’t like getting cold – but when the producer says, ‘Right, we’re going to be filming cold-water swimming’, you sort of have to because it’s your job,” he says, laughing.



Despite the 5am start to join a group of swimmers called the ‘Dawnstalkers’ in Penarth, and bracing temperatures, Fletcher recalls the “brilliant” moment “bobbing around in the waves” with this bold bunch.


“I mean – I was cold, I was shivering! But your body does something pretty amazing too with the endorphins. I was buzzing,” he says. “It’s another example of how nature, if you use it well, can give you these amazing highs and feelings, and really be very healing.”


When he’s not off having adventures in Wales though, Fletcher enjoys pockets of escapism with Luned nearer to home. “We tend to walk down by the Thames around Chiswick and Kew – you can do a really nice long walk and sometimes feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside, there’s some really nice green areas along the Thames. So that’s our regular go-to.”


Despite not being a fan of getting cold, he’s very happy wrapping up for an outdoors-fix in winter.


“It’s probably even more important to get outside [at this time of year], when it can all get very gloomy,” Fletcher reflects. “And I think you can feel a bit more connected to nature, when you’re out in the elements. You feel more alive.”


Journalist and Countryfile presenter Sean Fletcher has partnered with North Ridge to celebrate his love for the outdoors and inspire everyone to get outside and reap the mental health benefits. To find out more, see blacks.co.uk/blog

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