Harborough woman joins Bear Grylls on US adventure

Two days of extreme challenges in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico isn’t everyone’s idea of a dream break.

Especially when it involves keeping up with the madly enthusiastic survivalist and TV star Bear Grylls.

Market Harborough's Alex Woodforde with Bear Grylls during their two-day adventure trip in New Mexico, USA

Market Harborough's Alex Woodforde with Bear Grylls during their two-day adventure trip in New Mexico, USA

But 23-year-old Market Harborough adventurer Alex Woodford was absolutely delighted with her two-day “holiday” – her reward for winning Land Rover’s Next Generation Explorer Challenge in the mountains of Megeve, France, early last year.

The idea of the competition was to find the next generation of British explorers.

And Alex’s prize was an adventure in wonderland with Bear including repelling down a 250ft sheer drop, a Tyrolean Traverse (crossing a gully, using two ropes) river crossings, hemp-rope climbs and a one-to-one combat session with Bear himself.

Alex said: “It was a fantastic experience, and Bear was such an outgoing person, so enthusiastic; fun and quite inspiring to talk to.”

So did Alex get to beat-up Bear? “No, I went easy on him!” she joked.

“He sort of let me win, but he’s been trained by the SAS so he was being kind.”

For Alex, this self-defence session was one of the highlights of the trip, along with “the best campfire food I’ve ever had”.

She added: “But the whole experience was amazing – a remote wilderness, beautiful scenery and lots of physical challenges.”

Former Robert Smyth School pupil Alex says she doesn’t really know where her love of extreme adventure comes from.

“My mum cries a little inside every time I go off on something like this,” she laughingly admitted.

But ever since her mischievous tree-climbing childhood she’s always had a love of adventure.

Alex said: “You have to follow your dreams. If you love adventure, then just keep going along that path.

“Just do what you love and you can make it into a career.”

And what’s the attraction?

“I think it’s the excitement; just not knowing what’s going to happen next,” she said.

“I wouldn’t be fulfilled by the monotony of a nine-to-five job.”

No chance of that for Alex; she spoke to the Mail from her current adventure – in China.

She said: “I’m lucky enough to have been awarded a British Council scholarship, studying Mandarin and economics.”

“I’ve been out here four months now, and again, it’s been quite an experience.”

And she’s already lining up her next expedition – a river trip down the Mississippi from source to sea.

It’s a journey that will take her two-and-a-half months.

“I’ve been applying to a number of charities for funds,” she said.

She’ll be going on this expedition with her partner Amit Shah, who is studying for a PhD in America.

“He’ll need to really get into shape,” she chuckled.

In the long-term, Alex says she would absolutely love to make a career out of doing expeditions.

And if anyone is looking to sponsor her, here’s a testimonial, from Bear himself.

The Man Vs Wild star said: “She’s thrown herself into it right at the deep end; you name it, she’s done it.

“She’s really shown that adventurer spirit; being a pioneer, a boundary-pusher, a risk-taker and full of positivity – so good on her.”

And a message from China for her worried mum?

“I haven’t been eaten by alligators yet,” she joked.