Part-time hermit seeks Girl Friday to share wild life

Outdoor pursuit: Nature-lover wanted as companion for survival challenge
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The Independent Online
Surviving in the wilds of Snowdonia, North Wales, for weeks on end can be a challenging andlonely business, which is why Tony Westwood is looking for a Girl Friday to share his solitude.

In an offer that echoes Gerald Kingsland who took a partner to a tropical paradise on the island of Tuin, Mr Westwood, 33, hopes the loneliness of his chosen lifestyle can be lifted.

Mr Kingsland's partner, Lucy Irvine, wrote a best-selling book on her experiences which spawned the film Castaway, starring Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohoe.

All Mr Westwood can guarantee is that worms are only eaten as a last resort and if a film is made the production costs will be considerably lower.

Speaking from his cottage on the borders of the Snowdonia national park, five miles from Caernarfon, the nearest town, Mr Westwood explained that local women had shown only reluctance to share his two-month expedition this summer.

"Without sounding unpleasant, the girls tend to be all white shoes and handbags. They are not keen on the idea of a home built from branches and leaf mould," he said.

He makes rope from plants and tree bark; fashions clay pots and has a North American Indian-designed loom for making cloth. He lives on a largely vegetarian diet of plants such as thistle and the inner bark of the willow tree, supplemented with fish he spears or traps. Animals are only snared and eaten as a last resort, as are crickets and grasshoppers, though he points out the insects rival steak for protein.

An out-of-work labourer, Mr Westwood first turned to bushcraft three years ago after reading a book on surviving in the wild. But he eschews the Rambo overtones of many of his fellow practitioners.

"There's loads of people into military magazines and cracking on they are former members of the Special Air Service," he said. "If anybody ever asks I tell them I'm ex-SAS - an ex-Salvation Army Singer. It helps take them down a peg. For myself I just enjoy the outdoors."

He has used his skills in charity events to raise money for the Hope House Children's Respite Hospice, Oswestry, Shropshire. Unfortunately, few major sponsors came forward. With his shaven and tattooed head and nose rings he admits his appearance is off-putting.

"People tend to be prejudiced if you don't look how they expect," he said. "I had the tattoos done when I was 18 and ... have gone bald since."

He was unsure just where the best place would be to advertise for a suitable partner but hopes the publicity over his appeal will encourage a suitable volunteer to step forward.