My Life In Travel: James Cracknell

'I paddled across the English Channel with my friend on a surfboard'


First holiday memory?

Being woken up by my parents very early in the morning to catch the ferry to France, where we used to go camping. Looking back, they were great holidays because there are so many different landscapes in France.

Best holiday?

My honeymoon in the States. My wife and I drove from Boston to Los Angeles in a campervan over a month or so. You can see why so few Americans have passports because it's like seeing lots of small countries packed into one.

Favourite place in the British Isles?

The South-west, particularly north Devon and north Cornwall. I really like places like Croyde and Polzeath because they have good waves.

What have you learnt from your travels?

Planning. I've travelled a lot with my rowing when everything was done for me. When I suddenly had to organise things myself it was a bit of a shock to the system.

Ideal travelling companion?

Captain Bligh because I wouldn't get lost with him.

Beach bum, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie?

Adrenalin, then culture, then the beach if it's got waves, but not for sunbathing. I'll try to be a bit more adventurous with the places I go for family holidays once my son's a bit older, but it's a bit tricky at the moment.

Greatest travel luxury?

If I'm on a plane then it's leg room, because my knees always hit the seat in front.

Holiday reading?

I like reading when I'm abroad, particularly books with a factual basis. I have just finished Robert Harris's Imperium and I like Irvine Welsh and Bret Easton Ellis.

Where has seduced you?

South America. I travelled around Venezuela and Colombia after leaving school. It's such a different way of life and there is a huge range of landscapes from coastal cities to jungles and high-altitude mountains. It's amazing.

Better to travel or arrive?

To arrive, if I'm flying. I really like driving, but not when I'm being piloted and I can't stop when I want to.

Worst travel experience?

Apart from rowing across the Atlantic?! When we were on our honeymoon various things went wrong with the campervan, like the sewer hose breaking off. The heating stopped working during November, so we had to wear tracksuits. Those moments make it memorable though and I look back and laugh.

Worst holiday?

I went to Mauritius after the World Rowing Championships one year for two weeks and was ill for the whole time. I only had three weeks off that year too.

Worst hotel?

I did an altitude training camp in Bulgaria and the hotel we stayed in was like a scene from Rocky IV when he goes to Russia; it was grim. I had to spend three weeks there eating deep-fried cheese and meat that looked unfit to eat.

Best hotel?

I stayed at the Carlisle Bay Hotel in Antigua after rowing across the Atlantic with Ben Fogle, which was amazing. I'm not sure the other guests thought so when we turned up with beards and no clothes!

Best meal abroad?

A lobster barbecue on the beach in Cape Town.

First thing you do when you arrive somewhere new?

Unpack, although according to my wife it's making a mess.

Dream trip?

I'd like to ride a motorbike from one end of South America to the other.

Favourite walk/swim/ride/drive?

I drove down Highway One in California, which was great. I'd love to swim from Gibraltar to North Africa or across the Bering Strait. I have also paddled across the English Channel on a surfboard with my friend and we set the Guinness World Record: five hours and 26 minutes. I have no desire to do it again, though.

Favourite city?

I really like London because I miss it when I'm not here, but at the same time it can be incredibly frustrating. I really enjoyed Sydney because I have such great memories of winning the Olympic gold medal there.

Where next?

I'm doing the Pure Tasmania Challenge race: hiking, cycling, kayaking and trekking across the island over six days.

'The Crossing' by James Cracknell and Ben Fogle is published by Altantic Books (£18.99 hardback)

News
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager - Bristol

    £31000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the UK, the major project fo...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Sales Executive - Meetings & Events (MICE) - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: Are you a high achieving...

    h2 Recruit Ltd: Account Executive - Hotel Reservation Software - £40,000 OTE

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A rapidly growing Hotel ...

    Recruitment Genius: Tyre Technician / Mechanic

    £15000 - £16800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Tyre Technician / Mechanic is...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game