TROY Tribe: George Bullard, meet the explorer

Brought up in the Norfolk Countryside to a family of gin makers, George has spent the past 14 years adventuring around the globe. When he is not wild swimming, camping and bicycling with a Labrador in his backpack, George collects world records, notably for the longest unsupported journey in a polar region at the tender age of 19 and pioneering the first to journey by kayak from Greenland back to Scotland. We love following George on his adventures via his insta @georgebullardexplorer and on his website and strongly encourage you to do the same! We met with George outside in mid December, who sat on his camo quad and talked expeditions, mental health and embracing mother nature.

What first inspired you to travel and adventure the world?

I was always curious as a kid – that wonderment and enchanted desire to climb trees and explore. I like the saying: ‘growing old is inevitable but growing up is optional’. Life is to be enjoyed whether on an adventure in a remote corner of the world or right here in wonderful Norfolk. Life is to be appreciated. When I am off in the wilds it is the vistas and scenery I love, along with the camaraderie, teamwork and the emotional journey that is impossible to describe to others on my return. 

You say you are 'on a mission to re-wild humans' and discuss the importance of connecting with nature and even icy swims to manage stress. Tell us more about this?

As humans we have lost touch with nature and spend 92% of our lives indoors. We can’t claim to be connected to the outdoors, most of us have never even spent a night outside. The disconnect between humans and nature is vast and the ramifications are being felt around the world.

Here we are talking in the farm and I read recently that we have 60 more harvests before our soil is stripped of its goodness. Rewilding is about reconnecting with the outdoors and our place on the planet.

Getting outside helps mentally and physically.  The fresh air, the icey swims… for me that is all about bringing yourself into the moment. The news and the worry gets too much and sometimes bringing it back to the moment and focusing on what is happening right there means that the noise is cancelled out and that helps.

The City Camping project super exciting, and hopefully something you can get back to in 2021?

City Camping organises pop-up campsites in city parks in the UK, and is mostly directed at children where the effects of the outdoors is felt so keenly. It is the ultimate leveller. I am also involved in I Go Adventures – adventures with a purpose – whether a weekend or a week-long journey embracing the outdoors is so empowering and tends to give perspective on life. Both of these projects are on hold for obvious reasons but I truly hope they will relaunch as soon as it is safe to do so.
 Dome Tents
 Image via City Camping                                                             Image via IGOadventures

So much of your achievements are down to mental as well as physical strength. How do you keep tip top on both fronts?

A lot of explorers have biceps the size of Berlin and the rippling abs of the North Sea (!) but I don’t go in for any of that, I am very normal on that front. I stay active and occasionally go to the gym but I use my bike, jog a bit. The bulk of the training for expeditions happens on day 1-5 of the trip itself, so I do a very slow build up to them and concentrate on avoiding injury. I bought a blow-up kayak ahead of my Greenland adventure and paddled up the Thames each day, that was quite an experience!

On the mental preparation for a tough challenge, my best advice is that you need to know your own reason for doing it. I have had real lows, sometimes feeling that this is the worst idea of my life and hated myself for the lonely experiences and miserable existence, however I found very real meaning from the darker times. One saying always sticks with me and brought me out of the low moments “Remember to stand, stare and admire the serenity that you will remember for the rest of your life.” Without that I would have thrown in the towel many times.

Treacle and Gossip (George’s loyal dogs) make regular appearances on your instagram, and you were brought up riding horses. Who is your best animal companion for a yomp through the fields in your TROY Wax Jacket?

Gossip is my favourite companion, comes everywhere with me and is excited about everything, rain or shine! The TROY Jacket certainly helps on those rainy days.

What is in store for GB in 2021? 

City Camping will hopefully be able to go ahead… but it has been such a shame to cancel so many exciting projects. In particular, the Dark Ice Project was to gather never seen before data on the depth of the ice for NASA and other leading scientists and brands. Having so much cancelled has been tough but I have a 630 mile run on the south west costal path in store… so I am going for the odd jog to train for that. Sailing Is another passion – I am excited to be taking part in the ‘Race Around’, a two handed staged race around the globe which will be fantastic, if we can make happen!

For now, zooming through Norfolk's muddiest of puddles will do.....

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It strikes us that if anyone can, George can!

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