Dave Cornthwaite is a British adventurer, author and motivational speaker.
1.Does the job of an adventurer/author and motivational speaker go hand in hand? Was this your childhood dream job?
It definitely wasn’t something I considered doing when I was younger, I just didn’t know it was possible. I don’t really see it as a job because I’m passionate about everything I do and it’s too much fun to be work! The speaking is a part of any professional adventurer’s life, especially if like me you’re not regularly on TV. All of this stems from my love of writing, it’s so nice to have stories to turn into books these days.
2. What was your very first adventure?
In April 2006 I skateboarded 896 miles from John O’Groats to Lands End, I was the first person to skate the length of Britain but that was just a warm-up for Australia!
3. The sheer scale of your adventures seem daunting, are they daunting to you or just the rest of us?
I understand how they might appear daunting, but having done a few I now realise that dealing with the distance is just a state of mind. However slow you go, if you keep going you’ll make it to the end if you want to – and that’s the key, I’ll only do these journeys if I really really want to, otherwise when it gets hard I’d give up.
4. I see you travelled while at university, how did you balance both lives, not just work but friends and a part time job?
I think travel is the best education we can get. We can’t understand our place in the world without seeing it from the outside, so I made the most of my time at uni, worked hard and travelled in my holidays. Good friends don’t mind if you go away, they’ll be waiting when you come back!
5.When you have to stay put for a set period of time, how do you satisfy the travelling bug or the urge to keep going?
The hardest bit about what I do is in between adventures. It’s easy to be motivated when I’m on a journey, I’m focussed on reaching my goal and also sharing my trip. But in between I need to write books, do a lot of talks and earn some money for the next trip and it takes a lot of dedication. Usually I need a while to let my body recuperate after a big trip so it’s a natural process leading up to the next one.
6. You make it all sound so easy; you graduated, founded your own newspaper and became a graphic designer. They are three different jobs that people study their whole lives to become, yet you seem to have managed to excel at all three. Props to you but how?
Simply, I just did it. I had the idea and rather than talk about it I just put the wheels into action. I taught myself new skills as quickly as I could – everything is based on common sense so I listed the things I needed to do to achieve my goals and then started ticking them off until I’d done it. It wasn’t simple and took some hard work, but I made it happen pretty quickly. Anyone could do it!
7. When you decided to commit fully to adventuring as a career, was there a fear of failure, of giving up an easy life? Or do you even believe in fear?
I believe that we’re fearful of change and difference, and the reason we’re so scared of it is because deep down we’re considering that change, and it’s a good thing, but for a while it might not be easy. People love comfort but comfort kills ambition, so I keep generating new ideas everyday to avoid getting in a rut. All I ever wanted to do was make a living from something I’m truly passionate about, I didn’t have a specific aim or goal but I knew it was possible if I worked hard. I’m still learning and figuring things out, but I’ve not considered dropping adventure. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, that’s the key to finding your true vocation.
8.Your a long boarder right, what is it like having one leg permanently more muscley than the other?
Haha, I don’t skate much anymore but after my journeys my right calf was huge! It was my party trick!
9.Why did you start it all, were you just bored?
I was boring! I’d followed everything that’s expected of all of us. Schools, Uni, Degree, Job, Mortgage, Partner, Pet. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I realised I was unhappy. I ditched everything and started afresh. I’d been depressed, living the same life everyday, I needed change.
10. How do you think of new adventures?
If I try something new that’s fun I’ll instantly start think about travel. Each method of transport I use exercises me somehow, add that healthy activity to travel and suddenly Im going to see a new part of the world and get fit at the same time. It’s a beautiful process.
11. Is a life of exploration not a lonely one?
I rarely feel lonely on my adventures. I meet a lot of people on my way, although it’s hard saying goodbye to new friends constantly. Honestly, I find it lonelier coming home. Sure, I see my friends and family, but nobody truly understands what you’ve been through, no matter how much you talk about it.
12.When in all this chaos did you have time to write a book?
It takes dedication. I need to give myself time and rid myself of all distractions. Not easy when the book-writing time is also money-making time. I’ve taught myself to believe that one day my books will be my income, my pension even. That way I survive on very little in order to finish a book.
13. What is your all time favourite book?
I don’t have one. Depending on my mood I’ll flit from one style to another. I love writers like Bill Bryson for their humour and wit. Reading Hemingway makes me want to write. I just love books, they’re a sign of hard work and dedication, nothing like walking into a bookshop and thinking about everything that went into the books – so many stories, just brilliant. It’s inspiring. If they can do it, I can! You can!
14.You found a purpose pretty early in life compared to most people, I bet that feels nice?
Sure it feels nice. It saddens me when people go their whole lives without finding a purpose, we’ve all got talents, every one of us. Sometimes we’re not lucky enough to have someone else to nurture our talent so we have to be prepared to nurture ourselves.
15. This question may seem rude but that is not my intention. It is just a challenge I am constantly facing and am wondering if you too have ever struggled with it? I am twenty years old and want to get into adventure sports journalism, but I am constantly confronted with people’s scepticism that this is a career that cannot bring about change. That as a smart girl, I should go into politics or war reporting. Change the world. Subsequently I am left feeling guilty about doing something I love? Any thoughts?
Here’s the crux of my answer: If we are passionate about something we can enact change. There’s nothing like passion to inspire. If I was a chicken farmer and LOVED it, found beauty in the science and biology and the life and the eggs and the EVERYTHING, then my articulation of that would inspire people. I’m not, obviously, but adventure sports journalism can inspire in so many ways! Forget the doubters, what do they know? Is the funny kid at school ever encouraged to be a stand up comedian? No, because it doesn’t fit in the typical box. Trust your gut, if it’s what you want, go for it. You’ll never regret a decision like that.
16. Do you ever worry about money ?
Rarely. I’ve survived on very little – incredibly little – for five years and everything I earn is ploughed back into my adventures. Wealth isn’t finance, it’s experience and the ability to use your time well. I’m pretty wealthy right now, without having a penny 😉
17.Do you ever worry about settling down?
It’s probably my only concern at the moment. I’ve chosen a lifestyle that isn’t typical, it sends me away and fulfils me but doesn’t make it easy for me to find a long-time partner. I’m not sure I’m the type of person to ever settle down, but a more settled base would probably complete the missing link in my life. That’s okay though, it’ll come, in time.
18. Do you ever get frustrated with people and the world?
Endlessly. Realistically though we can only do our best in everything. We have political and environmental problems that are juggernaughts, I can’t stop them so I won’t dedicate my life to a lost cause. BUT, what frustrates me most is people who have potential and don’t take advantage of it. Such a waste. Anyone I meet who moans about their job, I’m at them immediately, trying to work out how they’ve let it get to the stage where the one thing that takes up the majority of their waking hours isn’t pleasing. It’s a waste! We’ve only got so much time, why would anyone choose to waste it!
19.Was there a defining moment that made you leave a world of comfort behind?
I’d been aware that I needed a change for a few weeks but there was one catalyst that kicked everything into gear: my first ride downhill on a longboard. Riding a hill that I thought I knew gave me a whole new perspective. I was bursting with passion and joy. It was incredible, to be struck with the realisation that something so normal and ordinary to me could be shown in a new light. Two weeks later I quit my job.
20. How do you entertain yourself while on route?
Usually my surroundings are more than entertaining. But I’ll listen to an ipod, practice a brand new talk out loud – shouting and singing into the wilderness sometimes! – think of new journeys and projects. I can’t remember the last time I was bored!
21.What is your favourite sport and why?
My first passion was football, it’s a true international language – you can go anywhere in the world and make friends with a football.
22. Which has been your favourite adventure and why?
My latest one, Stand Up Paddling the Mississippi. SUP is a beautiful way to travel, it’s great for fitness and you can see so much standing on a board. It’s such a simple way to travel, too. Board. Paddle. Bags on top. And that’s it.
I’m writing my next book, it’s called Stand Up Huck, about the Mississippi paddle. In a few weeks, when I’m nearing the end of the book, I’ll settle on my next adventure. It might be a swim down a river, a sail journey, a unicycle…who knows?!
For information on Dave, here’s his website http://www.davecornthwaite.com/ , take a luck, trust me, the man is a legend.