The Grand Tour

Richard Hammond: “I’ve camped in the Arctic. This is so much cooler”

Richard Hammond has written of his love for the great outdoors, and explained why he couldn’t be happier that The Grand Tour is essentially one big camping expedition.

“Waking up in a tent, growing dimly aware of the gentle kiss of soft rain on canvas as the watery morning sun animates the tent’s skin with a living glow and the ground imposes its stubborn lumps and bumps on muscles still tired from the previous day’s walk,” Hammond says. “There’s breakfast to be made, outside in the rain, and the tent to be folded up and stuffed into a rucksack to haul over the hills to the next night’s resting place.”

Clearly, they’re not going to be carring The Grand Tour’s tent on their backs – which aside from being absolutely huge, is also insanely heavy. “Though probably no heavier than my first backpacking tent, which required the exertions of an Olympic weightlifter to manhandle,” Hammond admits. “As a teenager I would set off into the Lake District with my border collie for weeks at a time, hiking the hills during the day and camping at night. Since then I have made and slept in bivouacs on moors and mountains; in the Amazon rainforest; and high in the Canadian Rockies, waiting for Clarkson and James May to complete their inept and idiotic rescue mission.”

“I had a tent but the short days ended at 4pm, too early for bed, and as the crew were lodged all together at the bottom of the mountain, I was alone. So I built a bivouac around the base of a pine tree, lit a fire and was blissfully, gloriously happy for a few hours with a book and a bottle of my wife’s sloe gin.” – Richard Hammond

Richard has, of course, also camped on the Arctic ice during Top Gear’s Polar Special, laying in the midnight sun, listening to the sea ice beneath him shift and groan through the night. “It was –50C but in the morning the sledge dogs would stand up from under the mound of snow that had covered them as they slept, shake themselves and set off into the day as if they had stepped out of a warm shower onto heated tiles,” Hammond revealed.

Camping, Hammond says, is about “setting out into the world carrying on your back everything you could need for the day’s events, right up to and including your bedroom, kitchen and wardrobe. And we are now setting off into the world in a similar state to make our show.”

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