Ellie Bennett and her trusty Dawes bike have toured across the UK and Ireland with good humour (and plenty of decent pints). Indeed, she completed the iconic length of Britain in just 30 days - the time many of us would spend just trying to get around to booking our next holiday!

She's also left her footprints on the Great Glen Way, St Cuthbert's Way and the South West Coast Path - and found the 1,200km Shikoku 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Japan magical enough to justify going back three times. All signs point to more travels ahead.

Hi Ellie thanks for chatting to us. Tell us, how did you get into the adventure scene?

I guess I'm what you call a late starter. In my youth I was interested in little more than pubbing and clubbing and 'walk' was very definitely a four letter word. It was only when I hit my forties that I took a real interest in cycling, walking and the great outdoors - and I began to find real pleasure in getting outdoors, and even more in getting around without the benefit of an engine.

The older I get, the more I appreciate being out of doors. It may sound antisocial, but I also love getting away from people - for a little while at any rate.

There's nothing wrong in seeking a bit of solitude! Have you got any tips you can share for people interested in doing what you do?

Don't put it off. Whatever it is.

I cycled from Land's End to John O' Groats in a month. 30 days. What is that from a lifetime? Hardly anything. Yet so many people have wistfully told me that they would love to do the same - if only they had the time. You DO have the time - we all have!

Ask for a month off, and if the boss says no, then hell, go anyway. If he's that mean to you then who wants the job anyway? Carpe Diem.

Don't let fear of the unknown stop you either. I'm no Amazonian, but I'm learning to be braver about doing things on my own. The first time I wild camped solo I hardly slept all night, in case of wild bears or boars (I was in Devon, but you never know), dogs, yobs, monsters, or stray cows trampling me. Nothing happened of course, but fear stops us doing so many things.

Oh, and turn off the news, it turns us all into fear-ridden wrecks.

Once you've changed your mindset, you'll be able to just go with the flow. I find it really helps not to be too fixed with my plans. Or even better - not to have a plan! It's too tempting to over-organise and try and arrange everything in advance to the nth degree.

I read about a man who was walking from Land's End to John O' Groats and pre-booked every single night's accommodation. That seems crazy to me and a recipe for a mountain of stress. It's much better to allow things to unfold and be fluid. I do alway pack a lightweight tent or bivvy bag even if I am not planning on camping, it takes the stress off.

So go with the flow - we like it! Which of your adventures have been most life changing?

Walking the 88 Temple Pilgrimage in Japan, a distance of about 1,200 kilometres. It was probably the most difficult thing I have ever done, and also the most wonderful experience.

I learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of, and I learned a great deal about the nature of things too - that they are never static but always changing. That it is best to trust and let things unfold.

The more positive and open one is as a traveller, the more people will respond. The kindness of people towards us along the route of the pilgrimage was humbling.

How do you plan adventures like that?

With minimal planning!

We get the message! Sticking with the minimal theme, what microadventures would you recommend to encourage people out of their comfort zone?

It depends on the comfort zone! I would recommend gradual steps though. It could be a walk in the woods alone or a night wild camping. Go cycle touring for a weekend without pre-booking your accommodation, or visit a country where you don't speak the language.

A touch of spontaneity then! What's the best advice you've ever been given?

It was given by Alistair Humphries in a talk I went to. He was talking about his round the world cycling trip and how frightened he was, and suspicious of everyone he met. He said he realised he was either going to have to go home or he would have to make a conscious decision to assume everyone was friendly unless they gave him cause to think otherwise.

It worked for him and it was a brilliant piece of advice, which I remember every time I feel myself falling into a fearful mindset.

Can you let us in on any favourite off-the-beaten-track spots closer to home?

The Quiraing, on the Trotternish Peninsula at the top of the Isle of Skye. It is the most amazing, atmospheric and magical place. It really is a fantastic place to walk.

What about your absolute favourite place?

North Devon holds a very special place in my heart. I come over all misty eyed!

I just love the coastline from Minehead down to Hartland Point, it is absolutely spectacular. I used to live in Ilfracombe and one day I plan to return. It isn't twee and it isn't as wealthy as some coastal towns in Cornwall and South Devon, but it is real and the people there are fantastic. It is an amazingly friendly place.

It's making a bit of a name for itself as a destination for artists too - assisted by Damien Hirst's Verity on the quay, which I love.

My maternal ancestors were from North Devon so maybe there is some deep-seated memory at work, I'm not sure. All I do know is that the first time I arrived there it felt like coming home.

That sounds lovely, and it's a great area to go camping too. Do you have any camping memories you can share?

One night walking the 88 Temple Pilgrimage (a 1,000 kilometre trail on Shikoku Island, Japan), we camped next to a lake on the edge of a small village. We were slightly off the usual track and must have been the subject of some village gossip as we were treated to visits from several of the local families - all bringing gifts for us of warm rice, sweets and drinks.

Then one of the men took us on a walk around the local area. He spoke no English and we spoke very poor Japanese, but we got by. He led us through a bamboo forest in the dark, as we tapped our sticks to ward off the snakes. We watched fireflies glowing in the dark, catching some of them in our palms before watching them fly away again. And then he stopped and sang for us, a beautiful haunting song. It was a truly magical experience.

That sounds like a moment you could never forget! Have any camping trips gone rather less to plan?

My worst experience was camping one July near Tenby in West Wales with my 12 year-old daughter. It rained. And rained. And then it rained some more.

The next morning when we woke up all our things, including our clothes and said daughter's books and games, were floating in a pool of water at the foot of the bed.

We were freezing cold and couldn't stop shivering. We walked into town and warmed up in a cafe for a couple of hours with endless cups of tea (me) and marshmallow laden hot chocolate (daughter), and then walked into a travel agent on the high street and booked two weeks in an all-inclusive hotel in Turkey.

We flew out two days later, and spent two weeks in 50 degree heat next to (and often in) the pool and stuffing our faces with olives.

Wow, that's hot. One last question, what one adventure should be on everyone's bucket list?

I don't think you can prescribe an adventure which should be on everyone's list and even if I did, I am far from qualified to advise on it. There are so many things I have not yet done!

I think it's getting out of one's comfort zone but without putting oneself in danger. For some it could simply be a walk alone in a wood, for others a climb in the Black Cuillins. The main thing is to get out there!

But I am very glad that I have experienced caving in South Wales with their amazing formations, scuba diving kelp beds in Cornwall and cycling Bealach na Bà - the Pass of the Cattle - in beautiful Applecross. But then, there are so many other experiences which were wonderful - walking the pilgrim path from Holy Island at sunset for example.

Just get out there and find your own bucket list experience, that's my advice!

Thanks Ellie, those are great words to live by!

Follow Ellie's adventures on her blog or get inspired with a read of her book, Mud Sweat and Gears: Cycling from Land's End to John O' Groats (via the pub).