Shaped by his time in the Royal Marines, Ian Finch's hunger for exploring has been tough to satisfy. His most recent expedition - an epic 68-day and 2,000 mile canoe descent of the Yukon River in North America was named one of the most inspiring adventures of 2016 by the Guardian.

Ian's talent for storytelling, photography and film opens a window on his travels that few other adventurers can match.

Hi Ian, and thanks for taking part! Can you tell us how you got into the whole adventure scene?

I didn't really come from a family that regularly hiked, camped or was particularly outdoorsy. Nor was from an area that was near the mountains or wide expanse of countryside - we lived on the outskirts of a large city. Luckily for me, at school I became good friends with another lad who loved to build shelters, walk and make campfires.

We would walk across local woodlands on the weekends, vastly overweight packs in tow, and construct camps for the night with plastic sheets and branches.

The real change in all this was when I began to drive and the whole country became our oyster. Many a weekend we would make the 5-hour drive to North Wales and the Brecon Beacons, wild camping amongst the crags and woodlands.

From there, our adventure spiral picked up speed. Harder and more remote environments began to interest us and then the military intervened. I joined the Royal Marines for five years and my life took a new, bolder path, shaping me in a slightly different way.

After that, every adventure I did had to push me culturally, physically, mentally and even environmentally as my worldly curiosity took shape. I was thirsty for the wisdom and knowledge that each country and its people had to offer.

That still burns within me to this day.

What are your best and worst camping memories?

There have been so many good memories. I walked the entire Outer Hebrides islands from north to south in 2015 and some of the sunsets and wild camp locations on the western isles were breathtaking.

Waking up to the barking of the seals and ocean wildlife made that experience truly unique.

The worst experience was probably my first few nights along the Yukon River. All I could think about were the huge grizzlies that patrolled that remote part of the world. I was sure each rustle in the leaves or breaking of branches was signifying my imminent death.

I didn't sleep properly for days!

Have you spent much time in Scotland then? Is that your favourite part of the UK?

Scotland is a unique place and I love the fact that some of it still feels untamed. I feel at home there for some reason, perhaps because my ancestors derive from the Highlands.

North Wales holds a wild corner of my heart though. It's where I cut my teeth as a boy and where I found out that I loved this way of life. Nowadays I get my hit from the quieter sides of western Snowdonia, like The Rhinogs, Cnicht and Cwm Pennant Valley.

A lovely part of the world, for sure. What one experience should be on everyone's UK bucket list do you think?

Any adventure you embark upon should push a personal boundary or two. It should challenge your way of thinking not just about what you are capable of but expanding your view of the environment and the role you play in protecting it.

As far as bucket list adventure? I would say following one of our many long distance footpaths. These multi-day journeys are what adventure is all about - physical challenge, exploring new environments and people, building confidence and (for me one of the most important of all) slowing down and disconnecting from the rhythm and rush of modern life.

Whenever I've taken on a long distance trail, slowing down has been inevitable because of your pace of walking. But the beauty in that is when you slow down you look more, and when you look more you learn more.

To me that's what being in the outdoors is all about.

We couldn't agree more. Do you have any other tips for would-be adventurers?

Firstly, I'd start with thinking about what sparks your interest and curiosity. Would you like to spend your first night in a tent or travel to see a certain environment, landscape or group of people? I would go as far as saying the "why" is the most important stage of the process. It drives the adventure.

Secondly would it last a few hours, a day or a multi-day trip? That defines the level of planning needed.

And thirdly, make it fun! Involve friends and have a goal in mind - something for you to reach for.

All good advice. How have your adventures changed you as a person?

In 2016 a team of three and myself canoed the 2000-mile Yukon River to meet the first nation groups that still live in this remote region.

Our goal was find out about their traditions and way of life and how that's changing in a modern world. Also to understand if the changing environment was affecting how they live.

The impact of this journey went well beyond what I originally thought. The adventure had so many layers. It wasn't just to get from A to B, in fact that became a secondary thought, it was uncovering a group of people and understanding their way of thinking and living.

Each community we arrived at had their own history and story to tell - and we captured that through photography and film. A dream came true when it was heavily featured in Sidetracked Volume 8.

What about off-the-beaten-track spots in the UK? Can they compare?

I could mention the gnarliest, remotest walk and most challenging climb but I wont. I want to share a secret place, accessible to everyone, that is so sleepy and quiet you wouldn't even know its there. For me it holds some of the most magical and rustic beauty I've seen and some of the best views of the Severn River.

Between you and me (and all your readers) it's the Uley Valley, in the western Cotswolds.

That's a new one on us, but we'll definitely look it up! From your travels, what has surprised you most about today's world?

It has to do with people. The people are the key to the cultures and the cultures are the key to a way of life. They hold all the wisdom and all the stories and that's where the knowledge of the region is truly discovered.

They also are a lot friendlier than you could ever imagine. Throughout the world, especially in the remote regions I like to visit, I've always been shown a level of kindness and generosity that is hard to fathom.

The people in these places are still connected so closely to their community network that their daily life revolves around only family, love, the landscape and retaining that link to each other. In a modern world this simplicity is beautiful to see.

Returning home I'm simplifying my life to reflect those values.

An inspiring message. What else might surprise people about a hardened Marine like yourself?

I write poetry and still do. Moving on... Haha!

Finally, what achievement are you most proud of so far?

Since I was young I've loved creative writing. As you now know I like poetry, but over the last five years I've really worked hard on my storytelling and the written accounts of my journeys for my blog.

For nearly three years I had little to no readership. But since coming back from the Yukon I realised a long-standing dream of mine – being featured in Sidetracked magazine. I've read that magazine pretty much since it started, and to see my story over 12 pages was a proud moment.

I've gained a lot of confidence from that.

And deservedly so Ian, thank you!

Ian's Instagram is full of inspiring photos and well worth a look. You can also read more about his trips and his advice for sharing details of your own adventures on his website.