Known among travel journalists as 'the man who pays his way', perhaps it's only reasonable that Simon Calder is a camping fan. A regular sight on breakfast TV, Simon is Senior Travel Editor of The Independent and also writes for a number of other publications.

Quite the career progression from someone who once frisked airport passengers - "as a job" he points out, "not a hobby!"

Hi Simon! Thanks for taking time out from your trip to Cornwall to speak to us. Tell me - how did you get into the adventure scene?

When I was six, my parents enrolled me into the Woodcraft Folk - a marvellous organisation that encouraged everyone to take risks in safe surroundings. And ever since I have been trying to have as many adventures as possible while remaining, at heart, profoundly timid.

Profoundly timid is a great expression! What are your best and worst camping memories then?

The first Woodcraft Folk trip lifted me out of Crawley, which up to that point was all I knew in the world, and took me to the Lake District - in those days wonderful Westmorland.

I camped with my big sister Sarah, who had just turned eight, and despite a deluge or two, I began to appreciate the great outdoors.

A few decades later, I found myself on the Inca Trail with my friend Mick and a tent we had borrowed from another friend, Graham.

Despite his recommendation, we hadn't actually tried to put it up until the first viciously cold and wet night at 10,000 feet. Once we discovered the gaping holes and missing tent pegs, I think we knew it wasn't going to be an entirely successful trip.

A fatal error. What about your most life-changing adventure?

Climbing Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside the Himalayas.

It is a right old slog, but is you persevere and are lucky enough to get to the top (22,841ft) then you are briefly the highest person in the world (because no-one is scaling the big Himalayan peaks during the Aconcagua climbing months of December and January).

If you happen to be someone from Crawley in their late 50s, it could put a spring in your step.

What about back in the UK? Where do you keep going back to?

With the possible exception of parts of Crawley, almost everywhere in the UK has merit from a traveller's perspective. But I must say Scotland's islands are endlessly fascinating, and I am gradually discovering them all.

I thought nowhere could improve upon Shetland until I travelled the Western Isles from the top of Lewis to the bottom of Barra. But then I visited Orkney, which I immediately fell for. Over the next year I shall be seeing as much of the Inner Hebrides as I can.

Is that something that should be on everyone's bucket list?

Beautiful though Scotland is, London is much more accessible.

The single most important experience in the capital is to walk back and forth across Waterloo Bridge. Going south, look east to survey the modern milestones crowding around St Paul's Cathedral, and the landmarks lining the South Bank. Then going north and looking west, the London Eye is a valuable 21st-century complement to the tradition of Westminster.

We have a bit of an 'anywhere but London' attitude, but there's no denying that there's a lot to see there. What other tips would you have for people interested in doing what you do?

Firstly, get up early. Whether you want to see Waterloo Bridge at dawn or Machu Picchu through the gate of the sun, an early start is usually the most rewarding.

And if you're planning anything tricky or demanding, bear in mind that an hour of hiking, biking or climbing before lunch is generally twice as productive as an hour in the afternoon.

Ask lots of questions too. Almost everyone is happy to help and pass on their knowledge and experience. Locals' recommendations are usually better than any guidebook.

And finally, check that tent!

All good tips, thank you. What inspires you to do it?

My daughters. Partly because Daisy and Poppy are the loveliest people you could ever meet, but also because they will be studying for at least another decade and that inspires me to keep working.

Inspires or requires we wonder?! Let's finish off with a few quickfire questions, starting with your favourite campfire meal?

An Indian takeaway. Always try to camp near one.

Cheat! What about how you plan your adventures?

With a map, and some trepidation.

Profoundly timid again! Finally, what's the one must-read inspiring book you'd recommend?

The nearest atlas. It's full of places I still want to go.

Thanks Simon, you and us both!

Simon's website has further details of his background and books, but for more up-to-date news, you'd do better to follow him on Twitter!