Dan & Helen’s Pennine Adventure

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Tuesday: Dan & Helen’s Pennine Adventure

Leaving a secure job to go off and do something a little bit different can be daunting.

Will it work out? Will you like it? Will you regret making the move? All these questions, and probably many more, are likely to drift around anybody’s brain at such a moment.

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Perhaps Dan Walker was the same, having spent much of his professional career at the BBC before announcing he was leaving to join Channel 5 in April last year. During his many years at the Beeb, he’d seemed to be living the dream, meeting interesting folk while hosting the BBC Breakfast programme and various sporting shows, including ones he’d grown up watching.

Dan Walker and Helen SkeltonDan Walker and Helen Skelton
Dan Walker and Helen Skelton

He said of the latter, while being interviewed on James Martin’s Saturday morning ITV1 programme: “I feel very thankful and very privileged, because as a kid growing up essentially all I wanted to do was present Match Of The Day.

“I got to do that and, when they played the Match Of The Day music and I was sat next to Alan Shearer, he actually used my name in the first answer, he said ‘Well Dan’, and the little kid inside my head was like ‘Alan Shearer knows my name’.”

Nevertheless, Channel 5 made him an offer he felt he couldn’t refuse: “I was at the BBC for a long time, but I suppose whatever walk of life you’re in sometimes you get presented with a new challenge and you just want to go for it.

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“I think it was a massive opportunity and I get to do the news but also do all sorts of other news programmes as well. A bit of everything.”

Walker also claims that he loves Channel 5’s “ideas and creativity and it’s rare to get an opportunity like this where paths and ambitions meet. The chance to do something different was too good to turn down.”

Last week, he embarked on one of those “different” projects when he and his friend and fellow Strictly Come Dancing alumnus Helen Skelton embarked on an epic trip from his home in Sheffield to hers in Cumbria, taking in some of the sights and sounds around the Pennine region along the way.

They’re doing some of the journey on bikes, which proves beyond all doubt that Walker has fully recovered from the crash he suffered in February. He claims wearing a helmet while cycling through the South Yorkshire city probably saved his life. “I know I could have died, but I also know how easy it is to make a mistake, even when you’re trying to be careful,” he revealed in an article for the Sunday Times soon after the accident.

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Hopefully both Walker and Skelton stay upright when they travel through mill country, visiting places shaped by the Industrial Revolution.

Their journey begins with an aerial view of the region from atop Stoodley Pike Monument, and ends on Ilkley Moor. Will they be baht ’at (without a hat), as the famous song suggests? That may be a little too different, even for adopted Yorkshireman Walker.