Get Inspired: Richard Parks on his Extreme Wales adventure

By Richard ParksFormer Wales rugby union player & adventurer
'Some of the best adventures can be had in Wales'

It was embracing the spirit of adventure that pulled me out of the dark hole I found myself in following my enforced retirement from professional rugby through injury.

Through changing my mindset, I am now a Guinness world record holderexternal-link, an award-winning author, and have been privileged to perform in some of our planet's most extreme environments.

Embracing the spirit of adventure saved my life.

I'm passionate about sharing adventure with people, as that mindset is more important in today's dynamic times than ever before.

It doesn't have to be world-first expeditions, but any time we step outside of our comfort zone it's an opportunity for us to grow.

I have used Wales to train and prepare for all of my world-first expeditions.

It's the perfect mix of brutality and accessibility. In fact, the Welsh landscape has forged me into the athlete that I am today.

It was important to us that the adventures in the series showcased the rugged beauty of Wales, yet have accessible components for anyone to try.

Park after reaching the South Pole and in his playing days with Leeds
Park after reaching the South Pole and in his playing days with Leeds

I have had the privilege of performing in some of the planet's most remote and hostile corners. Also some of the most beautiful too, yet it never fails to amaze me just how magnificent Wales is.

The Elan Valley really rocked me, it's so beautiful. Even when the Welsh weather came in, it only made it feel more ethereal.

That was in the cycling show, but to be honest every episode opened my eyes and heart to something wonderful.

The Ogof Ffynnon Ddu cave system was spectacular.

It was the production company's idea to go underground. I'm not the biggest fan to be honest!

But stepping outside of my comfort zone opened my eyes to the wonder down there and I hope it provokes the same emotions with the audience as they climb with me.

Since my crevasse fall on Denali as part of my 737 Challengeexternal-link in 2011, I've not been a fan of confined spaces.

Imagine trying to contort and drag your body through a 15-metre tunnel so small that every part of your body - chest, shoulders and back - are touching the inside of the tunnel. All this whilst being soaking wet, tired, hundreds of metres underground, and after 10 hours of climbing!

Every part of my mind was focused on not thinking about the millions of tonnes of earth and rock collapsing above me!

Learning to kayak on the Teifi river was the most challenging of the episodes, but the most rewarding too. Life's wonderful like that!

It's enriched my life as I am now planning more adventures on the water.

But seeing how the Teifi itself has enriched so many communities and people was truly heart-warming and wonderful.

Adventure will mean different things to each of us, yet at its core it's about stepping outside of our comfort zone and beginning a journey of discovery.

Even the smallest adventure can be life-changing.

Watch Extreme Wales with Richard Parks on the programme website.