Charlie Leeds (aka Mark Valentine) has become a bit of a legend in the outdoor world. Famously a modern day hard man, working as a bouncer on the streets of Leeds, his cover was blown when visitors to his bar found him reading “The Nature of Snowdonia” on the door.
This film visits Charlie in his natural habitats and learns a little about the inspiration he finds in the mountains and how they have shaped his life over the last five years.
I have known Charlie since the first day he got into the mountains. I took him.
Over the years I have got to hear his story, a little bit at a time. We’ve been to a lot of cool places together, we’ve bivvied in a lightning storm in the Alps, drank too much in Namche Bazaar, hung out on sea cliffs and climbed water ice. It’s fair to say he is one of the most inspiring people I have met over the years – he had a vision and went for it. And he achieved it.
As I got to understand the whole story and his motivation I wanted to tell it through a film and persuaded Charlie to let me come to Leeds and film him at work. It was a masterclass in people management, persuading the drunk and the spirited folk of Leeds that he knew best in the nicest possible way. On his way home that night he rescued a suicide jumper from a bridge. I missed that bit!
We then hooked up for sunrise on Crib Goch to film the second half of the film and understand how the mountains healed him.
I showed the film to Mountain Training and they were keen to support it and I suggested they get in touch with my old friends at Trail Magazine. It seemed a good match with their “Mountains for the Mind” Campaign. The rest as they say is history.
I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.