Ash Dykes: the man who walked across Mongolia

WE TALK to Ash Dykes about his walk across Mongolia, life in Thailand and what's in store next for this adventure junkie.

Ash Dykes

Ash Dykes’ many sporting accomplishments include walking across Mongolia.


THE QUIET life didn’t cut it for Ash Dykes and soon after school he found himself on the road and exploring the world.


Here the now established author and professional speaker talks to us about some of his biggest adventures including walking across Mongolia. Read on to find out what you can expect from his books and learn more about his life and work in Southeast Asia. 


You can find out more about Ash, his adventures and work as a speaker at www.ashdykes.com.

Ash Dykes

When did you realise that your life belonged to the outdoors and adventure and what do you think it was that really sparked your passion?

From a young age, I was always curious about the world, travel and adventure, I’d hear stories and this would fuel me to want to create my own stories, I just felt that it may not be possible – as the normal route is continuing your education through university.


It was when I was in College (age 17), studying an outdoor education course that I started focusing more on making something happen. The rest of the students were looking into university, the military etc, whilst I was looking into what job I could get that would provide me with the best opportunity to save money and leave over one and a half years later.


I found work as a lifeguard, sold my car, bought a bicycle and cycled to work every day (16 miles), working 240 hours per month. I was saving a lot of money at this point, whilst planning my travel and gaining my scuba diving qualification, hoping to work abroad whilst travelling.


At age 19, I had made it, I set off to China with a friend, this was just incredible, but after a month, I found I was very much on the beaten track and decided to mix things up. Due to us wanting an adventure and the shoe string budget we were both on, we decided to purchase the cheapest bicycles we could find and cycle Cambodia and the length of Vietnam. Quite a reckless cycle – no gears, no suspension, helmet, pump or puncture repair kit and only 2 minutes on google planning the route – we set off!


We were hit by mopeds, dodged my lorries, chased by dogs, cycled 39 hours straight during one stint, but after 1,130 miles and the bikes breaking 17 times between them – we made it. This was the catalyst to all the adventures to come. I was hooked and didn’t want to stop… So I didn’t!


I continued and crossed through the Jungle from Thailand to Myanmar and learnt how to survive in the Jungle with a Burmese Hill Tribe, trekked the Himalayas, cycled a part of Australia, hitch hiked and much more, before settling as a scuba diving instructor and Muay Thai Fighter in Thailand for the next 1.5 years.


Ash Dykes

Ash Dykes’ adventures have taken him through all kinds of terrain including that of tropical jungle.


Tell us about the earliest adventure you can remember and the effect it had on you?

I guess there were many, I remember my Dad and I jogging up and down Snowdon – I was only young, maybe around 12. I also remember camping with friends go for walks through the woods etc. At that age, I was probably more into more sports, I was competitive, so me and my friends would always compete, from field sports to extreme sports. I guess it was the competitive spirit, sports and love of adventure that hooked me in this direction.


Ash Dykes

As well as testing his own courage and abilities on adventures, Ash is also interested in meeting people from different cultures and worlds.


What made you set yourself the challenge to walk across Mongolia and how did it feel to complete the walk?


I settled down in Thailand as a Master Scuba Diving Instructor and Muay Thai Fighter for a good 1.5 years, this was amazing, but I started to miss all my previous adventures. I wanted to take on something bigger and better than I had ever done before. I wanted it to be a walk as I had done plenty of cycles, and I liked the idea of it being in an extreme country that I’m completely unfamiliar with, relying solely on myself to survive. That’s when a solo and unsupported walk across Mongolia’s length popped to mind!


I thought the best way to go about it, is to find those people how have done it before, in order to ask them for advice etc. But I couldn’t find any evidence to suggest this had ever been completed, however – I did find someone who had attempted it, but was unfortunately evacuated. This was intimidating, as the guy was a navy solider and desert explorer – but I tried to not let that put me off. From there on, that’s when the training, planning, preparation etc begun, I had to give up my life in Thailand, move back to the UK, in with my parents, with nothing but a couple of hundred pounds in my account. It was a risk – but one I was willing to take.


It was incredible to complete the expedition and changed my course of direction completely, it has allowed me to continue doing what I’m passionate about, so for that – I am grateful.


Ash Dykes

Learning from the way others live has been an important part of Ash’s life journey.


What have been some of your other biggest achievements in challenges you’ve set yourself?

I’ve set myself many and these have all helped to develop me, from learning from the locals how to survive, to competing against them in the world most devastating martial arts, cycling across countries despite being told it’s not possible, to achieving my Master Scuba Diving Qualifications. And of course the biggest, walking across Mongolia and pushing on during a part of the Gobi where I almost lost my life.


Ash Dykes

Ash has trained in many different sports including boxing.


Then whilst spending 155 days walking the length of Madagascar – I faced many challenges too, from being held up at gun point by the military, to catching the deadliest strain of Malaria and being hours away from slipping into a coma. Makes you realise just how capable we truly are as humans and it’s not only the achievements I’m happy with, but the man they have made me.


What can our readers expect from your books?

In Mission Possible, it’s not only about one adventure but about all the previous adventures as well as Mongolia and Madagascar. It goes back to how it all begun, the motivation and inspiration behind it, the planning and preparation, the adventures from all over, the dangers and scary near missus, to the picking yourself back up and pushing on again.

It’s a book suitable for all ages and should keep you guessing what happens next all the way through!


Ash Dykes

Ash has faced all climates on his adventures at home and abroad.


How can someone hire you as a speaker and what are some of the most memorable speaking appointments you’ve had to date?

I get be booked directly from my website www.ashdykes.com.


I have had many memorable speaking engagements, from speaking in Parliament alongside Annie Lennox from Eurythmics, to presenting at two different TEDx talks and being invited to China on many occasions. It’s exciting and I do enjoy it J


Ash Dykes

Ash takes a leap of faith as a friend captures it perfectly on a camera.


How are you currently spending your time and what adventure do you have lined up next?

I’m currently busy with organising further engagements, promotions with the book, in training and planning for the next big thing (which I can’t reveal just yet unfortunately) and organising a 12 day-expedition I’m leading in Madagascar this October for Charity Challenge, feel free to join people: – https://www.charitychallenge.com/expedition/2689/Madagascar-Trek-with-Ash-Dykes

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