James Dunmore would be the first to admit he’s best known as the boyfriend of Lucy Watson, a cast member of reality TV show Made In Chelsea between 2012 and 2016. Dunmore appeared on the show himself in 2015, but departed along with Lucy the following year. Since then, while Watson has devoted her time to her growing business, including a soon-to-open vegan restaurant in west London, Dunmore has thrown himself into fundraising work for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. His next charity challenge – a seven-day, 93km walk to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, 5,895m above sea level – takes place later this year, and his preparation’s about to get serious.
James, how are you feeling about your toughest charity challenge yet?
I am very excited. I signed up knowing it was a huge challenge, but I didn’t really look at the stats! It’s six to seven hours of walking a day for seven days – and I do not like walking! An hour’s walk feels like a day to me, and I’m going to have to do about 93km in a week. My plan in the months before the challenge is to work on my natural levels of fitness. Then, two months before the climb, that’s when I’ll start doing more specific training, like incline treadmill walking and the cross-trainer. I’ll also take myself off to the Lake District and get some miles in up there.
Altitude sickness is a real concern during challenges like this, and can affect anyone regardless of fitness levels. Is that a worry for you?
Yes, it does worry me a little bit because I don’t know yet if or how it will affect me. I will go to the Altitude Centre in London and work with them in some 60-minute sessions. They’ll do some tests to ascertain my sensitivity to altitude, and then we’ll adjust my training accordingly.
What does your training programme encompass right now?
I work out about five times a week and I like the feeling training gives me. I have always trained by myself, but in the past 18 months I’ve been going to the gym with Sam Thompson [one of Dunmore’s former Made in Chelsea co-stars]. Sam had never worked out before and now he’s in the best shape of his life. I keep trying to take all the credit and tell him that I built his body, not him! It’s reaching the point where the apprentice is becoming the master!
What have you got out of helping someone else get into shape?
Training with him gives me more of a buzz and more motivation, because if we’ve arranged to go neither one of us wants to bail out. If I am honest we probably do talk too much when we’re in the gym, but at least we do turn up and it’s better to do something than nothing at all. We do push it, and it is much harder to do that properly by yourself – that used to be my problem. I’d stall quite quickly because I wasn’t training hard enough or I’d do the same things all the time. Everyone has their favourite exercises, and it’s so tempting to favour those. Now I mix up my training a lot more, training with different rep ranges and spending more time on moves I don’t like. The upside of this is that you do notice much bigger improvements when you start working more on your weaknesses.
When you first found out you’d be on Made In Chelsea, did you feel any pressure to look a certain way?
There’s never been any external pressure put on me, no. When I first appeared on the show I was probably the guy in the best shape, so that might have put some pressure on the other guys to up their game! When I was younger I was very sporty and naturally very skinny. I’ve always had good legs, but my upper body wasn’t developed at all. My problem was, and still is, that I find it very hard to put on any weight. I am 27 now, so I expect once I hit 30 and my metabolism starts to slow down my body will change, but at the moment I can pretty much eat what I want and not put on any weight.
You left the show a couple of years ago – what have you been up to since?
After leaving the show I wanted spend more time fundraising for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. It is a charity very close to my heart [James lost two older sisters to the illness; Jodie nine years ago, and Lucinda 11 years ago] and it’s very important to me to do as much as I can to raise awareness and money. I don’t particularly miss being on the show – although it was obviously nice to go on some lovely holidays – but I do miss how it raised my profile so I could do more for the charity.
Your girlfriend Lucy Watson is a staunch campaigner for animal rights and welfare, and recently released a vegan cookbook. What’s your diet like?
I’ve been pescatarian for the past ten months after previously being a big red meat eater. I cut out red meat a year ago and still ate chicken and fish, but was relying too much on chicken, so I cut that out too. I’ve had to learn how to get more protein from non-animal sources. Lucy is vegan and a fantastic cook, so I really enjoy my new way of eating. I feel really good on it – I have more energy, where I used to feel very sluggish after eating meals high in red meat.
What’s prompted you to give up meat? Were you given an ultimatum?
Ha, no, I wasn’t! But Lucy is very passionate about animal welfare, so I did some research into the meat industry and didn’t like what I learned. If we weren’t together I would probably still be eating meat, but only because I wouldn’t be as educated as I am now. I’d still be oblivious to the processes behind the meat industry. I don’t miss meat now. Chicken is so easy and accessible but there are better ways to eat if you do some research, planning and preparation.
You must be used to travelling in luxury and staying in amazing hotels. Does the thought of roughing it for a week in Tanzania excite you or worry you?
I can’t wait to camp on Kilimanjaro. I’m a real outdoorsman. That’s the appeal for me – that adventure. What I am not looking forward to do is bedding down for the night after walking all day, knowing I have to do it all again tomorrow! At least with Kilimanjaro the terrain changes dramatically so the views are going to be new and exhilarating all the time, which will make a big difference when the going gets tough. I’ve been told the hardest bit is the summit, because you have to start at 12.30am to summit at sunrise and get a massive adrenaline rush… and then you have to start the walk back down! I think most people don’t really think about the return leg, but if you walk up you have to walk back down. Getting picked up by a helicopter would be a nice alternative!
What’s the one big adventure that you want to tick off your list?
I do have a long-term goal, but I won’t do it for a few years. I want to do the Arch to Arc, which is a bike ride from Marble Arch in London down to the south coast, a swim across the Channel, then a run to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The swim is the hardest leg, but I used to be a good swimmer when I was younger, so I’m not daunted. I’m going to start by doing some sprint triathlons and build up from there.
James Dunmore’s Mount Kilimanjaro trek will take place in October 2018. To donate visit Dunmore’s Just Giving page.