Welsh hills helped Alone survival contestant Naomi

When Naomi Allsworth and her siblings were getting "too hyper", their father would say "all out" and send them up the mountain that doubled as an extended back garden.

The 27-year-old grew up in Crymych, in the shadow of Pembrokeshire's Preseli Hills, and "lived outdoors" - something which would stand her in good stead when the producers of extreme survival programme Alone unexpectedly came knocking last year and selected her.

Against some serious odds, the fashion designer and survival leader has made it to the final episode of the contest from a starting pool of 11.

Contestants are dropped into a remote area of Canada's Northwest Territories with only 10 items and cameras to self-film.

Bears, moose, and wolves dominate the territory and the contestants are exposed to significant danger.

Naomi's initial description on the show - clothing designer living in London who "gets lost in Tesco" - may have led people to conclude she was unlikely to stay. How did she do it?

Despite her outdoorsy childhood in rural Wales, she "craved change" and moved to London to study fashion.

But even then, she spent every summer working for the Camp America schemes in the USA.

A few years ago, alongside a job in a fashion school and raising her son, she started working for the adventurer Bear Grylls at his Survival Academy network.


When she was contacted by Alone's producers she initially ignored the message, but then got in touch and passed interviews and survival assessments to be chosen.

"That's when they told me it was Alone," she explained. "I've watched for eight years with my dad, and I've always admired these brave people, and I never thought I'd be one of them."

She described as "madness" the three-week time frame to get childcare cover when her partner worked, time off work and "figure out if I need to write a will".

Her first choice item was a sleeping bag because feeling "cocooned and comfortable and comfy... can keep you really strong and keep you mentally sane". The second was a ferro rod to start fires.

During wilderness orientation in Canada, Naomi said she was the "biggest scaredy-cat - I vocalised my nerves" and thinks this made others write her off.

"But the morning of the drop, I was so calm. I was at peace. I just woke up like, yeah, I'm ready," she said.

She was flown to an island and after getting over "drop shock", she swiftly got organised, slinging up a bear bag to protect a "tiny" amount of rations and constructing a temporary shelter for her first night.

A night vision camera shows a bear nosing around her camp site.

On film she says: "There's like a thousand noises in London and not one of them sound like this.

"I don't know what the [expletive] that was. There is something right outside my shelter." She can be heard shouting "go away".

In the morning, she says: "Last night was by far the scariest night of my life. I've never been that close to a bear before and I don't ever want to be."

'Your brain is eating you alive'

Naomi's experience became apparent as she was seen constructing a much more robust shelter out of wood.

She also used her supply of paracord rope to create a gillnet to catch fish, a technique she had practised but never used in the UK as the nets are restricted.

She didn't think to eat for a few days as it "was not a priority".

"It took a few days before my body went, yeah, you're really hungry."

There was "just nothing" to forage and traps didn't catch anything. Naomi realised quickly she would have to survive on fish.

She caught pike, of which she said: "You have the first one, you're like, tastes amazing. But after three or four you're just like oh, another pike."

Catching her food was "so rewarding and validating of my skills. I was like, I can do something really valuable here. So for me my gillnet was my saviour".

But even with fishing, starvation was a real possibility.

"Your brain is eating you alive. You're just in bed for six, seven hours daydreaming about food," she said.

"It was painful. I had the best roast dinner of my life in one of my dreams."

Naomi lost two-and-a-half stone, over a quarter of her body mass, in just over three weeks.

'A big, big bear'

Bears came nearly every night but one was particularly scary.

"I had a big, big, bear come really close. It was leaning on my shelter at one point and was huffing and puffing so loud. I was shouting, I was really whacking my pots.

"It was about 20 to 30 minutes of really trying to get this thing out of my camp.

"It came back three or four times throughout the night. I was counting down the hours until daylight."

But eventually, she just went to sleep. "After the third time I thought, do you know what, you're here and there's nothing I can do. I trust my shelter enough to feel safe.

"Then in the morning it came back in the daylight and I was just done."

Northwest Territories, Canada
Canada's Northwest Territories contain some of the most remote landscapes on earth

Naomi had encounters with moose including a baby, which she said "sounds cute and adorable but that's when the mums are scary and that's when they're really dangerous".

The best moments were where she was able to stop and appreciate the world around her, waking up and watching the sun rise.

"I positioned my shelter so I would face it because for me that was really magical. I would sit there for six hours just carving little toys, pieces of wood for Barnaby," she said.

"And I was like, I'm ok with slowing down. It was really nice to allow myself time to do that."

'He lept into my arms'

She had to accept that doing the show meant missing Barnaby's fourth birthday which was "really hard".

"I wrote him letters every day and bought him all his gifts in that three weeks and I tried to make it as special as I could.

"I'd arranged for my family to go up and have this amazing day out, but I knew I was going to miss it."

She worried about the eventual reunion with her son after her long absence but it was "a beautiful moment. He just kind of leaped into my arms and giggled and giggled and giggled".

On returning home, she found having had the opportunity to live an "unfiltered life" away from social media and "show the messy things" was "really healing" and made her reassess.

Preseli Hills
The Preseli Hills were a dominant feature of Naomi's childhood

She started her own business taking women and children out into nature to experience "a snippet of what I have had the chance to experience".

She has reduced her fashion work and started working with fellow contestant Tom Williams at his adventure company, taking groups to places like Panama and delivering survival training.

For the future, Naomi is looking closer to her roots.

"I'd love to run my own little summer camp in Wales where I can bring children in over summer and really teach them as much bush craft and art, all these things I love," she said.

In the meantime she plans to run some treks in Wales and would like to work with schools teaching bushcraft, adding: "I want to do more back in the place I grew up in and that shaped who I am today".