WWhen Tom Davies and his stepbrother, Greg, were growing up on the outskirts of Aldridge, a town in the West Midlands, they would pick a point in the distance, a television pole, for example, and head straight there, even if it meant climbing up the rocks. quarries, sneak down the train tracks and run away from angry farmers.
Now Davies has channeled this childhood taste for adventure into a YouTube series following his attempts to traverse entire countries in a direct line, based on GPS tracking.
The scratches he finds himself in along the way, from nearly drowning in swollen rivers and cutting his hand on barbed wire in Wales to a confrontation with the police in Scotland, combined with his laid-back humor (he describes Norway as “Wales on steroids “), have earned him a large fan base, with 925,000 subscribers to his channel.
Videos documenting his most recent “straight-line mission” in Scotland are racking up hundreds of thousands of views, and the next episode will go live on Sunday, and each one could be his last, as obstacles threaten to disrupt his travel.
“It’s a bit mischievous, but these days a lot has been done, all the mountains have been climbed, the rainforests have been crossed. People have crossed the United States on a unicycle, they have gone from Land’s End to John O’Groats on a skateboard, ”he said.
“I love the adventure, the mischief, the obstacles you face, the danger, the ‘OMG the journey is going to end, a farmer will catch us’, the adversity and then the reward that comes with it when you overcome these obstacles, is amazing “.
As far as he knows, Davies is the only person who has successfully crossed a country (Norway) without deviating more than 50 meters from a straight line drawn on Google maps from coast to border, although several other YouTubers have tried. On the way, spectators entertain and terrorize spectators with incidents on the edge of their seat, such as pulling his semi-submerged body out of a bog in Norway by clinging to clumps of grass, which he described as “the most terrifying experience.” of my life”.
However, he’s anxious not to encourage viewers to replicate his missions without experience and careful planning. “We can just warn people of the dangers and say ‘do this at your own risk.’
For Davies, the videos have had a transformative impact on his life. He grew up in a working-class family and misbehaved in school, which left him without much sense of direction, wandering between short-term jobs as a van driver, fishmonger, and bartender.
Just two years ago, at age 28, he got into a new online game known as Geoguessr, in which players find themselves at random locations on Google Maps and have to guess which country they are in using encyclopedic knowledge of different countries to give clues, ranging from the appearance of their license plates to the colors of the bollards and the direction of the sun.
Growing up with “a young nerd to see all the countries and know their flags and which were the longest rivers” meant that Davies fit in with the young geek community and was especially good at the game. He saw a YouTube gap for the Geoguessr stream before the game quickly grew in popularity and quickly accumulated 60,000 followers under the Geowizard moniker.
But he soon felt he had something else to prove to his audience. “They assumed I was a nerd who sits in his room playing this game all the time and never comes out, so they were quite interested to see that he was quite outgoing and adventurous and not afraid of a little danger.
Encouraged by the popularity of Windows in a world of escape and adventure during the pandemic, your account now earns you more than ever thanks to ad revenue and donations from loyal fans made on the Patreon platform.
He has also been approached by production companies to make television shows. Not interested for now: “I’ve always had the feeling that they would probably want to do it their way. Right now I’m happy, I’m doing exactly what I want to do and I’m getting paid a good deal of money for it. “
But, like all good adventurers, there is no escape from the persistent itchiness of his feet. He plans to traverse the Patagonia region at the southern tip of Latin America next winter. “So far I have stayed in my comfort zone geographically, but I am going to aim higher. Technically, that would be crossing a continent in a completely straight line, from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic ”.
The next episode of Davies’ Scotland series airs Sunday on his GeoWizard channel.