JULIAN Sands' ex-wife has said the late British actor "always had to take the hard path" and even at the end of his life had "sought a challenge".

Sarah Sands, former editor of the Evening Standard newspaper in London, said that Otley-born Sands was "restless... both artistically and geographically".

The pair were married from 1984 to 1987 and share a son.

Sands went missing in the San Gabriel mountains in southern California in January, prompting a manhunt that lasted for over five months.

His remains were found by civilian hikers in June.

The actor was best-known for his breakout role in the 1985 romantic period drama A Room With A View, in which he starred alongside Helena Bonham Carter, and he later transitioned successfully to the horror genre.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Sarah Sands said that as her then-husband's career had taken off, he had become "restless", and had later left her to move to California.

"Julian had to dismantle perfection," she said.

"Just when all had come good with the film and we had (son) Henry, at that point his restlessness took over.

"He didn't leave me for anyone else. There wasn't a plan. He just said he was going to California."

She added: "He always had to take the hard path. Even at the end he sought the challenge.

"That was why he pushed himself beyond the limits of human endurance on the mountain."

Sands was known for his love of the outdoors and hiking in the surrounding areas, and was considered an experienced and competent mountaineer by his friends.

Prior to the discovery of his remains, his hiking partner and fellow actor Kevin Ryan told the PA news agency that he was "the most advanced hiker I know".

"It's hard to think of him being old. He was restless, curious; both artistically and geographically an adventurer," Sarah Sands told the Daily Mail.

"I couldn't imagine him being imprisoned in any way; through illness or old age. Grounded, he'd call it.

"He used to refer to home as 'base camp'."

Sands' family is reportedly planning memorial services in Los Angeles and the UK later this year, though no details have been made public.