Booking process and conditions.
Payment options include PayPal, direct transfer, cash and cheque.
Your safety and comfort is my top priority. Furthermore, I welcome guests of all ages and abilities. At booking I will ask you for the following standard information :
- Emergency contact
- Medication you may be taking
- Any relevant health issues
- Your mobility / fitness
This information helps me provide you with a great day. Wherever possible, I will tailor the activity to match your requirements. Feel free to contact me and discuss any concerns you may have.
Definitely, depending on availability. And this is often a great idea, to maximise your experience in the midst of changeable weather!
In fact, some activities and itineraries are multi day bookings anyway ( eg: Winter Skills 2 courses and island based itineraries ). These can be separated, or in some cases tailored to your requirements.
I certainly do, depending on availability of transport and equipment. Please contact me to discuss your specific requirements.
Wildlife watching (2)
Recommended optics, clothing and equipment, individual species, itineraries, etc.
It really depends on what species you want to see and what you’re up for. Some species (eg: crossbill spp, capercaillie, ptarmigan, dotterel) can require walking to get the best chance of a view. But the length and type of route can sometimes be matched to your ability, whilst still offering the chance for a sighting. See the Walking Grades page for an explanation of the different types of walking that may be encountered. The description for each activity will include the walking to be expected.
I can offer guiding via the Cairngorm funicular railway, which offers an alternative means of gaining views of ptarmigan and dotterel ( additional charge and conditions apply ).
Binoculars are very useful, 8 x 42 or 7 x 32 being the most popular sizes ( pocket binoculars are often inadequate and the large 10 x can be too heavy ).
Adventure activities (2)
Ski, bike or canoe equipment, skills, routes, etc.
Most outdoor activity equipment can be hired locally ( see below ). ADVANCE BOOKING IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED, especially at peak holiday times.
- Touring skis, poles, boots and skins ( harscheisen where available ).
- Alpine skis, poles and boots ( including childrens’ sets )
- Mountaineering boots*, crampons, axes.
- Avalanche transceivers, shovels, probes.
- Mountainbikes ( hardtail and full sus, includes helmets and repair kit )
- Open canoes, paddles, buoyancy aids
- Sea Kayaks, paddles, buoyancy aids
- All hire equipment is subject to availability.
- Waterproofs not available to hire.
- There are also plenty of good outdoor retailers in the area and I would recommend asking me for advice before you make a purchase.
- Limited supply of climbing helmets can be provided through Arc Guiding.
* Stiffer than regular hillwalking boots.
I don’t currently offer instruction in snowboarding – although it can be arranged. However, all the winter skills and ski touring courses are certainly relevant to boarders – including training on avalanche avoidance, transceiver search, survival, ice axe and crampon skills. And just plain riding!
General advice. For more specific advice, check the appropriate category or website page. Or contact me directly!
If you haven’t journeyed in Scotland much, you might be surprised that the weather isn’t always as ‘dreich’ (great word) as the media might portray it. True, the windspeed on Cairngorm is not infrequently over 100mph and rainfall in the west can average around 3000mm per year ( around three times that for England and Wales ). However, you do get ‘four seasons in one day’ and wonderful, settled periods of fine weather, both in winter and summer. Because of our location and terrain, our weather is always changing. Experienced guides are used to picking up the clues of weather changes and selecting locations that, amazingly, can give you much better weather than the national forecast. I was once leading a German guest, who after a week decided:
“If you don’t like the weather in Scotland, wait 10 minutes.”
So, bring warm layers, hat and gloves and a proper hooded waterproof jacket. And maybe waterproof trousers, sunhat and sunscreen, just to be sure![
Depending on where we are, they may not even bother you! That may come as a surprise, but they are much less noticeable in some places than others. Below is a list of products you might find handy:
- Avon ‘Skin So Soft’. Comes in a spray bottle – easy to apply, doesn’t seem to damage clothing and you don’t have to notify the UN Chemical Weapons department about it. DOESN’T STOP THEM LANDING ON YOU but it does stop them biting.
- ‘Shoo’ is a herbal remedy – some people swear by it. ‘Smidge’ also seems to work.
- Jungle Formula. Various products, all of them nasty but very effective.
- Marmite. Rumours of Vitamin B compounds secreted through your skin/breath and repelling midges. No, you don’t have to rub it on ( although that might not be a bad idea ).
- Pocket sized Midge head net if you are desperate enough to have lost your sense of dignity. Simple baseball cap if not ( at least it keeps them out of your hair ).
- A Midge Eater. £649.99.
( I am not in any way affiliated with any of the above companies or products ! )
I understand that it can be frustrating if you cannot enjoy your holiday with your well behaved dog.
As a dog owner myself, I am certainly happy for you to bring your pet along on walking trips – obviously it must be ‘on a lead or under close control’. You may require your own transport.
It may be unsuitable to have dogs present on some activities (including wildlife watching). But do please discuss at booking.
Definitely! I enjoy working with children, but note that I currently only accept children accompanied by parents / guardians.
It’s great for families to explore the outdoors together. All the activities I offer can be adjusted to take account of the fact that children and adults learn in different ways. Where there is a significant difference between the goals / abilities of the adult and child, I will discuss with you various options for restructuring the activity.
Yes – comfortable, spacious five door MPV car with plenty of cargo space.
We will hire vans when needed. Obviously if you are a visiting group, you are welcome to provide your own transport.
You will need to provide your own packed lunch and drink. However, we also have the flexibility to find places to eat or buy food during the day.
I hold the required qualifications and insurance for all activities I offer. This is in addition to nearly twenty years varied experience in the adventure and wildlife tourism industry and ongoing CPD. Details are listed below:
- Advanced Medicine
- SMLTB Summer Mountain Leader
- SMLTB Winter Mountain Leader awards
- SMLTB Single Pitch climbing award
- BASI Alpine L2 Ski Instructor
- Snowsport Scotland Mountain Ski Leader
- BCU Level 2 Canoe instructor
- BCU Level 2 Kayak instructor (UKCC 4 Star Sea Leader training )
- SMBLA Mountainbike Leader
- Insurance: Hiscox, £5 million Combined Public / Products Liability.
- Wild Scotland Wilderness Guide Training Programme 2014
- Leave No Trace training
- Bsc (Hons) Animal Biology
( Further information available on request )
That’s completely fine – and one of the best reasons for booking a private guide! An advantage of having a guide to yourself is the flexibility to go at the pace that suits you. Plus, why should the youngsters have all the fun?
Because we sometimes visit some fairly remote places, your clothing will make a big difference to your comfort during the day. I can give you specific advice nearer the time, but as a general guide:
- Warm layers (fleece, jumpers, etc).
- ‘Wicking’ base layers are worth their weight in gold for comfort.
- ‘Soft shell’ or trekking type trousers are a great choice. They’re more flexible, dry far more quickly than jeans and are more windproof.
- Waterproof jacket (and perhaps trousers). This should have a hood and taped seams. Invaluable for keeping the wind off you. Even for summer!
- Hat and gloves.
- Walking boots or shoes.
- Camera if required
- Personal items, depending on season (sunhat, suncream, midge repellant, etc)
More specific advice can be found under each category ( eg: winter skills courses, mountain biking , etc).
I can often pick you up from your accommodation or a mutually agreed location. It may also be possible for me to arrange transfers between your accommodation and airport / train / bus stop ( depending on location ).
Your booking fee may include an amount for transfers.
Yes, I can speak basic / conversational German and French. I enjoy languages, so if you are an overseas visitor maybe I can learn a few of your words and you can learn some Gaelic!