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    James Banks

    Knowledgeable | Enthusiastic | Sciency

    Mini Bio

    Dinosaurs and David Attenborough first inspired me to study natural history and to become a scientist. Exploring the English Lake District with my Dad, revealed the joys of the hills and how cold you can get wild swimming! After studying Biology as my first degree, I worked on the Rum Red Deer Project and really started to discover the Highlands and Islands. This culminated with an MSc in Environmental Science at Aberdeen.

    Strangely I moved back to England, and taught A Level Environmental Science and Biology in a Sixth Form College for many years, before remembering that I needed to be in the Highlands. Since then, I’ve worked as a Senior Field Studies Tutor, as a Ranger in Glencoe, and as an Ecologist.

    Currently, I am a Lecturer in Wildlife Conservation for Scotland’s Rural College. My hill enthusiasm has grown up and now I am an active member of Tayside Mountain Rescue Team.

    Place to Play

    Where there are mountains and trees, especially big old trees, and wild water, well… generally where there are fewer people! Fortunately, I live in the heart of the Highlands, so home, and much of my work is play.

    Not a lot of people know this

    My first job was as a ski instructor on an artificial ski slope and I also think that I’m addicted to Fishermen’s Friends (very intense sweets).

    Qualifications Read More
    • Summer Mountain Leader
    • Lantra First Aid Instructor
    • ASA Swimming Teacher
    • ASSI Ski Instructor
    • PADI Advanced Open Water Diver
    Experience Read More

    I’ve guided walks throughout most of the hilly areas of Britain and explored the mountains of Arabia, Argentina and Alaska. I have lead expeditions in the Cloud Forest of Honduras and searched for the endangered and elusive Iriomote cat in Japan. Although Mountain Gorillas avoided me in Uganda, I have managed to scuba dive with turtles and sharks.

    Most of my scientific fieldwork has been in the Highlands and I have been privileged to explore Scotland’s wildlife and geography with many groups of students and enthusiastic amateurs. I also teach navigation and first aid. The great thing about walking in the hills is that there is always more to learn and to experience.

    Biggest Adventure Read More

    I’ve been so lucky to have so many amazing adventures from studying poison arrow frogs in the cloud forest of Honduras, to avoiding rebel soldiers in the Ugandan mountains. Being woken by a grizzly bear while camping in the wonderful Alaskan wilderness is certainly one of my more memorable adventures.

    Then again, I have three children, so every day is pretty much a big adventure!

    Specialist Subject Read More

    Wildlife conservation and environmental science. When I was 11, I told my careers teacher that I wanted to be a naturalist, when the laughing stopped (he thought that I said naturist!), he asked why. My answer then was not much different from the one I’d give now: how could I do anything other than study as many living things as possible and the amazing processes that enable life to exist?

    We live among the most astonishing organisms and places in the known universe. So celebrating and learning about wildlife is my real passion.

    Adventurer's Stories about James

    Oh my, they were all just wonderful. Ben Anderson (Glencoe) is just a delight, he made history come alive, and is very knowledgeable about the local flora.
    Ben Hester (Skye) went above and beyond by suggesting a divided day our second day on Skye, with an early morning walk to the Old Man of Storr, then a break, then a bit later to The Quaring. That was a special day!
    Dear John Hamilton took such good care of us in Assynt -- the first day to Stac Pollaidh (I won't lie, that almost did me in!), then a lovely easier second day through the grasses and dunes to a secluded white sandy beach. We loved that day!
    Scott McNeish took us on a super-fun, beautiful bike ride thru the heather -- just perfect!
    And finally with the knowledgable James Banks we all gave it a good try canoeing in windy conditions, before a lovely, easy walk (just what we needed on our last day).

    Carol Oppenheim
    22WSTM - Tailor Made Trips
    Reviewed on 06/09/2022

    Every guide was outstanding

    Bruce Oppenheim
    22WSTM - Tailor Made Trips
    Reviewed on 05/09/2022

    James had excellent knowledge of the area and was very aware of the different levels of fitness within the group stopping and starting where necessary

    Aileen Morrissey
    Wilderness Walking - The Knoydart Peninsula
    Reviewed on 20/07/2022

    James was one of the team right from the start. He involved the group in decision making and furnished us with lots of information on plants and the environment.
    Went that extra mile to ensure the group all got back to mainland for transport connections, given the difficulties with train strikes and public transport.

    Sandra Bogle
    Wilderness Walking - The Knoydart Peninsula
    Reviewed on 19/07/2022

    James worked hard to make each enjoyable for all - adjusting to the abilities and wishes of the group, and explaining the options or decisions.

    Stephen Cannons
    Wilderness Walking - The Knoydart Peninsula
    Reviewed on 12/07/2022

    Very knowledgable

    Avril Bourne
    Wilderness Walking - The Knoydart Peninsula
    Reviewed on 12/07/2022

    see previous comments

    Jane Coleman
    Wilderness Walking - The Knoydart Peninsula
    Reviewed on 12/07/2022

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