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    James Orpwood

    Enthusiastic │ Personable │ Encouraging

    Mini Bio

    Based in Aviemore, I love hillwalking, climbing, mountaineering and mountain biking and it thrills me to share my passion for the outdoors with others, whatever their age, ability or personal aspirations.

    I moved on from a career as a fisheries scientist to work in the great outdoors, and I feel privileged to be able to share something that brings me so much pleasure and joy with others, wherever the adventure leads.

    Away from home, my personal adventures have taken me around the world to trek and climb in Morocco, Nepal, Bolivia and Iceland where I have summited several peaks to 6000m+. However, it’s always fantastic to return home to Scotland and enjoy anything from a low-level stroll through a beautiful native forest, a wander along a tranquil lochside, or an ascent of one of our wonderful mountains. I’m sure to be smiling whatever the weather.

    Place to Play

    The Cairngorms, but anywhere with mountains is fine!

    Not a lot of people know this

    I used to be a fisheries scientist but gave it up to pursue my love of the mountains.

    Qualifications Read More
    • Winter Mountain Leader
    • Summer Mountain Leader
    • Rock Climbing Instructor (Single Pitch Award)
    • Climbing Wall Instructor (Climbing Wall Award)
    • Trail Cycle Leader

    Mountain Training Association Profile: https://mt.tahdah.me/profile/index/93229


    Experience Read More

    I am a freelance outdoor instructor and have extensive experience working with a range of client groups delivering hillwalking, climbing, mountain biking and other activities. Having lived in Scotland since 2002, I am a passionate and committed mountaineer and mountain biker. I also love world travel and have trekked and climbed in Morocco, Nepal, Bolivia and Iceland, summiting peaks to 6000m+. I am enthusiastic, approachable and encouraging with a wonderfully personable character and it thrills me to share my love of the outdoors with others, inspiring and enabling people to achieve their personal goals.

    Biggest Adventure Read More

    Climbing Lobuche East (6119m) in Nepal in 2008 which was an adventure in itself, but led to an even bigger adventure as I met my future wife on the same trip!

    Specialist Subject Read More
    • The Cairngorms
    • Fish
    Publications Read More
    • Orpwood, J. (2017). “…Enjoyment may occasionally be questionable.” The Professional Mountaineer, 20 (Winter 2017), 14-15.
    • Anon. (2017). Access during the stalking season. Scottish Mountaineer, 76 (Summer 2017), 22.
    • Orpwood, J. (2017). Springing onto the hills. A guide to responsible hillwalking. Scottish Mountaineer, 75 (Spring 2017), 26
    • Orpwood, J. (2016). Start small, think big. The Professional Mountaineer, 15 (Autumn 2016), 8-9.
    • Orpwood, J. (2014). E Gully awaited… The Professional Mountaineer, 5 (March 2014), 36-37
    • Plus I have written or contributed to a total of 13 scientific publications, oh, and a PhD thesis … ! (I was a fisheries scientist in a former life but gave it all up to pursue my passion for the outdoors full time.)

    Adventurer's Stories about James

    James was a terrific guide. He knew how to pace the hikes to be enjoyable by all of us. He also has extensive knowledge of the flora and fauna of Scotland, as well a command of its history.

    Kem Phillips
    Deluxe Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 12/07/2024

    James was terrific in every way. Attentive, knowledgeable and pleasant. He made the trip very easy for us by having thoughtful plans set and explained.

    Mary Weeks
    Deluxe Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 09/07/2024

    As mentioned, James was upbeat, organized, interesting, knowledgeable, attentive, and fun to talk and hike with.

    Bill Weeks
    Deluxe Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 09/07/2024

    Our guide was James Orpwood. I can't say enough. James was instrumental in making this trip so memorable. He was knowledgeable, patient and always enthusiastic! You never noticed that this was actually his work. He did everything he needed to keep us moving along successfully and made it look easy and I know it is not!!

    susan shaffer
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 17/06/2024

    James was amazing. Very friendly, very attentive to everyone's needs and I appreciated his proactive-ness when he found out I had a sensitivity to mosquitos and possibly midges. He already had a midge net ready to go in case I didn't have one!
    He also did his best at trying to make the trip memorable for everyone even going out of his way to find us cows and red squirrels to see :)

    Monica Tie
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 13/06/2024

    James was wonderful-al!ways cheerful. He saw our level and adjusted his goals to meet ours. We enjoyed our time with him and would highly recommend him to others.

    Frank Crantz
    22WSTM - Tailor Made Trips
    Reviewed on 23/07/2022

    James was supremely knowledgeable and kind and genuinely wanted us to have a fabulous experience. Which we did! He adjusted so my husband an I could spend more time in one activity while others moved on and we met up before moving on to our next location. He took great pains to engage everyone and find out what was important to them.

    Cheryl Hasten
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 28/06/2022

    We had such great guides - James for the hiking, Pete for the canoeing and Tim for the mountain biking. Each one was positive, encouraging and great company, providing really interesting additional information to augment our experiences. They were all great with the children, ensuring they were comfortable, whilst pushing them outside of their comfort zones. Our guide at the Fly Fishing was a little distracted to start as he would have expected 2 guides for 4 learner fishers, but he provided excellent instruction, and we all really enjoyed the morning. Everywhere we went was a wonderful setting, and the love each guide had for the area, and for what they did, was very apparent.

    Claire Douglass
    21WSPD Private Departure
    Reviewed on 24/08/2021

    James is an excellent guide. We appreciated our time with him. Jason on the Seafari was very nice.

    Dan Waterman
    20WSPD_Private Departure
    Reviewed on 04/09/2020

    James adjusted the walks perfectly to our fitness level and chose things that interested us. He was very well prepared; we couldn't have had a better guide.

    Gunvor Rottensten
    Self-Drive - Winter Highland Cosy Cairngorms
    Reviewed on 12/02/2020

    James fully lived up to our expectations: open minded, friendly, showed initiative - we're not the easiest since we've been in Scotland so many times and seen so much - but James was flexible and always came up with new ideas of what to do. Loved his sense of humour too and of course his knowledge of local wild life.

    Inga Ebert
    Self-Drive - Winter Highland Cosy Cairngorms
    Reviewed on 10/02/2020

    James was an outstanding guide—-knowledgeable, patient, enthusiastic.

    Mary Brainerd
    Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands
    Reviewed on 16/10/2019

    James was always upbeat, knowledgeable about history and the geography and had a great sense of humor. While there was a plan in place for the various hikes, James also ask our opinion when there were options. James knew how to engage with all of us from two different continents and easily handled slightly different hiking speeds.

    Susan Eddington
    Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands
    Reviewed on 13/10/2019

    James was great! He really did a wonderful job making sure we were all happy and content! He gave us the right amount of together time and then gave us space when we wanted it. James was very attentive, knowledgeable and truly loves his job and Scotland. He was the perfect guide for our group!!

    Laurie Blaine
    19WSTM Tailor Made trips
    Reviewed on 14/09/2019

    James was awesome! Yes what a lovely guy!

    Ann Malko
    19WSTM Tailor Made trips
    Reviewed on 13/09/2019

    We were very happy with our guides. They had a wealth of knowledge and were great with the boys.

    Gay MacGregor
    19WSPD_Private Departure
    Reviewed on 15/08/2019

    As mentioned earlier, James is a gem. He is such a kind and gracious man, offering encouragement and great tips throughout the journey. He has such a vast amount of knowledge and presents information clearly and completely. James is entirely enthusiastic about sharing the wonders of the Highlands. He knows how to carefully read people and is entirely suited for proceeding at a pace in which he accommodates a group of walkers of varying abilities. James is a true blue, genuine , charismatic and entirely skilled guide. Stellar...the best!

    Francine Barclay
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 11/09/2017

    James was in amazing guide. He was exceptionally knowledgeable. He was able to create walks for us that allowed for the wide variety of skill level of the people on the trip. He understood how to support us to walk around the mountain in ways that I never thought i'd be able to do. He knew how to deal with all the people on the trip so that everyone got what they needed. On one day someone thought Ishe could not handle the day and was going to stay home. But he convinced her that she would be able to handle the walk. It allowed for all of us to stay together as a group and gave her the pleasure of that tech killer walk in the mountains. We would have a trip with James anytime.

    Barbara Dubitsky
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 06/09/2017

    Our guide James was the absolute BEST imaginable. He took excellent care of everyone in our diverse group, and he knew the area like the back of his hand. I honestly can't imagine a better, more inspiring, enthusiastic guide. He was just excellent!!!

    Bruce Barrett
    Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside
    Reviewed on 04/09/2017

    Stuart for the set kayaking was lovely, he really made the day an adventure and was very knowledgable of the area and the wildlife. Marcus on the rib ride on Loch Ness was funny, informative and really added to the experience. The man who helped us with the shooting was also lovely and made a new experience even better. James on the all day bike ride was great, he has a love for the area that really came through and it was a pleasure to spend time with him. The only let down was the guide/leader for the river tubing. He didn't really provide much useful help we had to work it out for ourselves really and as a result one of us got a but of a bang, which, if better info had been given could have been avoided. Overall the guides were great and I would highly recommend Stuart with the sea kayaking, the shooting and James on the bike ride

    Daniel Shefras
    17WSTM Tailor Made trips
    Reviewed on 30/08/2017

    James was very attentive to our needs - always professional and easy to get along with. He is rarely without a smile! We enjoyed having David with us on the hike in the Cairgorrms as he provided humor and shared with us his great love of the hills. And Stewart was an easy going and fun kayaking leader.

    Mary Kay Prior
    17WSTM Tailor Made trips
    Reviewed on 25/07/2017

    Book a trip with James

    Trip / DepartureAvailabilityStatusPriceBook
    Wilderness Walking – Autumn Highlands
    5th Oct - 9th Oct 2024
    1 place(s) leftGuaranteed £1,475Book Now

    Make Trip Private

    Sometimes it's nice to get family and friends together and travel privately for some quality time. This means you benefit from all the features of the group departure, including hand-picked accommodation and expert local guides and we'll take care of it all. Then you can make your choice of departures dates and we'll get back to you to finalise the details.

    We work together with our team of guides to decide which departures they lead each year. As part of that, guides provide available dates that they are free to be booked. This means that any of the dates you see in the first field of the form below, could be perfect for your private departure or customised tour.

    James's Gallery

    © James Orpwood / Wilderness Scotland

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