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James Orpwood

James OrpwoodMe in 3 – Enthusiastic │ Personable │ Encouraging

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.


Winter Mountain Leader, Summer Mountain Leader, Rock Climbing Instructor (Single Pitch Award), Climbing Wall Instructor (Climbing Wall Award) and Trail Cycle Leader.

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.


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 

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 

  • The Cairngorms
  • Fish


  • 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).

Mountain Training Associaton Profile


Adventurer's Stories about James

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
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