Sea Kayak Plockton employs a team of freelance kayak instructors that all live, work and play in the northwest Highlands and Islands of Scotland. All are qualified British Canoe Union Sea Kayak Instructors, as well as having a range of qualifications in mountaineering, mountain biking, teaching and outdoor education. They have a passion for the outdoors and helping others experience the breathtaking beauty of the landscape and its wildlife ... and they think they have the best office in the world!
Alison grew up in the south of England, but her love of mountains and sea resulted in her moving to the Scottish Highlands. She is the founder of Sea Kayak Plockton and launched her venture because she believes that Plockton is one of the best places in Scotland to sea kayak. She's passionate that her business gives people the skills and the all-important confidence they need in order to experience the breath taking beauty of the Highlands from a totally different perspective.
She is a qualified BCU level 3 Sea Kayak instructor and UKCC Five Star Sea Kayak Leader and has over twelve years of paddling experience under her belt. This, combined with her Summer Mountain Leader award, has enabled her to enjoy leading groups in the outdoors for many years, sharing her passion for the Highlands of Scotland and teaching skills that ensure clients have an exceptional experience. Alison previously worked as a countryside ranger and is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, so she has a wealth of knowledge about the local area and wildlife. She coaches at the Scottish Women's Paddle Symposium and also teaches sea kayaking to students at West Highland College. In her spare time she loves to sail and have kayaking adventures with friends - preferably involving a driftwood fire and a dram on a remote Scottish beach.
Originally from the southwest of England, Claire moved to the West Highlands in 2001, drawn by the opportunities for adventure and the stunning scenery. Although she's a keen cyclist, snow boarder and hill walker, paddling canoes and kayaks has always been her main passion.
In 2000 she became the first female BCU level 5 canoe coach in the UK, then added BCU Level 5 sea kayak coach in 2003. She also paddles white water but prefers sea kayaks and canoes because they lend themselves to journeying and exploring the landscape. Her two border collies, Stroma and Cuan, are named after some of her most memorable sea kayak trips!
Claire worked at the Outward Bound Trust at loch Eil in the West Highlands of Scotland for a number of years and became Deputy Head of the centre. She now prefers to work on a freelance basis and get out of the office! Her other clients include West Highland College School of Adventure Studies, Glenmore Lodge, and several schools where she provides Duke of Edinburgh expeditions.
Murdy was born on the Island of Lewis and first took up kayaking in 1986 with Stornoway Canoe Club. He progressed quickly and within a year had done his first open crossing to the Flannan Isles with more to follow. He's one of the few people to have paddled the sixty seven kilometre crossing from the Butt of Lewis to Sula Sgeir, then on to North Rona and back again.
Murdy's been paddling the Outer Hebrides for over twenty years and guided numerous trips to St Kilda. He has served on the Stornoway lifeboat for thirty years, the last twelve as coxswain. These islands at the edge of the world have over two thousand kilometres of coastline, and with their many sea lochs, inlets and hidden places, he says he's still exploring!
Murdo was brought up in Kintail in the North West Highlands of Scotland and went to school in Plockton. He currently works as a marine engineer based in Kyle of Lochalsh and has been kayaking for almost 15 years, 8 of which as a BCU Level 3 sea kayak instructor. His exceptional coaching skills aren't confined to the water. He has been a shinty youth coach for twelve years taking the local team Kinlochshiel on to win two national finals and national youth coach of the year 2011. A real all rounder in the outdoors, Murdo gained his Summer Mountain Leaders award in 2003 and has been an active member of the local mountain rescue team for twenty years. When not out on the water he will be found skiing, mountaineering and generally enjoying the outdoor environment.
Lee's main occupation is lecturer in outdoor adventurous activities at West Highland College based on the Isle of Skye in Broadford. He is originally from Devon where he's spent many hours catching waves in the surf, both in a kayak and on a board.He really enjoys sea kayaking because it is a fine mode of transport to explore the fabulous Highlands and Islands; seeing the mountains from the water adds a new perspective to familiar landscapes. Sea kayaking is also a very good way of getting close to wildlife. Lee also enjoys mountaineering and mountain biking and also has qualifications in both these activities. He takes great pleasure in passing over skills to people who just want to try something different, or to get better at something they enjoy.
Having grown up in the seaside village of Gairloch in the North West of Scotland, Mark has been playing in the seas and mountains of Scotland from a young age. He now works full time as an outdoor instructor / coach / guide, sharing his work and play time between paddling on the sea and rivers, or working in the mountains both climbing and skiing. His work is engaging and varied; spending a large part of his year working for the Scottish National Outdoor Centre - Glenmore Lodge, working for his own company Elements or freelancing for many other great providers. Mark is happiest when out exploring new areas and enjoying his work and play.
Will Copestake is a Scottish adventurer and photographer. In May 2014 he embarked on a year long solo and self-supported expedition to discover his home country. Kayaking around the four cardinal points of the Scottish mainland starting and finishing at each border was followed by a winter round of the munro mountains (>3000ft - there are 282 of them) using a bicycle to travel between. Lasting 364 days and covering a total of 5,900km with 14,6000m of vertical ascent, the expedition awarded Will both the Scottish and UK Adventurer of the Year awards for 2015.
Will now works freelance in the outdoors leading hillwalking and kayaking journeys in Scotland and abroad. During the winter he works as an expedition kayak guide in Chilean Patagonia leading multi-day journeys along rivers and sea.
Tim is a professional outdoorsman with a real passion for the mountain environment. Not one to rest easy, he's a qualified mountain and sea-kayaking leader and teaches rock climbing, white water kayaking and hill walking skills.
He's also a chartered physiotherapist, which can come in handy!
Comfortable in any situation the outdoor environment throws at him Tim is a confident and inspiring leader, but he's also a big kid and popular with them too. Growing up in a remote village in western Nepal himself he was able to run free, climbing trees and dodging snakes.
Over the years he's come to appreciate how just gaining a bit of confidence in the outdoors can be life changing for so many people - and that's why he does what he does!
Eleven years ago, Lara took a break from her work as an architect in London to spend a season working as an outdoor instructor on the Isle of Raasay. She never went back. Today, Lara works as a coach and guide sea kayaking, canoeing, hillwalking and climbing. She combines freelance work in the outdoors with family life on her croft near Elgol on the Isle of Skye, and is an active member of the local Mountain Rescue Team.
She loves sharing her love for the outdoors and helping people develop their own skill and comfort level so that they can experience wild places independently. In her spare time she enjoys circumnavigating Scottish islands by sea kayak (she still has a lot to do, there are over 790 of them!) and caving.
Zoe grew up in the North East of England, but a varied career and time spent travelling around the UK eventually helped her realise that "home" was where her heart lay: in the Scottish Highlands. With a background in sailing from a very young age, she gravitated towards sea kayaking eventually, for the ability to "make of it what you like", from a gentle pootle on glassy seas to a long, remote expedition, or a park and play day in the surf or on a tide race.
Zoe paddled on the sea and walked in the mountains for many years just for fun, then in 2013 decided to make the leap and begin earning a living from her passion. She runs Zoe Newsam Guiding, and works freelance for a variety of organisations around the UK. In 2015 she kayaked, walked and cycled "Right Round Scotland", raising £2000 for Scottish Mountain Rescue in the process.
Zoe holds the UKCC 5 Star Sea Kayak Leader award, and is a UKCC Level 2 Coach with Moderate Water Endorsement (sea), and is currently working towards the UKCC Level 3 Sea Kayak Coach award.