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I recognise that being outside brings enormous benefits in terms of physical and mental health and wellbeing. At the same time, however, I acknowledge that everything we do as humans has an impact on the environment. I do my absolute best to promote responsible enjoyment of the mountain environment, making sure we leave it just as we expect to find it.

Specific ways in which I seek to minimise our impact and operate in a sustainable manner include:

  • I operate a strict "Leave No Trace" policy. Everything we take up the hill comes down with us. If clients have questions about this, for example regarding "biodegradable" waste such as banana skins, I actively engage with them and explain why it is important to leave no trace whatsoever of our passing that way.
  • There is a saying, "Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints." While the sentiment of this saying is admirable, the number of people accessing the mountains for recreation is increasing. Sadly, the passage of many pairs of boots can, over time, damage our precious mountain environment. I am acutely aware of this and try to minimise our impact accordingly. I operate with small groups - an absolute maximum of 6 participants, often far fewer. Where they exist, we use recognised paths, taking care to stick to them and not extend any erosion on either side. When we are "off roading" away from recognised paths, we take as much care as is reasonably possible to limit our damage to the fragile mountain landscape, and the plants and animals that live there. I also operate in many different places through the course of a year which naturally helps to "spread the load" across a broad geographical range.
  • James Orpwood Mountaineering is based in Aviemore, from where all my courses start. Aviemore is readily accessible by public transport and participants are encouraged to travel this way. Car sharing by course participants is also encouraged, typically meeting in a central location, before onward travel to the day's venue - usually just a short distance from Aviemore.
  • As well as encouraging car sharing and using public transport, to try and mitigate against the pressure caused by taking multiple vehicles to the same place, I try to operate in a sensitive manner, encouraging mid-week bookings when places may be quieter, using my local knowledge to work in quieter areas away from "honeypots", and encouraging private bookings for typically even smaller groups than normal.
  • My guiding work occurs throughout the Highlands, typically involving a drive from my base in Aviemore. When working away, I try to limit work-related travel by staying away overnight, often linking together several pieces of work in a similar geographical area.
  • I recycle anything I can get my hands on - paper, cardboard, glass, batteries ... !
  • My office and booking procedures try to deal with as much admin as possible electronically, reducing the need for printing, paper etc.
  • Some printing is inevitable! However, I try to reuse resources as much as possible. For example, my route card (which is left back at base with a responsible person) is laminated, meaning I simply wipe it clean at the end of each day and reuse it next time I'm heading out. Similarly, maps for course participants are printed on waterproof paper and given to clients in a waterproof map case. In this way, printed maps can be used for several courses before a new one is needed.
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