Running through the high bracken in mid-summer to arrive and climb a granite Tor on Dartmoor, this is one of my earliest and fondest memories. I followed the family tradition and trained in horticulture, then work for my father’s landscape gardening firm. I returned to study something new and different, Hispanics at Queen Marys.
Following this my life went indoors for a spell, working in various roles for Camelot at the UK National Lottery. In 2008 I changed direction again and came to work fixed contracts for Ramblers Worldwide Holidays (RWH) as a Walking Tour Leader and thus my career as a Walks Leader began.
Working for RWH
Refocusing at RWH meant I could combine some of my favourite things together: being outside, speaking Spanish and being alongside likeminded folk with inquisitive minds and a sense of fun. I have a passion for all things Hispanic, and many of my walking tours were in Spain, 55 tours in total.
In 2011 I was given tours further afield, Cuba and Costa Rica, then I was asked to lead in St Lucia. I helped to create Caribbean island-hopping tours which came to be known as The Caribbean Explorer, and Caribe Francais.
I led the flagship Peruvian tour ‘The Six Faces of Peru’ in 2014, and I have led it 6 since. While in Peru I travelled extensively and created another called ‘A journey in ancient Peru’ which I have led 3 times.
Becoming a Mountain Leader...
It was in Andorra in 2012, I decided to step up and become a Mountain Leader, I achieved this in 2013 and the Mountains are my favourite place to be in summer. I registered on the International Mountain Leader scheme (IML) in 2019, and in August 2020 I completed the Summer training. My winter training is scheduled for March 2021 in France, then I have the summer and winter assessments to pass before completion hopefully in March 2022 however dates may change…
March 2020, the first lockdown...
In March 2020 work opportunities came to a full stop with the first lockdown, after 11 years and 160 tours I stopped and reflected.. During that reflection I have rediscovered my passion for all things botanical. I have loved watching the changing of the seasons, and I have delved deeper into areas like mycology, lichenology, and meteorology.
During the lockdowns, I have started volunteering for the National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS), and I lead locally for the Chiltern Society. I have lost count of the online ‘zoom’ training sessions over the second half of 2020 which mostly focused on nature.
Creating Wilkes Walks...
I have started this new venture called Wilkes Walks, this website will be my shop floor. I am happy to offer walking tours and all other related work. My first commission was with Oakman Inns working on a self-led sightseeing itinerary, and the next will be my own UK tour called The Charming Chilterns