This week we have been catching up with Ian Cooper, a hiking instructor from one of our newest experience providers – Hiking Equipment Reviews.
Having walked and scrambled the Snowdonia region at least twice a week for the past 10 years, Ian is something of an expert and is keen to spread the word about this beloved region of Wales. Check out our interview to learn more about the range of unique guided hiking tours and mountain navigation skills workshops they have to offer.
Hi Ian, could you explain a little about the history of Hiking Equipment Reviews as a company? Where did an interest in the industry stem from?
I started the business in 2015 after realising that there is a market for the type of things that I enjoy doing. I have been walking the hills and mountains of Snowdonia for many years, and never get tired of the place I love. I thought ‘why not give other people the opportunity to see some of the amazing sights that the place has to offer?’ I am self-employed and the owner of the company, and hope to make it the place where people will come to see what they have been missing out on.
How has the company developed?
About 6 months ago, I started being asked by friends and family if I could take them on walks and up the mountains of Snowdonia. Then they brought friends along too. I then realised that there could be a business opportunity to take people up the hills. After a bit of research, and with the help of social media, the word soon spread and I am now getting regular bookings. My family were originally from a place called Bethesda, a small town in the heart of Snowdonia, so maybe it’s in my blood!
What can customers expect from a navigation skills class or guided hike with you?
Customers can expect to leave a navigation skills class run by UK Hiking with more confidence in themselves and their map and compass abilities. They will learn how to safely move around mountainous areas using a map and compass more effectively and efficiently, reducing time spent looking at a map, and therefore giving them more time to soak up the fantastic surroundings you could find yourself in.
On a UK Hiking guided walk you can explore some of Britain’s finest wild and mountainous areas, under the watchful eye of a professional mountain leader – all of whom are qualified and first aid trained, holding public liability insurance. All safety aspects and route planning is down to the mountain leader, leaving customers free to fully embrace the day and the magical environment in which they may find themselves!
What makes your tours unique and special for customers?
The passion our leaders have is second to none. They all have a deep desire and love for the great outdoors and they will to share their personal passion with customers – hoping to influence people’s lives. They also have a very solid knowledge of the mountainous regions of the UK and the flora and fauna which can be found on the highland areas. Most of our leaders are multi-activity instructors in a variety of sports ranging from water sports, mountain biking, bushcraft and survival living, to foraging for wild edibles. To that end, if anything of interest presents itself on one of our days, the leaders will be sure to share with and educate the group.
What’s the biggest perk of your job?
Being out in the great outdoors with plentiful fresh air and witnessing some of the finest views the UK can offer. Taking people out and showing them some of the sights that we see every day. The feedback we get off the customers is also second to none. You can tell just by looking at them that they have had the most amazing time and are sometimes quite taken aback by some of the amazing views.
What’s your most frequently asked question from customers…and could you share the answer with us?
We get asked a lot of questions while out on the walks, mostly about the different mountains that can be seen. Questions such as: ‘What’s the name of that one?’ or ‘How difficult is it if we decided to go up there?’ We also get asked about the flora and fauna of the area and the geology and history of the Snowdonia.
Do you have any exclusive information you can share with us?
We are running a charity event in aid of the numerous Mountain Rescue organisations around Snowdonia, North Wales in 2016 – The Welsh 3000 for MRT. Summiting all 15 major summits over 3000ft in 24 hours. We also have Coast to Coast events running this year which is a superb long distance walk crossing the breadth of England – 192 miles in total. Events and ideas will spring up throughout the year so it is best to keep an eye on the page.
Anything else you’d like to add?
To put it all in a nutshell: we offer guided walks in some of the most beautiful parts of Wales. People sometimes can’t believe what they have on their doorstep. We find great pleasure in being able to share our knowledge and understanding of the environment.
If you’d like to book a guided hike with Ian and his team, please check out the experiences on offer, here – the opportunities are almost endless!
Thanks for taking the time to share your passion and enthusiasm with us, Ian!