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Scotland

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Will Copestake is a guide and adventurer with an enthusiasm to explore those parts of the world that are wet, cold and windy. A true believer in ‘type two fun’- those moments that might feel grim at the time, but rewarding later, Will has summited over 500 of Scotland’s highest peaks and explored wild places in both hemispheres. When not on his own expeditions, Will works as a hillwalking and kayaking guide based between the North-West of Scotland and Chilean Patagonia; helping others to experience their own adventures.

Originally from the North-West of Scotland, Will first discovered his passion for adventure by exploring the micro-world found beneath his feet. Fascinated with biology as a child, he remembers spending hours lifting rocks on the beach to spy what lived beneath, catching moths by night and early morning bird walks with his father. As Will grew older his gaze looked up to the mountains and sea beyond his back garden.

Exploring both at home and around the world, Will has completed all the New Zealand Great Walks, Crossed Iceland on Foot and explored the fjords of Patagonia by kayak. Will is best known for his ‘doorstep adventures’ in Scotland which echo back to those early ‘homegrown' adventures, with an added dose of endurance. In a year-long solo journey Will circumnavigated the coastline of Scotland by kayak, then cycled through the country to climb all 282 peaks above 3000ft in winter, living on a budget, sheltering in a tent and pushing hard, Will discovered that adventure doesn't need to be far from home. For this, he was awarded both Scottish and UK Adventurer of the Year.

Since then, Will returned for a second go at the Scottish mountains, tackling all 222 Corbett peaks in a continual winter round. This time Will ‘crowdsourced’ companions by inviting anyone and everyone to join him as he went and used his skills as a guide to create a social adventure.

Will continues to balance life as a guide with both large and small adventures all around the world.

Notable Expeditions:

  • New Zealand Great Walks
  • Crossing Iceland on Foot- 600km traverse
  • Kayaking the Patagonian Fjords- 830km self-supported journey
  • Solo circumnavigation of Scotland’s coastline (kayak)
  • Continual winter round of Scottish Munro’s (3000ft+ peaks) (cycled between)
  • Continual winter round of Scottish Corbetts (2500-3000ft peaks).

Interview with Will

What has been your most memorable Type 2 experience?

The best thing about Type 2 fun is looking back and realising the moment you pushed through a challenging moment to reach the reward at the other side. Whilst I have enjoyed many experiences like this, from summiting remote peaks to paddling in distant lakes, there is one that stands out above the rest. Two seasons ago in Patagonia, I set off alone to reach a lake never before graced by a kayak. With a demanding remote paddle to reach the entrance, then a combination of climbing and hauling the kayak up behind me plus a final few miles of hard portage I reached my goal. At last, I was paddling around icebergs in a valley seldom seen by people. I was alone, sunburnt and tired, my fingers scraped by rock, arms pierced by thorns and feet numb from ice-cold water. Yet before me was a view as tremendous as they come. This for me was the epitome of Type 2 fun.

How would you describe your approach to overcoming challenges?

Growing up in the north-west of Scotland I always took the notion that wet and cold was just part of a normal outdoors experience. Many of my fondest childhood memories involved a little discomfort, but I remembered the reward of a warm bed and hot tea to come home to so much more that way. As an adult, that limit has strayed just a little further, one experience at a time. That same allure of a challenge before reaching a goal that my parents so encouraged simply takes a little effort and hardship to achieve these days.

Tough environments have an ability to focus everything around a single moment, be it a brief view to staring at your tired feet and willing them to keep going. The challenges, albeit hard, are easy to figure a solution to - in the simplest form, putting on more layers if you’re too cold or slowing down if you’re too tired. This is something we tend to miss in the hectic pace of normal life.

What plans do you have on the horizon?

Rest is for the wicked and I have several ideas and concepts in the pipeline. For the meantime, I am stepping into an entirely new form of adventure by setting up my own kayaking company where I am partnering up with my good friend Tim from Hamlet Mountaineering. Together with our combined skills, we hope to offer mountain, kayak, canoe and climbing adventures along the west coast of Scotland and beyond.

On the adventure front, I am pursuing a few leads into places ranging from Kamchatka to Japan and a return to Patagonia; time will tell where I end up next. In the meantime, I'll settle for the many joys of Great British adventures.

will-copestake-mountain will-copestake-kayak will-copestake-climb

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