The Marmot Tours experience has been crafted over a decade by passionate and experienced cyclists, mountain experts and outdoor enthusiasts. Over the years we have evolved, tweaked and carefully crafted our road cycling itineraries into a product that we are immensely proud of. Run by James and Cathy Thompson, it’s still a family business, so everything we do is with a personal and attentive touch – whatever you need, we’ll do our very best to help.
This holiday is your goal, your dream. It’s your mountain to climb.
We are here to make it real, make it fun, to make it the best holiday it can be.
We love the preparation so you can love the ride.
We know that when you come on your cycling holiday you will be bringing your months of training, your beloved wheels, your hopes and fears. Whilst you have been training, we have also been preparing, leaving no stone unturned to ensure that your holiday runs smoothly and exceeds your expectations. Offering every possible support: technical, physical and moral, you will be in the hands of our highly experienced, ridiculously well prepared and technically competent team. Their knowledge and skills ensure that you can relax and just turn the pedals, enjoying the scenery, the culture, the banter and the escape.
You lead, we follow.
We will gear the experience around your abilities, your needs and expectations. Our range of holidays in the mountain ranges of Europe offer something for everyone, from cyclists new to climbing to experts and those in peak fitness.
To understand that you are in safe and experienced hands please follow the link for information on how we fulfil all our responsibilities as Tour Operators.
Partners & Friends
Dorset based company making a range of yummy breakfast cereals that we use to supplement hotel breatkfasts. They are a great way to kick start your day in the saddle (especially when the alternative in France is a bit of toasted baguette and a croissant!)
Renowned brand in the world of cycling, for their clothing and their Chamois Creme. We are selling 140ml pots of their cream on our cycling holidays.
Eat Natural Bars
Tasty and nutritious cereal bars with an emphasis on natural ingredients. Available out the back of the highly customised Marmot vans.
Cook up delicious and nutritious paleo bars. Newly launched are their protein recovery bars available on our Raid itineraries.
lightweight, high quality components for our hire bike fleet and an exceptionally good aftersales service which extends to training courses on their groupset setup.
Our most recent acquisition of a spare bike is a high spec lightweight carbon framed bike which was excellent value. Their customer service and ability to customise the build will mean us going back to them again for more of the same.
They filter the technology from high end wheels into exceptionally good durable and strong wheels that are perfect for our trips and made them an acceptable price. Their wheels are to be found on all of our hire fleet.
Ride with GPS
Cycle route planning software with an excellent mobile phone app and an approachable customer service. These guys really listen to feedback and try and put it into action wherever possible.
Creator of col profiles in Europe and further afield. He has given us kind permission to use their col profiles on our website.
Cyclo Club Bearnais
Organisers and Designers of the fabulous route that is the Raid Pyrenean. They have granted us kind permission to use their logo on our Raid Pyrenean souvenir jersey.
First Aid Training Cooperative
Organising first aid courses to business, charities and activity organisations. Training people to save lives.
Coniston Corporate Embroidery
with an excellent range of customisable ‘off the shelf’ products, plus the flexibility to customise brand clothing, we have gone back to this company year after year for help with staff clothing and other company products
Montrose Rope and Sail Ltd
Designer and Manufacturer of all weather kit bags, these guys produced our fabulous Marmot Tours Blue Kit bags.
UK supplier of cycling products and kit, Wildoo produce our Marmot Tours Phonepacs and Water Bottles. They have a great customer service and range of products.
Cyclists Fighting Cancer
our Marmot Tours Charity for 2014 and 2015, these guys are fundraising for a fabulous cause.
William Wates Memorial Trust
Marmot Tours Charity for 2016. This passionately run charity supports a host of UK Youth Projects that give opportunities to young people, be it down a cultural, educational or sporting route. Help us to fundraise for them with your Marmot Raid this year, or visit our Campaign page to give them a donation.
Designer and supplier of fabulous quality Cycling Jerseys including of course, our own Raid Corsica souvenir jersey.
Never baulk when we ask them if they can make a weird and wonderful sticker in a host of colours for some random labelling on our trips.
A small design and branding company with big agency thinking and experience. Just the right level of perfectionism and fabulous insight into what we wanted in our re-brand (somehow they knew what we wanted before we even knew what we wanted!)
Friendly, approachable and professional webdesign agency with a perfect balance of design advice and technical knowhow.
Dennis And Turnbull
Experienced and approachable Accountancy firm with knowledge of the complex world of TOMS (the Tour Operator Management Scheme for VAT)
Tour de Force
An exciting opportunity to cycle one, more or ALL stages of the Tour de France each year, whilst fundraising for the William Wates Memorial Trust.
Filemaker Pro Software Developers with an emphasis on customer relationships and an excellent team.
Award winning Eco fashion brand from the Isle of Wight, producing organic cotton products. We chose them for our Classic Cols Souvenir T-shirts for both their values and the quality of their product.
Designers of expertly crafted business stationary with an emphasis on design and quality.
I was born and grew up in the South West of England. From an early age I followed in the pedal strokes of both my father and grandfather by starting to cycle regular time trials of a Thursday evening at age 15. I also spent many years playing hockey which gave me the opportunity to travel and see many parts of the world. I have always enjoyed the outdoors and every day of holiday from my work as an engineer was spent playing sport or riding my bike.
In 1997, during a cycling trip traversing the Alps, I made the decision that Life had to change and I must live in the mountains!
Life did change, and in 2000 I gave up my job and set out to find a new home. After 6 months of exploring, I settled down in Ax les Thermes, where since 2002 I have been running the Alpage, a B&B providing evening meals. I met James in 2003 and started to host some of the Marmot Tours groups. I also started to lead trips the following year. In order to continue to lead trips and share my passion of the outdoors with others, I set about passing the French walking and mountain biking Qualifications. After 4 years of studying and hard work, I am pleased to say that I am now one of the only English people who have got this set of qualifications.
I still continue to compete regularly in local mountain runs, montain and road bike races, as well as the odd triathlon.
I look forward to meeting you in Southern France to show you around.
Assistant Tour Guide
Cycling is still fairly new to me compared to many of the Marmot team. A friend of mine had done three of the Raids with Marmot and I had always been intrigued about what he was doing but I was busy doing my passion of competitive skydiving. I learnt to skydive in 1996 and in 2005 took it up a level to train with 3 great team mates to win the World Championships in 2006. I continued to compete at World and National level winning several medals over the years, whilst also taking out a few years to coach at National and World Cup level too.
For various reasons I stopped competing and coaching. I loved every minute of what I did. It was as exciting to see a team I had coached achieve their goals as much as it was to achieve my own. But it was time for a change and new challenges so I ran my first and second marathon in 2012 and between these events my friend encouraged me to do more cycling and buy a new road bike and that was it…I was addicted. I signed up for the Raid Dolomites after just 3 months of cycling and one 60 mile sportive in the Cotswolds.
The Raid Dolomites was amazing, hard work but stunning scenery. After just a year of cycling I always knew it was going to be tough. Each day was a challenge but the tour leaders Merv and Nathan were amazing giving me a boost when I needed it.
I took this last summer off from my usual work as a Chartered Physiotherapist to work with Marmot Tours and to cycle in the mountains as much as I could. I wanted to be able to help others in the same way that the tour leaders had helped me on my Marmot trips. I loved seeing the skydivers that I coached achieve their goals and I hope that I can help you to enjoy your challenges that you take on with your Marmot trip.
I have now set up my own clinic, Bodyfit Physiotherapy (www.bodyfit.org.uk) in West Sussex and work closely with a local bike shop doing a ‘Physio Pro Bike Fit’. I will be back with Marmot Tours in 2016 to get my ‘fix’ in the mountains.
Hotel Management & Trip Preparation
It was a love of Natural History that first bought us to the Ariege, France with our two daughters then 6 weeks and 2 years old. 17 years later we are still here, still rising to the challenge of living and working in France. When I run along trails in the mountains past half a dozen species of orchids or walk by a hay meadow amongst clouds of butterflies I’m reminded of how truly lucky I am.
I hope to meet some of you this year as you pass through the area on your Raid Pyrenean or Classic Cols of the Pyrenees.
I started off doing a Biology degree at Nottingham University. I didn’t know I was going to become an Occupational Therapist but I fell into it volunteering in a school in Canada and ended up signing up for a 2 year Post Grad OT course with Brighton University, qualifying in 1998. I went on to work for Surrey County Council as a Community OT for 7 years and loved my role and the people I worked with.
I moved to the Pyrenees to live with James (who I met in Nottingham) in 2005 and didn’t expect to become so involved in Marmot Tours, but now, 10 years down the line, I can barely remember doing anything else. It is fabulous, challenging, demanding and rewarding. I may be office based but it is our office, our business, our product, and we are proud of what we do.
The Open University Professional Certificate in Management course that I did in 2005 didn’t even come close to preparing me for the multi tasking, multi-faceted role that you have when you run your own company, but I admit that I am just a little bit addicted to the buzz and the work and I love that no 2 days are the same.
With 2 gorgeous little ones on the scene (Jack was born in 2008 and Sophie in 2011), I have my hands full but I am supported by the wonderful Catherine and Kate who are my right and left hand.
I hope that you enjoy your experience of Marmot Tours – it completely matters to James and I that you do as the company is an extension of us both and we continuously strive to get it right.
Wishing you a very happy Holiday…
Why be inside when you can be outside?
My passion for anything outdoors and spending as much time in the fresh air possible, started at a very young age. From the age of 6 I used to set off on solo camping adventures and in summer I never spend much time sleeping in a bed as I preferred a bivac in the farmer´s fields underneath the stars (and many rain clouds).
Dutch by nationality, I grew up with road biking, speed skating and horse riding. My parents encouraged a free spirit and as I grew older, I started extending my outdoor activities further away from home and chose to study tourist management to allow me to travel. As work experience I went to Austria and got addicted to the snow… 6 weeks after my first day skiing, I entered my first ski instructor exams! As you can imagine, it was a steep learning curve and being surrounded by some 300 Tyrolean ski heroes, type Herman Maiers, Franz Klammers, Marcel Hirschers, I felt pretty incompetent. I was always last, could really not ski that well and had ´great fun´ trying to decode the Tyrolean dialects! I ended up staying in Tyrol for 7 years! Spending my summers as a raft guide, climbing, mountain biking and enjoying yodeling on the Alm huts! My Tyrolean became excellent, my German improved and skiing is still my biggest passion every single day I am on the planks!!
Looking for a new experience I moved to France, Meribel, mainly to improve my French and worked for a French Ski school. Let us say, it was a ´Special’ and Real French Experience and left me with a better (and more selective) knowledge of French. For details, ask me sometime! In France I came in contact with Scots who brought me to bonny Scotland…
The first two years I combined the outdoors with my work as an holistic therapist but eventually returned to spending all my days in the hills: mountain biking, walking, climbing, skiing and camping, or on the water, rafting, canoeing and surfing as an instructor/ guide, sharing my knowledge and passion for the great outdoors with others as well as for personal fun. I did many of my outdoor qualifications here, for example the Summer, Winter and International mountain leader, Trail cycle leader and Mountain bike leader training. Scotland was the country that got me seriously back on my bike as it is the perfect country for the MTB. Living in Aviemore, we had a great team of riders and we used to do crazy things like night riding in winter or little 3 or 4 days bothy expeditions, which mainly consisted of carrying the bike a lot on our backs and trying to get the whisky and the beer in one piece to the bothy! Many of us have now got back on the road bike too.
10 years Scotland left me with a serious passion for whisky, an enormous bag of outdoor experience, the title of adopted Scot, a fine Scottish accent and top skiing skills on ice, windblown snow and heather! Whilst in Scotland I also worked a lot in the Alps and ski touring in the Oberland, I met some Basques who convinced me that their country was well worth a visit and soon I was invited to visit not just the Basque Country but also Asturias, Galicia, Cantabria and Pyrenees! I was sold, moved across, learned Basque and Spanish. The north has such a rich natural environment, spectacular mountains, a wild coastline with fantastic waves, delicious food and the perfect climate for being active that it wasn´t long until it felt like home, despite the struggle with the many cultural differences. The Basque Country and Spanish Pyrenees are where I am currently based and from here I run since 5 years my own little adventure and guiding company, Mountain Minds, specialized in skiing, snow shoeing, hillwalking, trekking and climbing.
In addition this year I am really excited to join the Marmot Team on the cycling front to support you during your cycling holiday and make sure you have a fantastic fun experience! I am looking forward to seeing you on your bike soon in some of world’s wonderful places!
I was born and grew up in the Yorkshire. As a child, virtually all of my summer holidays involved following my dad around the country watching him compete in fell/mountain races. So it is somewhat surprising that I was a late bloomer in the outdoor world!
Whilst doing an Urban Policy degree at University I suddenly felt the urge to get out there and experience a bit of what I had seen my dad experiencing when I was a child, and once I started there was no stopping me. Since then I have regularly competed on the fells and mountains of Britain and Europe. This love of running has led me to take up coaching endurance running and I am now a UKA Level 2 Endurance Coach.
As with my introduction to the outdoors, I was also quite a late bloomer to travelling! I did the ‘obligatory Interail’ after graduating but it wasn’t until I was 30 that I took the plunge to actually push myself a bit further, and consequently I spent the next 2 summers cycling through France and Switzerland conquering every Tour de France col and competing in as many mountain races as I could find.
Marrying Gary in 2006 involved quite a dramatic life change, we decided to quit the rat race, bought a motorhome and moved to Switzerland. This again involved much running and cycling. Our daughter Leah arrived on the scene a couple of years later and at this point we decided we’d give her the best outdoor opportunities we could, involving a move to the Haute Ariege in the Pyrenees and setting up a Guest House in the beautiful village of Perles.
I look forward to meeting you in France this summer!
I’m a multi-tasking ‘taxi’ driver, child psychologist(!), PA & logistics co-ordinator, cleaner, gardener, chef and everything else in between to our busy family life! My husband, 3 daughters, the dog and I, plus an assortment of bikes of all sizes to suit all the family and my husbands road bike & mtb needs, live in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside close to Bath.
My background before kids was a degree in Leisure Marketing, followed by jobs in Travel sales & marketing, Destination Marketing for Bath, and hotel sales. I’m definitely a ‘country’ girl at heart and love a good walk (even if it involves persuading the children), and also have been known to do easy ‘fair weather’ cycling and enjoy what I call ‘property porn’ admiring all the gorgeous houses around this area! Summer months I love looking after my garden and growing my own veg – last year with a serious tomato, courgette & beetroot glut! A recent skydive, which I loved, confirmed I’m still able to push my boundaries so I’m now considering the next challenge!
I’m loving being ‘back to work’ and enjoying the variety of Marmot Tours.
I was born in Leeds (1966) but spent my childhood in Nidderdale then Ilkley. When I first started running on the fells I was just 8 years old and I did my first fell race when I was 10. I’ve never looked back since then and as a result I’ve raced all over Britain and Europe. Along the way I managed to become British and English Fell racing champion and represented England and Britain several times. Not content with ‘just’ fell running, during this time I also qualified as a BASI alpine ski instructor and represented Britain in the world ski touring championships.
In 2006 I married Debbie. We sold our respective houses, bought a mobile home and set off to the mountains of Europe to find a new home and lifestyle. In 2009 we ended up in the valley of Ax in Ariege, a beautiful corner of the Pyrenees, (with our then 2 year old daughter, Leah) where we have set up a guest house, Pyrenees Haven, catering for runners, cyclists and skiers. I get to run in the numerous local races and do some fantastic downhill and ski touring in the winter, plus am working on my BASI 2 ski instructor qualification.
I am what I guess you could call a ‘born again cyclist’ after having been introduced to 2 wheels by my wife. Whilst cycling up the cols of the Haute Ariege I often think ‘what took me so long to get on a bike?!’
I have been helping out at Marmot Tours (whose HQ is also in the Valley of Ax) for a couple of years on and off with transport and on local trips and from 2013, along with Debbie, I’ve been guiding on some road cycling holidays which I thoroughly enjoy.
See you in the summer
Lead Guide & Trip Development
It wasn’t until my late teens that I got bitten by the cycling bug. It was seeing the Tour de France on TV whilst I should have been studying for my music production degree, and then accidentally stumbling upon the Guildford town centre criterium races, that convinced me that spending my student loan on my first road bike would be a good idea – well it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
I spent the next few years riding road and cross-country MTB with various local clubs before heading out to Corsica for six months in 2015 to work as road cycling guide, riding with the clients. It was this job that convinced me that it was in fact possible to look forward to going to work in the mornings, and that every day could be an adventure!
I joined Marmot as a guide at the start of the 2016 season and enjoyed an extremely busy summer working all over, especially enjoying re-visiting Corsica another few times; an island I’ll never get tired of exploring.
In winter 2016 I also joined the team in the UK office, to work in a trip development role. (I’m responsible for creating many of the maps, profiles, GPS files and itineries you follow when out on the road).
Hills are my thing – I love pushing myself on the way up just as mush as I enjoy descending the other side. I’ve not raced as much as I would have liked, but I won the local club hill climb series once upon a time, and I’ll be dining out on that for the rest of my days, thank-you very much!
Commuting forms the majority of my riding when I’m in the UK, but I’m lucky to have the hills and lanes of Bristol and Bath in my way so it’s always ‘good fun’.
Riding Colle Delle Finestre in Italy last summer on a road bike has inspired me to seek out some of the less-travelled routes to the top, and I’m looking forward to taking my cyclocross bike out this year, riding beyond where the roads stop and getting right to the summits of the cols, all in between trips, of course! I’m also intending to start racing cyclocross once the summer season is through, and hope to get out to Belgium and watch some racing where possible too.
When I’m not working I enjoy stretching, bike mechanics, cooking (and eating!) tasty vegan food, listening to vinyl and I’m currently learning Spanish.
See you out on the road!
I got lucky as a kid – I was brought up on the edge of Northumberland and within easy driving distance of the Lake District. Having a Dad who was a volunteer warden in the National Park meant I was exposed to the outdoors at an early age and by the time I got into my teens I was hill walking and cycling all over the north of England.
My school had an active cycling club and I enjoyed many exhausting trips out with them on my shiny Raleigh. That was my first intro. to cycling club life – the pleasure, the pain, competition, and cafe stops! Away from my studies, University life was mostly focused around the high life with the Mountaineering Club. Transit vans were pretty basic things in those days but we travelled miles in search of adventure, ending up in the Alps one summer.
That was my first taste of exploring the wild places on the Continent and beyond, which has stayed with me ever since. After a Physics degree at Durham University I moved on to a Post Grad degree in a management science at Lancaster University. My subsequent career in manufacturing and management consultancy took me all over the world and I developed a specialism in logistics management – in other words, getting the right things in the right place at the right time. Not a bad background for a holiday leader!
Bikewise I was an early adopter of the MTB. At the end of the ’80s I discovered a love of knobbly tyres which took me all over the UK – from the gloop of the Ridgeway to wild tracks in Scotland. At that stage my then road bike, a steel-framed Peugeot, was just an additional training aid which was brought out for the occasional long-distance adventure.
In 2004 my partner, Kerry, and I decided that France offered the lifestyle we both yearned for, and we moved to the western side of the Massif Central, buying a house in the Haute Vienne, a paradise for road cycling. At that point I became a “roadie” in every sense of the word. I’m an active member of my local cycling club, the Rochechouart Olympic Cyclo Club, training with them and competing in cyclosportives all over France. If I’m not on a bike, I’m building or working on a bike! Yes, I too have suffered on the Tourmalet, Ventoux and beyond…..
When I’m not spinning the pedals I still enjoy walking and leading others in the mountains. I hold the International Mountain Leader Award and the equivalent French qualification and have spent many happy times with groups in the high places of Europe. I’ve done many long distance treks and in 2014 I completed the Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne (HRP) – a bit like the Raid Pyrenean – just on foot and taking a little longer!
See you on the trails and the roads – living it with you every pedal turn, cheering you on, and encouraging you to achieve whatever dream you are following.
Flat places and offices make me feel a bit twitchy and like so many of the Marmot Tours family, I just love being out in the mountains! Outdoor sports have been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember; my favourite pastimes are mountain biking and road cycling in the UK and the French Pyrenees, rock climbing in the UK and worldwide and as much snowboarding, telemark skiing and touring as I can squeeze in, including winter seasons spent in the Ariege Pyrenees, where I first met James in 2004.
My work is also strongly entwined with the outdoor life and so far includes scientific fieldwork and the snowsports industry as well as project management, stone conservation and rope access work in the historic building conservation trade.
I am also sporadically pursuing a career as a biological scientist- my bachelors degree from Liverpool is in Marine Biology, I completed an MSc in Aquatic Biology in 2009 and am now finishing up a PhD in Biogeochemistry at Aberdeen in Scotland.
I’ve been working for Marmot Tours for several years and it’s always a pleasure to work with enthusiastic cyclists and to be a part of their cycling adventure.
I have had many an adventure on a bike, both road bikes and mountain bikes. I cycled 4000miles from the UK to Jordan once with 2 mates on a custom built tandem and single bike. I can’t remember not having bikes in my life as they offered me independence when I was younger; a free way to travel round the countryside. Cycling from Nottingham, where I was studying Environmental Engineering, home to my parents place in Cornwall never seemed like a mad idea at the time.
So you could say that I am passionate about cycling. But this pales in comparison to my passion for providing the best possible cycling holidays for Marmot clients. I love cycling up a col, but I love seeing a client arrive at the top of a col with a huge grin on their face even more. To share in their achievements and to take pride in providing our clients with a constantly evolving and improving product is my goal.
Never really cut out for a desk job, my years of working as a guide for Exodus travels took me to places far and wide but I came back to settle in the French Pyrenees where Cathy and I lived for 9 years before we recently moved back to the UK.
I love maps and exploring, and carefully crafting routes that showcase an area. I am a perfectionist and take pleasure in the detail. I don’t know still if I am cut out for a desk job but I do have a head for logistics and getting your support vans, hire bikes and guides to the right place at the right time is like a giant and satisfying game of chess.
I never expected Marmot Tours to grow into what it has become but I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved and will continue to evolve our company to be the best it can be.
Invoicing & Finance
Says yes to everything, then works out how on earth to manage it!
I live in rural Devon with my husband, 2 sons, 3 dogs and about 14 complete bikes, plus extra bits and pieces everywhere and a new eBay delivery seemingly every other day. James, my husband (George) and I were all tour leaders for Exodus in the years before Marmot Tours was born, and have been friends ever since. George is lifetime cyclist who builds retro steel beauties and whose passion means that I shamefully rarely clean my bike or fix a puncture. I took up cycling to see more of him, but usually only see his back and rear wheel, that’s if he’s within sight at all. I love the Dartmoor countryside and hills, walking the dogs, growing veg, working for Marmot (of course), Tae Kwon Do training with my sons, and painting my toenails with all that free time on my hands!
I’m brand new this year to the Marmot team and already feel like part of the family.
I’m relatively new to the industry, having worked as a management consultant at Accenture for 3 years up until April 2016. This is where I discovered triathlon, road cycling and training camps. I enjoyed it so much that I took over the running of parts of our small but keen club. But it wasn’t long before I realised that I was by far happiest outdoors, on my bike, exploring trail runs and hiking – and I needed to do something about it. When I worked out that I could spend my summers as a cycle lead, I jumped ship and spent the summer working with cycle touring companies in the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, the Jura and the Vosges. I can’t pretend to miss the office…
Since then I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and this new freedom. I love the industry, the locations and the variety of people you get to meet. An anthropologist by training, I am using my newfound free time (i.e. time spent off the bike) to rediscover my passion for reading, languages, my curiosity about places and people, and to think about possible PhD topics. I spend the winter in places like Guatemala volunteering as a hike guide for a fantastic non-profit (the Quetzaltrekkers), trying to learn as much as possible about the recent civil war, the social, political, environmental and economic landscape the country is now dealing with, and Spanish.
Born and brought up in France, I’m really happy to be back in my homeland, using my languages and enjoying the beautiful mountain ranges that I used to take for granted growing up. And I’m really excited about being a part of the Marmot family and meeting you all.
See you soon!
I stumbled into working in the outdoors after twenty-five very exciting years in the Police, a job that I loved, but when someone suggested I retrained and guided in the mountains around the world, I jumped with both feet.
I work as an International Mountain Leader, running my own company as well as working freelance. This can be on youth development programs, expeditions into the rainforest or charity challenge events such as on Kilimanjaro or Machu Picchu. I love my work and more than I can express here. As with the police, it’s all to do with people and I enjoy hearing about their lives, what brought them to be there on a trip or a challenge and helping them to get the most from it. I have also worked on conservation projects, particularly in Borneo, which is a hot favourite of mine.
I’ve worked in some remote locations living in the forest for three months at a time, planting hardwood trees as part of a biodiversity project or mapping unknown areas for scientists to come and explore. On one trip my team were responsible for discovering a new waterfall, which we were later asked to name.
In 2011, I was very fortunate to win the Bronze Award in the Wanderlust Magazine World Guide Awards, something I am immensely proud of and was all down to my previous clients voting for me.
I used to be very keen on cycling. I rode with Reading Club and took part in several triathlons. I now live in France and that has motivated me to get back into it.
I have worked for Marmot Tours since 2012; I had known James and Cathy for several years as our paths crossed when working in the Pyrenees.
In 2010, my 7 year old son was diagnosed with diabetes, something we have all had to get on with, but in learning about the disease, research seems to be a key for the future well-being of people with diabetes. So, with Marmot Tours’ assistance, I completed the Raid Pyrenean in June 2012 to raise money for Diabetes UK.
Hope to see you soon!
I have lived most of my life in Devon and Cornwall and have walked the moors and coast paths from an early age. However, doing as I was told, I followed a proper career path (?) for almost 30 years in local government, heading two departments and being part of the executive management team. So, I feel well placed to appreciate the stresses and strains of those people with hectic lifestyles! It is often so difficult to find time for yourself even when having the best intentions.
In 2004 I moved to France with my wife to start our “new life” in the Pyrenees mountains. Life has been good to us here with a lot of new friends and the experience of being a member of a French cycling club. I know how fortunate I am to have been able to change direction for my second career and follow my passions for outdoor activities. Since my renaissance, I have added substantially to my experiences of walking in beautiful areas and have shared this enjoyment by leading hiking groups. To promote health and fitness in general I have become a certified Personal Trainer and qualified Mountain Leader focusing on the needs of my age group. I have also organised and led cycling tours for many years in some of the most challenging areas of France.
I get tremendous satisfaction from seeing others enjoy and benefit from all of these activities. I am an ex-rugby player (with the scars to prove it) but still enjoy a variety of energetic pastimes such as competing in cyclosportives, providing the necessary activity levels for someone who loves good food as much as I do!
I look forward to continuing to work as part of the Marmot Team and hope to meet some of you this summer.
Very important Team Member
Mary Gordon Cumming
I discovered the mountains late in life but have definitely made up for lost time since then. Living in Wanaka, New Zealand for six years and then moving to the French Alps where I have been for the last thirteen years. At first skiing pretty much ruled my choices, following the snow between hempisheres, and between resorts, any other sport was secondary, a way of training for skiing. I confess, for a long time I swore I would never ride a bike somewhere you could drive a car. To the point that I was almost embarrassed to give in and jump on the bandwagon. Luckily, one summer I found myself working in the foothills of the Pyrenees. No-one knew me, I picked up a bike and off I went and I understood. At first, just the change of perspective. Roads that I had driven many times took on a new character, the cheers of allez allez from the old man in his garden as I attempted my first col, the elation as I arrived … the amusement when I discovered I had come up the easy side of the mur de Péguere and people looked me up and down with my steel bike circa 1982, rock climbing helmet and woollen top saying, “you came up here like that?’.
Since then I’ve come to love cycling as a way of taking in the views, the sense of camaraderie, the personal sense of achievement, the quality of coffee at the cols, the adrenalin rush of long descents, as I regularly ride around my local neighbourhood which I’m lucky enough to say takes in the Petit Saint Bernard, the Iseran and Cormet de Roseland. I look forward to sharing the adventure with you this summer!
I’ve loved being in the outdoors for as long as I can remember and for the past 20 years have been fortunate to indulge this particular passion, especially in Italy and France.
I started to guide in the Western Pyrénées around Barèges, in the mid-90s, and have continued to work summers and winters as a walking and snowshoe guide as well as providing support for cycling trips. During my time there I have covered much of both Central and Western Pyrénées and still get excited about the diversity of terrain, stunning scenery and amazing challenges this area provides. I love sharing my knowledge of this fantastic part of France with other outdoor enthusiasts.
I also enjoy road cycling in France, a country that is mad about this sport and hugely supportive of cyclists. I’ve cycled frequently in Australia too; completing the 120km Coast to Coast ride in Adelaide.
In 2009 I moved permanently to France with my wife Jane, a New Zealander, to Languedoc Roussillon where we’ve bought an old vigneron’s house to renovate. It’s also from where we run our activity business, Mountains and Maps and have a 2-bedroomed holiday gite. Being close to the Haut Languedoc Natural Parc, Mediterranean coast and Eastern Pyrénées, it’s another ideal location for activity holidays.
I met James and Cathy through Exodus Travel and immediately liked both of them and also admired their work ethic which is very much in line with mine. Providing people with not only a great experience in stunning scenery, but also helping them challenge the boundaries of their own abilities is both a joy and a privilege.
Previously I lived in the Lake District for ten years where I was member of the Langdale and Ambleside Mountain Rescue Team. In that role I was either chair or a member of the committee for most of that time, eventually receiving the Queens Jubilee Medal for Services to the Community.
Whilst in the Lakes I obtained my Mountain Leader qualification and went on to gain the International Mountain Leader qualification. I have now transferred that to become an affiliate of France’s SNAM (Syndicat National des Accompagnateurs en Montagne) and holder of a Carte Professionelle. I also have a Mountain Bike Instructors Certificate to guide up to blue runs.
Living in the Lakes meant I could regularly pursue outdoor activities and go mountain and road biking, climbing and walking. While it was a great time in my life, France does have much better weather for these activities! I have been very fortunate whilst working for Marmot to be able to see many areas of Europe including the Alps, Corsica, Dolomites and of course the Pyrenees.
Born in Gran Canaria, I got hooked to cycling in the mid and late 80’s watching Pedro Delgado, Marino Lejarreta, Sean Kelly, Fabio Parra, Lucho Herrera and Robert Millar fighting to win La Vuelta a Espana on the telly.
Not long after, my younger brother convinced our father to buy us a BH racing bike. He joined a local cycling club and I followed his races. Eventually, my brother got a better bike and I started emulating my cycling heroes going up the mountains of Gran Canaria on the white and blue BH. At a young age cycling gave me freedom, joy and also helped me persevere during tough times when my father’s health was deteriorating due to Diabetes.
Travelling and learning foreign languages is the other big thing I’ve done since I was little.
I’ve learned German, English, Portuguese and Italian along the way, and have lived or spent considerable time abroad. I moved to London in 2000 and after having worked for the travel industry I became a Bikeability cycling instructor about 6 years ago which is very rewarding. I’m also a bike mechanic and enjoyed putting together some of the Marmot fleet of hire bikes with James this winter.
Together with my partner Alice and our daughter Irene we recently moved to Friuli Venezia Giulia in Northern Italy. This is Zoncolan and Giro d’Italia territory, and also the gateway to the Dolomites trips.
This will be my second season with the Marmot Tours team, and I very much look forward to meeting you and helping you to achieve your challenges this Summer!
Never happier than up a mountain, usually declaring to those around me that “life could be worse,” I have been lucky enough to fulfil my ambitions and dreams many times over.
With a childhood spent on the fringes of Dartmoor National Park and on the beaches around the South Devon coast, I was permitted a freedom to explore which I still value today. A three month expedition under canvas in Southern Chile in my early twenties firmly cemented my passion for travel and adventure. Following a career in the Army and training with the first women at Sandhurst, I settled down long enough to raise my two wonderful children and see them independent and successful before the itchy feet returned and I retrained as an Outdoor Instructor working in Cornwall, Devon and Dorset. This varied role allowed me to instruct in climbing, mountain biking, high ropes, mountaineering, canoeing and kayaking.
It was as an Operations Manager for a Dartmoor based outdoor company that my path first crossed with Marmot Tours. An opportunity arose however at the same time, to pursue a career as an Overseas Expedition Leader and I was swept off my feet by the chance to lead cycling, running, trekking and even horse trekking challenges in many, and some remote, parts of the World. I donned a rucksack and packed up my belongings to work in Iceland, Sumatra, Outer Mongolia, Borneo and India with inspiring people achieving amazing things. During this time I have cycled routes in Cuba, Burma, Rajasthan and China. In a brief gap between trips, I completed the Tour de Mont Blanc. I recently enjoyed some canyonning and via ferrata in the Italian Dolomites and spend as much time as I can escaping into the North Yorkshire Dales with my partner, Henry.
Extraordinarily last year, I was approached by a publishing company who asked to turn some of my very roughly scribbled notes into a e-book which I never saw coming but proved an exciting venture.
I continue to lead and document the challenges in the Spring and Autumn of each year but am particularly excited to be finally joining the Marmot Team having first spoken to Cathy five years previously. The genuine, sincere and honest nature of this company has won me over and the opportunity to work in this highly qualified and motivated team is very special. There is little more satisfying than sharing in someone’s success and I look forward to being there with you to cheer you on and seethe fulfilment on your faces.
Born and raised in Austria, I’ve lived in the UK for the last 18 years, interrupted only by a recent 6 month adventure in sunny California. I’ve recently returned to and am feeling very much at home in the rolling hills of Somerset. I’m happy to have taken on the mantel of Tour Administrator at Marmot Tours in January 2017 and look forward to helping you have a great experience with us!
At home I am passionate about natural health, food and baking cakes. Another one of my favourite things is to go off on adventures with my daughter who is rapidly nearing the age of teenage independence. I also love exploring new places and the outdoors – particularly the mountains, although I prefer conquering them on foot. I speak fluent English and German, plus a bit of Spanish, which I’m working to improve 🙂
I’m from the West Midlands, UK.
I’m all for exploring and excitement.
From an early age I’ve always loved the mountains and the great outdoors and fortunately, my two hobbies fit into that description. Skiing is my oldest hobby; I learnt to ski in French Alps as a toddler… Fast forward two decades and I’m now a basi instructor working in Zermatt for the winters.
Cycling is a more recent interest, about 5 years ago I was introduced to the sport and purchased my first road bike. Since then, I have enjoyed riding several sportives, building a bike and watching the Tour.
Now I have the opportunity to share my passion with you…See you on a tour soon.
My Dad put me on a bike without stabilisers (there were no balance bikes in the 70s) when I was two years old. I immediately fell off. Undeterred however I got back on and as I grew up bicycles were always part of my life.
I cycled to school and I cycled on my newspaper delivery round and I cycled everywhere in between: bikes were my ticket to adventure and exploration. As kids my friends and I organised mini-races, built jumps, and rode down (on a Raleigh racer) the steep slopes of our local disused quarry. I joined my first cycling club when I was 14 and did my first race (a 25 mile time-trial) the following Sunday, I came last, but loved it all.
Since then I have raced time-trials and road-races, hill climbs and stage races, velodrome and grass-track, XC and Enduro. Over the years I have had so much enjoyment, met so many people and learnt so much from riding bikes that I decided I wanted to give something back. Moving to Highland Perthshire I joined a new cycling club and started organising road races for them. One thing led to another and before I knew it I was organising all sorts of races including multi-stage MTB Enduros.
I am now a British Cycling qualified road and time-trial, track and mountain-bike coach and since 2009 have coached countless young people and adults. I am the head coach at my local youth cycling club and it is fantastic to see so many children getting on bikes and having as much fun as I did at that age. My favourite aspect of coaching is going into schools and running sessions with pupils who haven’t had the same opportunities to get out and ride and seeing how they engage with the activities. At one school the teacher warned about one pupil who could be very disruptive. During the session he had a big smile on his face and at the end was one of a few pupils who came to thank me and tell me “I didn’t know that riding a bike could be so much fun”.
And for me that is why I cycle.
It is great fun and I love coaching, guiding and supporting others to get as much fun out on two-wheels as I do. See you out on two-wheels very soon.
I was young when I realised I enjoyed helping people & encouraging them to achieve. It started because my mum was a social worker & she organised days out for kids with disabilities. I enjoyed the shared experiences & learned the benefits of active time outdoors. It made me happy, and them too. It was the start of something, although back then I wasn’t sure what.
This early discovery was hindered by a strong urge to be nomadic, see the world a bit & meet the people. I didn’t realise how incompatible this can be with modern life that demands careers, pension schemes & stability. A circuitous route involving lots of study & a wide range of jobs, some mundane, others outlandish brought me into the sphere of outdoor leadership & facilitation.
Until this point I’d enjoyed all manner of wild places, trekking, climbing, cycling & camping. The usual mix of adventure, campfires & personal growth, with a sprinkling of mishaps along the way. Nobody ever told me there were actual career paths to be had in this realm. So I added the qualifications to the kit bag & indulged my passion for personal development, the great outdoors & working with people. Since then I have had the pleasure to work with diverse groups of people – young, old & in between – in some of the most mind blowing locations on earth. Helping them to achieve & vice versa… a true win, win situation.
Happily settled in France, working for myself & other tour companies, I look forward to meeting you this summer. Although it will be yourselves doing the pedalling, I will be oiling the wheels of your cycle tour & sharing in your achievements.
I have been organising and providing outdoor activity events, holidays and courses for over 20 years. I started as an activity instructor at the John Ridgway Adventure School (North West Scotland) in 1992-1998. I then spent a season managing a centre for Acorn Venture in northern France, before setting up my own outdoor activity holiday company in 2000. I ran Cape Adventure International with Rebecca Ridgway from 2000-2008.
In 2009 I set up The Pyrenees Adventure Company, a UK company that continues to provide school programmes and family holidays in the Ariege during the summer months.
I am really pleased to be joining the Marmot team this year and I look forward to working alongside other guides in order to continue to deliver the high standard of tours and client care that is now synonymous with Marmot Tours.