Joe Halliwell-Dykes

I have been paddling since the age of 11 when I joined my local canoe club following a school trip. I quickly fell in love with white water kayaking and it has been my main passion ever since. I moved to Nottingham at the age of 18 where I started kayaking more and more at Holme Pierrepont. I started working in the outdoors through kayak and raft guiding on the river Derwent in the Peak District. I moved to Eryri to become a Trainee Instructor at Plas-y-Brenin so that I could spend more time in the mountains and expand my skillset into new areas, as well as gain more experience instructing with a wide variety of clients.


I am working towards becoming an Advanced White Water Kayak leader and White Water SUP Coach. I would also like to keep developing my climbing skills to become a Rock Climbing Instructor. There are many many places around the world I want to go to on paddling holidays with Chile, New Zealand and India being top of the list.

Isaac Whitmore

I became passionate in the outdoors from a young age due to not being very good at school work - I’m quite good at sports instead. After finding climbing and the mountains, I became hooked with the more extreme sports and never looked back.

Pete Herd

Early Life

I grew up in Northern Scotland where I felt a natural affinity with adventure sport. I had quite a traditional ‘apprenticeship’ in that it started with the hills: snowboarding, fell running and carrying my mountain bike up local Munros. This developed into scrambling and when I went to Uni, summer trad climbing became the focus. Naturally this segued into winter climbing too. We all learned a lot during those formative years. I enjoyed the social aspects of climbing and got some experience of responsibility with the uni club, so I thought I could make it my job too.


My career began...

in climbing walls and with local schools kids. I wanted to specialise in climbing  and on the advice of a few more experienced friends,  moved to North Wales to work on the Plas y Brenin ‘AI’ scheme. Fast forward a few years and I’ve ‘settled down’ in North Wales. I’m now a part time member of the the instructional team, specialising in climbing and mountain sports. I work year round on most of the skills courses and a few of the qualification ones.



I’m keen on new experiences and partnership. I  like aesthetic lines and cool textures. I like the alchemy of putting it all together - the planning, the training the anticipation, the event. I like conspiratorially devouring a bag of sweets on a belay ledge and waiting for the sugar rush to take the mind off cramping arms. I like the quietness of focus and the rawness of an all out scrap.




  • Graduating from Uni.
  • My first outdoor job. My then employer saw something in me he thought worth fostering. We’re still mates.
  • Getting on the ‘AI’ scheme and passing the MIA (now MCI).
  • Buying a house and getting a job.
  • All the trips climbing, biking and hanging out in cool places with my partner, Amy.
  • Scottish trip to the states questing about in an RV. Wide eyed and learning to jam quickly at Indian Creek, Castleton Tower, Moonlight Buttress, Rainbow Wall.
  • Bikepacking trips through the Scottish mountains. Testing ‘hike-a-bikes’ and big descents.
  • The stars (finally) alligning and getting to climb Parralell B and Polyphemus  gullies, V,5,  on Lochnagar in the same day.
  • Winter Cuillin Ridge. An opportunistic skip along with my pal Lou. Crisp snow aretes, squeeky neve, light and free.
  • Any of the trad scraps where I’ve really tested my tenacity and climbing skill. It’s happened at almost every grade.
  • Catching the top of the crag on the first ascent of Hyperborea, E7 7a. Finding it, feeling inspired, working it alone, injury, doubt, falling off the top on redpoint, the supportive partners.
  • The Disposessed E7 6c, Ogwen. A serendipitous belay from Tim, just before the door slammed shut for the season.
  • Climbing my first font 8A, a cool arete in the Ogwen valley. I set a goal, trained hard and put the time in.
  • Trips to Taghia with a load of mates. Utterly compelling doable-in-a-day climbs on perfect rock in a wicked place.



I’d be stoked to do more of the same really. Keep going with what motivates me at the time. I’ve been surfing and biking a bit recently so hope to continue enjoying those too. More ice climbing in the winter months would be nice. I’d like to further develop my coaching too.

Grace Alsancak-Hay

My first experiences of the outdoors came through school residentials and completing the Duke of Edinburgh award, it wasn't until many years later that it would become major part of my life. After spending over 20 years immersed in the world of 'Springboard and Platform' diving as both an athlete and latterly a full-time coach I decided to change up my career and registered on the Fast Track Programme at Plas y Brenin with the goal of becoming an outdoor instructor. I love the variety of working as an instructor and giving people the chance to challenge themselves and grow with new challenges and experiences.


In the summer of 2014, I was part of a two-person team who kayaked source to sea of the Mississippi river in America for charity. In 2019 I walked 500 miles from Brest in France to Halifax, West Yorkshire.


I want to develop my skills as an instructor further by working towards my MCI and Winter ML. I want to go on many more adventures around the world and at home in the UK, exploring mountains rivers and crags, seeking out scenic places and exciting challenges.

Gareth Davies

I started climbing and mountaineering with my father at about the age of 8 or 9 and loved big adventures in the Hills of Eryri and the Lake District. I started working in the outdoors in the Yorkshire Dales and first came to work at Plas y Brenin in 2001. For most of my career I have been involved with Outdoor Education, introducing people to the great outdoors and training and assessing on National Governing Body awards such as Summer Mountain Leadership.


I still love climbing and mountaineering and am looking forward to more Scottish Winters and Alpine Summers.


I would love to climb Aber Falls in winter, traverse Dream of White Horses with my daughters, make an ascent of Salbitschijen West Ridge and complete the new Traws Eryri mountain bike route.

Dave Janes

Growing up in Llangollen, I started paddling on the River Dee before I could walk. Since then, I have been fortunate to explore, race, guide, coach, climb, and paddle in a whole number of far flung places around the world. I spent much of my early career not really having a career but instead going paddling in fantastic places with some fantastic people. Working at Plas y Brenin is no different - less jet-setting to the Himalaya or guiding in Norway, more exploring what's on the doorstep and sharing my passion for paddling and adventure. I now develop paddlers to go and explore the places I used to call home. My ultimate paddling destination is Norway, with some cheesy pop music and a stop at a classic chippy on the beach before I go. My favourite kit from Peak Paddlesports is the Racer ST2022 Long and Speedskin Long Topdeck. Advice to newcomers: enjoy the journey.

Ollie Sandeman

I grew up in Mid Wales discovering paddle sports on a trip to an outdoor centre, my parents then bought me one of the centres Pyranha masters and then I started to head out on the rivers around Mid Wales. Following an outdoor education course at college I started my career working in the Aosta valley in 2007, this opened my eyes to alpine whitewater kayaking with the Dora Baltea on my doorstep. The next couple of years was spent leading canoe trips on the Ardeche, often considered a rite of passage for canoe coaches. Spending time over here converted me to love spending time in a canoe as much as a kayak and rocketed my paddling heading for trips on the Allier and in the French alps at any opportunity. I then returned to the UK and started working freelance, coaching and guiding canoeing on the Wye and kayaking on the Usk in the Winter months. I spent over a year working and living on the West coast of New Zealand working as a kayak guide and exploring the fantastic whitewater New Zealand has to offer. I then started working freelance providing coaching and British Canoeing courses in North and South Wales gaining some great experiences and mentorship from some exceptional coaches before setting up my own paddle sports business. I’ve had the pleasure of paddling and working in some amazing locations with canoeing in the Canadian wilderness and heli kayaking in New Zealand being the highlights. I’ve been working at Plas y Brenin a little while now and can’t think of anywhere better to be based for the variety of spectacular locations for paddling on our doorstep.



More time on the salty stuff in a sea kayak, getting out on the amazing whitewater we have on our doorstep at any opportunity and taking my trad canoe into unusual locations is on the agenda.Bigger plans would be to plan a steep creeking trip abroad and a big canoe expedition to Canada.


Louise Beetlestone

I grew up in Mid Wales, where I climbed a lot of trees, played in the river, and walked with my Mum and Sister. At 10 years old, I ascended my first mountain, Drygarn Fawr, and did my first rock climb on a school residential.

I went on to Coleg Powys Brecon to study Sports Science including some modules of Outdoor Education, before starting work as a Trainee Instructor at Longtown Outdoor Centre in the Black Mountains. The next year, I got a NVQ Level 3 in Outdoor Education, followed shortly by my Rock Climbing Instructor Qualification, then Mountain Leader. The Mountain Leader was my first interaction with Plas y Brenin, who provided the course!

I moved to North Wales and pursued my Winter Mountain Leader and Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor qualifications. I took part in the Instructor Scheme at Plas y Brenin starting in 2010. In 2016, I was the Welsh mountain running champion, and the following year I got my Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor qualification.

Additional accomplishments include completing the Paddy Buckley round (47 peaks), and in 2019 I learned to ski as well as climbed over 56 peaks in the Alps over 4,000m.

Emma Warren

I was part of the Army Cadets from 1995-2000, before completing the Ten Tors Bronze in 1997. Shortly after, I also completed a Silver Duke of Endiburgh's Award, before being introduced to Plas y Brenin in 1999 with an Introduction to Rock Climbing course. I took part in a World Challenge trip to India and spent the following gap-year travelling from London to Hong Kong overland, leading my first climb on a new route in Iran. In the next decade, I completed a BSC in Outdoor and Environmental Education at Liverpool John Moores University, and led 16 trips for World Challenge to India, Nepal, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Morocco, Madagascar, and Vietnam. After getting my Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor qualifications, I instructed at Venture Trust, and was part of the Hot Rock trip from South Africa to Jordan. By 2011 I was employed in the Plas y Brenin Instructor Scheme. I got my Winter Mountain Leader qualification and did a PGCE in Geography at Aberystwyth University shortly after, and instructed/taught at Plas Dol y Moch. Since then, I have achieved my Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor, International Mountain Leader, and Winter Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor awards.

Pete Catterall

Pete has been working in the outdoors for over 30 years. During this time he has worked in a variety of centres and organisations from the local education authority outdoor centre to privately owned adventure companies. Pete got into the outdoors on a trip to North Wales for a week of outdoor education as an 11 year-old and was totally hooked. He decided then that was what he wanted to do. Pete has coached international athletes and has mentored and trained the coaches who work with Olympic athletes. He now heads up the instructional team at Plas y Brenin.