Deborah Nickolls (Fletcher)

Encouraged to travel independently and self-funded from a young age, Deborah has explored many of the wildest environments on the planet. She undertook her first solo expedition aged 19 crossing the Himalayas and Tibet, travelling on foot, horse-back, tractors and trucks. Staying with local families along the way and learning how people survive in harsh environments, this was a pivotal experience for Deborah and has led to her working as a wilderness guide – helping other people to experience and stay safe in wild places and hopefully inspiring a greater respect for our planet.

A strong interest in anthropology has led Deborah to study the natural crafts of the people she spends time with, from basketry to hunting and fishing equipment. Deborah has a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from the Royal Academy in London and has focussed her artistic studies on creating and teaching traditional crafts.

Deborah is keen to pass on her fascination in different cultures and wild places to her own young children and has taken them on many adventures, to learn new skills and other ways of living, including time staying with the Kamba people in rural Kenya and a 3 month overland trip across Siberia, to live with the Kazakh Eagle hunters in the Altai mountains, and nomadic herders in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

Her work as an expedition leader has taken her to some of the world’s most extreme environments, from the blizzards and polar bears of Arctic Greenland as a snowmobile guide, to trekking in the jungle of Madagascar.

Deborah has extensive expedition experience to all of the earth’s major ecosystems including the jungles of Central America, the Amazon, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia and Borneo with the Penan people. She has significant high-altitude experience for many months on 5 continents up to 5200 metres. Her arid experience ranges from the high deserts of the Altiplano in South America, canyonlands of Arizona and Utah, the Moroccan Sahara, Namib and the Kalahari with the San Bushmen in Namibia, Western Australia, to crossing the Taklimakan and the Gobi deserts.

Deborah is a qualified Mountain Leader and a keen rock-climber. She holds the Sea-Kayak Award and BCAP – Rainforest canopy rope access qualification. Deborah has worked on photoshoots for Paramo UK and Berghaus in Greenland, on-screen survival consultant for KyraTV and expert contributor on BBC World Service. She is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician and a member of the teaching Faculty of WEMSI – International, delivering wilderness medical training for remote locations. Deborah is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

She has always worked outdoors whilst in the UK, whether guiding people in the mountains, walking hundreds of kilometres surveying footpaths, teaching navigation or inspiring the next generation about the hunter-gatherers of the Stone Age. She is grateful to have learnt from so many people along the way. Deborah is passionate about sharing skills and her enjoyment of the natural world with others and has been instructing on bushcraft courses for nine years.

At home in the Lake District, Deborah spends as much time living outside, with her children, as possible. Long summers living in a tipi, foraging for wild foods, cooking on the campfire and tracking wildlife on a daily basis, have made bushcraft a way of life. In 2011, she realised a lifelong dream of planting a small native woodland. She enjoys sharing this haven with others and it has become the base for some of our courses.