Frequently asked questions answered

Who is Active 4 Seasons

A younger version of me –

Ollie Jay in his sea kayak
The most experienced guide locally

Ollie Jay is a mature and highly experienced coach and guide. I am self employed and trade as Active 4 Seasons. I am the most experienced and highly qualified coach locally and have been leading adventures here since 1999 and elsewhere since 1991. A qualified teacher of Outdoor Education (PGCE from Bangor, North Wales) with a BSc in Exercise and Health; a National Governing body qualified (BCU) instructor for sea and inland kayaking (level 4 coach) and pen canoeing (level 3 coach). Over 25 years experience of coaching and instructing a wide range of activities and clientele. I have personally paddled all over the World including Chile, North America, Alaska, Mainland Europe and Africa. I have lived and worked in North Northumberland since 1999. It is a very special part of the World which I aim to look after for everyone to enjoy in years to come.  I regularly visit the Scottish Borders and West coast of Scotland.

I very occasionally employ experienced freelance instructors when I have more than one activity booked in but all of the people I employ are well known to me and follow the Active 4 Seasons policies and procedures ensuring your safety at all times.

Why chose Active 4 Seasons 

There are plenty of other companies offering adventure activities so why would you chose to come out with me? Basically I have the most experience and the widest range of specialist paddling machines that I match to your aims and objectives. I only run ‘Made to Measure Adventures’ so you don’t end up in a large group of other families and you get just what you want.  Bags of experience and loads of local knowledge with lots of options to suit you. Some of my clients have been coming out with me for 13 years doing a different adventure each time!

Who is Active 4 Seasons for?

The North Northumberland and Scottish Borders area is the ideal venue for the first time explorer, as well as the more experienced outdoor enthusiast. Families, couples, individuals and small groups are welcome. Larger groups will be split into groups of this size in various locations so as not to provide too big an impact on one site.

It is my policy not to take out large groups as I want to reduce any impact on the local environment and earn a welcome from people who live and work in the area. It is important that our grandchildren can enjoy it as we do.

What do I provide?

A high quality coaching, guiding and expedition service. Having worked full time in North Northumberland since the summer of 1999 I have amassed a huge amount of experience in this area and developed many relationships with the Land owners and Businesses and people who work in the area and pride myself in my knowledge of the Outdoor Environment and its importance – something I like to pass on to my clients.

Equipment wise:

Open Canoeing or Kayaking on the river you will get:

A seat in a kayak or canoe, a paddle, a personal floatation device (B/A), a basic cagoule and a spray deck and helmet if kayaking. I have a wide range of wetsuits including long-johns that are more suited for kayaking. Full wetsuits can be used for wet training in kayaks if required.

Sea Kayaking:

A specialist closed cockpit sea kayak, a neoprene spray deck, a paddle, a suitable B/A’s, a basic cagoule and a helmet (to be worn during any surf or rock hopping). I can also supply a long john style wetsuit for wet training or the colder months when the sea temp is below 13 degrees.

What should you wear?

Outdoor Activities, especially water-based ones can be wet – no surprise there – so what sort of clothing should I wear?

Open Canoeing – Summer

Shorts and T shirts and old trainers, sandals or wet shoes (no flip flops please) if the weather allows. Normal outdoor type clothing if it is looking a bit inclement. Waterproofs keep the wind off too.

For other water based activity at other times of the year I recommend you wear polyester type thermal base layers with a fleece over the top.  We will provide a basic cagoule (for kayaking) which will keep the wind off and protect you from any splashed water. I would advise wearing a cheap pair of waterproof trousers for the same reason in windy or colder conditions. Through the colder months dry suits are the best option but some people wear long-john type wetsuits – great for practising rescues and surfing. An alternative to a neoprene layer (wetsuit) is a fibre pile and pertex layer. These come in salopettes and jackets and are made by various manufacturers – try sailing gear also. Footwear – an old pair of trainers, wet suit booties with a solid base or solid sandals. Cut down wellies are great if you have ankle straps on waterproof trousers.

Once you have decided you like a particular sport then I can give you advice on the various types of clothing on offer.

What can you do?

Come out and experience the outdoor environment with a qualified and highly experienced guide.

Develop your technical skills and improve your approach to learning, allowing you to go further in your chosen activity.

I am mainly concentrating on paddlesports at the moment and the level will be determined by your experience and personal needs.

Where do we meet?

This depends on the activity and our agreed meeting place. Please click on this to find common meeting places on Google maps, click on place and then look for directions button. You can also zoom in and out and change to satellite view. Please contact us if you need a postcode for your Sat Nav or indeed use the What 3 Words app. 

Get out and about in safety

Have you always wanted to experience the outdoor environment but felt it was too intimidating?
The idea of using a local guide (I have been in North Northumberland and the Scottish Borders since 1999) is that you can ensure that the chosen destination or trip will suit your personal needs and that your safety will be a major consideration.
Incidentally I have 5 million pounds worth of public liability insurance and this is a must if you are using anyone to provide activity coaching/ guiding for you! You may chose to take out your own personal injury insurance if you feel this is necessary. Activities are rarely cancelled but may be postponed in extreme weather conditions, a full refund will be given if I cancel your adventure.

Do you offer activity Vouchers?

Yes I do. Vouchers, that are valid for 12 months, can be purchased for Birthday presents or Christmas etc. They come with a photo of the activity on a card that is blank for your special message. Prices are the same as for a normal activity cost. The voucher is made out for an individual but they are welcome to bring one other person with them on the adventure. Once the recipient has the voucher they need to contact me directly to arrange a date that suits both parties. Summer gets very busy so tell them to book early to avoid disappointment if there is a certain date in mind.

Where are you based?

Active 4 seasons is the most experienced provider of outdoor activities and water-sports in Northumberland. I am based near Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Ford and Etal Estate within easy reach of Belford, Bamburgh, Seahouses,  Wooler, Cornhill, Coldstream, Kelso, Eyemouth, Duns etc. but I also run expedition courses so can come to you if required, a travelling charge will be applied.

Covid 19 safety

I have been safely operating over the last few years since COVID 19 hit, I was able to offer ‘Made to Measure’ adventures in the local area without the need to share vehicles. If you still don’t want to share a vehicle we can offer a trip on the fantastic River Tweed estuary based near High water so this time varies every day! The Tweed is more exposed but Berwick is a historic town so lots to see with amazing bird life upstream of the Stephenson Railway bridge.

One thought on “FAQ”

  1. Hi Hannah, thanks for your enquiry. Normally I would suggest 8 years but you know your child best so if you are adventurers then it might be that they love the great outdoors and are quite hardy? I hope this helps?

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Canoe and kayak guiding and coaching in North Northumberland