top of page


Jess has practiced yoga for eight years, learning both Hatha and Iyengar. But yoga is just part of what has become a life-long love of outdoor activity in one form or another.

She grew up riding horses along the beaches in Norfolk, playing netball and hockey badly at school. She started rowing at university in York, and went on to row seriously at Exeter for several years.

Jess then started trail running with friends after moving to Applecross in 2012, and has undertaken marathons, ultra-marathons and many, many miles on foot in the Highlands. She also loves to mountain bike and wild swim in the very cool waters of the Sound.

Despite loving the outdoors, Jess’s career has been very much indoors. She began in PR working for an agency, and moved onto marketing and tourism marketing. Jess is Marketing Manager for The Applecross Trust, responsible for developing a tourism strategy for the area, and looks after Hartfield House, a 50-bed hostel. This is where she is today.

Jess lives in Applecross with her three children and their dog, North. She runs, bikes, swims, walks and frequents the Applecross Gym, as well as practicing yoga as much as she can.

Having three children, a full-time job and living in one of the remotest parts of the UK, Jess has learnt that outdoor exercise, and taking time for the things you love is the secret to staying healthy and balanced. She firmly believes that children can add to the yoga practice (even if they are climbing on top of you), and can provide resistance training when running. It might not be solitary training without responsibility, but it can ultimately be better.

Jess is Grade 7 piano and Grade 6 violin and cannot play a note as it has been 25 years since she last picked up either instrument and that apparently means you have to start again.

She studied fine art, sculpture and English Literature at university 20 years ago and will start painting again any time soon, when she finally plucks up the courage. She is also going to write a book when she is 90. There is definitely a book in there. But she is too busy until then. And that is how she likes it.



Debs has cooked professionally since she was 19 in restaurants and pubs all over the UK. She got the travel bug in her early 20's and spent time in Germany, India, Australia, Nepal and the USA.

In 2000 she spent two years living and working at a residential healing arts school in Northern California as a whole foods cook, serving up organic fresh food to 100+ per day, and learning about nutrition, food as medicine and as an integral part of our all-round health.

Here she qualified as a massage therapist, learning Swedish and holistic massage therapy.

Debs is a keen gardener, and has an allotment here in Applecross, where in her spare time she can be found growing a myriad of veg, flowers, culinary and medicinal herbs.

She hopes to help people develop a love of food and cooking and to deepen their understanding of our relationship with our food.

How simple meals with good intention can help us bring about positive change in our lives.



Sarah McCowan is a full time Mum and Personal Trainer living in Applecross. She is Level 3 Qualified, has a diploma in Exercise Referral, Level 4 Back pain management and is an open water swimming coach.  In 2019 Sarah opened the Applecross Gym, offering one to one or training or gym use to locals and holiday makers alike.

Sarahs fitness journey began in 2012 when, frustrated by the lack of fitness classes and facilities in the area, she decided to train as a Zumba Instructor. As her knowledge and understanding of fitness grew she decided to take a leap and train fully as a personal trainer.

Always an outdoor enthusiast Sarahs first fitness love was skiing and snowboarding which took her to Whistler for two white and wonderful winters.  Nowadays she is often found cycling around the peninsula, playing by the river with her 2 girls, or swimming in the sea.  A keen runner, she has completed many marathons, ultra runs and more recently triathlons. Running Long is her favourite active passion, with good friends and beautiful views she loves the freedom of exploring the less accessible routes.  In her downtime she loves nothing more than listening to music and being creative.

Sarah believes that exercise goes way beyond being a useful tool for managing weight or for aesthetic benefit.  She like to take a holistic approach, encouraging people to find enjoyment in pushing themselves and to find a way to embrace exercise into their lifestyle.   The benefits of an active lifestyle come over the long term, physically and mentally and it should not be used as a quick fix or feel like it is a battle with your body.  Getting out there and being active, she fully believes, can build confidence, energise and empower you and most importantly make you smile!



Gerry is a retired Edinburgh GP who has lived in Applecross since 2003. He writes, ‘I feel privileged to be a member of this very special community in the beautiful Applecross peninsula’.

Gerry is a qualified Mountain Leader, has been a member of the local (Torridon) mountain rescue team for 17 years and has an intimate knowledge of the local mountains.

He completed his first round of the Munros in 1996 and did them all again, in 2010, in 88 days, raising £50,000 for a charity (L’Arche). His second round remains the fastest known by a pensioner.

He has climbed on six continents and has substantial experience of dealing with altitude related illnesses having been expedition doctor for over 200 at ‘very high altitude’ (3,500 -5,800m) of whom over 50 went to ‘extreme altitude’ (over 5,800m).

At 77, Gerry’s mountaineering activities are mainly confined to pottering up the local hills with his grandchildren but he continues to be extremely active and is due to run his seventh consecutive London Marathon in October.



Agnes started training karate at the age of 8, after her brother told her that wasn't for girls. She stayed in the dojo (a space in which karate is practiced) for many more years, after her brother got bored with karate and quit. She always wanted to become a teacher after watching her Sensei (martial arts teacher) and dreaming she would be like him one day.

After graduating from Adam Mickiewicz University she started working in schools and nurseries but it wasn't quite what she wanted to do. She did two years post graduation studies at the Eugeniusz Piasecki University of Physical Education, to become a PE teacher, and learn more about martial arts, exploring the art of judo, kick boxing and Krav Maga.

On her 30th birthday, Agnes had heart surgery, after which she needed to learn how to walk and even breathe again. She was told she could never go back to karate. It took her 6 months to recover, each day training hard to take one more step, and to be able to breathe normally again.

After recovery she was back at the dojo, getting standing ovations from her colleagues on her first day of training, which was a big moment. Almost a year after surgery she ran a half marathon, with a result 18 minutes faster than her last one.

During recovery while her plexus still needed lots of support, she discovered Qigong and was amazed by its power and beauty. Qigong taught Agnes to listen to the body more carefully. Because the “body talks”  and if we would only listen, we could easily get all the answers we are looking for.

It has been years now since the surgery, but Agnes still thinks it was one of the best lessons she learned, as it taught her how to be brave, resilient and honest with herself.

After that experience she started to look for more inspirational holistic body movements and discovered the work of Alexander Lowen, Moshe Feldenkreis, Ido Portal and Wim Hof, which she added to her everyday practice and to her karate teaching. She had the honour of working with amazing teachers as Sensei Piotr Kowalski, Grandmaster Won Kiew Kit, Doctor Petr Palagin and Emma Bonnici, who showed her that our body is amazing, and by listening to it, we learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

Aside from the inspiring past,  Agnes loves to take her two crazy dogs for long walks. She has a little boy, who is the most lively and stubborn person she knows, but also her greatest teacher. She lives in Applecross, works at the primary school and runs karate classes for kids and adults at the Applecross Karate dojo.

Meet the Team: Meet the Team
bottom of page