Meet us, the team


Meet Secret Compass’s UK-based staff and the industry-leading expedition professionals who lead our adventurous projects in the world’s wildest places. For questions about working with us, read our Journal, The Compass, or how to work with Secret Compass.

MTB mountain biking Tom Bodkin (c) Dan Milner

Tom Bodkin

Director and Co-founder

Tom co-founded Secret Compass and is its Managing Director. Tom has extensive experience in providing innovative and creative risk and location management solutions to TV and Film in remote and hostile environments for the BBC, Ch4, Discovery and Nat Geo. He has worked in locations as diverse as Afghanistan, Norway and Nicaragua. He spent six years as an Officer in the Parachute Regiment, working in Africa and the humid rain forests of Brunei. He is a qualified Jungle Warfare Instructor and commanded on operations in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2010, where he worked alongside Afghan security forces.

A highlight for him in the early days of Secret Compass was pioneering tourism into South Sudan, where he led a team into the Imatong Mountains. Tom was central to our ground-breaking expeditions into Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, leading the first ever mountain bike expedition through the high mountains. He has explored southern DRC and pioneered a route though Upemba National Park. He has also led jungle trekking trips in the Darien Gap and Madagascar, mountain biking projects in Ethiopia and ski touring expeditions in Lebanon.

Tom’s qualifications include Security Risk Management (Level V), Mountain Leader, MTB Leader, Swift Water Rescue and Wilderness EMT. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and is passionate about ski-touring, snowboarding, kite-surfing and mountain biking as well as travelling through the world’s wildest places.

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Bryony Balen

Operations Manager

Bryony has managed to tame her itchy feet long enough to join the Secret Compass operations team. Her mission ‘not to have a boring life’ has taken her all over the world with expedition highlights including becoming the youngest British woman to ski from the Hercules Inlet to the South Pole and cycling the length of New Zealand.

Her expeditions with Secret Compass include exploring DRC’s Virunga National Park as well as crossing Madagascar, traversing the Sinai desert and assistant-leading the 2017 AMECA fundraising challenge to Malawi. Always looking for another challenge, if she can’t be out on an expedition the next best thing is planning them for other people.

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Chris Hunt


With a background in content creation and a degree in journalism, Chris spent his early 20s as a writer in the surf industry, travelling wherever possible in between largely in the pursuit of waves. Before landing at the Secret Compass headquarters in 2017, he spent the previous year working his way south from Mexico to Chile dividing his time between organic farms, vineyards, mountains and the coast.


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Amy Bibby

Project Manager

As a member of the Secret Compass operations team, Amy ensures our team expeditions and projects run smoothly. With a background in environmental science and volcanology, she’s always had a passion for wild landscapes and mountains.  Her favourite place in the world is “probably anywhere in a tent!”.

Though her first love is hiking, she’s willing to use most methods of transport to get herself to a beautiful camping spot, be that hiking, paddling or cycling, and has recently taken up riding lessons to add to her repertoire. Her travels have taken sea kayaking amongst icebergs in Alaska, up active volcanoes in Mexico and to the mountains and valleys of Nepal.

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Ally MacLeod

Digital Media & Marketing

Spearheading our marketing activity, Ally is our Digital Media Manager. Stranded in the Scottish wilderness she spent her junior years in her element; in a pair of hiking boots or on the back of a horse. After emerging to undertake a journalism degree in London, she left for the French Alps, working as journalist and in destination marketing, while running a start-up ski, snow and surf brand over four winter seasons.

Her professional experience since covers the full digital marketing spectrum, making her the ideal person to communicate the SC breed of adventure to everyone seeking authentic travel experiences.

When she’s not leading with strategy and new creative approaches, Ally has a ‘master of none’ attitude to adventure; whether it’s surfing in Morocco, cycle-touring Cuba, or multi-day trekking in Iceland. Having said that, she is bent on skiing, and more ski-touring is what next winter’s all about.

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Rea McGown

Community Manager

Despite only intending to venture south of the border for a few months, Rea is now a permanent fixture in SCHQ, and the driving force behind our adventures. With countless hours spent gathering inspiration, pouring over social media and navigating many a time zone, she is the first point of contact for anyone looking to escape their everyday.

Completing a degree in Adventure Tourism Management and gaining a commission from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst; planning, problem-solving and quick thinking is second nature to her.

Rain or shine, mountains are her favourite playground and first ascents are quickly becoming her thing. With exploratory travel experience in over 40 countries, when she’s not busy developing new ideas or assisting on our unique TV projects, you’ll find her taking every opportunity to work remotely in an attempt to satisfy her wanderlust.

Her heart will always be in the Highlands, but as a keen adventure photographer (who’s slowly getting her head around the Instagram thing) she hopes to continue documenting her own adventures one hashtag at a time.

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Dave Lucas image in DRC

Dave Lucas

Expedition leader

Dave has spent over 65 months on expeditions in 85 countries from Europe and Asia to Africa and Latin America. He thrives on exploring for unclimbed areas of the world and has climbed new routes in dozens of countries. To Dave, the climbing is the ‘icing on the cake’ and the real ‘fruit and nut mix’ is made from the people you meet, the animals you encounter, the sights you see and the wonderful food you eat.

Dave’s adventures have been on the National Geographic Channel and on Sky TV; in four books; and in seven magazines. He has been recognised by the Royal Geographic Society and has been a fellow since his mid twenties. Dave inspires others by speaking about his adventures at numerous public speaking events. Just one of his many adventures was climbing new routes to explore a ruined inaccessible Ethiopian palace for gold, treasure and legends. Dave lives for adventure and this combined with his professional manner and experience has resulted in his being a very sought after expedition guide.

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Expedition leader Rick Morales Panama Darien

Rick Morales

Expedition leader

Skilled naturalist Rick Morales has done what very few trekkers would even dare to attempt. He’s mapped out a new hiking trail across the length of his home country: Panama. As an expert naturalist and expedition guide, Rick has explored some of Panama’s most remote areas and other neighbouring regions including the Darien Gap between Colombia and Panama. He is highly recognised for his skills and knowledge of Panama’s abundant and diverse wildlife and has had personal encounters with indigenous species including viper, jaguar, monkey, quetzal, puma, ocelot and tapir.

Rick is the founder of the TransPanama Project which aims to develop map sections of trail connecting regions and people throughout Panama. In 2011 Rick became the first person to walk the Panama Trail, a through-hike from the Colombian border to Costa Rica.

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Rebecca Coles

Expedition Leader

Rebecca has been leading expeditions for 15 years. She works as a full-time climbing instructor and leader in the UK and overseas and holds the Winter Mountain Leader, Mountaineering Instructor Award and International Mountain Leader qualifications. Her work and personal expeditions have taken her to all seven continents and most of the Greater Ranges. When not leading expeditions or instructing she is planning her own climbing trips. She has climbed 7000m peaks, first ascents in South Georgia, Antarctica, a major ascent in the Hindu Kush, Afghanistan and been exploratory mountaineering in Tajikistan. In 2011, she returned from Nepal overland and has cycled the length of Lake Malawi solo. Last Autumn Rebecca made a first ascent of a 6000m peak in the Far West of Nepal.

Rebecca has a PhD in Glaciology, is a Wilderness First Responder, sits on the Mount Everest Foundation expedition committee, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, Member of the Alpine Club and is a brand ambassador for Lowe Alpine.

Read about Becky’s First Ascent of Lasarmula (6250m), Nepal in Sidetracked Magazine.

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Expedition leader Luca Alfatti prepares for his day of trekking

Luca Alfatti

Expedition Leader

Luca is the overall winner of Wanderlust Magazine’s World Guide Award 2012. He has travelled extensively, has his Mountain Leader qualification and is a linguistic sponge and walking Wikipedia according to the many happy walkers, trekkers and adventurers with whom he has travelled.

His favourite journeys to date include London to Beijing overland, Istanbul to Cape Town and Quito to Ushuaia. We look forward to working with Luca more on future expeditions.
Read about Luca in Wanderlust

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Expedition leader Lachlan Bucknall preparing dinner

Lachlan Bucknall

Expedition Leader

Lachlan is a former Army Officer, qualified Mountain Leader, UK climbing instructor and ski instructor (alongside facilitating leadership and management training), who has enjoyed mountaineering internationally for over 15 years in Europe, the Americas, SE Asia, Norway and more. Lachlan now works as an expedition leader and his career highlights include leading Secret Compass’s first Burma expedition in 2015, skiing from summits to the sea in the Arctic circle, climbing Illampu (6,400m) in Bolivia, skiing Chamonix’s Haute Route and surviving a two-night bivouac on the North Face of L’Aiguille du Midi. Lachlan enjoys Enduro mountain bike racing, sea kayaking, sky diving and anything else that involves some kind of adventure! Lachlan is a member of the Institute for Leadership and Management.

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As a teenager living in North Wales Tom McLay learnt to push his kayaking abilities to become a river guide and hone his mountain biking and hill skills. Now, from battling through Bolivian jungle to hiking high passes in Tibet, Tom thrives on culturally diverse and exploratory river expeditions. Working as a Paramedic, he affords plenty of time to both personal and professional expeditions and highlights some of his favourite journeys as the Humla Karnali; Western Nepal, Grand Canyon of the Stikine, British Columbia and the Yangtze river, Western Sichuan. Awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship in 2016 he also plays an active role in river conservation.

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Expedition leader Dave Luke Kurdistan

Dave Luke

Expedition Leader

Dave fled the Emerald Isle as a teenager and a travelling obsession ensued. He has led expeditions and supported TV productions in the Himalayas, Andes, Rockies and South African and European Alps; to the deserts of the Middle East; and to the jungles of Central America and Madagascar. He is Mountain Leader, Wilderness First Aid and Vector Borne Disease Control qualified and is a member of the Alpine Club. Career highlights include climbing L’Esfinge (a 22 multi-pitch, 5.10d Alpine rock route in Peru at 5,300m) and guiding Cholo Peak (6,091m) plus volcanoes in the Pacific NW of the USA and European 4,000m peaks from the Matterhorn to Mt Blanc. Dave joined Secret Compass in 2013 and has led our expeditions and TV crews successfully across deserts, through jungles and summiting unclimbed peaks. This followed 14 years in the military as a Royal Engineer with whom he worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, and qualified as an Army Diver and Airborne Sapper.

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Alex Bigwood

Wilderness Instructor

Alex has 15 years of military expertise, partly in Special Forces. He has been leading expeditions and instructing wilderness related courses for almost a decade on multiple continents including, Antarctica, the Middle East and the Americas, specialising in medical support and private services in high risk areas.

His qualifications include Red Cross Advanced Wilderness and Remote First Aid Instructor, Certified Wilderness Instructor for the Professional Association of Wilderness Guides and Instructors (PAWGI) and multiple Military qualifications in medicine and advanced warfare. He is passionate about wilderness survival and wilderness medicine, and currently serves in the Army Reserves as an Infantry Instructor.

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Expedition leader Paul Taylor Nepal

Paul Taylor

Expedition Leader

Paul is a former soldier with 26 years of service around the world. He is a jungle warfare instructor and has trained soldiers in Borneo, Belize and in Sierra Leone where he spent a year running a battle school near the Liberian border. He is now a mountain and expedition leader who, when not travelling, enjoys fell running and ultra marathons. He has completed the Marathon des Sables and the Brecon Beacons Traverse (31 peaks over 2,000 ft in 24 hours) and came joint first in the inaugural ‘Hadrian’s Hurdle’ race along Hadrian’s wall. Paul also works with Team Rubicon UK and been deployed on operations to Nepal, Haiti, South Carolina (USA) and Keswick, Tadcaster, UK.

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Expedition leader Phil De Beger smiles contently all geared up for his trek in Kurdistan

Phil De Beger

expedition leader

Phil has first ascents of extreme grade rock routes on five continents. In 2009 he was part of the first team ever to ski between the two most northerly Inuit settlements in the Canadian Arctic. He has led successfully on 8,000m peaks but is now going back to his routes as a first ascentist and leading on virgin Himalayan peaks. Supported by RAB, Phil aims to start working towards IFMGA certification this year. Phil’s also qualified as a Remote Medical Practitioner, is a member of the International Society of Remote Medical Practitioners and is a Fellowship Candidate for the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.

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Expedition leader Emma Linford

Emma Linford

Expedition Leader

Polar specialist Em has operated in extreme environments the world over; from the sea ice of the high Arctic and high altitude mountains, to the African bush and desert tundra. During a month-long exploration of the Northwest Passage, Em led a team of Polar adventurers to report first-hand on the condition of the sea-ice, raising awareness of the Arctic region as a climate change indicator. In her free time, Em has explored her own limits and resilience through multi-day adventure racing and biking championships. Her continuing passion is free running in the mountains. Em led a bespoke Secret Compass expedition to stay with the Nenets reindeer herders on SIberia’s Yamal peninsula in 2015.

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Expedition leader Pete Meredith

Pete Meredith

Expedition river leader

Pete’s love affair with rivers and white-water rafting started in 1990 on the Tugela River in South Africa. He moved to the Zambezi in 1994 and is now based full-time in Jinja, Uganda. Pete is perfectly situated in the heart of his ideal stamping ground (and indeed in the heart of Africa) where the rivers are warm and run all year round and with the Nile as the perfect training ground and backdrop for many a bespoke and group adventure.

As a world-renowned paddler on Africa’s biggest rivers, Pete was the obvious choice to lead Secret Compass’s ambitious river expeditions and we are thrilled that he has been able to work with us on various bespoke and group adventures including to Uganda’s Murchison Falls.

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Expedition leader Greg Hill gives expedition briefing in Malawi

Greg Hill

Expedition Leader

Greg is a former British Army officer who has led expeditions around the globe, from deep jungle treks to climbing volcanoes, and from navigating deserts and traversing the Pyrenees to first-descent white water rafting. He is a keen adventurer, ultra distance runner, outdoorsman and an experienced Remote Team Medic. In 2012 he led the Secret Compass Madagascar Mountains and Rivers expedition with great success and is always searching for the next challenge. Greg’s next Secret Compass expedition will be his second visit with us to Malawi, leading a fundraising trek that will spend time visiting AMECA clinics – a charity very close to Secret Compass’s heart and a chosen charity for Lev’s Walking the Nile project.

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Expedition leader Ade Summers

Ade Summers

Expedition Leader

Ade is an experienced Expedition Leader, Mountain Guide, Trekking Guide, Sea Kayaking Guide, MTB Guide and a keen photographer. Originally from Wales, he’s now based in Sydney, Australia. Ade spends his life criss-crossing the globe leading teams in the most remote and far-flung regions of the world. Ade has climbed, trekked and travelled on all seven continents. His highlights include leading the first trek into Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, developing new routes in Mongolia and leading a trek up the frozen Zanskar river. When not working Ade enjoys everything Australia has to offer, including canyoning, sea kayaking and the Sydney lifestyle.

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Expedition medic Kate Page Madagascar

Dr Kate Page

Expedition Medic

Kate joined us in 2012, when she became the only woman to finish the first expedition to walk across Madagascar (including the final day’s epic 55 mile march). A veteran of Iraq, Kate cut her teeth in expedition and remote medicine, planning and logistics during nearly 10 years in the British Army, where she supported operations and exercises around the world. She has accompanied National Geographic into South Sudan, the BBC into the Empty Quarter of Oman, and braved crocs and hippos to accompany our pioneering Murchison Falls rafting trip.

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The Journal