A 25-year military career gave James the opportunity to specialise in personal development and leadership. This led him to discover and enjoy the outdoors in locations such as Africa, the Gulf, the Far East, the Falklands and the United States. On leaving the Army he returned to Scotland to establish an outdoor training centre on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll.
Since then he has walked, climbed, skied and hauled sleds in the Alps, Greenland and South America, while continuing to write and lecture on teamwork and leadership.
As Chairman of the Colintraive and Glendaruel Community Council, James devised the Cowal Way route, seeking to encourage others to visit and enjoy this little-known part of Scotland. He obtained Heritage Lottery Funding to develop the route and to publish the original guidebook in 2001 through the Community Council.