I started working within the travel industry in Africa, mainly South Africa, but more on a travel agency basis. (I’m) based in Scotland so I thought I’d give this a shot. I started a website for tourism about four years ago and got quite a good following. My area of Scotland wasn’t getting a lot of tourism and I took it upon myself to improve the tourism industry here.
What’s special about the Clyde Coast of Scotland?
We’re near Glasgow in an area called Clyde. A lot of people come to this area to go somewhere else. If you want to visit the Scottish Isles, you come to our area on your way out, but there’s so much here — it’s unique and quaint. It’s very pretty but it also has very important historical significance, so it’s a good base for people to learn about the culture.
What types of tours do you offer?
I do local walking tours of the hills behind the town and a couple of the town trails. I also do tours of the whole of Scotland — Glasgow, Edinburgh, Loch Ness, all the typical Scotland tours. … I do have a number of set itineraries, but I do get quite a lot of private hires and I’ll see if I can work around their requirements … maybe they have Scottish heritage and want to see where their grandfather was born.
It’s kind of fallen on me, it progressed to this, but now that I’ve found myself here I can’t think of doing anything else.
Do you have a certain style of guiding, or do you just run with it on the day?
What I try to give is a personalized experience. It sounds cliché but I do try to adopt my group during the day. I have a relaxed (style), not sitting on a coach with a bunch of people you don’t know atmosphere.
What’s the best part of your job?
I just like having a chat with people, to be honest.
What’s one of your favourite spots in Scotland?
(After a full-day tour of Glasgow), we make our way to one of the coolest places on the planet: Castle Drover End. It’s a quirky little place in the middle of nowhere — everyone who goes there is completely mesmerized. We go there for a traditional Scottish pint — in the bar everyone’s walking around in kilts.
I wouldn’t say unusual or odd in the sense of bizarre, but I have had strange things like, ‘can you take me to Loch Ness?’ when (they’re with) a cruise ship that has to leave at 6 p.m., and they don’t realize it’s four hours there and four hours back.
Are there any aspects of your job that you don’t like or aren’t keen on?
There’s not one aspect yet that I’ve ever encountered that I’ve found difficult. Oh, there is one thing — the Scottish weather. But the first thing anybody who comes on the tour says is how green and lush the countryside is, so this is a small penalty we have to pay.
What’s something that a guide brings to the table?
When you think of Edinburgh you think of Edinburgh Castle. I like to include the main attractions so you can tick it off your bucket list but also I try to include something I find interesting — I’m a local, I’ve seen nearly everything, so I like to go places I think are completely unique that you wouldn’t always think about. The Edinburgh Vaults are underneath the city and it’s one of the coolest experiences a lot of people miss.
Why hire a guide?
This isn’t a beach vacation, this isn’t a place people are coming just for the hell of it. It’s almost a pilgrimage, whether it’s whiskey or your family history. If it’s such a big deal, it’s worth investing to make sure they do it right.