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Our Year of Stories

Hi there!

Jenny here, one of the owners of Walking Tours in the UK. I saw Venture North had posted a blog about their Year of Stories and thought it would be a good idea to reflect on what it means for us.

If you’re not aware, Visit Scotland runs themed years and 2022 is the Year of Stories. That means that they’re highlighting Scotland’s stories throughout the year as part of their destination planning to encourage more visitors to come to Scotland. It’s a great initiative and we’re so glad that this year is the Year of Stories.

So, what does the Year of Stories mean to us? Well, it’s what we do every day! Stories are being told all across Scotland (and soon to be England) every day by our guides. Most of them true…!

Stories, in my eyes, are such an important way of sharing. By meeting a local of a city you don’t know and hearing their stories of their city, you get an insight into the culture, language, and people of that place. Stories tell us so much about a city and the people in it, and that’s why it’s important that we keep sharing our stories with people visiting our beloved towns and cities.

Stories allow us to connect to people. When people visit Scotland, they want to understand how Scottish people live today and learn if the stereotypes are true or not (no, we don’t wear kilts all the time and no, we don’t eat haggis every night for dinner BUT we do love a drink…). We’re all human and there’s always a way to find that connection with someone, whether they’re your next door neighbour or they live 5000 miles away. To me, that’s the beauty of travel and spending time with a local when you travel; you learn more about what makes humans human.

There are so many little stories to discover across Scotland from Flora Macdonald in Inverness to Devorgilla, the Lady of Galloway. The beauty of meeting Scottish people is that we all have a funny or interesting story to tell, and we all have a passion for carrying on our ancestor’s stories. If you’re not Scottish but visiting us here, ask a friendly face in a pub what their favourite Scottish story is, and soon you’ll get the whole pub talking. Or, of course, on your next tour with us, ask one of our guides!

Here are some of our guides favourite stories:

Tommy, one of our Glasgow guides, favourite story is “the secret tunnels under Glasgow. The city is riddled with them, used as ways into panic rooms, telephone exchange and even to the gallows at the Green. I think there’s more than meets the eye with this one.”

Simon, one of our Inverness guides, favourite story is “around Simon Fraser 11th Lord Lovat aka ‘The Old Fox’. Last person to be beheaded in the Tower of London for his Jacobite sympathies and credited as being the inspiration of the modern day saying ‘laughing your head off’. Alleged to have said, ‘The greater the mischief the better the sport’ and laughing as spectator scaffolds accidentally collapsed, killing many at his own execution. Supposedly buried in Wardlaw Mausoleum in Kirkhill near Inverness, but subsequent investigations revealed the coffin was actually full of random (female) body parts. Final resting place, unknown.”

Caron, Eurovision-obsessed and one of our Glasgow guides, favourite story is “we have a Eurovision Song Contest winner from Glasgow!!! Of course it’s Lulu! Fae Denniston!”

Mojo, one of our Edinburgh guides, favourite story is “about fate – Zannah Stephen was an Edinburgh Uni postgraduate student who established her own landscape gardening business in Edinburgh. She sadly died in 1997 in a diving accident off the coast of the Galapagos Islands. Her friends and family sought to erect a memorial in James Court, off Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket. The location reflected her fondness for sitting and contemplating quiet corners of the bustling city which she loved. An objection was made by the Free Church to the proposed memorial – they being unaware of the meaning of the word “trug” which was to form part of the memorial. Family representatives when meeting with the Church to address the objection discovered that in a room in the Church offices overlooking James Court was a portrait of one of Zannah’s ancestors, Alexander Moncrieff, an 18th century minister, and a chair on which he had knelt to pray the night before he led the first Secession from the Church of Scotland in 1733. The objection was withdrawn and the memorial – including the trug (a basket for carrying flowers) – now sits quietly in James Court.”

Katrina, one of our Glasgow guides, favourite story is of “James McCune Smith. He was the first African American to get a medical degree and got it at Glasgow University. Born a slave. The new student hub building at Glasgow Uni is named after him.”

We hope you enjoyed reading about what stories mean to us and some of our guides’ favourite stories. We run tours across Scotland’s towns and cities every single day. Come and explore Scotland with us, have a look at our tours here.

a group of people standing in front of a building

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