Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 will spotlight, celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland. Each month we'll hear from people with a passion for stories, and get an insight into their work.
Tour guides are some of Scotland’s best storytellers. We spoke to Kenneth Bramham of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association, to find out more about his work and passion for Scotland’s stories.
What does your job involve?
My job entails taking local people or international/UK visitors on tour around different parts of Scotland including cities. These tours can be bespoke as designed by myself or as requested by tour or cruise companies, agents or individuals/families themselves.
They can be walking tours, by coach, by car, chauffeur driven with the main purpose of informing and entertaining my guests. I have also on occasions manned hospitality desks in hotels to inform guests about attractions they may want to visit and tours they may wish to take. I can also be asked where is the best place to get some authentic Scottish food and drink!
I studied geography at the University of Edinburgh and was interested in how landscapes were formed as well as the connectivity between climate, rock, vegetation and soil. Where better to explore this than in Scotland and my home city of Edinburgh. I guess my interest expanded and becoming a tourist guide was a way I could share this with people.
What is the Scottish Tourist Guide Association and are you doing any special activity for Year of Stories 2022?
The Scottish Tourist Guides Association or STGA was established in 1959 with an aim to provide our visitors with professional tourist guides who will inspire, educate and entertain. We are the only national professional membership body for fully trained and accredited guides in Scotland. We have over 500 members, many of whom can speak a total of 17 different languages.
We are really excited about Year of Stories. Storytelling is our business so we have set up a special page on our website on which our guides will be telling stories relevant to events in each month of 2022 using a range of formats including videos, podcasts and written stories. There are some really great stories and we will be using all our social media channels to showcase them.
Are there any specific particular locations or attractions that you particularly enjoy showing visitors around?
There are so many that I could share but I really enjoy taking visitors to see the magnificent Kelpies (The Helix). Visitors are in awe of these structures and eager to know where they fit in Scottish folklore.
The mystery of Loch Ness never fails to interest and excite our visitors. Their eyes never leave the water in the hope of seeing its most famous resident.
The Montrose Basin is one of the most stunning natural locations I have taken visitors to. Amazing to see all the birds and vegetation allowing visitors to feel at one with nature.
Of course I cannot forget my home city of Edinburgh. Yes visitors want to hear about the history but they also want to know what modern day Scottish city life is like and what makes people tick.
Can you give us a sense of some of the guided tours available in Scotland via Scottish Tourist Guide Association members?
Many of our guides are experts in particular fields of interest and tours can be general or thematic. I have undertaken geology tours around Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh. We can get requests for architecture tours and some of my colleagues offer “Highlander” tours.
We have also designed tours not just for international/UK visitors but specifically aimed at our local residents. In Edinburgh we ran a “Tall Tales” walking tour which covered some of the amazing and sometimes controversial stories behind some of the city’s iconic statues. Glasgow ran the “Glorious and Gruesome” walking tour exploring the city’s medieval origins as well as its magnificent Victorian architecture. They were both well supported by local residents.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
That’s easy. I love Scotland and I love meeting people. Bringing the two together gives me a lot of satisfaction. I like the inquisitiveness of people, the questions they ask, the looks on their faces when they see our beautiful country - around the next bend or street corner - and the way they listen to my stories waiting in anticipation as to how the story ends. Or does it? Some leave unanswered questions. That’s the fun and the mystery.
Why do you think stories are so important to Scotland?
In Scotland we have so many great stories to tell. I believe stories can create other worlds in time, make us laugh and cry and perhaps help us evaluate our own thinking. For me that is why they are important to Scotland- they make information memorable and unforgettable and that’s what I want visitors to experience during their time here.
What are you looking forward to in Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022?
Of course I cannot wait to start my own storytelling again but what I am looking forward to is hearing everyone’s stories - from my visitors and colleagues - because just as I hope my stories will inspire and entertain, I am sure their stories will do the same for me. How exciting.
For further information about the Scottish Tourist Guides Association or to book a guide visit www.stga.co.uk
If you want to get involved in Year of Stories 2022, you can find lots of inspiration in our Marketing Toolkit.