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Rennie McOwan 'a true son of Scotland'

How did you become a tour guide?

A question I have been asked more than once, and I enjoy answering it! 

In my opinion, my ‘job’ is like no other. Private day tours and multi-day tours all over Scotland.

Covering large parts of the country and getting to know wonderful people from all over the world. It’s only natural for clients to ask my story and how I became a tour guide.

The journey from stranger to friend happens quickly on a private tour!

Trying to paint the same picture of Scotland that my Father painted for me has always been my aim on any tour and hoping some of the memories, stories and folklore live on after my guests have left these shores. 

Travellers who visit Scotland, have very different needs and wants. 

Scottish Guided Tours - Tours of Scotland

Private Day Tours of Scotland

Explore a variety of private day tours of Scotland with Scottish Guided Tours. Private guided tours offering you complete door to door convenience.

Private multi-day Tours of Scotland

Multi-Day Tours of Scotland

Book an overnight private tour of Scotland with Scottish Guided Tours. Embark on a 2 day private tour or plan a 14 day private tour of Scotland.

Day Tours of Scotland

Bespoke Private Tours of Scotland

Plan your very own, private bespoke day tours or multi-day tour of Scotland. Private guided tours of Scotland focused your time frame and interests.

 

Private bespoke tours, whisky tours & castles. William Wallace, Highland Clans and Tartan.

A mixture of all of the above?

Most of all, a fun and relaxing experience. Sitting back, watching the world go by, and exploring the remote Scottish countryside with a private guide.

Remembering dates, folklore, trying to capture a Scotland, certainly not taught when I attended school, can be daunting on your first tour.

I remember mine very well indeed!

Every guide has a tale to tell of how they ended up in this incredible job — my own starts with my Father, Dr. Rennie McOwan.

Mountaineer, author, broadcaster, poet, access campaigner, and a true son of Scotland’

From my earliest memories of camping on the Scottish mountains’  with my Dad (with no tent, I might add) to the lengthy family hikes in the snow.

The car journeys heading North on family holidays or watching Dad on TV.  

Hearing his typewriter from the end of our street sounding like some old printing press. Fingers a blur, meeting newspaper deadlines, or keeping the flow and passion in a new chapter of the latest book.

My father’s passion came in part at an early age from epic tales of this own Grandfather and Great grandfather—legendary Highland Stalkers ‘Old’ Donald Ross and his son Johnnie Ross.

 

The article below is from the book “The best of Scotland on Sunday,” 

An annual publication of the best of that particular Sunday Newspapers features from the year past.

Dad wrote for many newspapers, including the Herald and Scotsman. Contributed regularly to The Scots Magazine as well as TV and radio programs.

Rennie McOwan Obituary 

The Best of Scotland on Sunday

Small but beautifully formed ( ‘The Best of Scotland on Sunday’ ) 

 Rennie McOwan

Sometimes hill gangrels argue about which hill is the most northerly on the mainland. The Munro-baggers have a clear-cut case: Ben Hope, above Strath More, is clearly the most Northerly Munro, followed by Ben Kilbreck (pronounced kee-bree), and both can be reached via the A836 Lairg and Tongue road in Sutherland.

I once participated in a lighthearted discussion at Cape Wrath over whether a nearby swelling constituted a hill. But, aesthetically, one of the most northerly mountains of stature, is surely Morven in Caithness. At 2313 feet, it is not big, and for those who love categories, it is not even a Corbett (2500 feet needed), but it is very big when seen from the terrain where it belongs- the flatlands of Caithness, the rolling brown moors besprinkled with lochans, the small fields, with their ‘fences’ of Caithness slab, the big skies, the little fishing villages that have known other, more prosperous times and the many ruined houses, relics of changing patterns and enforced eviction.

 

The expansionist Norsemen gave us the name Sutherland, their south land, and Caithness derives from old Norse, Katanes, the naze or nose of the Land of the Cat, from the Gaelic Cattey or Cattadh.

When they looked south across the flatlands, they saw a blocking wall of mountains, which forced the trade routes, as they still do, down the eastern coast.

Morven takes its name from the Gaelic for big or great mountain and it dominates this area, has magnificent views over wide moorland and wild glens, and is flanked to the west by the long cut of the Strath of Kildonan. Two lovely rivers, the Berriedale and Langwell, flank it on the north and south.

Here I have to declare an interest,. My mother was born at Langwell, and my Grandfather, Johnnie Ross, and my great-grandfather, old Donald Ross, were stalkers on the Duke of Portlands estate. Donald Ross was known all over the northern counties as a head stalker of great experience, a man who thought nothing of using his tongue on guests who would not accept his instructions and a friend as well as an employee of the Duke.

Donald Ross once threatened a guest with a gralloching knife after he had called him a fool. The guest demanded that he be sacked, but it was the guest that left that night. He also had a fight with the French chef and sat on his head and shouted, “Waterloo! Waterloo!” The Duchess wanted Donald sacked. The Chef left. Donald stayed.

Guests in Whites Club in London crowded to the window to watch him walking down the street, wearing plus-fours and carry a crook and saying “good morning” to everyone he met, in the same manner as Crocodile Dundee in New York.

His son, Johnnie, contracted tuberculosis in the days before it could be cured, and the Duke sent him to Rhodesia to start a tobacco farm in the hope that the climate would cure him, but he died there.

Granny Ross must have had a big heart to travel there by ox wagon, found a home and with the only other male her eldest son, then aged 14. My mother said she sometimes wept thinking of the chuckle of the Caithness burns, and she longed for the feel of rain on her face. But she returned to Scotland and died there after a long life.

Morven is special to Caithness people, and so are its neighbours, the long ridge of Scaraben and the sharp-pointed, lovely, small peak, the maiden pap. Morven is a landmark to sailors and a weather barometer for local people.

Caithness people of my mother’s generation, such as author Neil Gunn, took pride in local people ‘getting on’. I read in an old history that seven distinguished Edinburgh Caithness students early last century had formed themselves into a kind of self-help band which they called the Corriechoich Brotherhood, named after a bothy and part of the glen on the Braemore side of the mountain.

The modern landowners of the Wellbeck Estates now have a popular gardening centre at Langwell, and water from the hill burns is bottled, canned, and exported, surely one of the most cost-effective businesses in Scotland.

The estate prefers hillwalkers to climb Morven from the northern, Braemore side, where a minor road runs west from Dunbeath. Cars must be left beside the phone box at Braemore Lodge(checks are requested during stalking). A track leads to Corriechoich, from where the mountain can be gained over rough ground. The southern route up the beautiful Langwell Glen is also very attractive, and both glens have produced poetry and songs of praise from Caithness people.

Morven cannot be put into a mathematical category. Like Bennachie in the northeast or Dunchuach at Inveraray, it has a special character for local people, but it’s the size, stature, setting, history, and vistas that make its name truly appropriate, the Great Mountian.

Rennie McOwan 1933-2018

Highland Tours
Looking across farmland near Halkirk to Morvern, the highest peak in Caithness at 2313 ft,

 

 

Why Scottish Guided Tours?

Door to Door Service

Your private tour guide shall greet you at your chosen location. Hotel, B&B or even Cruise Ship Terminal. The most convenient start possible to your private tour of Scotland. Complete Door to Door service from Scottish Guided Tours. 

Tour guide Edinburgh

Your Guide

‘Niall is an experienced Scottish tour guide. Raised in the mountains and glens of Scotland and inspired by his father, renowned Scottish author and historian Dr. Rennie McOwan, Niall feels passionately about his role as a bespoke private tour guide.

Transport

Our brand new vehicles ensure great views, comfort and plenty of room for all travellers and luggage. Private Tours of Scotland exclusively for your group of travelling companions.

Scottish Guided Tours

Private Tours

Scottish Guided Tours deliver fantastic private tours of Scotland exclusively for your group of travellers. No travellers shall be mixed with any other private groups. Bespoke tours of Scotland designed around your time frame & interests.

Covid-19 Precautions

All vehicles are meticulously cleaned. Face masks and sanitiser are provided. Private guided tours are exclusively for family or fellow travelling companions. Private tours of Scotland are the safest way to travel.

Chesapeak Tourist
Chesapeak Tourist
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You Won't Regret a Tour with Niall! In the spring of 2018, our party of 3 adults visited Scotland for the first time. We arranged a day-long private tour outside of Edinburgh with Niall McOwen. Before arrival, we exchanged emails about our expectations. Some attractions the three of us asked to see were probably the usual tourist fair for first time visitors, but Niall also took us to places we didn't even know to ask about! Mr. McOwen was considerate, interesting, knowledgeable and truly concerned about the desires of our group. Around mid-day, the restaurant he chose provided us with good food, a bit of shopping and some time for us to get to know each other better. Getting to see this beautiful country through his eyes helped me to understand more of Scotland, its history and its citizens. If we are ever blessed to visit Scotland again, Niall will absolutely be included as part of our trip.
Lori Q
Lori Q
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An Epic Day to Remember! Scottish Guided Tours offers some preplanned itineraries, but their specialty is in working with you to customize a single or multi-day tour to fit your specific needs. We’d been to Scotland in the fall of 2017 and started planning our second trip as soon as we got back. We wanted to go to places a bit off the beaten track this time, so contacted Niall McOwan of Scottish Guided Tours. Niall built on our “must see” request, and suggested some other sites that worked well with our schedule. He picked us up from our hotel, and gave us an absolutely epic day to remember! One highlight was visiting an Old Kirk that is the final resting place of the famous Highlander Rob Roy MacGregor. Just behind the Kirk, we hiked up a trail that took us to a rallying point overlooking Loch Voil. A stone cairn at marked the place where Clan MacLaren would have lit a fiery cross to summon their men to battle. The view from this spot was just breathtaking! Throughout the day, Niall filled us in on the significance, history, and lore related to our stops. In addition to taking us to absolutely stunning viewpoints and ruins, he knew the best places to stop for lunch, coffee, and restrooms. 🙂 Our entire experience with Scottish Guided Tours from planning to the drop off back at our hotel was smooth, professional, friendly, knowledgeable and fun! I can without any hesitation recommend this service to anyone looking for a custom tour in and around Scotland.
Laura M
Laura M
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First guided tour, Don’t often write reviews but felt the need to for our trip. We live in Spain and decided on a little trip back to the motherland,we were not disappointed and our trip was made even better by Niall,his knowledge and passion for his country and what he does is evident,not your bog standard repitive tour guide,there was not one day of our trip that he didn’t have us laughing. Can highly recommend Scottish guided tours,we will return and when we do,we will definitely be booking with Niall.
Kirstie B
Kirstie BEdradour Distillery & Best of Scotland Day Tour
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Best of Scotland & Edradour Distillery Day Tour We spent a really entertaining and informative day with our guide, Niall ( Neal in Gaelic). He took us north to see the three bridges from different eras that span the Firth of Forth. It was fun to see a train go over the old one. Then we were off to Dunkeld, the river Tay, a wee hike in the woods to find a salmon ladder (alas,, no salmon running at that moment), coffee at a charming shop in Dunkeld, a tour at Edradour Distillery, the only remaining hand made single malt whiskey in Scotland, and the smallest to boot. We had a quick look at the village of Pitlocry, and ended the day at Loch Tummel to see The Queen's View. One more coffee stop, and it was back to Edinburg. But the best part of this fine day was the time we spent with Niall, who was a font of information, jovial and witty. As one does, we compared cultures, talked about everything under the sun, and laughed together much of the time. If you are looking for a tour guide with a warm demeanor and a kind and helpful personality, Niall is the best.
Ickles Family
Ickles FamilyPrivate Tour of Scotland
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Best Day Ever!!!! My family and I had the good fortune to have Niall as our personal tour guide for a day during our vacation to Scotland. We found that one day wasn't enough! Niall taught us more about his country in 10 hours than a professor in History could have done in 10 weeks. He was an absolute pleasure to be around. He made sure our day was spectacular from beginning to end. We can't wait to go back and let Niall show us more!
DMarieC
DMarieCExtraordinary & Outstanding
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Extraordinary and outstanding! With all the great tour guides I have hired, Niall stood out. He was with our family from Nov. 21-25. He picked us up at the Edinburgh airport and we started touring immediately. seeing the Kelpies, South Queensferry and the Forth Bridges all in the first afternoon. After that, we spent four more days together while he regaled us with history, legends and fairy stories. He listened and did not interrupt. Niall seemed to know how much to talk and how much to listen. He played the most beautiful Scottish music as we drove. We felt immersed in Scottish history and culture. He even wore his kilt for two of the five days. He went out of his way to accommodate our dietary needs. (It really helped that he is vegan himself.) We traveled through ancient woodlands, burial sites, battlefields, castles, fairy pools and fairy glens, mountain ranges, Outlander, Harry Potter and other film sites. We ended up enjoying him so much that we considered him part of the family and wanted him for the rest of our stay. Finally, we all noticed how kind Niall was with not only us, but with everyone including other drivers, restaurant staff and hotel staff. I only hope that he will be available when we return. We thought that Scotland was magical and that magic was mainly because of him. We would never tour with anyone else. Niall is the very best.
Wendy M
Wendy MPrivate Tours are the best!
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Private tours are the best! Spending a day doing what you want to do is the best tour option! We had been on many small group tours and found them enjoyable, but for the ultimate tour experience, choosing your day exactly how you want is definitely the way to go! Niall, at Scottish Guided Tours, is the man for the job! He picked us up at our hotel, and we spent the day exploring the Trossachs National Park. We visited four lochs (lakes), several historical locations, explored at our own pace and hiked to breathtaking locations that we wouldn't have known about if it weren't for Niall's expertise of the area. You don't need a headset to explain every step of the way when Niall is happy to provide you with history and insight into each location. He is also kind, funny and a great companion for touring around (he knows all the great food stops, too). During our last visit to Scotland, I felt the tour stop locations were a bit crowded, and I wanted to do a little more hiking into the depths of the beautiful forests of Scotland. We hiked to incredible mountain viewpoints, beside streams and along lochs. It was the best! Of course, if hiking isn't your thing, the beauty of Niall's tours is that you can do anything you want - well, with time and distance considered. 🙂 Don't hesitate, contact Niall to discuss 'your' trip. You won't regret it!
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