Introducing a Scottish HeroWritten by Catriona Stevenson
I have not long come back from a tour of Oban, Skye and Inverness starting and ending in Edinburgh (with Gavin Nicholson of Invergordon Tours) with a wonderful family from Canada. However this was not your usual tour, we had some celebrities in our midst…..
well the great-great grandsons of one anyway, Michael and Kyle Watson and their mother Sheyrl Watson, partner Keith Comeau and Kyle’s newlywed wife, Nitika. Who was the celebrity I hear you say? Well none other than the Scottish Arctic and Antarctic Explorer, a certain Mr William Speirs Bruce...I mean the man has been abbreviated to WSB from those in the Marine Biology field. How many people can say that huh?
When we discovered we were taking the family of this famous ancestor around Scotland, we thought it was a great opportunity to link them up with the Scottish Marine Institute (SAMS) in Oban to discover more about him. We could not have been more delighted with the outcome and the generosity shown by the staff there. A big shout out to the institute's director, Professor Nicholas Owens, Professor Anushka Miller and all the other staff at the institute for making their visit so special.
Firstly they had made a lovely presentation for the family to enjoy which included exceptional early film footage of WSB arriving at Millport over 100 years ago. We also got to enjoy some footage and photographs from his successful Antarctic expedition.
The biggest surprise however, was the attendance of the local MSP Mike Russell, who had some wonderful news to share with the group. As of a couple of days before the visit, an honorary plaque, paid for by the Scottish government, had been erected in his honour at the British Antarctic Survey Research Station on Signy Island (in the South Orkney Islands) and a laboratory there has been named after him. You couldn’t make it up! It was an emotional visit to recognise a once unsung hero whose work inspired a whole field of study with the advancement of science and knowledge at the core of his beliefs and ethics. The struggle to continue the fight for the recognition of this great man is still ongoing but we are delighted by the progress made so far.
In fact a couple of days after the visit, our group made the front page of the National Newspaper in Scotland and I was as proud as punch for the family and WSB’s granddaughter who was in Canada being updated on this milestone in her grandfather's name.
You can read a bit more on the man himself HERE
After the trip, we visited the Oban Distillery and then made our way over the sea to Skye. We had 2 fantastic days exploring this magical island and I was in great company the whole time. It was a pilgrimage for the 2 young men in the group; to learn more about their heritage and the land of where their father was born. I was very privileged to share these moments with them. We visited locations such as Dunvegan Castle, Neist Point, the Fairy Glen, The Old Man of Storr, Lealt Falls and the Quiraing. The highlight was visiting Neist Point in the fog, you couldn’t see a thing but hey, that is how legends are made and it was one of the funniest photographs of the trip.
Gavin took over the tour on the 2nd day in Skye and he then took them onto Inverness after a wonderful trip on the Jacobite Steam Train. After speaking with them, they had a wonderful time and enjoyed visits to Fort George, a boat trip on Loch Ness and a wee visit to Culloden Battlefield.
We had a wonderful time with the Watsons and I am excited to see the awareness of WSB grow in the future. It just goes to show, anything is possible, we made this tour happen for the family of a man who did the impossible against all odds!
If you are looking to tour Scotland, whether it be to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors, or if you would just like a magical experience in our stunning country, please get in touch!
On a separate note, I would like to make a shout out to the Allt a Choire Bed and Breakfast, where I stayed, they were superb!