About James

IMG_1386Hello, I’m James Campbell and thank you for visiting the web-site. I have been providing private guided tours of Scotland since 2005 and before this studied Scottish History in Edinburgh. I am a member of Visit Scotland, Scotland’s national tourism organisation. I hope you find this web-site helpful when planning your visit to Scotland.

I have a professional qualification in tourism having spent eight years planning tours in the UK and Europe. However, it is my homeland where my expertise lies and I take great pleasure in planning your bespoke tour of Scotland. My tours focus on historic and cultural Scotland including local tales, folklore, food & drink and the natural beauty of this northern country.

The car I use for touring is an 8 seat Volkswagen Transporter long wheel base. It is fully air conditioned and is extremely comfortable with a full leather interior. The car sits nice and high on the road and the cabin is the most spacious of these types of vehicles. The long wheel base means the luggage space is big, again the biggest of this type of vehicle. The car is perfect for accessing all the smaller back roads throughout the highlands and islands.

Since 2005 I have had the pleasure to meet some of the nicest people from all over the world and I am happy to say that Scotland has become a favoured destination of the people I have toured with. I have provided tours for repeat clients but even if you visit Scotland just once, it will provide you with lasting memories.

I have also provided and planned tours for clients including, Amazon (European management event), Disney Corporation, Destination Management companies NoteWorthy Events London, American & European Travel Agents, Celebrated Experiences USA (Scotland, UK and Ireland specialist), The Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh and Clan Sinclair Society to name a few.

A wee bit more…

I was born in Edinburgh and have lived in this historic city ever since – it is my home town!  Like many families from the south of Scotland, my first holiday experiences were spent in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. My first holidays in the mid 1970s, when I was around 6 years old, were to places like St Andrews, Inverness, Oban and Pitlochry. Through the early 1980s my family ventured further north to Sutherland and it was on these journeys that I realised how tranquil and stunning the Highlands of Scotland are. To this day I still travel to these beauty spots with my own family and I am also fortunate to travel there with tourists from all over the world, showing them the places that we Scots love too.

My first visit to continental Europe was in 1984 on a family trip to the small Spanish town of Torrevieja. Spain is a country I still enjoy visiting to this day; I have travelled extensively throughout Spain including personal favourites of Castille, the North West Celtic regions and the Basque country.

I have travelled across the USA, from New England to California and coached soccer in Southern California where I have family in Burbank. I tested my driving skills on Highway 1 driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles and I must admit it was almost as good as driving through the Highlands of Scotland!

I am a member of the John Muir Trust and am proud to call him a fellow Scot. John Muir’s family emigrated to America in 1849 from Dunbar just east of Edinburgh when he was 11 years old. At the age of 30 he arrived in California which then became his home and it is from here that his reputation – as a naturalist and conservationist – spread. His involvement in the setting up of Yosemite National Park and a number of others earned him the title ‘Founder of the American National Parks’. www.jmt.org

Away from touring I enjoy all kinds of music and play the acoustic guitar. I enjoy walking and being outdoors in the Scottish countryside. I also enjoy photography (perfect if you are a tour guide in Scotland) but most of my time is taken up by our young family!


The Campbell Clan…

The Campbells are one of Scotland’s most famous – some say infamous – clans. This is due to the legendary and often overhyped long running feud with their fiercest rivals, the MacDonalds.

The Campbells rose from relative obscurity in the 13th Century to become the most powerful clan in the western highlands during the later middle ages. Originally spelt Cambel, the name derives from the Gaelic Caimbeul, meaning ‘crooked or twisted mouth’ this perhaps being a characteristic of an ancient chief.

The clan’s ancestral heartland is Argyll on the west coast of Scotland but the first Campbell in written records, Gillespic, in 1263 showing grants of land to him and his relations in the heart of Scotland to the east of Stirling. Gillespic’s son Cailean Mor – ‘Big Colin’ – held sway over the people of Loch Awe in Argyll from his island stronghold of Innis Chonnell. The Campbell’s gained this land through marriage to the heiress of the O’Duines which brought the Lordship of Loch Awe. Through this connection the clan took its early name of Clan O’Duine, a name which was later supplanted by the style Clan Dairmid, from the fancied connection with a great hero from early Celtic mythology, Dairmid the Boar.

The original seat of the clan was Innischonnell Castle on Loch Awe an area controlled by the Campbells by the early 14th century. At first the Campbells were under domination of the MacDougal Lords of Lorne who killed the Campbell chief Sir Cailen Mor (Big Colin) Campbell in 1296, and this was the clan chief from whom all subsequent Campbell chiefs took their patronym MacCailein Mor – ‘son of Big Colin’.

The clan’s meteoric rise to power began with Cailean mor’s sons who supported King Robert The Bruce during the wars of Independence in the early 14th century. One son, Neil, was handsomely rewarded, marrying the Kings sister, Mary. Thereafter Neil’s, descendants built up their power base in the west of Scotland courtesy of their close ties with the Bruces and the Stewarts. In the latter 14th century the Campbells acted as the crowns eyes and ears in the problematic west and were instrumental in the downfall of the empire of their great rivals, the MacDonalds Lords of the Isles, who were finally forfeited in 1493.

Campbell support for central government brought rewards. In 1607 Archibald, the 7th Earl of Argyll, was granted former MacDonald lands in Kintyre while Campbell of Cawdor gained the island of Islay and most of Jura from the MacLeans.

Throughout the 16th & 17th century the Campbells wholeheartedly embraced the new Protestant religion and fought against the catholic clans and the Stewart dynasty. Devastation on both sides ensured a political and religious history which still stirs emotions to this day.

The present Chief of Clan Clan Campbell, The Duke of Argyll, Torquil Campbell resides in Inverary Castle with his family.

Castles of the Campbell Clan – Innis Chonnell Castle on Loch Awe. Kilchurn Castle at the head of Loch Awe. Duntrune Castle. Dunstaffnage Castle by Oban. Inverary Castle, Inverary. Castle Campbell, Dollar. Argyll’s Lodging, Stirling. Cawdor Castle, by Inverness.

A wee bit more on touring…

Scotland is a wonderful touring country because of its size and what’s on offer. It is a small country with plenty of opportunities to explore. You have everything here – stunning landscapes, fascinating history, built heritage, nature, friendly people, unique culture and it is all accessible. There are no long drives of hour upon hour of endless straight roads. There is a sight, view or interesting stop around almost every corner. A private tour of Scotland gives you the freedom to explore each site at your pace and enables you to get ‘off the beaten track’ to discover small places of unique charm and character.

I have years of experience organising private tours of Scotland and specialise in all ground arrangements throughout Scotland from point of entry pick up to drop off.

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