John Alasdair Macdonald (The Hebridean Explorer)
I was raised on a small croft (a traditional Highland agricultural landholding) near the coast, in the village of Coll, on the eastern side of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. My family have been on the same croft for over two hundred years (at least since 1815 ) and for generations my ancestors were crofters and fishermen - much to my father (ex-fisherman) and two brothers (a crofter and a sailor) shame, I never found my sea legs!
As a young child my first language was Scottish Gaelic and I didn’t begin to learn English until I started school. However, my schooling was dominated by the English language (not so for my much younger brother who actually went to a Gaelic Medium School) and by the time I reached my teens, English had become my main language. It is due to my mother that I have kept some Gaelic - she refuses to talk to me in English.
I left the Highlands at seventeen to go to college in Edinburgh. Twenty five years later I finally finished a degree! After gaining a degree in Scottish History and a Masters in British Studies from the Centre of History at the University of the Highlands and Islands, I am continuing my studies through a part-time PhD programme, researching the Scottish Gaelic clans of the central and west Highlands during the mid-eighteenth century.
For the last seventeen years, I have been based near Inverness, in the Loch Ness village of Drumnadrochit. Before beginning The Hebridean Explorer, my wife and I owned a Bed and Breakfast - in fact it’s where the seeds of being a tour guide came from. Spending time talking to guests about where they were going, I thought - wouldn’t it be great to actually take people there! I am now very fortunate to be able to do a job I absolutely love, travelling the Highlands and the Hebridean Islands, visiting the best sites and the real scenic gems, sharing Highland history and brushing up on my Gaelic!