T2 Update

T2 Update

What a rush!

We were totally swept away in February by the media frenzy surrounding T2, and the fantastic interest in the running tours as a result. RTJ was lucky enough to get his magnificent moustache featured in the Edinburgh Evening News, along with an article explaining the concept (link below) and a few other newspapers picked up the story, and that had a huge impact on the number of tours going out. So much so, that we were busier in February, which is usually the quietest month for tourism in Scotland, than we were in August, which is supposed to be peak season!

Possibly the funniest moment was when RTJ got a bit over excited and scrawled “1690” on himself in permanent marker, only to discover that the runners booked on hadn’t actually seen the film, and just thought he was a bit mad as a result! There were quite a few runners joining us on tour who hadn’t actually seen the film, and it was really fun trying to take them to the locations and tell them the stories, all the while avoiding spoilers.

The tours, taking in the sights and stories around some of the filming locations, as well as recreating classic scenes from the film, were a great success, and as a result we’ll be keeping them going through the summer as well, so there’s still a chance to get on one if you haven’t made it up to Edinburgh yet!

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Niall’s Adventures Abroad: Part one

Niall’s Adventures Abroad: Part one

Following the end of high season, intrepid explorer RTJ wasn’t the only one of the EMF Guides to set a course for the four corners of the wide world. For the first part of eight months of life away from the UK I was destined for India.

I am half Indian but had never actually been to the country from which one whole side of my family originated. So working with the British council in an Indian school was an opportunity too good to be passed up. So off. I went for five months and in those five months I experienced things like none other and genuinely feel like I have been to another planet.

It is hard to put into words all the things I experienced and how wonderful they were, but to name a few: I went hiking in the Himalayas and watched the sun rise and set over those same stunning mountains, white water rafting on the Ganges, I told Scottish stories in Hampi, taught ten year old Indian children some Rabbie Burns and watched England play India at cricket in Mumbai. All of which may well have been topped by the day I met a wonderful elephant called Radah who is now my best friend.

India is a magical country, full of colour, vibrancy and diversity. Indeed, following my return to the UK I feel like I lived a dream for five months. Fortunately it wasn’t long before I got to set off into the world again and I currently write in a café in South Africa. I shall update you all on that very soon. But until then I bid you all adieu.


Taj Mahal
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Tour Guides on Tour Part 3: Life and Death in the Desert

Tour Guides on Tour Part 3: Life and Death in the Desert

We last heard from RTJ after his running tour of Cape Town, so where did he end up next?

The day after the running tour of Cape Town, I loaded my bag into an old converted Mercedes truck and headed north to the Namib desert, with the intention of camping out under the stars, finding some wildlife, and surviving in conditions of up to 40 degrees.

I never thought I’d get to see a desert, and it was an experience I’m not going to forget in a hurry. Those who know me know that I’m built for winter. That guy who’s always in shorts, regardless of conditions? Yeah, that’s me. Cold, wet, I understand, these things I can deal with, but the brutal, cloudless skies of the desert? A mystery. To me, the heat, the dryness, the seemingly endless dirt, sand, and the sheer vastness meant death.

In amongst the dust and the sand dunes, however, there were still signs of life- specially adapted and accustomed to its environment, the creatures of the desert have made the most out of their harsh abode. By trees that had stood dead for almost a millennium, I found scurrying bugs, lizards, there were birds soaring above and signs of the roaming herds of animals.

I learnt about the Bushman, the humans who lived in this wasteland long before colonists arrived and all but wiped them out. I learnt about the techniques developed to live in this environment, about the special adaptations that the animals had evolved for gathering and storing water, about just how well life has adapted out there.

It’s a fascinating place, and if you haven’t been to the desert I highly recommend experiencing it.

I get the feeling I’ll be back someday, for now though, onwards….

Life and death in the desert
Life and death in the desert
Life and death in the desert
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Tour Guides on Tour, Part 1: James goes to Norway

Tour Guides on Tour Part 1: James goes to Norway

“November 1st? Sure, why not…” Well, I can actually think of one MAJOR reason why not, but the flights are almost £100 cheaper, so yeah, that sounds fine. The reason? Samhuinn. A fire festival in Edinburgh (at which two of our guides are volunteer performers) that finishes at about 5am, giving me approximately 4 hours to wash off all the body paint, pack, and get myself to the airport for the 10am flight to Oslo. But still, £100 is £100, and with Norway being famously expensive to foreign travellers, I book the cheaper flights, and use the saved £100 buy enough dehydrated camping food and whisky to last a week, and off I go.

As with every trip I take, I did a little research into where I was going, and learnt the importance of leaving a small pile of ammunition for the local trolls. If you leave them supplies, they will leave you alone; if you get chased by them, you have to run or hide until sunlight, when they will either flee the brightness or risk turning to stone in its glare, so when I found myself at the base of the highest waterfall in the country (Vettifossen), I thought it best to leave a little offering to the guardians of the pathways, just in case.

The searing beauty of the west of the country is hard to describe- using Laerdal as a base we explored the Sogneford as much as we were able to, seeing 12th century Viking churches, seemingly endless torrents of frozen water and snowy mountaintops, icicles forming structures that resembled magnificent church organs, and some of the most remarkable night skies imaginable.

I would love to claim that I went out running every day, but with temperatures dropping to -22 degrees at one point, I decided that a week off was alright. I supplemented the running regime with a healthy dose of walks in the fjords, scrambling through frozen mountain passages to get to forgotten areas in the snow, the only company the wolves who’s pawprints I had spent the past few hours tracking…

After a week in the wilderness, I pack up my things, head to the airport, and get on the plane home. You would think that after a week in the winter wilderness I would be prepped and ready for the Winter Warmer running tour to get underway, but 18 hours after landing I’m on another plane, bound for a very different climate; that story you’ll have to wait to hear about in part 2…


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James' Accidental Marathon
My Accidental Marathon

My Accidental Marathon

We had a fantastic weekend over the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, and welcomed loads of folk onto the running tours. It was amazing to get the opportunity to share our beautiful city with so many people, and I had a bit of a funny accident…

I’ve never really been a fan of long distance running. My preferred distance is somewhere between 10-20K, and I’d never really had a desire to go further than that. On the Friday of the EMF weekend, we had four tours go out back to back, and at the end of the day, I looked at my watch to discover that I had done 22 miles. “22 miles?” I thought, “well, what’s another 4.2?”

So, despite never having the urge to do so, I ran a marathon that weekend! Whilst my pace was very gentle, and I stopped for lunch half way, I’m still really pleased that I made the distance, and have a new found respect for those who run 26.2 at race pace!”

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