Scottish Highlands Q&A: Duncan on Heritage, Food & Skulduggery

Andrea SzyperSubmitted by
We chose Duncan MacKellar to be the on-site staff for our new Scottish Highland Untour for many reasons. He’s already been a huge help to our first guests in the region this fall. Meet the newest addition to Untours’ global family of friendly on-the-ground hosting staff.
Tell us briefly about what you’ve done before your work for Untours?
Professionally, I trained as an engineer and my two brothers and I ran our own engineering business in the Highlands of Scotland for 25 years, servicing the offshore oil and gas Industry. I also assisted in my wife’s accommodation business, which gave me the pleasure of meeting new people and introducing them to the Scottish Highlands.
What do you think you bring to the Untours work, personally?
I bring a smile, authenticity, and heritage. A bit like a good dram!
I am also very conscientious and aware that our Untour guests may, on occasion, require a bit of support, from explaining the etiquette of driving on single track roads to understanding the bank notes, which are actually a bit more confusing than you might imagine. I am ready to help.
What are your hobbies and passions?
My hobbies are almost all sport, playing golf and cycling. I recently cycled west to east across Scotland at its widest point for charity. It took us three days, and it only rained once!
My passions include travel, family, and history. Not necessarily in that order. I enjoy sharing travel experiences and researching my family tree. I am passionate about our communities in the Highlands and about our history.
What is your favorite thing to do in the Scottish Highlands?
One of my favourite things I enjoy doing is hosting family and friends from outside the Highlands and taking them on a tour of some of the magnificent countryside we call home,
along with telling them a wee story or two. Turn another corner and there is a different story. It is a land of legend and mystique (and add in the occasional bit of skulduggery).
How would you describe the culture of the Scots to visitors?
Scotland’s ancient traditions and culture remain vibrant and are a living legacy of the past, with each generation taking ownership and making their own contribution. Whether it is the
Highland Games, clan tartans, kilts, music, bagpipes or whisky distilling, each and others remain valid in today’s environment. Comments have been made about the sound of the
bagpipes, some complimentary, some not so, but I would challenge any person not to feel the stirring of emotion when the massed pipe bands play. It is truly unique.
What surprises visitors most about your region?
Val has already mentioned the unicorn as the national animal of Scotland, but there are a few more surprises, from Scots who were inventors, administrators and lobbyists throughout the
modern world to the narrowness of our single track roads as main arterial routes in the North and West Highlands.
For example, Scotland had no National Parks until 2002, it currently has two. Yet John Muir, who was born in Scotland, is billed by the US National Park Service as the father of National
Parks. He was instrumental in creating Yosemite National Park in 1870.
What is something that people overlook in this region?
The food. Scotland has a world class larder from which to source its food. There are many examples of this: beef, venison, and lamb to name a few. But you have to experience
a seafood dinner in the Highlands. Enjoy!
What do you hope visitors remember about their time in Scotland?
The genuine warmth of the welcome they receive, the light hearted banter otherwise known as ‘having the craic’. The smile on their face when they remember the Highlands of Scotland.
For the record, craic is pronounced “crack” and means fun and merriment. See Duncan and his mate above, having a bit of the craic. Meet Duncan on a Scottish Highlands Untour.

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