A former chimpanzee tracker is walking across Scotland and, in the tradition of bards, telling stories as he goes.
East Lothian’s Daniel Allison, 30, is following the Southern Upland Way, camping wild, and telling children and adults traditional Scottish stories at several stops along the 212-mile route.
He told us: “I’m doing this to educate children and adults about Scotland’s wonderful folklore and astonishing natural heritage and hopefully, through sharing these stories and stories of my own adventures, I will encourage people to get out and explore themselves.”
The professional story teller studied English and creative writing in Brighton and has travelled widely. He was a chimpanzee tracker in Uganda, where he also taught English. He also taught English to Tibetan refugees in India and was latterly a massage therapist.
He explained: “I became a story teller because I’m a writer and I have always had a deep love of myth and folklore. I discovered there was an oral storytelling society in Scotland and that you could making a working living telling stories and I thought that’s the job for me, I had to do it. I managed to wangle a couple of gigs and now, four years later it’s my full time job.”
He explained his decision to cross the south of Scotland telling stories “Inspiration came from the tradition of wandering storytellers such as the Scottish ‘seanacaidh’ and Viking ‘skald’. They would criss-cross the land, gathering inspiration in the hills and forests then spend a few days in a rural community telling stories before moving on.
“As a life-long writer and lover of stories and a keen explorer of wild places, I saw in the tradition of the wandering bard a chance to bring his two passions together as well as to introduce audiences to a little-known but very important figure in Scotland’s folk history.”
He has walked 200 miles in Himalayas “but this is going to be a really different challenge because I have to be certain places at certain times and be in a vaguely presentable state,” he said.
Daniel expects to reach Cockburnspath on Friday, September 20, and will hold a free hour and a half event in the village hall there starting at 7.30pm.