Guide launches free Edinburgh tours with 'ancestor' of Greyfriars Bobby

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Calum takes tours with his Skye Terrier who looks just like the world-famous Greyfriars Bobby.

The legend of Greyfriars Bobby who loved his master beyond the grave still touches the hearts of people around the world.

Now 150 years after the loyal Skye Terrier died a local guide has launched a unique walking tour, with an 'ancestor' of the world-famous dog as his companion.

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Calum Ferguson started doing tours inspired by the legend of Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh's most famous dog, after he got his 'little scruffy black' puppy Rowie.

After taking in Rowie who is now one-year-old he believes the pup could be the 'great, great, great, and a few more greats' granddaughter of the legendary Skye Terrier, who sat by his master’s grave for 14 years.  

He says the wee dog is the perfect companion on the free, twice-daily tours which take in Greyfriars Kirkyard, St Giles' Cathedral, the Royal Mile, Victoria Street and the Grassmarket. The meeting point is Bobby's statue which stands proudly in Edinburgh’s Old Town, in front of the pub and kirkyard which share his name.

Visitors praise Calum's knowledge of the city, stories and even his Burns songs. But for many, it's Rowie that steals the show.

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Calum said: "Everyone loves Rowie. Some people who are travelling have pets back home so they give her a lot of attention. People get loads of photos with her. She's a great colleague. She loves to walk and has so much energy. You can see how much she loves all the smells and sights. Most of the time she stays close by the group but she does love to run about and play with sticks and squirrels too. The tour is perfect for dog lovers. I have a sausage dog too, but she is not so fond of walking!"

Rowie the pup accompanies Calum Ferguson on free tours of Edinburgh Rowie the pup accompanies Calum Ferguson on free tours of Edinburgh
Rowie the pup accompanies Calum Ferguson on free tours of Edinburgh

After getting Rowie when a friend's dog had puppies, he started taking his favourite canine companion out on tours last August. Since launching officially in January after going through third-party sites he has had rave reviews with many giving it five stars.

Calum first dabbled in tour guiding after he'd moved to Edinburgh twelve years ago for University, where he studied acting. He went onto work in Television production and script writing. But he always knew he wanted to get back to tour guiding.

He added: "I love this job so much. I get to meet people from around the world and tell them about my home city. Edinburgh is such an amazing place to live. Doing the guides I get to experience it as if I'm on holiday, you see others enthusiasm every day. And it makes me appreciate the city with new eyes. It's so rewarding. I think everyone should take the tour!"

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"You get asked all sorts. Once at the Castle a visitor asked what time the one o'clock gun fired. It wasn't a joke! I love telling stories but my favourite is by far the story of Greyfriars Bobby. I remember when I was very small coming to Edinburgh and how captivated I was by the story of this wee dog and his loyalty. That's such a rare thing in this world."

Calum has ambitious plans to run different tours including Edinburgh Castle, food tours, ghost as well as Harry Potter themed. He also has his sights set on big things for Rowie.

He added: "We had this idea that there could be a reboot of the Disney film about Greyfriars Bobby starring Rowie. We'll need to get some photos of her sitting by the grave. She's a bit of a showman. I think she needs to take it up a notch though I don't want to be a pushy parent."

The Greyfriars Kirkyard has seen a surge in visitors in recent years due to its connections with JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. It's claimed the site has been 'trashed' by bigger operators, which bring in dozens in groups several times a day.

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Calum recently joined together with other guides who want to help preserve Greyfriars Kirkyard. He said: "We have a big responsibility to make sure we help preserve the site. Sometimes free tour guides have been a bit demonised, there's this misconception that we are not as knowledgeable. But I take a lot of pride in what I do.

"I think without free guided tours we'd end up with people just wandering about. As guides we keep people on designated paths and make sure they are always respectful of the space. I'm happy people want to come here, it has so much cultural significance."

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