A new start after 60: after 30 years teaching computing, I became a tour guide. Now I show people the most beautiful places in the world

Freddie Johnson always loved showing friends around the Scottish Highlands. So when he was made redundant, he turned it into a job


A New Venture

Freddie Johnson, a former computing teacher, always enjoyed taking friends on tours of the Scottish Highlands. When he was faced with redundancy at the age of 60, he saw an opportunity to turn his passion into a career.

Having spent more than 30 years teaching computing at Edinburgh College, Johnson's spare time was dedicated to exploring the stunning landscapes of the Highlands with visiting friends. He realized that he could potentially earn a living by showcasing the beauty of Scotland to others.

Taking the Leap

In 2021, as Johnson's teaching role began to downsize, he decided to take a voluntary redundancy and pursue his idea of becoming a tour guide. With a small pension to support him, he embarked on a new chapter in his life.

Armed with his enthusiasm for the country's most famous tourist spots and years of experience as an explorer, Johnson applied to work as a tour guide for a local company called The Hairy Coo. He underwent training and shadowed seasoned guides before he was ready to lead his first tour.

Finding Purpose in Guiding

Johnson's journey as a tour guide had a rocky start. On his first trip to Loch Ness, he was faced with unexpected questions about Scottish independence, as well as nervousness. However, despite these initial challenges, he persevered and eventually earned five-star reviews from customers.

Now, 18 months into his new career, Johnson works part-time for The Hairy Coo. He drives a minibus, leading groups on three- and five-day trips around Scotland, as well as guiding smaller private groups. Johnson finds great joy in his role, as he gets to share the beauty of places like Glencoe and Skye with visitors from all over the world. His approach combines his teaching background with a mischievous side, ensuring that everyone has a fun and informative experience.


A Journey of Learning and Bonding

As he guides tourists from various backgrounds, Johnson has discovered his own unique way of connecting with them. He carefully curates playlists that enhance the atmosphere during the journeys, ranging from classical music to Scottish favorites like the Proclaimers.

Driving for long hours at a time, Johnson has encountered challenging situations, such as witnessing a motorbike crash during one of his tours. However, these experiences have also brought the group closer together, showcasing the resilience and camaraderie that can emerge during unexpected events.

Johnson's dedication to his newfound passion keeps him engaged and constantly learning. He is now researching for an Outlander tour, which will allow visitors to explore the settings of the beloved historical fantasy series. Through his work, Johnson has found a true sense of purpose, comparable to his previous work as a teacher, as he creates unforgettable moments for people from all walks of life.