By David McVittie
A COMMON sight around Langholm and the surrounding area these days is that of Sir Ivanhoe.
No, not the one of Sir Walter Scott fame but rather the touring car of Armstrong Tours, the preferred mode of transport of tour guide Adam Armstrong-Crisp.
Adam set up Armstrong Tours in 2016 but says it really took off in June of last year.
The inspiration for setting up Armstrong Tours came from a deep-rooted love of border and, in particular, Armstrong history.
This had been planted by Adam’s granddad, Robert, who would tell the young Adam tales of daring do from the Armstrong family histories, filling his head with tales of Johnnie Airmstrang o’ Gilnockie and all his famous and, sometimes infamous family.
Having been born and raised in Leicester, Adam had originally thought to start a touring company there.
It was awash with Roman history and could boast a good number of famous people with which to construct a tour but the draw of his ancestral homeland was too great.
Adam has taught himself the Borders stories and histories which he needs to know to be an efficient tour guide.
Everyone, who has been on his tours, says the same thing; his enthusiasm for the stories shines through with each telling.
This enthusiasm and energy were also evident when he volunteered to be a tour guide on the Reiver Trail.
While volunteering, he honed his skills at storytelling and learned a myriad of facts and figures relating to the Border Reivers and the bloody history of the area.
In 2016 Adam approached Dayne Smith of Let’s Go Dumfries and Galloway and says the help he was given was invaluable to the success of setting up the touring company and a website.
He also received help from Business Gateway and VisitScotland.
He said: “There are too many people to thank them all individually but I’m so very grateful to everyone who has helped me in any way.”
Armstrong Tours mainly tour the Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Northumberland, the real reiving country.
He added: “I also take tours to Stirling, Edinburgh and Loch Lomond and this year I’ll be branching out into the Highlands & Islands. The “Skye’s the limit”.
“Although an Armstrong, I show none of my forebears’ animosity towards other border names and have tours booked by Littles, Johnstones, Grahams and Elliots for the coming year.”
He will take tours of his namesakes when the Armstrong Gathering is held at Gilnockie Tower this July, hoping to tell tales of historic Armstrongs like Johnnie o’ Gilnockie and more modern Armstrongs, like Neil, Lance and Louis.
Knowing that his first year of business may be quieter as he got himself established, Adam made the shrewd move of getting his private hire car licence as another source of income while the business was in its infancy.
He is available for airport runs, pick-ups and drop-offs any time of the day or night.
It’s refreshing to find a business trying to bring people into the town and, with good luck and a fair wind behind him, that is what he will do.
As the Armstrong motto says: Invictus Maneo, (I remain unvanquished) and, hopefully, that is true of the town.