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Jonathan says ‘aye’ to Scotland

A FORMER lawyer turned filmaker from Carrutherstown is aiming to show the world the wonders of Dumfries and Galloway with a series of short films on YouTube

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By Zac Hannay
Annan and Eskdale
Jonathan says ‘aye’ to Scotland
NEW LIFE . . . lawyer turned film-maker Jonathan Wheeler

Jonathan Wheeler fulfilled a long held ambition when he made the move north of the border with wife Serena in 2021.

Hailing from Leicestershire, the qualified solicitor rose to become the managing partner of a large law firm in the East Midlands.

He said: “I eventually stepped away from that life due to numerous health problems.

“Dumfries and Galloway held great appeal to both of us due to the stunning natural environment and the vibrant creative community here.”

Gripped by wanderlust, the 54-year-old has always been full of a desire to travel, and after watching existing travel videos on YouTube, Jonathan felt he could produce something better.

So, he started his first YouTube channel, Travel Obscurer, three years ago. Growth has been steady and videos on the site now achieve over 10,000 hours of watch-time a month.

With a keen interest on making content closer to home, second channel Eye Scotland came into being at the end of July.

On the new channel, Jonathan plans to show off the region from Stranraer to Moffat.

So far, it features short videos on Langholm Common Riding, Dumfries and Vikings and Normans at Annan History Town’s summer festival.

Jonathan said: “From being a kid I have always been obsessed with travel. I have been to over 80 countries now, many that are not typical holiday destinations.

“I realised that there were so many stories to tell in Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland generally that it would be a sensible idea to begin a new channel.

“For example, I am travelling to Iraq in October and viewers around the world wanting to watch films about Baghdad will generally form a different demographic to those wanting to learn about Eskdalemuir.

“It’s a great thing to be able to share these videos. But from my point of view I get a far more in depth look. There’s a lot of proper research to be done and I’m going far deeper and really finding out more.

“From childhood I was always inspired by Michael Palin’s travel programmes and thought – I would love to do that.

“I used to watch many YouTube travel films as research but found most of them to be of poor quality or sensationalist.

“While there is a limit to what you can do with just one person, I prefer to do it in a much more professional way.”

He added: “The experiences that I have had whilst filming here have completely validated the decision to move.

“Everyone I have met has been keen to get involved, discuss their town’s history and traditions, and share a passion to expose the county to a wider audience.

“It is often said that Dumfries and Galloway is a forgotten part of Scotland and I tend to agree with that.”

Videos in the pipeline for Eye Scotland include the Samye Ling Monastery at Eskdalemuir and Gretna Green.

They will be pencilled into the diary in between trips to Iraq and Pakistan for the Travel Obscurer channel.

Jonathan added: “I do need to make some money from it, and the main channel is now making me some money.

“You need to keep at it and eventually the YouTube algorithm starts to send your film out a bit further.”

Firmly settled in the south of Scotland, Jonathan is looking forward to see what the future holds.

He said: “I love this, I love meeting people and I love the creative approach. It’s entirely different to what I was doing before. I do feel this is the real me and this is the environment that I have always wanted.

“Whilst I made a good living before, that is not everything.”

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