Are you a glass-half-empty or a glass-half-full type? If you're fond of a tipple, your spirits will be lifted by the range of alcohol master classes and tours popping up around the country.
Start your education at the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival (spiritofspeyside.com), which launches on Thursday in one of the most whisky-soaked regions of Scotland. The 50-plus distilleries in the area include The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, and they, along with others, will open their doors to allow you a peek at the production of some of the world's most sought-after whiskies. You'll be among 1.2 million people who visit Scotland's distilleries every year, generating about £25m in income.
The five-day festival features 230 events, including workshops on whisky as a culinary ingredient or as an accompaniment to foods as diverse as chocolate and sausages. Over-indulgence can be worked off on one of the many "drambles" around whisky country.
The refurbished Scotch Whisky Experience (whisky-heritage.co.uk) now offers a series of mini master classes to visitors who take its whisky tour, for a small charge. Themes include discovering your "nose", mixing cocktails, and food pairing.
Cairngorms National Park - Highland Perthshire, Aviemore, Glenlivet, Royal Deeside
Set against the spectacular backdrop of the Cairngorm mountains and ancient Scots Pine Forests, Aviemore and The Cairngorms National Park remains Scotland's favourite all year round visitor destination. Whether you're skiing, snow boarding, climbing, walking or just touring, you'll be doing it in some of Europe's finest and most spectacular National Park.
Sunday, 25 April 2010
Are you a glass-half-empty or a glass-half-full type? If you're fond of a tipple, your spirits will be lifted by the range of alcohol master classes and tours popping up around the country.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Unique and truly Scottish arts and crafts exhibitions where everyone will have the opportunity to come along and see the variety of work produced by local artists throughout the Cairngorms Park. The artists of Creative Cairngorms produce unique, traditionally created work, that cannot be found anywhere else.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
In April 2009 the owners of Inshriach House, Ord Ban Restaurant and Backwoods Productions decided to have a party. They had a venue and some friends and 6 weeks to convince the cream of Scottish folk and contemporary artists they weren’t joking. They sprinkled in the finest local food and washed it down with tasty ales and called it The Insider.
Fast forward to January 2010 and the Backwoods board re-convened (down at the Old Bridge Inn, again with ale) and all were in agreement. The Insider should happen again, a bit bigger and with another stage and lots more bands.
Forward planning was never a Backwoods strong point but The Insider 2009 generated a huge dollop of goodwill so you can expect us to pack a cutting edge and eclectic line up, the best food in the valley and some right tasty beverages. :
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) and Soil Association Scotland are stepping up the drive to increase the amount of food and drink produced locally and eaten locally!
Anyone with an interest in food and drink production in and around the Cairngorms National Park is encouraged to come along to an event next Friday (23 April) to explore ways to increase food production and consumption across the Park. The Cairngorms Food for Life Planning Day at Glenmore Lodge, near Aviemore is taking place from 10am-1pm.
The event follows on from the recent survey conducted into the National Park's food and drink sector which aimed to gather as much information as possible on who is out there, what they are producing and who is buying and selling it.
Ruathy Donald, Economic Development Officer at the CNPA said: "Next Friday's planning event is the next stage in the development and implementation of the Cairngorms Food for Life Development Plan, which aims to get more schools, hospitals and communities using produce from their local area. We hope to get everyone with an interest together to discuss some of the findings of the survey and identify some of the key opportunities that are emerging and gather ideas on how to take these forward."
Among the early initiatives emerging are the establishment of 'grow your own' projects in communities and developing food tourism initiatives across the National Park.
Lillian Kelly, Development Officer at the Soil Association said: "Food and drink production has significant potential to increase its contribution to the economic vitality of the Cairngorms National Park, by meeting growing public demand for local, healthy, low carbon food that is produced to high welfare standards. Around 45 per cent of visitor spending in the Highlands relates to food and drink, and we see a great opportunity to encourage and support further growth."
CNPA board member Alastair MacLennan said: "Using the Park's delicious local produce, whether in a restaurant or at school, will help improve health and wellbeing; provide educational opportunities; develop skills; create employment; and help our work towards creating a low carbon National Park."
As places at the planning day have had to be limited to 50, people are encouraged to register their attendance in advance by contacting Ruathy Donald on tel: 01479 870545 or email.
Monday, 12 April 2010
Glenlivet runners hit the road for charity cash Read more: <a href="http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1685140?UserKey=#ixzz0kuWIW60X">http://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/Article.aspx/1685140?UserKey=#ixzz0kuWIW60X</a>
HUNDREDS of people donned their running shoes yesterday to raise money for charity.
About 400 people took part in the inaugural Glenlivet 10k to raise cash for Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland. The runners enjoyed the Moray scenery including views of Cromdale Hills, the famous Glenlivet Distillery and the River Livet valley.
People of all abilities took part in the 6.2-mile route which took them through Glenlivet village.
Some groups walked together while others jogged.
With all 400 spaces in the run filled, the charity is hoping to raise thousands. A Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland spokeswoman said the charity was “absolutely delighted” with the turnout and thanked participants for taking part.
The money raised will go to those in Scotland who are affected by chest, heart and stroke illnesses. The charity funds medical research, advice, information and support to those affected.
Sunday, 11 April 2010
April 29th - May 3rd 2010
Themed on Whisky, Food, Music and the Heritage & Culture of Speyside, the 2010 Festival will offer a wide array of quality events. Come along and join in the fun! Why not join us at the opening dinner? Or learn all about whisky at the Whisky School
For a list of what's on at the Festival click here.
Friday, 9 April 2010
Nestled amongst the magnificent scenery of Royal Deeside in the shadows of dramatic mountain Lochnagar, is Balmoral Castle, a gift from Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1852. It has been the official and much loved Scottish residence of the British Royal family ever since.
Queen Victoria established an unconventional, homely Court here and described Balmoral, built in the Scottish baronial style, as ‘my dear paradise in the Highlands’. Not everyone thought as highly of it though. Disraeli disliked it, Lady Dalhousie said ‘I never saw anything that I coveted less’ while Queen Victoria's son Prince Leopold had such an aversion to it he refused to go there at all – much to his mother's annoyance. She would, however, be delighted with Prince Charles, who describes Balmoral as his 'favourite place on earth.'
The Balmoral Estate extends to more than 50,000 acres of heather clad hills, ancient Calendonian woodland, lochs, glens and the silvery River Dee. It lies within the boundaries of The Cairngorms National Park, Britain's biggest, created in 2003. This working estate aims to protect the environment while contributing to the local economy. It is the largest area of arctic mountain landscape in the UK and home to 25% of Britain's threatened birds, animals and plants.
Admission charges include access to the formal and vegetable gardens, wildlife, audio visual exhibitions and the Ballroom, which is full of glorious works of art by Landseer and Carl Haag, silver statues by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, Minton China and artefacts belonging to Kings and Queens throughout history. The Ballroom is used by the Royal Family today and is the venue for events during Her Majesty’s stay. These dances, known as the 'Ghillie's Ball' have taken place every year since Queen Victoria’s reign. Other rooms within the Castle are not available to the public as these are Her Majesty The Queen's private rooms.
During the open season there are lots of events and activities for visitors to participate in, including pony trekking, 4x4 safari tours, guided walks and 'Running the Highlands' training weekends which include fitness training, running, sports massage, nutrition and pilates. What's more, if you decide to tie the knot between November to March, the bright and spacious Pipers Hall is a fabulous place to hold the wedding reception.
In the grounds there is a coffee shop where visitors can relax with a snack while admiring the views. The menu includes tasty dishes like home made Balmoral Broth with freshly baked bread, venison burgers and sticky toffee pudding served with caramel sauce and locally made ice cream.
Contact tel: +44 1339 742534, e-mail: www.balmoralcastle.com
Cost adult ticket: £5 - £10 pp, senior citizen ticket: £5 - £10 pp, child ticket: £1 - £5 pp
Sunday, 4 April 2010
Scotland is increasingly marketing itself as Europe's leading wildlife destination, and with an incredibly diverse range of habitats now hosting dozens of top quality projects and experiences, it's an idea that's becoming plausible.
Home to vast expanses of protected ground and two spectacular national parks, both rural and marine Scotland are awash with wildlife watching opportunities, from bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth to golden eagles on the west coast or sailing
There are countless other projects based around Scottish wildlife, but here's The Guardians Eco writer Katie Wood , pick of the best.
Golden eagles, Cairngorms
On the Glenlivet Estate (part of the Crown Estate), in the Cairngorms National Park, a bespoke nesting platform has been erected to attract nesting golden eagles, which are hoped will shack up there this year. RaptorWatch – a partnership involving RSPB Scotland, Grampian Police, Scottish Natural Heritage and Cairngorms National Park Authority, is monitoring the project. Pine marten, wildcat, deer and badgers are spotted in the woodland, and historic sites to explore include old iron mines dating to the 1700s.
• Glenlivet Estate, near Tomintoul, Aberdeenshire. Stay at the Easter Corrie holiday cottages (01807 590241), which sleep up to six, at Tomnavoulin, within the Cairngorms national park, from £320 per week.
Reindeer were introduced to the Cairngorms in 1952 by a Swedish reindeer herder, Mikel Utsi. He began with 29 animals, and now the herd numbers around 150, some of which roam freely on the mountains, while others live at the Reindeer Centre, close to the Glenmore Lodge outdoor activity centre. You can easily see the animals there or join daily walks to (hopefully) see the herd up on the hill.
•Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, (01479 861228; cairngormreindeer.co.uk). Adults £9. The website features Wild Farm, a stone cottage 10 miles from the estate, with a hot tub and sauna, from £144 for four people per night.
Red deer husky safari, Cairngorms
At the foot of the Cairngorm mountain range in Aviemore, the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre has 30 sled dogs – a mix of huskies and pointers – with whom visitors can practise the sport of sled-dog racing by taking a ride in a buggy pulled by the canine team. You can visit the kennels and museum, or book a three-hour safari to spot a herd of wild red deer.
•Cairngorm Sleddog Centre (07767 270256; sled-dogs.co.uk). A three-hour sled-dog safari for two costs £175pp. Accommodation in nearby B&Bs; can be arranged by the centre, costing from £34.50pp per night.
Dolphin and whale-watching, Scottish Islands
Two decades ago whale-watching was rare in Scotland, but with the increase in wildlife tourism paralleled by the decline of the Scottish fishing industry, many fishermen have turned to it as a career alternative. More than 40 operators now offer whale and dolphin watching in Scotland. Many of these are around the Shetland Isles, Orkney islands, the Hebrides, the Moray Firth and the Kyle of Lochalsh. Sightings of minke, humpback, fin, killer, pilot and sperm whales are all possible, as well as puffins, eagles and seabirds, otters in secluded bays and common and grey seals close up.
•Responsible Travel offers an eight-day Shetland Isles Wildlife Tour from £950pp, departing 10 July. Northern Light Charters (01631 740595) has a six-night Cetaceans & Sunsets cruising holiday in the Inner Hebrides from 28 Aug–3 Sep for £910pp. Island Cruising (01595 693162) has a one-week Shetland Nature trip from 4–11 June for £990pp.
Whales and dolphins, Mull
If you can only get to one destination to enjoy Scottish wildlife, make it Mull, just off the west coast in the Inner Hebrides. The variety of wildlife and habitats on this attractive island is mind-blowing. The Mull Wildlife Experience offers a group holiday led by wildlife experts with a full-day whale-watching cruise to see minke whales and basking sharks and a guided safari to spot otters and eagles.
If you're staying longer on Mull, Loch Frisa, near Aros Mains, is one of the best places to spot white-tailed sea eagles. The RSBP runs Mull Eagle Watch trips from April to September. Contact Craignure Visitor Information Centre (01680 812556) to book.
• A four-night trip costs from £389pp, including return ferry for a car from Oban and B&B; in Dervaig, plus a wildlife tour and whale-watching trip. From 21 April-30 Sep. 0844 804 0020, seescotlanddifferently.co.uk.
Red kites, Stirlingshire
Based at a farm in rural Stirlingshire, these spectacular birds can be seen from a purpose-built hide at Argaty. Only a few decades ago they were almost extinct in Britain but in recent months 30 to 40 kites have been seen each day. At feeding time, staff on the farm give a daily talk in the hide about the kites' behaviour and how they are thriving.
From the car park, there is a 500m walk up a winding path to the hide, which has 360-degree views. There is room inside for 30 people, and also a visitor centre with a wood-burning stove, hot drinks and loos.
•Argaty Red Kites, Lerrocks Farm, nr Dunblane (01786 841373). One-day walk and hide visit: adults £12, children £6, families £30. The Thorntree Barn (01786 870710) at Arnprior, near Stirling, sleeps up to seven people and costs from £350 per week.
Seabirds and seals, North Berwick
Just half an hour outside Edinburgh at North Berwick, the Scottish Seabird Centre provides a fun insight into the wildlife flourishing along this attractive coastline, and is great for families.
Let the kids control webcams in the Discovery Centre to zoom in on wild seabirds and marine wildlife to display live footage of them on a big screen. At this time of year you can see puffins, while in summer the guillemots huddle together on the sea cliffs. The centre also arranges boat trips to the nearby Isle of May National Nature Reserve, located in the Firth of Forth. It's home to one of the largest seal colonies on the east coast of Britain. Although the island is inaccessible from October to March, visitors can also watch seal pups in the Scottish Seabird Centre's virtual wildlife-watching hub.
• Scottish Seabird Centre, The Harbour, North Berwick, (01620 8902202), adults £7.95, children £4.50, under-4s free. To visit the Isle of May, take the Isle Of May ferry with Anstruther Pleasure Trips (01333 310103) from Anstruther in Fife: April-Sep only, adults £19, children £9.50. Stay at the recently refurbished, three-bedroom Craigend Cottage (01620 890209), from £750 per week.
Birds of prey, Trossachs
They call the Trossachs "the Highlands in Miniature", and this 25-mile driving route from Aberfoyle to Doune shows why, running through spectacular mountain-framed scenery from the lowland peat bogs of the Carse of Stirling to the Duke's Pass, amid breathtaking landscapes that are home to 13 species of birds of prey.
Download a map that makes the bird-spotting easy, marked with various points to stop off and see hen harriers, ospreys, golden eagles and more, as well as suggestions for places to fish, walk or stop for a tea or beer break.
• Trossachs Bird Of Prey Trail. (01877 382075) at Gartmore, near Aberfoyle, sleeps four to six from £259 per week.
Red squirrels, Perthshire
Launched in February 2009, SSRS – Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels – is a three-year partnership project to halt the decline of red squirrel populations in the north of Scotland and improve habitat so their numbers can increase.
Perthshire is also known as "Big Tree Country". See the oldest living thing in Europe – the Fortingall Yew (estimated at up to 5,000 years old); one of the tallest trees in Britain – a mighty Douglas fir near the Hermitage, Dunkeld; and the widest conifer in Britain – a giant redwood, also at Cluny House Gardens.
• Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels ; download walks at walkhighlands.co.uk. Stay at Moulinalmond Cottage (07770 350765) near Perth on an estate full of wildlife, including red squirrels. A week's self-catering for up to four people starts at £375.
Elk and wild boar Sutherland
The Alladale Wilderness Lodge and Reserve is an ambitious and controversial project that aims to restore an area of the Highlands to its former state, before many species of wildlife, flora and fauna were driven to near extinction. The fenced reserve offers luxury accommodation plus 4x4 safaris and ranger-led walks to spot the reintroduced wild boar and elk, plus ptarmigan, grouse, kestrel, buzzard, peregrine falcon, sea eagle, golden eagle, water vole, otter, mountain hare, roe and red deer. Other activities include fishing, mountain biking and pony trekking. Accommodation is in a wilderness lodge or two luxury bothies.
• Alladale Wilderness Lodge and Reserve (01863 755338). From £80pp per night, including all meals, safari and ranger walk.
Sightings of otters are common on Skye, seen swimming in the sea, or scavenging along the shoreline. One of the best places to look for them is from the Forestry Commission hide, at Kylerhea, just across the water from Glenelg on the mainland, the setting for the otter's moment of fame, Gavin Maxwell's book Ring of Bright Water.
•Forestry Commission hide, (01463 791575, forestry.gov.uk), free. Rent the Kylerhea Old Inn (innskye.co.uk) for 13 people from £550 per week.
Birds, porpoises and seals Orkneys
Last May, 100 bird species were spotted in one week by the folks at Orcadian Wildlife – and this year they hope to beat the record, so twitchers should look out for grebe, longtailed duck, divers, lapwings, curlews and redshank, and the thrift and sea-squill that turn the clifftops pink and blue. June and July bring seabirds, auk colonies, terns skuas and orchids bloom and porpoises and whales pass by. Early autumn attracts migrant birds and pink-footed geese. The company offers packages that include guiding to spot them.
•Six nights at the working Gerraquoy Organic farm (01856 831 240, orcadianwildlife.co.uk) with meals and guiding, costs £995pp per week.
Friday, 2 April 2010