Eat Local Scotland
2013 is being hailed as the Year of Natural Scotland – visitors are being encouraged to come and celebrate the outstanding natural beauty on offer. There is certainly no shortage of options here.
You’ll find historic landscapes, mountain ranges, unspoilt habitats, natural playgrounds for climbers, walkers and skiers and splendid wilderness abundent with wildlife. All this rugged untouched landscape and coastline offers up a plentiful larder of naturally-grazed meats, game and great seafood. It’s no wonder that Scotland is a fabulous foodie destination too.
Ali's Eat Local loves
Cullen Skink (eaten in Cullen of course), venison steak, Arbroath smokies, Connage's organic Dunlop cheese made in the Highlands, served on Scottish oatcakes and malt whisky – of course.
The loch-side bustling farmers' market at Balloch has stunning panoramas of Loch Lomond and is a great way to spend a day stocking up on supplies. The best of the Scottish landscape’s produce is in abundance here. From vegetables and fruit to smoked salmon, wild venison and Arran cheeses. First and third Sundays of every month 10-4pm.
Our Club Site is right next to the West Highland Way walking track, which makes the stroll to the Oak Tree Inn a particularly scenic one. This award-winning pub, constructed with local slate, is a great spot to enjoy a simple and local menu, or just relax with the impressive range of malts and locally-brewed Scottish ales.
Speyside is perfectly positioned to experience the true spirit of Scotland. It is home to almost half the distilleries in Scotland – there are about 50 here including some of the biggest names such as Glenlivet and Glenfiddich. Head off on a whisky trail and be rewarded with astonishing scenery and a fascinating insight into this focal part of Scottish life.
Many of the distilleries offer organised tours and tastings to revive the spirit. If you don’t want to drive there are plenty of local tour guides willing to do it for you. Try Roy Mathers tours or Mike Duncan.
This Camping in the Forest Site is a walkers’ haven as it's right next to Loch Ard Forest and its 21 miles of picturesque forest trails. Before heading off, pack a picnic the lazy way – head to the The Byre Inn, in Brig O' Turk, 15 minutes from the site, where they will pack your bag with a lunch of fresh local produce and provide a picnic rug and cutlery should you need it.
Or stay a while in this snug and welcoming gem and enjoy Cullen Skink crumble, Trossach trout fishcakes or venison steaks. You can even bring in your own catch and chef will cook it for free in return for the rest of your morning's haul!
There are a few regional specialities that simply have to be sampled when travelling in Scotland. Whisky is one, the other is traditionally-smoked Scottish salmon. Springwells Smokehouse is about 20 minutes from our Scone Site in the cathedral town of Dunkeld.
The salmon, from sustainable sources, is smoked using whisky barrel and oak chips, which gives it a wonderful buttery flavour. Anglers can even bring in their own catch to be smoked too. They have won numerous awards, including a great taste award in 2012. Perfect served simply on brown bread with a squeeze of lemon.
How about a veniburger as a Scottish-themed camping classic? Head to the small farm shop at Fletchers of Auchtermuchty, just outside Fife to pick up these or other cuts of venison. It is a meat we associate with Scotland with much of it being sourced from the wild.
But John and Nicola Fletcher are effectively pioneers of deer farming in this country. He is a vet by trade so the animals are cared for humanely and with incredibly high standards. The meat is drug-free and butchered and packed on the farm. Well worth a visit.
While waiting for the ferry to Tobermory I suggest you spend your time in here as I did. The Kitchen Garden Delicatessan and Coffee Shop is opposite the ferry quay. A word of warning though, keep an eye on the time as you are likely to be so hypnotised by this Aladdin's Cave of tempting food that the ferry will be the last thing on your mind as you choose between the 100 cheeses, most of them Scottish, the 200 whiskys or the chocolate and ginger cookies made in Tobermorey's Island bakery.
You might even find yourself drawn further in and enjoying a deluxe smoked salmon sandwich and a warming cup of tea, happily watching the ferry head off across the waters. At least you can get a stunning view of the islands from here.
For further indulgence in Oban can I recommend The Oban Chocolate Company. Also situated on the seafront, you can watch the world go by from a comfy sofa, with a coffee and a tasty plate of four of the 40 types of chocolates made here.
These are certainly no ordinary chocs. So crazy are some of them that you have to wonder a little about how the owners Helen and Stewart MacKechnie come up with such fantastical creations. Strawberry and balsamic cream, irn brew truffle, Marmite and Horlicky ganache are just a few of the slightly more bizarre. The apple crumble chocolate was my favourite.
This special site, with spectacular sunsets is probably enough to satisfy your search for contentment. But, an evening in The Old Inn, Gairloch will complete it even more. Serving up memorable meals of west coast seafood (the harbour is just across the road) and highland game of wild red deer sourced from the grounds of all the local estates, the chef has deservedly won many accolades for his skills.
But it's not all about the food. This real ale pub has started its own micro-brewery, with ales named after local places. There is often live music, so sit back and soak up a pint, along with the pleasures of this very authentic old inn.
Twenty minutes south from our Lauder Site, you can spend a day at the Colstoun Cookery School learning how to cook up a storm with a selection of Scottish ingredients. It prides itself on being one of Scotland’s first sustainably focused cookery schools, using its own vegetables and locally-sourced ingredients.
Keen cooks and novices can try a day of Game Cookery or Traditional Scottish Fayre. Although it only takes place on the last Saturday of every month, it's still worth mentioning Haddingtons farmers' market, if for nothing else than the vibrant atmosphere. It’s a lively affair with more going on than your average farmers' market – live music, cookery demonstrations and tastings.
The food comes from small artisan farms that pride themselves on the impeccable quality of their farming practices and the great taste of their food. Regular stall holders include Monarch Deer Farm, Jock’s Tatties and Belhaven Smokehouse. Well worth a visit.
Moffat is a a true ‘Walkers Are Welcome’ town; there are lots of signed walks from the centre out into the beautiful Annandale Valley. You’ll be well set for filling fare here too – there’s a great range of thriving local shops, cafes and restaurants offering great scope for eating and shopping locally.
After a meander around the town’s square and ‘double’ high street, a great place for a hearty breakfast is Café Ariete 10, High Street, DG10 9HF. 01683 220313. This small, bustling no-nonsense café with an Italian heritage is welcoming and child friendly. Behind the beautiful, old fashioned gold leaf painted windows, traditional home cooking using local produce (meat, eggs and milk all sourced from nearby) is devoured by locals and visitors. There’s a vast selection of mouth-watering cakes: Borders speciality the Ecclefechan Tart (think Pecan pie spiced with lemon, cinnamon and studded with raisins) fresh scones and tray bakes, shortbread and cheesecakes. Vanilla ice cream is made on the premises and gets a huge-thumbs up from the children in all its incarnations, in knickerbocker glories, ice cream floats and thick and creamy milkshakes. Before lacing up your walking boots, try the full Scottish breakfasts or the house speciality, The Ariete special sausage baguette. Takeaway rolls, toasties, sandwiches and hot drinks are available, so you’ll be more than ready to take on the challenge of walking The Annandale Way or cycling one of Britain’s toughest climbs, The Devil’s Beef Tub.
Another way to appreciate the beautiful rolling countryside around Moffat and taste the local food is through a day’s trout fishing in the Moffat Hills. From the campsite, head 4.5 miles north east to Moffat Water Foods. The Routledge family has been rearing rainbow trout in the Moffat Water Valley for over 30 years. Olly and Shara have recently returned home to carry on this tradition and to start a new venture producing their own fresh and smoked rainbow trout. Give Shara a call 01683 225 008 and for a day ticket (9am-5pm, cost £20 per rod) you can catch your own delicious trout. If transporting your slippery catch back to camp doesn’t appeal, then if you let Shara know in advance, she’ll be ready to smoke or fillet your fresh catch. She has an inspiring range of fantastic recipes to share that will turn your day’s catch into a memorable meal.
At Moffat farmers' market, on the second Sunday of the month, you can sample lots more of Moffat’s tasty local produce, including smoked fish and game from Barony Country Foods, Annanwater’s organic lamb and hogget from the hills near Moffat, local girl, Alison’s Jams and Chutneys, a range of traditional and unusual preserves, chutneys and curds and the award-winning Uncle Roy’s Comestible Concoctions (winner of 26 Great Taste Awards). Create your own food trail here and discover more foodie delights of Dumfries and Galloway, including Castle Douglas, the Food Town of the area.
Certificated Sites with food
Garlieston Lodge is a very special Certificated Site. Its location is idyllic. It sits in five acres of woodland with a lovely river running through the middle of it. The river feeds into the fishing lake populated with brook, rainbow and brown trout. Rusty and Christine who run this multi-award winning site, also raise a herd of rare breed Large Black Pigs – Britain’s only all black pig. Campers can buy pork, bacon and sausages produced from the slow-growing, naturally grazed animals. The meat is as natural and local as can be. Perfect barbecue fare on this adult-only site.