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January 2016
The Whisky Lounge

The Whisky Lounge at the Speyside Centre

It can never be said of the Lambie family that they are content to sit back and rest on their laurels. From the moment in 1972 when David and Betty Lambie and their two young sons Craig and Iain arrived at the Skye of Curr from Carmunnock in Lanarkshire, their enterprising spirit has led them from small beginnings on to greater heights. Their inventive minds and entrepreneurial talents have resulted in what we know today as The Speyside Centre.

Their initial accommodation on the small piece of land at the corner of two roads was a caravan. They lived in the caravan for three years, bringing up two small sons. But being the enterprising souls that they are, it was not long – the summer of 1973 to be exact – before a sign was erected offering heathers for sale.

One thing led to another and soon Betty was offering tea and home bakes, all produced from the tiny kitchen area in the caravan. It proved very popular with tourists and residents alike and even earned the accolade of being the smallest tearoom in Scotland. With only one table and four chairs it must have been very cosy indeed.

In 1978 they were able to purchase the old Rothiemurchus School canteen/classroom and this was re-assembled as The Centre and The Clootie Dumpling Restaurant. This was extended in 1992 and, as David and Betty had completed 21 years in Speyside, they introduced the “21 ways to have your Clootie Dumpling”.

From very small beginnings indeed David and Betty have built up an incredible centre. David’s first love is heathers and there is very little he does not know about them. Forget any preconceived notions that heather is purple or white and covers the Scottish hillsides with a magnificent carpet of colour each September. There is far more to heather than that and a visit to the audio visual heather museum within the centre is a must. David has written a number of books on heathers. He is also a keen photographer…

To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the January 2016 issue!

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December 2016
Mountain Leader

By Megan S. M. Craig

“There is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes.”

The KN gang, led by Mountain Leader in training, Debbie Anderson,
clambered into our very own mystery machine, Ivan, and set off on an adventure to the hills of Moray. In a past life Ivan was a big white van but now he is a blue, self-built bespoke camper van extraordinaire.

In the words of John Muir, “the mountains were calling and we must go!”

A discussion of timings ensues as Ivan bounds towards Ben Rinnes, the gang’s destination on a chilly Wednesday morning. Timing is one of the most important factors taught in Mountain Leader Training. Debbie, the gang’s leader for our day out, had recently come back from the week long training course.

As we travelled from Knock to Dufftown, Travis, Debbie’s photogenic German shepherd, snuggled up by the gear stick and Debbie gave me a day-by day account of her training so far.

Navigation is still a major part of the course. This often begins with pacing, i.e. how many paces or double paces it takes you to cover 100m on different terrains – uphill and on the flat.

This is crucial for micro-navigation and takes a lot of practice. Also still taught are traditional map and compass skills i.e. orientating the map with your surroundings, using a baseplate compass with the map, understanding your surroundings, map contour lines, weather, first-aid and now a large part of the course, especially useful to us here locally, is to understand the seasons, the fauna and flora and sporting periods and access rights in Scotland.

Debbie was one of five on the course – this small group’s make up was varied with a doctor, a procurer and two outdoor centre workers. Despite confessing to an age gap between herself and the rest of her group Debbie did not feel deterred and held her own as an experienced and fit hillwalker for the whole week.

To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the December 2015 issue!

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October 2015
Those magnificent men in their flying machines

By Doug Matheson

Some of you will remember the TV series of Mission Impossible here ‘Jim’ is given his mission by miniature tape player. The message always included the phrase ‘your mission, should you choose to accept it…’ just before the tape self-destructed. It works in a similar way in the KN when a phone call comes in out of the blue from the illustrious Editor with some strange request to undertake some activity, often involving a degree of personal risk, with the aim of producing an article. For the life of me though I can’t remember ever being given the option of NOT accepting it. Sadly, he doesn’t self-destruct at the end of it.

And so the other day he called to say that he wanted to do an article on an autogyro and would I be interested in tagging along? It all sounded innocuous enough and, though I didn’t say yes, I apparently didn’t say no either. So when he phoned a few days later to say that all was arranged he rang off before I could say ‘As long as you don’t make me go up in that thing as I am very scared of small aircraft and will cry like a little girl if you do’.

The reason I was about to say that is I don’t have a very happy relationship with small flying machines. The first episode was when I was taken up in a friend’s Tiger Moth which is an elderly bi-plane made of plywood and canvas, held together by wire. Anyway, we had a lovely flight around Brize Norton and then came in to land in the grass as these things can’t land on tarmac. The grass was a bit long which is why we didn’t see a massive temporary landing light lurking there which we hit with one of the wheels. The little Tiger Moth bounded into the air and, fortunately, Gary reacted very quickly and pulled back on the control stick (trust me it is literally a stick in the Moth) and we took off again thus preventing what could have been a nasty prang. Strike one…

To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the October 2015 issue!