Chris’ Scottish Odyssey
With hundreds of incredibly talented students here at Bry More, we’re continually surprised by the emerging talent and burgeoning intelligence that they continue to exhibit.
So far this year we’ve had the opportunity to report on Mary’s agricultural successes in the realms of the ‘Pick-Your-Own-Farm’ as well as Joshua’s incredible achievements, against the odds, in the rather peculiar field of airport parking. Here at Bry More we try to encourage our students to make the most of their skills, whether that’s through entrepreneurial enterprises or simply by developing the skills that they’ll need later on in Further and Higher Education.
Christopher is just about to finish up his final year at Bry More and he’s, understandably, been thinking about his future.
Although he’s keen to move on to University, just like his older brother and sister before him, he’s also conscious that he’s got an unprecedented opportunity now to travel the world and enhance the education that he picked up during his time at Bry More. In light of that he’s been trying to spread his wings a little and has been venturing out to far-flung corners of Britain in order to gain an understanding of how agriculture aids our country’s economy.
On his last trip, Christopher headed up North to visit a successful business offering lodges in perthshire with hot tubs. Whilst he was up there living the high life he thought he may as well gain an understanding into how diversification has helped land owners stay relevant and in business. His Scottish road trip took him from the rugged Highlands across to one of the biggest producers of prime Scottish Beef in the country and finally, to Stronchullin Farm; where he had the chance to get to grips with some truly rugged outdoors activities.
Let’s see what he had to say about his experience:
“I’ve only been driving for a few months, but I’m already finding that I’m getting more confident with every passing day on the road. There’s something so exciting about heading out on to the open road and now I can do it by myself, I find that I’m drifting further and further afield. My last adventure took me all the way up to Scotland; quite the trek from Bry More!
Farmers don’t just have to farm these days – we’ve been learning about diversification in our Agriculture classes lately and it got me thinking about all the different things that a simple plot of land can be used for. An EU directive that has, by and large, proved to be a success throughout the UK, Scotland is a country that is almost tailor made for the scheme. The sheer size of the land that Scottish farmers own, when compared to their English counterparts, means that they have far more options for what they can do with the land.
Take Quadmania on Stronchullin Farm, for example. Run by David and Fiona Marshall, the principle business of the farm is to rear sheep, Highland cattle and free-range chickens. With their land being a part of the Loch Lomond National Park, the Marshalls knew that the land that they owned had much more potential beyond the livestock rearing that had been done in the area for decades already. They established their business 15 years ago and since then have won multiple awards for their tourism skills and care for the environment. In addition to this, they also let out four self-catering cottages – an easy way of making money that many other farmers in Scotland have emulated in their own areas.
When I stopped for a night at Highland Heather Lodges, I was expecting some swanky digs, but not to the extent that I received. Tucked away in Crieff, these self-catering lodges (similar to the Marshalls’ cottages minus the quad-biking) were plush and even came complete with their own hot tubs – a perk that I made sure to make use of in my time there. Owners John and Elaine have been prominent business owners in the area for a while now, owning and running their own garden centre as well as owning a popular 10 acre piece of oakland which is perfect for walks. These owners have done something that Scottish people excel at: adapt the purpose of a land, whilst retaining it’s essential ‘Scottishness’.
When we think about ‘Scottishness’, we instantly think of tartan, kilts and, of course, beef. Millers of Speyside have been operating from the Northern part of the Cairngorms National Park for over 20 years, they have carved out a business processing and distributing beef that is absolutely, undeniably Scottish. With accreditation from the Protected Geographical Indication EU Scheme, they are officially licensed to sell beef labelled as ‘Direct from the Highlands’, ‘Millers Aberdeen Angus’ and ‘Cairngorm Beef from the Highlands.’ Through touting home grown, home processed meat, Millers of Speyside have expanded their business to become one of the biggest sellers of Scotch Beef in the country.
There are clearly so many avenues for expansion if you’re a Scottish land owner, I’m almost a little jealous! Still, it’ll be interesting to see how this pans out after what could be a tumultuous year for Scotland and Great Britain as a whole.”