5 Must-Eat Scottish Foods

We’re all about promoting Scottish culture here at Scotland’s Way Ahead and this blog is part of our ongoing commitment to spreading the word about how great it is to live here.

Scotland is gifted with a culture of its own making, separate from that of its English neighbours. This culture is a matted tapestry of ideas, character traits, warring football teams, fiercely proud cities and bizarre traditions that make Scotland a must-visit destination for anyone who’s even just a little bit curious about what it’s like here.

Ask any Scottish person how important food is to their culture and you’ll soon discover how deep the rabbit hole goes. There are dishes served in Scotland that you’ll not be able to find anywhere else on Earth, more impressive still, there are some meals that you’ll only be able to find on just a handful of islands. Discovering Scottish cuisine is an adventure that you shouldn’t deny yourself, although you might end up parting ways with some cash in the process, it’ll be a sacrifice well worth making.

So, you’re visiting Scotland for a few days, here are the essential dishes that you should try to seek out:

Pizza Slice

This Scottish delicacy sounds ordinary and un-Scottish enough, but it’s the way that this simple food stuff is prepared that really makes the difference. A long-standing stereotype of Scottish people is that they will deep-fry anything, and this certainly holds true with this particular dish. Ask for a pizza slice at a local ‘chippy (Fish’n’chip shop) and you’ll be served a quarter of a 12-inch cheese and tomato pizza that has been deep fried to perfection. Ask for ‘pizza crunch’ and your slice will be deep fried in crispy batter – deliriously indulgent.

Neeps and Tatties with Haggis

The mark of a classic dish is when and where it’s served. This meal is so important to Scottish culture that you’ll find it served at most pubs in the country in some shape or form, more importantly on days of national celebration (New Years Day, Burns Night), when Scottish patriotism is at its height, you’ll find it on the tables of families all across the land. Fine diners may turn their noses up at the combination of mashed potatoes and turnips with a side of haggis, but Scots know that there’s nothing better to fill the belly and warm the heart on a cold winter night.

Cullen Skink

Travel to the Moray region of Scotland and you’re likely to be presented with a steaming bowl of Cullen Skink, a strangely named soup consisting of smoked haddock, potatoes, parsley, bacon, sweetcorn and double cream. Usually paired with a crusty roll, this is a rare treat for anyone who’s not tried it before and makes for an perfect starter or warming lunch. You’ll find Cullen Skink served at most cafes, or restaurants in the Moray area, but if you want to bring the taste of Scotland to your home then it’s not a difficult dish to make yourself. Try out this recipe here.

Staying in the Sticks: Independent Breaks

Thinking of heading to rural Scotland for your next holiday?

One of Scotland’s most powerful commercial assets is its countryside.

In 2017 it’s estimated that tourism brought roughly £11.2 billion into Scotland’s economy, this success can be attributed to the fantastic work done by hosts and hotels owners across the country, as much as the spectacular countryside that they have chosen to run their businesses in.

On a recent tour of Scotland I stopped in at a number of totally independent businesses that have been making real waves deep in the heart of the countryside, whether it’s on the windswept North-Eastern coast or the mountainous Highlands.

These businesses have taken their rugged environs and transformed them into picture perfect holiday destinations. They come highly recommended from me and thousands of happy customers:

Highland Heather Lodges

Before the rise of Airbnb rentals many holidaymakers were used to hiring out holidays homes and lodges in Scotland through independent businesses such as Highland Heather Lodges.

Owners John and Elaine have carved out a little slice of Highland heaven on their land near Crieff and have been inviting guests into their bespoke build lodges since 2005. Choose either a 1 or 2 bedroom lodge and enjoy lazy evenings staring up at the stars from your personal hot tub.

Where? Nr Crieff, Highlands How much? From £365 per night (for a one bedroom lodge)

Vatersay Cottage

Situated right next to a historical canal, this 3-bedroom cottage is a perfect choice for a family or small group of friends looking to lose themselves for a weekend in the stunning Highland landscapes. The cottage is near-enough 30 miles from the larger settlements of Inverness and Fort William, so you will have to settle with what Fort Augustus has to offer you. The bedrooms are decorated with a light touch and waking up next to the canal is a truly wonderful experience.

Where? Fort Augustus, Loch Ness How much? From £120 per night (minimum stay of 3 nights required)

Field House

Rural accommodation doesn’t get much simpler than this! The aptly named Field House is a basic (but beautiful) little hut that has just enough room for two people to stay. Olivia is the host here and although she’s technically not Scottish, she still knows more than enough about the area to be able to point you in the right direction of a breathtaking Highland walk. The tiny kitchen and bathroom are well fitted, making this a cosy snug to retreat to for a weekend.

Where? Nr Fort Augustus, Loch Ness How much? From £64 per night

Roulotte Retreat


For something a little out of the ordinary Roulotte Retreat offers the chance for couples to escape to their very own boutique gypsy caravan. Each caravan here has been designed in the French Roulotte design (except Rosa Bella, who’s built in a Dutch style) and gives couples the chance to completely disconnect from the modern world and reconnect with nature. Japanese-style roulettes Zenaya and Gitana both come with not-so-secret eco-hot tubs for an extra layer of luxury.

Where? Eildon Hills How much? From £115 per night

Scottish Restaurants with Rooms

Book a table and a bed so you can enjoy a tipple with your dinner.

The food industry can be a confusing one and (let’s face it) a little frustrating.

It’s a business that rewards conformity and tradition as much as innovation, even when ‘innovation’ is nothing more than a catchy name for an old concept. To anyone over the age of 40, a ‘restaurant with rooms’ will be known as an ‘inn’, but then again it could be argued that you wouldn’t expect fine dining quality from an inn.

Regardless of how you feel about this ‘new’ concept, it’s led to many restaurants diversifying their product offer and has made the appeal of a dinner in a remote location certainly much more enticing for those with the money to afford them.

Eat your fill then roll into bed at one of these restaurants with rooms, just don’t expect competitive pricing!

The Three Chimneys

Six luxury bedrooms are on offer at The House Over-By, a converted croft building that doubles down on comfort making a perfect contrast with the rugged Skye scenery. The seafood on offer at The Three Chimneys is of a uniformly spectacular standard with the food representing the very best that the island has to offer from both land and sea.

Where? The Isle of Skye How much? Rooms start at £345 and dinner starts at £68 per person.

21212

Paul Kitching’s establishment is one of four restaurants in Edinburgh that has attained an illustrious Michelin star and the only one to also include rooms. Four luxurious bedrooms (complete with their own living rooms) are on offer here giving you a seductively classy apartment to retire to once you’ve had your fill of the fine dining fair on offer.

Where? Edinburgh How much? Rooms start at £115 per person and dinner starts at £70  per person.

Knockinaam Lodge

Although Knockinaam Lodge has been retroactively branded with the ‘Restaurant with Rooms’ tag, this old school establishment has been functioning in much the same way for decades now. Only ten room are available at this boutique hotel which are fitted out in a typically classic style. Whilst you’re unlikely to find much modernity in the style of the rooms, the fantastic food on offer here adheres to the most cutting edge of techniques and fashions.

Where? Dumfries and Galloway How much? Rooms start at £190 and dinner from £70 per person.

Inver

A fixed, four course menu is on offer at this celebrated success story on Scotland’s west coast. Modern cooking techniques collide with some of the best locally sourced and farmed ingredients, bringing long forgotten Scottish dishes back to life in the process. Cross a small bridge to reach four bespoke modern bothies offering a rural retreat to sleep off your meal in. The rooms come complete with record players and classic paperback novels, and look out over the nearby river and Old Castle Lachlan.

Where? Strathlachlan How much? B&B for two starts at £160 per night, whilst the fixed dinner menu starts at £49 per person.

Leading Scottish Fashion Designers

Did you know that some of the world’s leading fashion designers are from Scotland?

Scotland is famous around the world for its natural beauty, diverse wildlife, vibrant culture and historic heritage – but you might not be aware of the impact that our country has had on the world of fashion and textiles.

Scottish fashion has a charm and appeal all to itself. Although you might be thinking tartan kilts and pom pom hats made from fur, Scotland has a rich history of producing high-quality textiles that have been exported all over the world. Top of the list of ‘most-wanted’ fabrics has to be the iconic Harris Tweed. This classic fabric has been produced for over 100 years on the Outer Hebrides by master crofters who work tirelessly from their island homes to produce over a million metres of Tweed a year. This kind of work doesn’t come cheap, so it should comes as no surprise that this material is being used by top fashion houses all over the world.

Scottish Cashmere is another material that has recently experienced a boom in popularity. Although cashmere is produced in varying qualities all around the world, there is only one mill in Scotland that manages the entire process from raw fibre to finished material. Johnstons of Elgin were established in 1797 and have been producing supremely high-quality products from raw fibre to finished item since then. They have a commitment to the traditions that have made the company one of the most renowned producers of woollen goods in the world, and whilst they’re prices are hardly affordable to the average person, this reflects the cost of high-quality craftsmanship and impeccable standards.

Amongst the reams of wool, quality tartan and cashmere, there are also a number of notable Scottish designers who have risen to prominence, their success has been celebrated worldwide and has led to their work being worn on the red carpet at The Oscars and catwalks at some of the most prestigious fashion shows in the world:

Christopher Kane

Born in Newarthill, North Lanarkshire, Christopher Kane is one of a handful of young Scottish designers to have risen to international prominence in the last decade. The youngest of five, Kane got an early start in the world of fashion, attracting the attention of Donatella Versace in 2005 after winning the prestigious Lancome Colour Award whilst still in college. A year later, Kane followed up this coup by winning the Harrods Design Award for his Graduate collection consisting of stretch-lace dresses with brass rings. He was quickly picked up by Versace as a consultant, and has been a constant feature in the world of fashion ever since.

Graeme Black

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Graeme Black (@graemeblack72) on


Known for his independent flair and adventurous spirit, Graeme Black has been leading the charge for Scottish fashion since graduating in fashion at Edinburgh’s College of Art in 1989 when he began his career as an Assistant Designer at John Galliano, Arabella Pollen and Zandra Rhodes. From there Black made a career defining move to the continent and began an iconic streak of design work with Les Copains, followed with stints with Giorgio Armani where he rose to become the head designer at Borgonuovo Black Label. Following a five year engagement at fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo, he has been travelling the world working on a freelance basis ever since.

Louise Gray

Vibrant colours, clashing materials and a wicked streak of humour define the work of Louise Gray, a mercurial designer who has dipped her toes in the worlds of fashion, design and teaching without skipping a beat. Her unique style and artistic flair has often been imitated, but never emulated and has led to collaborations with Topshop, The Victoria and Albert Museum, ASOS.com and Judy Blarne. Although Gray has stepped away from the world of fashion in recent years, she has not rested on her laurels, combining her talents with designer Scott Ramsay Kyle to produce her first world art exhibition, Split the Difference.

Independent Scottish Activity Providers

Tourism is one of our biggest boons here in Scotland.

Thousands of Scottish people rely on the tourism industry in order to make a living, whether that be in the hospitality sector; the award-winning restaurants and hotels that make a Scottish stay so comfortable, or the more outlandish enterprises that capitalise on the abundance of natural beauty that can be found here. Whilst millions travel to Scotland every year to visit iconic cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, millions more come here to soak up the natural splendour that can be found out in the wilderness.

Although there are only two national parks in Scotland, much of our land is uninhabited and undeveloped, creating large tracts of rugged wilderness that are ripe for exploration. Experienced hikers and adventurers will get quite the kick out of venturing into the wilds of Scotland in groups, but those who are a little less intrepid might prefer to have some guidance, especially if they’re eager to take part in an adventurous activity.

There are dozens of businesses across Scotland who have specialised in providing a fun and safe outdoor activities experience for newcomers and experienced adventurers alike. These companies have worked hard to earn their certifications, insure themselves and build a solid reputation within their industry and, in doing so, have made themselves a credit to Scotland and its tourism industry.

The following businesses are completely independent and have proved themselves in their industry:

Rockhopper Sea Kayaking


The instructors at Rockhopper have years of experience in taking groups out into the ocean and, thanks to their close proximity to Lochaber, there are miles of beautiful coastline to discover whilst you get to grips with your kayak. The small team take half and full day trips out to the Sound of Arisaig, Glen Coe, Loch Moidar and Loch Eil to name a few and are happy to accommodate single travellers or larger groups. Contact them through their site for the best prices.

Skymonster Kitesurfing School

Having set up their kitesurf, SUP and wakeboard store back in 2004, the team at Skymonster have been busy establishing themselves as key players in the Scottish watersports scenes. Thanks to their links with surf scenes throughout the country, they are able to offer 1 or 2 day kitesurfing courses that cover the theory and safety training necessary to make you proficient in this exciting watersport. A 1 day course with a IKO qualified trainer is £150, a 2 day course is £250 with lessons taking place across east and west coast.

Ice Factor – The National Ice Climbing Centre


Any Scottish climber worth their salt will know about Ice Factor, it’s a one of a kind Mecca for climbers featuring plenty of artificial climbing routes, bouldering walls and, most importantly, a 12m high wall of real snow and ice. Ice climbing has always been one of the more dangerous activities to undertake, even experienced climbers can struggle when attempting to grapple with this new terrain for the first time. Ice Factor’s ice wall, made up of 500 tonnes of real ice and snow, gives climbers the chance to get some much needed practice before trying the real thing.

Activity Scotland

Whilst some businesses have made a name for themselves by specialising in one particular outdoor pursuit, the team at Activity Scotland have taken a different approach. The sheer breadth of activities that this business have on offer has to be seen to be believed, with experiences including bungee jumping, paintballing, 4×4 driving, rage buggies, watersports and even rifle shooting available for groups and individuals. Their site has all the information you need to get an adventurous holiday in the highland organised.

Rural Breaks with Modern Style

21st Century stays which emphasise modernity.

Scotland is well known for its rich tradition in hospitality, but this doesn’t mean that all hotels are cut from the same cloth. This collection of hotels and B&Bs combine modern design with rural charm for a truly unforgettable experience.

The Colonsay Hotel

There’s something to be said for a building that has stood since 1750, however it speaks to the bravery and confidence of its owners that such an old place has been decorated with such a light modern touch. Whilst the rustic charm of this eighteenth century building has no doubt been kept in tact, modern contemporary doors and cool colours have opened up the space and made it a formidably relaxing place to stay.

Where? Isle of Colonsay How much? Rooms from £75 per night (including breakfast)

Mhor 84 Motel

To call Mhor 84 a ‘motel’ is somehow do it a disservice, despite the fact that this definition is factually accurate and also adopted by the establishment itself. There’s nothing seedy (or cheap!) about this roadside collection of understated buildings which comprises a modern Scandi-style restaurant/bar and a number of super-chic rooms. Highlights are the legendary breakfasts and the spectacular views from the pristine wood panelled rooms.

Where? Balquhidder, Lochearnhead How much? Rooms from £90 per night

Windlestraw

Built in 1906, this grand old house might well be steeped in history but that doesn’t mean you’ll be drowning in twee doilies. Owners John and Sylvia have done a great job of maintaining the striking Austrian carpentry which makes this place so unique, whilst placing their own modern stamp on the place with a number of modern touches that make this peaceful 6 room retreat really something to write home about.

Where? Walkerburn, Scottish Borders How much? Rooms from £200 per night

Mint Croft

There’s rarely a spot on the Isle of Skye that doesn’t afford a stunning view of the jaw-dropping surroundings, but the Mint Croft’s commanding view is truly one to savour. Shaz and Ali run this modern take on the crofting tradition and their food, when not dug from their own land, is sourced from trusted artisan food producers all across Scotland. The rugged charm of their suite are carefully balanced with an ultra modern aesthetic that is instantly impressive.

Where? Isle of Skye How much? £200 per night (including breakfast and afternoon tea)

Killiehuntly

The mettle of phone addicts and workaholics alike will be tested at this 17th-century farmhouse turned Scandi-retreat whose owners (Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen and his wife) have designed with the help of designer Ruth Kramer. A maximum of 8 people a night stay in this melting pot of Scottish hospitality and contemporary Scandi-design, there’s no Wi-Fi or TV and you’ll be forced to talk to other guests as all meals are served at a communal table.

Where? Cairngorms National Park How much? £240 per night (including breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner)

 

Scottish Business Events for 2018

Are you looking for some inspiration for your business?

Anyone can get a little creatively tapped out over the course of the year, which is why it’s a good idea to attend a business event from time to time.

It can be so easy to get completely absorbed by your business to the point where you forget that there’s a whole world of businessmen and women out there wrestling with the exact same issues! Before you start pulling your hair out over your current predicament and sending yourself into a world of worry, why not reach out for a little help?

Conferences and events are organised every year all across Scotland to give business owners the chance to learn vital skills and discover new ways to approach their work. Some events exist to impart specific skill sets on people, whereas others might simply offer the opportunity to meet like-minded business people.

Here’s a quick run down of just a few of the events left to go in 2018:

The Scottish Business Exhibition

Undoubtedly the biggest event on our agenda, the Scottish Business Exhibition is a Mecca for business owners of all calibres and offers a great opportunity for visitors to learn more about sales tactics, digital marketing and loads of other aspects to running a business. On top of workshops and 1-2-1 expert meetings you can take part in the 5k Pitch Challenge or attend a seminar led by an industry leading expert.

When? 21st-22nd November 2018 Where? SEC Glasgow How much? FREE

Build Your Own Business Website

In today’s current climate regardless of the sector that you work in all businesses should have an online presence. Whilst many small businesses often just settle for a Facebook page, this really isn’t enough. If the costs of hiring a web developer have you a little worried then don’t worry, because you have the opportunity to learn how to build your and manage your very own website! This completely free workshop takes you through how to create a website for your business.

When? 12th September 2018 from 9:30am-4:30pm Where? The Braes, Dunoon How much? FREE

Brexit: Explore scenarios and get your business ready

Have you considered how Brexit will effect your business? Scottish Development International present this free event led by Mike Josypenko, the Senior Director of Special Projects at the Institute of Export & International Trade. His talk will cover the potential consequences of Brexit on trade with the EU, as well as the wider implications that this will have on international trade. A company will also be on hand to explain how they are planning for Brexit so that you can leave best prepared to make your own action plan.

When? 18th September 2018 from 9:30am-12:30pm Where? Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, Dundee How much? FREE

Data Crunch Lunch: What Can Big Data Do For Conservation?

#hello digital present this unique chance to learn about how the application of big data could help us make a meaningful impact on our environment. Data Crunch Lunches are organised with the purpose of expanding business minds during lunch time, whilst also giving attendees a chance to eat pizza and get down to some casual networking. Interdisciplinary conservation scientist Francesca Mancini will be positing data taken from photo sharing sites such as Flickr alongside conservation statistics to inform her work on creating a sustainable plan for tourist development.

When? 17th October 2018 from 12-1:30pm Where? #hellodigital, An Lochran, Inverness How much? FREE