The Cairngorms National Park offers an unrivalled shopping experience. Whatever your style, interests and ethos there is a wealth of distinctive retail options. Sample the very best local food and drink purchased directly at source, at a farm shop or market; indulge in retail therapy on a high street populated with independent shops or find that unique gift at a craft outlet or special event.
Fresh Local Fare
Farm shops and markets are growing in popularity as places to try and buy local produce. Producers regard their farm shops as an important revenue source and farmers’ markets are springing up all over the country, helping to connect with consumers who are keen to reduce their food miles and know the provenance of what they buying.
Here in the National Park the Cairngorms Farmers Market and the Ballater Farmers Market sell farm fresh local produce as well as a variety of crafts. According to a recent study, farming in the Cairngorms has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the country with traditional farming practices resulting in the use of few artificial fertilisers or pesticides. From an animal welfare and environmental standpoint, most produce travels less than 20 miles; fewer food miles keep CO2 emissions very low, and because the produce is local it doesn’t need excessive packaging to protect it in transit. Importantly it means that the food is at its best; everything from freshly baked cakes to select cuts of lamb to cheeses matured on the farm. Why not go along, enjoy the smells, the tastes; eat local, eat fresh. Stallholders will be happy to share their knowledge and passion about their produce. Keep up to date, follow www.facebook.com/ballaterfarmersmarket or check www.cairngorms-farmers-market.com for details of the market’s next appearance at Motor Mania in Grantown-on-Spey on 6 September.
In towns and villages across the National Park many outlets offer a food shopping experience where range, quality and service are paramount. At the Rothiemurchus Farm Shop near Aviemore food lovers will appreciate the vast selection of produce from the best Estate venison and trout to delicacies such as jams, preserves and hand-made chocolates. In Ballater sample hand crafted artisanal cheeses from the Cambus O’ May Cheese Co. and supreme beef and game from HM Sheridan Butchers.
Retail, Arts and Crafts
Independent retailers offer visitors a choice of traditional Scottish and contemporary merchandise. Numerous gift, craft shops and galleries showcase original pieces that reflect and personify the natural elements of the National Park.
In Ballater, The Silver Thistle is a treasure trove of tartan rugs, Highlandwear and Harris Tweed: Lamont Sporrans, Braemar sells more than sporrans, stocking a range of accessories to complement standard, and bespoke, sporrans.
Artisan crafts are well represented and display a wealth of artistic talent. Fused and Light Newtonmore, makes and displays in a studio, exquisite jewellery and unique glassware items for the home. In a pretty rural location in Rothiemurchus you will find the Loch-an-Eilein Pottery with its hand thrown pots in red earthenware glazed in hues of blue and green. Other working studios include Carrbridge Artists Studio and Tomintoul Art Gallery. Touring and seasonal exhibitions across the Park afford additional opportunities to admire and purchase original work produced and made by local artists. Popular venues include Iona Gallery, Kingussie and Lost Gallery, Strathdon.
Revival of the ‘High Street’
An interest in rejuvenating our high streets and a return to making shopping more pleasurable and personable, is evident with high profile campaigns such as the one fronted by Mary Portas. However, commendable work is being done at grass roots level too. The efforts of independent shops, across the National Park, to focus on traditional shopping values is exemplified by a group of retailers in Grantown-on-Spey. The town is the first in the Highlands to sign up to ‘Totally Locally’, an award-winning social enterprise ‘shop local’ movement. The organisation supports independent retailers to work together and buy from each other; to promote the value of local shopping, celebrate their high street and ultimately lift their local economy. If every person in the Grantown-on-Spey area spent just £10 per week in their local independent shops, instead of online or at the big supermarkets, it would be worth an extra £1.3 million a year to the local economy. Now that is food for thought! Many shops in the town have signed up to the initiative with more being added weekly. Events and promotions to engage the community, such as the ‘Fiver Festival’ in October will be detailed on www.totallylocally.org/grantown-on-spey and via social media. Support ‘Totally Locally’ and other independent shops throughout the Park, and you will be reinforcing social values, benefitting the community and strengthening the local economy.
Not to be missed…..
Events, with associated shopping opportunities, have the scope to offer something a little different. From a handful of stalls to an entire emporium there can be much to attract visitors. A terrific example is the ‘Shopping Village’ which accompanies the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship at Blair Castle. Considered to be the most prestigious of all continental competitions in Eventing, there is much to entice and entertain the crowds. This includes shopping! Open 10-13 September, the Shopping Village is renowned for its sheer scale and variety. Over 200 trade stands offer something for all tastes and budgets: country wear and accessories, casual clothing, fine art, jewellery, soft furnishings and gifts. The large food hall has an array of tempting treats such as handmade chocolates, organic produce, fine wines and cheeses. And, four legged friends are well catered for with a section for equestrian and outdoor country sports enthusiasts. Full details at www.blair2015.com/shopping-village
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