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Highland Diary - September 2019

Autumn comes to the Cairngorms - our pick of the season

In our opinion, Autumn is the most beautiful season of all in the Cairngorms. The heather has turned its richest shade of purple, the leaves are turning golden, yellow and red, and mushrooms and berries are everywhere you look! Here are some ideas for autumn - all of which would be particularly fun for children. Plus news of the latest exciting opening in Aviemore…

Forage your Own: Autumnal Dinner
Hunt for autumn’s delicious bounty along the tracks and paths and in the woodlands of the Cairngorms. Brambles are just coming into season, and mushrooms abound; chanterelles and ceps are everywhere now. Take a mushroom field guide for identification of course, and if in doubt, ask an expert before eating! If you want a foraging experience that you’ll never forget, that will teach you some truly impressive plant recognition and outdoor cuisine skills, book a foraging experience with our go-to expert, Zeki Basan. https://www.hiddenhighlandretreats.com/extras/foraging-and-woodcraft-skills

The Golden Spurtle
No, it’s not a Harry Potter sequel, but an equally magical event that takes place every autumn in Carrbridge in the Cairngorms. The Golden Spurtle is the World Porridge Making Championships and has been held in the village every year for 26 years. The Spurtle itself is quite magnificently piped down the main street with much pomp and tartan ceremony, followed by the cooking competition - something not dissimilar to The Great British Bake Off, except all porridge-based. Swedish porridge chefs have taken much of the glory over the past 4 or 5 years. Could this be the year a Scot lifts the Spurtle for the home crowd? Great fun and quite unique, the contest takes place this year on Saturday 12th October 2019 from 10am—4pm https://goldenspurtle.com/

Cawdor Castle
Of course next month is the spookiest month of all, when the dark nights “fair draw in” and we celebrate all things witchy and ghostly on All Hallows’ Eve. Our favourite castle in these parts is the one made famous by that most gruesome of Shakespeare’s tragedies - featuring the three most famous witches in literature. Macbeth, the “Thane of Cawdor” is just one of the many fascinating aspects of this impressive castle and its beautiful gardens - children will love the labyrinth with its very own minotaur at the centre! The castle is open to the public until the 6th October, but after that you can make an appointment for a private tour. See https://www.cawdorcastle.com/ or call 01667 404401 to book.

Ticket to ride - Rothiemurchus ponies
A fabulous way to see the beautiful autumnal colour of Rothiemurchus at a gentle pace, the Highland ponies are extremely steady and patient and can take either experienced riders or beginners. From 8 years and up.
Children aged 3-8 can enjoy a Wee Womble ride - a perfect introduction to children with no experience of riding. https://rothiemurchus.net/outdoor-activities-at-aviemore/pony-trekking-aviemore/rothie-by-horseback/

Aviemore Welcomes back an Old Friend - The Balavoulin
September will see the much anticipated opening of The Balavoulin in Aviemore. The bar is being restored to its former glory and from the sneak peeks that we've been given, will look stunning inside! Family-friendly, delicious food, and a stylish interior - we love it already. Heading up this exciting revival is one of the former managers of The Witchery, the veritable Edinburgh dining institution on The Royal Mile - it’s fair to say that we expect great things! https://thebalavoulin.co.uk/