What’s SUP?

Rothiemurchus River Adventures

The latest activity making a splash at Rothiemurchus is Stand Up Paddleboarding on the River Spey.   ‘SUP’ is the fastest growing water sport in the world and we think Rothiemurchus is the perfect place to come and try it out!

So what is SUPing?  A ‘Stand Up Paddleboard’ is essentially an oversized surfboard which you stand on and propel yourself through the water using a long paddle.  So, I guess you could say it’s kind of like a cross between surfing and canoeing.

The activity is run by the great team of instructors at Full On Adventure, who were kind enough to let some Rothiemurchus staff loose on the Spey to test it out. Here’s how we got on:


There’s a maximum of six people per session so we had a nice small group.  We got wet-suited and booted and headed on the short walk down to the Spey where our boards and paddles were waiting for us, then it was a quick safety briefing from our instructor, John, before heading into the water.


The Spey was surprisingly not that cold, probably thanks to our cosy wetsuits and the fact that this area of the Spey is quite sheltered from the wind.  Since the boards are so big, it was relatively easy to stand up and get going much to our delight.

I’m pleased to say we all got the hang of it pretty quickly but, yes, there were a few wipe outs! There is a small island near where we entered the water which provided a great chance to practice manouvering/perfect our ‘falling in face’.

We paddled down towards the Old Bridge Inn (surely we were going to stop for a much deserved pint?!) but it turns out this was actually the turn around point.  During the hour on the river, John taught us some skills and techniques, we learnt about the river currents and he even had some of us spinning round of while standing on the tail of the board – very cool!


SUP on the Spey really was a great fun activity, it would make a perfect family outing for the summer holidays!  Suitable for ages 8+ as Full On Adventure have some smaller paddles suitable for children.  Places are limited due to the small group size, book online at www.rothiemurchus.net Alternatively pop into the Rothiemurchus centre or call on 01479 812345.

What are you waiting for?

Eat. Sleep. Farm. Repeat.

Hi, and welcome to the Rothiemurchus Farm blog. First of all, I’d better introduce myself. My name is Alan Rankin and I’m the Cattle Manager. I’ve only been here 6 months, following in the footsteps (or should that be wheel tracks?) of Sandy McKenzie, who retired after nearly 40 years at Rothiemurchus. No pressure, then…….

Since starting at the beginning of January, I’ve had quite a steep learning curve. I was born and brought up on a livestock farm and I have worked in agriculture all my life (apart from four days at university and six weeks operating a sewing machine. Don’t ask……..), so the farming side of things isn’t a problem as such, however Rothiemurchus isn’t like any other farm I’ve worked on!!! Because the farm is just one of a number of enterprises here, I have to take them into consideration when making decisions. In a typical week, I’ll have discussions with Johnnie (my boss), Euan and the maintenance team, Julian and the Ranger team, Jamie the butcher, Feona at the pony-trekking, Mike at the Quad Bike Safari, Chris at the Off-road Segways and many more besides that. It’s fair to say my people skills have sharpened up in the last few months (Kevin, the farm assistant, may dispute this!).



This is ‘Rosie’, one of our Highland calves.

I had a few weeks to find my bearings and get to know the place before the non-stop madness known as calving time started. We run two separate herds, a pedigree herd of Highland Cattle (the hairy, horned ones) and a cross breed herd (not so hairy, hornless ones) both of which calve from the middle of March onwards. At the time of writing, we’re still waiting on 3 out of a total of 93 to give birth. The old farming saying “When you keep livestock, you’ll have dead stock” is unfortunately true but we’re thankful that despite some terrible weather at times we’ve kept losses to a minimum. We calve all our cows outside at Rothiemurchus, whereas many farms house cattle to calve them. Obviously the weather becomes less of an issue but disease such as pneumonia can spread like wildfire in cattle sheds, so on balance we think it’s a more natural, healthier environment to have them calve outside in fields that have natural shelter from all but the worst weather. It’s better for the beast but a bit more work for the man. Luckily, I’m backed up by Kevin Ross who goes above and beyond the call of duty, all of which has made it a successful calving season.

During all of this, we still find time to sow our spring barley. While other farms often get fields ploughed through the winter, we like to leave our fields as late as possible before ploughing to benefit ground nesting birds. It adds a bit to our workload at an already busy time but the bigger picture is we have to farm in tandem with Mother Nature, not to her detriment. She’ll be about a long time after I’ve finished farming……  Hopefully the barley will yield well come September and the prices make it an option to sell for distilling malt whisky but if that’s not the case, we’ll keep it and mill it for cattle feed next winter.


Could this be Scotland’s most scenic barley field?

With most of the cattle calved, they are now in their summer grazing fields. Cattle have grazed Rothiemurchus for centuries – Alph, one of our Ranger team, has found records that speak of cattle grazing the land here as far back as the 1300s. One of the great perks of keeping cattle here is the abundance of paths, most of which probably originated from cattle droving, which we still occasionally use today for that purpose. The cattle know where they are going but we always have somebody at the front, if only to warn any unsuspecting cyclists or walkers that a herd of cattle are heading their way! It’s a job I love doing, there’s something relaxing about taking the time to just walk with the cattle instead of loading them into trailers to move them. Not that I would fancy walking them along eighty miles of the A95/A96 to the market at Inverurie……

The latest job completed is silage making. For speed, we use a contractor. More than 50% of our winter feed is cut, chopped and ensiled in just over 24 hours – it was a pretty full-on day but it makes for top quality forage. I hope the cattle appreciate the efforts we go to!!! The Scottish weather provided it’s usual unique challenge, but the grass is in the pit and the pit is covered.  I even managed a smile!


Alan, after a hard day’s work filling the silage pit!

Hopefully this has given you a bit of a flavour of the farm here at Rothiemurchus, I look forward to giving you more insights to farm in future blogs. Leave a comment if you have any questions about the farm and I’ll try my best to answer them.


Highlands: Ospreys in flight over Rothiemurchus

You cannot help but be mesmerised to the skies during March to September. For many that is simply longing for the sun to break through the cloud but for others it is the chance of seeing the Ospreys pass above as they search from height for their next prey.

Many more of us will now be familiar with Ospreys after the recent BBC series, “Highlands: Scotland’s Wild Heart” reached our TV screens over the last few weeks. The mind-blowing clip of the osprey with its talons out heading with serious intent into the water in search of its next meal was filmed at our dedicated osprey pond on Rothiemurchus.  The clip went viral having now been viewed over 15 million times!

A film crew from Maramedia, who were filming for BBC, spent about 5 days trying to capture the footage that ended up on our TV screens at home.  Sitting in hides set at low level against the bank of the pond, a camera crew waited patiently for one of our guides to contact them through the radio to tell them there was an osprey overhead looking interested in fishing.

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Patience is required in this game and a high amount of respect for the birds and their behaviour is needed. It is not as simple as pressing a button and receiving a diving osprey. A lot of time is spent sitting…waiting…waiting and finally the waiting pays off and the fireworks happen, albeit very quickly! In general, those photographing or filming have 3 seconds to capture the footage from the osprey hitting the water to it leaving with a fish (hopefully!). We have had an osprey leave with two fish (one in each talon) and also a rock for one unlucky osprey!

Ospreys are a massive part of daily life here for all staff on Rothiemurchus. They feel like part of the furniture so much so that when they head back to Africa there is a part of everyone that feels like a piece of furniture has been taken away from us – temporarily of course!

Doing our little bit not only to help the ospreys increase their stronghold here but also assist an increasing number of enthusiastic photographers and watchers to responsibly try and capture an experience of an osprey diving at close quarters is a real pleasure. It has taken years of studying the birds, making alterations to the hides and water (out of season) to get these birds to take fish from a specific location.

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Using only live fish we have created a fishing location specifically setup only for ospreys (and the occasional otter and heron too!), free from human disturbance. We ensure that the message is conveyed of how special an experience this is to guests who come from all over the world to see Scottish Ospreys hunt. Of course it is never as easy with wildlife to suggest that you will see ospreys fishing during every session but when they do, it is something that will get the heart beating that little bit faster, get your palm of your hands sweaty and after it is all over will certainly never leave your memory.

You can experience this for yourself by booking onto one of our early morning guided sessions or coming in during the day for an unguided session.  Visit our website http://www.rothiemurchus.net for details.

Our Top 5 Scottish Gins!

The 11th of June is World Gin Day, a celebration of all things gin!   While Scotland is usually known for its whisky, over the past few years gin distilleries have been popping up all over Scotland, there is even a Scottish Gin Trail.

Here’s a little bit about our top 5 Scottish gins, all available from the Rothiemurchus Estate Farm Shop, and all tried and tested (it’s a hard job but someone has to do it).


Caorunn is a small batch gin, handcrafted in Cromdale in the Scottish Highlands.  As well as traditional botanicals of juniper, coriander seeds and orange peel, Caorunn expertly infuses five locally foraged botanicals which are rowan berry, bog myrtle, heather, coul blush apple and dandelion leaf.

The perfect serve… Apple is by far the best accompaniment to Caorunn, you can go traditional with wedge of pink lady and top up with tonic, or for a great simple cocktail, mix 50ml Caorunn, with 100ml pressed apple juice and 200ml tonic water. Delicious!

Strathearn classic gin is produced in two stages, once distilled, the base gin is compounded with additional botanicals which add more flavour and give it its golden colour.  Some of the more interesting botanicals are Spanish grapefruit, Italian lemon and a hint of kaffir lime leaves and star anise.

The perfect serve… A great gin deserves a great tonic, we think Fenitmans botanically brewed tonic water is just the trick for this gin!  Serve in a tall glass with ice and a wedge of pink grapefruit for the perfect refreshing G&T.

Caorunn Strathearn

The Botanist comes from the Hebridean Island of Islay.  They use 9 traditional botanicals and augment those with 22 hand-picked local and sustainable, foraged island botanicals which makes for a distinctive, aromatic gin.

The perfect serve… This complex, floral gin makes for a great classic G&T.  We think it goes best with Walter Gregors tonic water and a wedge of lime!


Rock Rose from Dunnet Bay Distillers in Caithness certainly takes the price for most beautiful bottle.  It’s not just a pretty face though, Rose Rose is a wonderfully flavourful gin with a carefully selected mix of local and traditional botanicals.

The perfect serve… Serve in a tall glass, with a good quality tonic and garnish with a sprig of rosemary to help bring out those botanicals.

Crossbill Gin, perhaps saving the best till last, Crossbill is produced just down the road from Rothiemurchus.  It’s the only Gin made from 100% Scottish juniper which is combined with rosehip, two bold and fresh Highland botanicals.  The gin takes its name from the Scottish Crossbill – a native bird which, like their juniper supply, can only be found in the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Scotland.

The perfect serve… Keep it simple with a splash of tonic and garnish with orange peel.  The perfect summers day G & T.

RockRose CrossbillAll of these Scottish Gins, and more can be purchased at our Estate Farm Shop, visit us at Rothiemurchus centre, just 5 minutes from Aviemore in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park.

Wood anemone


Really changeable weather at Rothiemurchus today; showers of rain followed by bright sunshine. At least it’s a bit warmer. More signs of spring can be seen with leaf emerging on trees like horse chestnut, larch and bird cherry. Flowers are beginning to appear and clusters of the delicate wood anemone are scattered through birch woodland. Hoping to get rid of some of the winter woollies soon but there’s an old Scottish saying: ‘Ne’er cast a cloot or May is oot’. (For those less versed in the Doric: Never cast aside clothing until May is finished).

Top 5 Views at Rothiemurchus

There are beautiful views all around Rothiemurchus, here are 5 of our favourites.

Loch an Eilein

From the shore, take in magnificent views of Loch an Eilein with its 13th century island castle.  Sheltered by ancient pine trees with views of the mountains, the path around the loch offers the chance to see wildlife such as red squirrel and crested tit.


Black Park to Tullochgrue Farm

From the Ski Road, take and keep to the public road signposted Black Park and Tullochgrue.  As you clear the woodlands stunning views will open up to the left and right including this view towards Loch Pityoulish.  Beyond the farm as you pass the cattle grid, you will see a large pine tree which you may recognise as the Rothiemurchus Logo!

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Lochan Mor

Hidden in the forest, yet easily accessible by path from Rothiemurchus Centre is Lochan Mor, nicknamed ‘Lily Loch’ after the profusion of summer water lilies. Croft ruins lie on the loch shore and it is one of our best lochs to view waterfowl including goldeneye duck.




A little further on from the Rothiemurchus pine tree you will be treated to a spectacular view of the 3rd highest mountain in Britain, Braeriach.   From here, you can also look directly into the great cleft between the mountains called the Lairig Ghru.


Quad trekking

A different way to take in the views of Rothiemurchus.  Not only does this get you off the beaten path through woodland areas, you will also take in some great views of the Cairngorm Mountains as well as the chance to see animals such as roe deer and our famous hairy coos!

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