The Scoop

The Scoop on Avielochan Farm and Cottages

We want you to enjoy your stay both at Avielochan Cottages and in the Cairngorms National Park as a whole.
The Scoop, in time, will give you all of our local recommendations – from wildlife spotting to hillwalking, from cycling adventures to favourite places to grab a cuppa or indulge in a piece of cake – to help you make the best of your visit to the Scottish Highlands. 

At Avielochan – from The Piggy Back and Other Tales of Strathspey

The Piggy Back & Other Tales of Strathspey: At Avielochan

First published in 1984, The Piggy Back & Other Tales of Strathspey was written by Ronald’s father, James Grant. Story-telling was an integral part of the traditional way of life in the Scottish Highlands,  and, lucky for us, James wrote down quite a few of his stories. Here we share a section of At Avielochan as a starter-for-six.

The Grants came to Avielochan in 1906. William, my father, had farmed a fairly large farm in Glenlivet, Hillhead of Mornish, a high and sheep farm, for which he was not really suited.  When, through the machination of a relative, one Donald Grant, Dalraddy, of whom we will hear more later, he had to leave Hillhead and came to Avielochan. William Grant was forced to take a job as a surfaceman on the railway, at a wage of 16 shillings a week. This small wage at least kept the family from starving, but the times were very hard indeed. 

There was a sort of cellar under the floorboards of the kitchen at No 3. This was a very useful place for storing potatoes, during the winter months, which at that time were very cold and stormy. On one occasion, Old Granny was down in the cellar getting potatoes for the dinner when the pig, who had got out of his sty, somehow strolled into the kitchen and promptly fell into the whole on top of Old Granny.

She was probably hurt by the pig falling on her, but was a tough old lady and at once ‘fell out’ on the pig with the iron basin which she had taken down for the potatoes. The screams of the frightened pig and enraged Old Granny made quite a commotion, and considerable difficulty was involved in getting the pig up and out of the cellar. Fortunately, no damage was done to either party, but the pig never again crossed the threshold.

John, the eldest son, joined the Highland Railway in 1912 as an engine cleaner at Aviemore, There he progressed by various stages from fireman to driver, and when he died in 1958 he was a locomotive inspector at Corker Hill, near Glasgow. He was highly thought of by his workmates and superiors on the railway, 

Today, No 3 that is referred to in the story is what we call The Croft. The hatch to the cellar, although not used, is still visible under the carpet in the kitchen. 

Avielochan Farm – Where it all began…

Fiona & Ronald Grant at Avielochan Farm

Avielochan Farm – where it all began…

James Grant (Ronald’s father) came to Avielochan around 1905 with his family (he would have been 5 years old).  They lived in The Croft Cottage.  Reference is made to the cottage in the book James wrote in the 1970s,  ‘The Piggy Back & Other Tales of Strathspey’.

Ronald has worked on the farm since leaving school.  Up until about 1978, the farm was mainly dairying with a herd of cows, bottling milk and delivering to houses, shops and hotels in Aviemore and Boat of Garten.  The farm today has a herd of beef cattle and a small flock of sheep.

Ronald enjoys working with wood and is happy making furniture and other items. Lochside Cottage was completely renovated and rebuilt by him with help from local tradesmen.

I have been on the farm since leaving school and was the last dairy maid at Avielochan!  I like to run and over the years have taken part in the Aviemore Half Marathon and Loch Ness, Stirling and Mhor Marathons.  The running keeps me fit and able to chase after sheep and cows.

We both enjoy holidays (not this year of course) – usually a city-type break or the Western Isles in June and sunshine in November.  Whale-spotting in Iceland, in 2019, was a real highlight.

Other adventures include cycling the Great Glen Way which turned out to be ‘take your bike for a walk’ as it was so steep in parts.  We have also canoed the River Spey – all the way to Spey Bay – with support from Craggan Outdoors.  For our wedding anniversary treat this month we want to do the Zip Wire at Night at Alvie Estate.

As well as sheep and cows, we have Bess the Collie, Tom the Duck and George the Cockerel.