In our guest journal this week, we caught up with Calum Lockerbie from Bothies & Bannocks.
Calum is enthusiastic about food and tourism and started his company Bothies & Bannocks to share and promote the local area of the North East of Scotland. He’s also a big fan of our kitbags and has a few that he uses on his travels. We chatted with Calum to find out what he has been up to on his adventures so far this year.
You can find Calum on Instagram here: @bothiesandbannocks
You trained as a Chef after leaving school, before then going on to study Events & Hospitality Management. Bothies & Bannocks provides foodie tours, outdoor activity camps and adventure sport transport across the North East of Scotland. Do you feel that you are one of the lucky few who get to combine their life’s passions with their job?
I absolutely am, I love what I do, whether that be driving around Scotland talking about food and drink or outdoor activities I love it all! The business was born out of my passion for local produce and my love of the outdoors. Being able to share these with my guests is great. It took me a long time to work out what I wanted to do with my career. The good thing about this is that I’ve spent time in a few different industries, doing all kinds of jobs. This paid off during covid as it meant I could turn my hand to other work whilst tourism was on hold.
Your company tagline is ‘Taste Adventure’. Is it your mission to put the spotlight on the hidden gems in the local area to give people an authentic taste of local culture, food and landscape?
I wanted to create tours and experiences that would take people off the beaten track, away from the coach tours that flock to the same spots. This involves meeting the farmer that produces the food on the plate, talking to the 4th generation cheese maker and taking people to those hidden locations for a special dram! This not only gives overseas visitors a real insight to our culture but also lets locals discover what’s on their doorstep.
When did you first take an interest in your outdoor hobbies?
Growing up in the hills between the river Dee and the Don there was little else to do as a child than explore the outdoors. Hillwalking, skiing and mountain biking were a huge part of my childhood. My late teens and early twenties came, and I didn’t have much time for these past times, especially working hard as a chef and partying in the city. This didn’t last long, and I was soon desperate to get back into the outdoors. And then it was when I returned to Aberdeenshire that I rediscovered my love of the outdoors.
Tell us about your best experience in the outdoors?
Now this is difficult, I’ve had many great experiences in the outdoors in Scotland and beyond. Sometimes it’s not the biggest missions that are the most memorable and it can be the smaller unexpected ones that end up being the best. I’ve been dog sledding in Canada with my wife and it was awesome. But I remember once doing a sled training run with my own huskies round the Glen Tanar Estate one evening. It was the perfect moonlit night, I turned the headtorch off and was cruising along the forest road, silent sled runners on the snow, panting of the dogs up front and an owl tweeting above me. Truly magical experience and only 10 miles from my front door! Glen Tanar has always been a special place for me, we spent a lot of time there as kids and living in Aboyne again for last 15 years it has been my regular playground, my wife grew up on the estate and we were very lucky to get married in the chapel there last year.
What is your favourite time of year for outdoor pursuits in Scotland, does the cold weather put you off?
I’m not a big fan of the hot weather, although it makes water sports and wild swimming way more enjoyable. If climate change hadn’t affected our winters so badly I would have said winter, whether that be out snowboarding or winter hiking I love being outside in the snow! Unfortunately, these days are becoming less and less and we only managed a few days on the snow last year. But I think my favourite time to be outdoors in Scotland is the springtime, snow up high, foliage turning green below, cooler temperatures and less beasties going about! The cold weather doesn’t put me off at all, I actually prefer being outdoors in the colder weather. You just have to remember to wear more layers and pack spare clothing!
What would make for a perfect weekend visiting the North East of Scotland?
Coming on one of Bothies & Bannocks activity retreats or snowboard camps, of course!!
Or if that’s not possible I would settle for staying at the fantastic Douneside House at Tarland for the weekend. Spent a day in the great outdoors, either on your own or with a guide, either bagging some Munros or attacking some of the top-class mountain bike trails around Aboyne & Ballater. The next day should be spent exploring our food and drink producers. I would suggest a farm tour at Cairnton Aberdeen Angus followed by an afternoon of making your own gin at the Lost Loch.
To be honest though a weekend isn’t enough, it would have to be a long weekend at least!!
What would you say to an outdoor sports novice to entice them into trying a new hobby, and what would your advice be to anyone trying one of your hobbies for the first time?
I was very lucky to have got into most of my hobbies at a young age but there is nothing stopping you trying something new at any age! Best advice is to try loads of different things, there are so many taster sessions and “intro to” sessions available with outdoor guides. Doing it this way is great because usually kit is included, this saves you buying loads of stuff to try something new. Tuition is so useful; I am totally self-taught on a snowboard and it shows! My wife has been taught and coached throughout her learning journey and she definitely has more control and style than me, sheer determination and stupidity means I still beat her down the hill though! I would say, try things under tuition, if you like them keep doing them and invest in your own kit. And remember you are never too old to try something new. Our last snowboard camp had an age range of 17-60 and everyone gave it 100%. They gained new skills, had loads of fun and met new friends. Hobbies are great because if you want to go solo you can, but they can also be great for social interaction thanks to many welcoming clubs and groups out there, or even going with your pals.
Thanks so much to Calum for sitting down to answer these questions for us, we hope you find some inspiration in here to head outdoors and explore what’s on your doorstep!