The heather on the surrouding hillside is a sight to be seen. When the sunshine beats down it gives off a sheen. The vibrant purple is iconic to Scotland but heather is not in bloom all year round (a common misconception with tourists). We wait patiently for the bloom come August each year. Our inspiration come from many hill walks and shooting days in the pillowy heather. Here is our 2020 edit below.
Moss is in abundance on our daily dog walk down to the River Beauly. It is fascinating the way it beards branches. Light as air to touch and ever changing in colour according to the weather. We have taken inspiration from its wise grey and green tones, it has hugely infuenced our buying decisions and here is our edit for 2020.
We are lucky to live in such beautiful surroundings in the Highlands of Scotland and the colours of the countryside in bloom which are a great inspiration to us. At this time of year wild gorse has a tangy yellow glow in the spring sunshine. It also smells amazing. The vibrant yellow of the gorse bush has influenced our buying decisions hugely and here is our edit for 2020.
In this mini April heatwave we’re having, quite alien to us in the north, and given the circumstances, it’s important that time in the garden is time well spent! And how brilliantly British to sip away on what could be claimed to be almost a national drink – the venerable Gin & Tonic!
We’re blessed here in the Highlands to have ridden the gin boom wave over the last decade, and can boast in our opinion some of the most original and delicious gin’s on the market. Biased? Of course! If it’s from from the Highlands we love to sample it and we can buy it from our deli Corner on the Square!
Not forgetting the all important accompanyment – tonic. Walter Gregor’s is the Scottish go to premium tonic. Made in Aberdeenshire and highlighting mint tones, it adds a delightful and unique taste to your G&T.
An honorable mention also to our stag horn bottle opener maker Hugh (Instagram @p.i.c.a.d.a.e). Sustainable use of all all the bi products of one of Scotland’s much loved meats. We send Hugh the antler from some of the local estates we work with and he makes various handmade sticks and accessories for us. Thanks Hugh!
Below are Nic and John’s top three gins in no particular order.
John asked for a Defender for his 40th, and he got one – introducing the Lego Technic Defender!!
A fun and enjoyable project during lockdown. With a toddler desperate to ‘help’ build the Defender I think he did well not to lose any pieces or his temper.
We have Land Rover Defender cufflinks available to buy here.
HRH Prince Charles, The Duke of Rothesay, opened a new state of the art tailoring workshop for Campbell’s of Beauly, the Royal Warrant holding tailors and country outfitters based in the Highlands of Scotland.
Campbell’s of Beauly, which was founded in 1858 and has previously held Royal Warrants to the Duke of Windsor and HRH the Queen Mother as tweed mercers, said its new facility would allow the company to employ more staff over the next 18 months to meet growing demand.
John and Nicola Sugden, joint owners of Campbell’s of Beauly, said they were honoured to meet the Duke of Rothesay.
John Sugden said: “We are thrilled that HRH The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay, accepted the invitation to come and open our new workshop – this has been a wonderful day for the whole team here at Campbell’s, but moreover for the wider community of Beauly and the surrounding area. We are grateful for The Prince’s support and we are extremely fortunate to have enjoyed royal patronage for a number of years, including our most recent Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen.
“Here at Campbell’s, we are committed to maintaining our craft and making it here in the Highlands. We employ a team of eight in our tailoring department and hope that the new expansion allows for us to take on two more staff in the short-medium terms and potentially four more in the long term.”
John’s late father James Sugden OBE was instrumental in setting up The Prince’s Foundation’s Future Textiles training initiative at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire. The programme, which was initiated in 2015, is designed to breathe new life into Scotland’s renowned textiles industry by providing expert tuition in traditional skills such as sewing, weaving and cutting to school pupils and adults looking to gain employment in the industry.
In May 2018, John was appointed as co-chair of Future Textiles alongside award-winning designer Patrick Grant. Through this role, John contributes his knowledge and expertise to help The Prince’s Foundation educate those with lesser opportunities and find solutions to bridge the industry skills gap created by decades of under investment in training.
“British manufacturing, particularly textiles, is on the up again and the biggest issue that the industry faces is the shortage of skills due to a lack of success and, thus, investment over the last 30 years. Step-by-step we can collectively start to turn this predicament around, and it starts from the grass roots upwards, and this means teaching traditional skills like those taught at the Dumfries House through The Prince’s Foundation’s Future Textiles programme.
“Hopefully our investment here at Campbell’s will allow for future graduates to be able to come to Campbell’s and gain work experience in a proper working environment”.
Campbell’s tailoring business represents around 45% of the company’s gross sales. “The foundations of our tailoring sales come from the many estates that maintain age-old traditions of estate tweeds.
“This relatively consistent business has given us the platform to be able to build our new facility with confidence. We also have a significant business in tweed jackets as well as Highlandwear, and the business has often been referred to as The Guardians of Tweed. The hope is that we can continue to grow and increase our footprint here in the Highlands”.
Over the past five years, Scottish estates have spent in excess of £1.3million on tweed, based on surveys conducted by Scotland’s seven regional moorland groups.
Eating out in the Highlands is something you want to get right and there are plenty places to choose from. Our favourites are located on the NC500, the Black Isle and in Inverness.
The Rocpool, Inverness £££
A family run restaurant with a very reasonable and delicious set menu for lunch, a larger a la carte menu is also available. The menu often shows a gentle nod to more Asian flavours of coriander, sesame and chilli. Service is slick and efficient, with owner and Maitre’d Stephen running the show. Gin and tonics are served Spanish style in big goblets. Reservations are necessary and easy to do online. Firm favourites of ours are the oriental chicken salad, scallops, crab and sweetcorn soup and pigeon. We go for Birthdays, special occasions and pre-theatre.
+44(0)1463 717274 https://www.rocpoolrestaurant.com/
The Seafood Shack, Ullapool £
A local seafood takeaway perfect distance for a fresh seafood lunch. It is outdoor dining so good weather is imperative. Run impeccably by two local ladies and their team, you walk off the high street into a little seafood oasis with fresh food cooked infront of you. The menu is small and changes daily, we highly recommend the half lobster with dilled potatoes, crab linguine and the tempura haddock wrap.
07876 142623 http://www.seafoodshack.co.uk/
Kylesku Hotel, Kylesku ££
A firm favourite of ours, quite a drive from Beauly but we always make the effort with friends because the langoustine are incredible. Served on a medieval looking spit, they come hot or cold with chips and lashings of garlic butter or mayonnaise (served seasonally so best to check before setting off). The setting is stunning, recently refurbished the Kylesku has a more modern feel to it with floor to ceiling windows with views onto the pier – where your lunch was landed from only hours before. Favourites are the Ullapool oysters, langoustine on a stick and scallops with kedgeree.
01971 502 231 https://www.kyleskuhotel.co.uk
IV10 Café Bar Deli, Fortrose ££
Newly opened and worth a drive on the Black Isle for coffee, lunch or dinner as the atmosphere is fantastic, a strong design element is at play here and it feels very comfortable. We went recently for John’s Birthday and it was jam packed which was great fun. The wine menu is extensive and carefully put together by the owner who was able to tell us much about each bottle we picked. The menu has plenty to choose from and changes from day to night and on a Sunday. We often struggle to decide as everything sounds great but the Rib eye went down very well. Reservations are necessary. IV10 is also a deli so there are lots of delicious things to purchase and take away with you.
01381 620690 http://iv10.net
Sutor Creek, Cromarty ££
A firm favourite of ours for when friends are visiting, a 45 minute drive along the Black Isle with plenty places to stop for a dog walk including the beach in Rosemarkie or the Fairy Glen. Sutor Creek has a wood fired pizza oven and they make delicious thin pizzas. The Black Isler is a meaty favourite. They also have a daily specials board packed with local seafood. I usually order the mussels with a side of chips and they are delicious, served in a broth with fennel and parsley. Excellent puddings too and all of the staff are charming. Reservations are necessary.
01381 600 855 www.sutorcreek.co.uk
Luigis, Dornoch ££
Luigis is run by a charming couple who have been experts in their field for many years. Book in because it seems everyone in the area goes here, particularly at the weekend. There is a regular menu – the chorizo and prawn linguine is a winner on this menu. But also, a daily special board with treats like lobster thermidor and cheese souffle available. They are very child friendly here and have tolerated many a messy toddler in my time.
01862 810 893 www.luigidornoch.com
Mac & Wild, Falls of Shin, ££
The recent addition to the Mac & Wild Group with two restaurants in London sourcing all of their game from the Highlands, the team have opened at the Shin Falls and are offering a great array of delicious cakes, sandwiches and their full menu including the award winning VeniMoo burger. The site is very child friendly with a great play park and woodland walk right there, as well as the main draw – watching the salmon leaping up the Falls. Recent visits have been with family and we have enjoyed the VeniMoo burger, Wild Bowl and there is a Wee Bairn Happy Meal for £5.
01549 402 888 www.macandwild.com
Campbell’s of Beauly are delighted to announce our new partnership with Eagle Review – the no.1 travel advisor for fieldsports lovers. Advising on prime locations for stalking and fishing, from idyllic countryside retreats to dense jungle getaways, Eagle Review allows you to build your fieldsports holiday based on location, sport and animal to fit your desired needs. Choose from 6,500 fishing, shooting and hunting locations – from Wild Boar hunting in Hungary to Tarpon fishing in Florida. Eagle Review links local guides, venues and accommodation to sports enthusiasts around the world to arrange trips tailored to each specific need.
We want to build awareness of Eagle Review and their fantastic business to our fieldsport-loving customers. Many of our customers are active with guns or rods, and we believe this partnership will be a great link for those who want a quality, tailored experience when booking their next fieldsport venture. Campbell’s of Beauly and Eagle Review will work to share our vision of quality craftmanship in outdoor pursuits, clothing and sporting equipment, to ensure our customers have access to this excellent service when building their next stalking, shooting or fishing experience.
The Northern Meeting Ball is taking place at Altyre, Forres tonight and it is wonderful to see so many customers collecting their finished kilts, jackets and doublets ahead of this fine evening of Scottish reeling. The Northern Meeting was founded in 1788 – a time where the Highlands was reaching a low. The 1746 Battle of Culloden, followed by the suppression of clans by the Hanoverian government, made Inverness and surrounding areas drear and lifeless. At this point, roads were limited and traveling was tough – meaning getting out of the area was proven more difficult. This was when 13 men from Inverness gathered together with one aim – to bring the social life and excitement back to the Highland capital. The first Northern Meeting was then created, with Dr John Alves – the first secretary stating “the Object of the Meeting is Pleasure and Innocent Amusement” – a week long celebration with a restriction on political views, business plans or any other concern at the time.
Throughout the week, men and ladies would participate in their own activities – from spectating the horse racing or sitting for some drinks and a catch up. Every evening, guests would dine at 4pm followed by the Northern Meeting Ball at 8pm in the town hall. Dress code was strictly formal and dancing had to be immaculate. Attendees would dance until midnight until retreating back to their beds, ready for the following day ahead.
Today, the Northern Meeting Ball is still a prominent date in the social calendar – now hosted on one evening rather than 7 consecutive nights. It has developed into a thriving society, hosting annual Autumn and Christmas Balls alongside other, more informal occasions throughout the rest of the year. Black tie dress code involves vibrant highland dress and ball gowns, and no dancers with two-left-feet are to be seen reeling on the dancefloor. It is a grand occasion for “innocent amusement” – a time for celebration and coming together to forget about the worries that the modern day may bring.
You can read more about The Northern Meeting Ball on their website.
Established in 1858, Campbell’s of Beauly is an iconic privately owned, family run country tailor and outfitters. Situated in the picturesque village of Beauly, 10 miles west of Inverness, Campbell’s is a thriving retail business as well as busy tailoring workshop.
The business changed hands in 2015, and John & Nicola Sugden have taken over the reins, but their outlook remains reassuringly sympathetic to those who love this “Highland gem” of a store. Maintaining the charming character of the retail store is as important to them as it is to Campbell’s many loyal followers. In an age where in the “rag trade” the all important history and heritage can be easily forged, Campbell’s has no need or desire to overly hype it’s provenance.
Employing two full time tailors and six seamstresses in their tailoring department, all Campbell’s bespoke garments are made on site and the Campbell’s name is synonymous with quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. Campbell’s specialise in sporting tweeds and Highland dress, tailoring for many of the Scottish grouse moors as well as further afield in Yorkshire, and their kilts and jackets can be found across many a Scottish reeling dance floor. As a result, we are proud to be associated with the Northern Meeting.
I entered and completed my first Highland Cross alongside two friends, Gemma and Heather, we stuck together and completed this tough local duathlon in a time of 7.5 hours and we raised £945! The Highland Cross is a 50 mile duathlon comprising of 20 miles by foot, followed by 30 miles by bike from the west to the east of Scotland. It attracts hundreds of participants per year of all athletic capabilities, starting at 18 years old and with no maximum age limit. It is an all terrain route starting in Kintail, snaking through the beautiful Scottish west coast, through Affric and finishing in Beauly – just outside the Campbell’s front door. It is a spectacular day to observe the determination and endurance of all those involved.
The Highland Cross started out as a Charity Challenge in 1983 – back then, titled “The Midsummer Madathon”. The aim was for 3 teams to cross from Loch Duich to Glen Affric, a total of 60 miles to raise money for the Highland Scanner Appeal. The challenge quickly grew and has become a historic route to test your fitness abilities, all while raising money for notably worthy causes. Today, 795 people in teams of 3 enter the race each year, with all sponsors donated to help local causes, those disadvantaged by disability, in ill health or in social need.
This year, the funds raised are being shared between 5 charities: Blythswood Care, Highland Hospice, MS Therapy Centre, Skye and Lochalsh Mental Health Association, and the Abriachan Forest Trust. If you would like to contribute towards these causes, you can do so through the Tough Mamma’s Virgin Giving page linked here – we are grateful for any donation!
Between being a father, husband and running your own business – it’s very hard to pin John down and interrogate him with some questions. Luckily, his sister Rosie Sugden managed to do some of the work for us, and released it in her journal which you can find on her website. Rosie is a talented knitwear designer, specialising in fashion-forward accessories made from luxurious cashmere. Her ethos states long-lasting, durable accessories in a time of throw away fast fashion – a sustainable focus, with all manufacturing made in Scotland.
Scroll down to read her conversation with John:
Tell us about yourself?
Since a young boy I’ve always loved menswear, so it was no surprise to my parents that I followed my Father’s footsteps into the clothing world, firstly 10 years working for a cashmere and fine woollens mill, and then 4 years at Mackintosh.
After 12 years in London I decided that the timing was right to move away and start my own business. It was a natural decision to move back to the highlands as its where both my wife and I grew up.
Where is home?
Yorkshire. No doubt about it. Through and through. I was born in Huddersfield, schooled in the Yorkshire Dales, and then at Leeds university. But “home home” today is above the shop in Beauly. So proper traditional shop keepers!
John & Nicola Sugden
What got you involved with the textile industry?
I suppose my family involvement over the years. Both my father’s and mother’s families were involved in the industry. Coupled with my love of menswear from a young age it was the obvious route for me to follow. That’s not to say that there aren’t some photos of me when I was young in very dubious wares!
Tell us about Campbell’s of Beauly?
Campbell’s is a hidden gem. One of the things that really endeared me to it. Untouched since it first started in 1858. Of course we need to tweak it here and there, but the character and charm of the store is what endears it to most who visit. We’re a country-wear specialist in the retail, and then we have our bespoke tailoring workshop above the shop making suits, jackets, trousers etc for all manner of people.
Beauly itself is a lovely little village in the Highlands, just North West of Inverness. It’s an amazing little town with an array of passionate shopkeepers plying their own trades.
Campbell’s of Beauly tailoring department
What makes Campbell’s so special?
Definitely its our history and heritage. In an age when it can be quite frustrating how the perceived “heritage” of some brands is rather cleverly marketed and ultimately inaccurate, Campbell’s truly is an historic store with a concrete history and heritage dating back to 1858. Not much has changed in store since then!
One item from Campbell’s shop that you’re coveting at the moment?
My mens Nehru gilet in navy harris tweed. We sell the style online, and we can also have them made individually in ones chosen fabric. I love harris tweed Hebrides fabric and so a smart navy option was just the number for me. My matching bespoke brief case is also accompanying me to all meetings.
Tom Owen, our now retired Head Tailor
Describe your and Nicola’s typical working day?
Roughly speaking, our roles are defined quite well in that Nicola looks after the retail day to day, I look after the tailoring, and we both do the buying. At this time of year I’m flat out with tailoring appointments for many of the estates we work with, for whom we tailor the suits for the teams that manage the land in their individual tweeds. We’re also flat out doing the retail buying for deliveries from April when the season starts to pick up.
I will generally split my time between my office and the tailoring department when I’m in and then estate visits when I’m out. Nic will split hers between her office where she manages the website and then the shop floor so she keeps her finger on the pulse of whats happening in the retail.
John, Nicola and their Cocker Spaniel, Islay
You travel a lot for work – what is your favourite place you’ve visited?
Stockholm is my favourite foreign city to visit. I’ve a lot of friends there. It’s always nice to visit and see them, and I like the size of Stockholm, a nice manageable size of city. Not too big, not too small, plenty to do. Within the UK when travelling to meet some of the estates we work with, up the Glen from Beauly in Glen Affric is pretty special, or the North Yorkshire moors are very picturesque.
What do you love most about living in the highlands?
The peace and tranquility. and its rather nice that people say hello to each other in the street! I missed that in london. And also the space. The acres of space. It’s naturally relaxing.
John & Tom
What have you learned running Campbell’s of Beauly?
Back yourself. People will always, often unintentionally, sew a seed of doubt in your mind or make you change your mind. I’ve learnt not to let this happen and to stick to the plan and what I’d originally thought. If you originally thought something, there must be a justifiable reason, so go with it. And if you are wrong, you learn from your mistakes.
And if you are going to take advice from people, I believe you want that advice to be consistent, and it has to blend nicely with your own views, so there are 4-5 people who I’ll regularly seek out the opinion of, outside of Nic and myself.
And running ones own business is rewarding, but hard work!
What aspect of working for yourself do you most enjoy?
Being my own boss. No red tape and the freedom of when to decide to work flat out, and when to decide when to take a break.
Campbell’s of Beauly & Lambswool V Neck Jumper
Who or what inspires you?
I once heard that John Timpson was on a panel of advisors, answering questions on how to make a business successful. Other panelists answered in many different ways. Mr Timpson said in a matter of fact way that there was one thing that had not been mentioned which he felt above all else was a key factor – hard work. its hard to disagree. I’ve always remembered that. That always inspires me.
Application. Dedication. Determination. with these three ingredients you won’t go far wrong.
Favourite cafes or restaurants in the Highlands?
Corner on the Square in Beauly of course! Allangrange Arms for a pub. Sutor Creek in Cromarty for a pizza. The Scourie Hotel for a great night away of great food and peace and quiet and perhaps a spot of fishing!
Favourite place in Scotland?
Other than Mum and Dad’s near Lilliesleaf, the Struie viewpoint on the Struie road (B9176). Nicola and I got engaged there.
A big thank you to Rosie for allowing us to use her interview – the original post can be viewed on her journal. You can find a small selection of her spectacular knitwear in Campbell’s of Beauly, or you can view the full range on her website.