The Highland Cross 2018

The Highland Cross 2018

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!

Well done to all those who participated! If you are interested in learning more about The Highland Cross, you can visit their website or Facebook page.

Visit to Harris Tweed Hebrides

Visit to Harris Tweed Hebrides

In mid June John headed to the Isle of Lewis to visit Harris Tweed Hebrides. In the Campbell’s Land Rover of course, an early start to catch the morning ferry, beautiful skies and a flat calm sea, John arrived in Stornaway and headed for the mill in Shawbost. Harris Tweed Hebrides is a spinning and finishing mill. This is because the weaving of Harris Tweed is done independently by the hand weavers. Once the fibre is dyed, carded and spun into yarn, the warps are prepared and sent to the individual and independent weavers to weave up by inserting the weft yarns. The pieces are then collected by the mill and returned to the factory for QC and finishing. The final part of the process is to insert the Orbel, signifying that the tweed is official Harris Tweed. Harris Tweed has a very distinct look and handle, it is the king of all “Shetland type” fabrics, with a slightly coarse handle and rugged look to it.
At the factory John had a tour of the production facilities and the new state of the art dyehouse that has been installed. It was then onto focusing on design and looking at the many new patterns that have been produced for the new range, selecting which were suitable for Campbell’s, and then taking swatches of this selection back to Beauly for final selection. In the coming weeks, we will finalise which we will purchase and then send in our bulk orders for these cloths. Lead times can vary from 12-16 weeks depending on how busy the mill is, and at this time of year, and on this occasion, the mill is very busy! We also had a special commission of Hunting Macpherson tartan to get remade, last made on the islands in 1992!
Take a look at the photos from the trip below:

Visit to Valverde

Visit to Valverde

In May 2017, John and Nicola took to Seville, Spain to visit the family run factory in which our beautiful Spanish Leather and Suede boots are manufactured. This region of Spain, Andalucia, is where some of the finest leather is sourced and produced into these high quality boots, hand crafted with great attention to detail and care.

Valverde has shown consistent quality in shoemaking since the 19th century. In 1873, the first shoemaker from Valverde won ‘Best Shoe’ at the International Exhibition in Vienna. Today, the shoe industry has developed vastly. From the complex hand-crafting in the shoemaker’s homes in 1912, to the introduction of sewing machines to simplify the production process while still maintaining high standards of care and quality. It was great to meet the talented leather cutters and seamstresses who hand make all of our leather and suede products. There were many similarities between our work room above the shop and this small family run factory in Spain, it was fascinating to see the old tools working so well alongside modern machinery.

Take a look at some of the images of the hand cutting tools and sizers below:

Visit to the Outer Hebrides

Visit to the Outer Hebrides

Following the success of ITVs Tales from the Coast with Robson Green we thought we’d share some pictures from our similar trip to Harris and Lewis at the end of last year, it truly is a magical place to visit. The Campbell’s team headed off on the CalMac ferry in the iconic Land Rover Defender to Stornaway. We were joined by mascot cocker spaniel sisters ‘Islay’ and ‘Sula’ and started our four day trip with a tour and tasting session at the famous Harris Gin Distillery which was fascinating, Informative and executed in an innovative way. You really can taste the flavouring from the hand dived sugar sea kelp coming though the gin, giving a slight saltiness. The sugar kelp is supplied by Lewis Mackenzie photographed below who also took Robson Green out to view the local wildlife, we were lucky enough to also see the stunning Sea Eagle, and I was delighted with my photographs of it mid-hunt.

The main reason for our trip was to find some stunning Harris Tweeds to take back to the Highland Tweed House and share with our customers. Margaret Macleod of Harris Tweed Hebrides looked after us beautifully, with a private tour of the factory we were able to see the entire process unfold in front of us, dyeing, spinning, design and pattern making, to the distribution of the work to the 10’s of local ‘cottage industry’ weavers in the islands and then the finishing process where the woven cloth comes back to the factory where it is washed, pressed and finally stamped with the Harris Tweed orb – all under careful supervision from the Harris Tweed Authority. We caught up with legendary Donald John Mackay of the Luskentyre Tweed Company who gave us a lesson on peddling a single width traditional loom – it certainly is a workout and a half.