Every issue features live-in road tests of all the latest models and reviews of parks throughout Scotland and the North of England by respected industry insiders – plus the latest news and what’s on guides. Whether deciding on which caravan or motorhome to buy, looking for the ideal park to visit or browsing for new gear to enhance the touring experience, Scottish Caravans & Motorhomes is the perfect companion for travels throughout Scotland and the North of England.
Spotlighton… The Isleof Arran Garry Fraser experiences the spectacular sights and magnificent flavours of ‘Scotland in miniature’ It’s hard to know where to start with the charms of Arran, the ‘sleeping warrior’ becalmed in the Firth of Clyde between Ayr and Kintyre. But food and drink is always a good choice. With producers throughout Scotland facing stiff competition nationally and internationally, many are finding it makes sense to collaborate to spread the cost of sales, marketing and distribution. For almost 15 years, A Taste of Arran has flown the flag for the island, with great success. It means local produce can be found in restaurants and retailers across the country. While the brand itself wins awards, ards, most importantly it attracts success to the individual producers among its ranks. The driving force behind the whole enterprise is Alastair Dobson of Arran Dairies, who looks after producers that now range from a smokehouse to a distillery, with makers of cheese, oatcakes and chocolate adding diversity to the operation. TheTasteofArranbrandpromoteslocalquality Collaboration on this scale doesn’t happen overnight. At the beginning, ‘it was a case of getting everyone round a table and discussing the pros and cons of a food and drink cooperative,’ recalls Alistair. ‘While there were many pros, there were also a few cons to overcome. ‘For instance, we had three inde- pendent local cheese manufacturers who always believed that they were competitive, not complementary, and we had to persuade them of a common need. Now we can market their cheeses as part of the Taste of Arran brand, so all three benefit. ‘There’s a strong community feel on the island, which did help bring folk together. It was hard work, but well worth the effort! ‘We’re also contributing to the tourist scene – we sell Arran first, and then the food and drink. We can work off the passion that our members show for their produce, and the pictures Garry Fraser (riGht); courtesy oF the producers Clockwise from above: No prizes for guessing how the Old Man of Tarsuinn – found near the summit of Beinn Tarsuinn, a Corbett in the north of the island – got its name; James of Arran’s Chocolate Factory shop, in Brodick, makes its delicious chocolates on site; producers also include brewers and distillers 36 Scottish Caravans & Motorhomes winter 2017 www.scottishcaravansandmotorhomes.co.uk
success of this is reflected in the steady buildup of business that we have enjoyed since we were formed in 2001.’ In creating A Taste of Arran, Alastair made use of the business acumen gained through running Arran Dairies, his family firm. It was the experience of producing and selling on the island – in his case, ice cream – instead of bringing it over from the mainland that gave him the impetus to start promoting Arran’s local wares. Any natural reticence producers had, or reluctance to share their talents, soon disappeared as the idea took off. Now, with Alastair having the drive and ability to do the donkey work of spreading the gospel, Arran’s producers can concentrate on what they do best: delivering the very best quality of food and drink. Local heroes That’s also important for tourism. ‘Arran has lots of great restaurants and cafés, and it’s important that they use local produce,’ explains Alastair. ‘We don’t want visitors coming to the island and eating any old lamb or standard cheese! Food and drink are important parts of a tourist’s enjoyment. A Taste of Arran ensures they get the island’s best.’ Direct sales of Taste of Arran products have now reached more than £750,000, with participating companies’ total sales accounting for £10-12 million. It’s no wonder the venture is attracting interest from far and wide. ‘We’ve worked with individuals and groups across Scotland and the EU to promote the benefits of business collaboration,’ says Alastair. ‘As far as we know, the level of mutual cooperation shown by Taste of Arran does not exist anywhere else.’ This successful model of local business collaboration has now inspired many other regions and groups in Scotland – and also in England, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the USA and the Middle East. Meanwhile, the products under the Taste of Arran brand label are also reaching far afield, with ice cream and cheese proving particularly popular in Dubai and the Gulf. Arran is sometimes referred to as ‘Scotland in miniature’ – a tribute to an island that gives visitors a taste of the country’s varied landscapes, from tranquil to dramatic. But there’s clearly nothing small about the ambitions of Alastair and his fellow islanders. With each bite offering a flavour of local life, you could sum it up as big tastes from a small island. J winter 2017 Scottish Caravans & Motorhomes 37
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