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  • Writer's pictureAilie Brown

A Lunch with a View in the Cairngorms

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

As any good guide knows, when planning a day out, you don’t only think of the species you hope to see and where you think they might be. You also think about where you’ll stop for lunch. Sometimes you don’t always plan exactly where you’ll have lunch but one thing for sure, you want it to have a nice view and be as comfortable as possible. Lunch is an important part of the day!

A view of the Cairngorm plateau.
The Cairngorm plateau offers a well earned lunch spot with plenty seats (Ailie Brown)

Being comfortable can be sitting in the van, hiding from the cold weather or utilizing a hide, to seek shelter from the rain. During the summer months, more often than not, we can lounge out in the grass, use a pile of boulders as chairs and a table or find a nice bench whilst enjoying the sunshine. Guides have this ability to eat and bird watch at the same time. I once witnessed a guide scoping with one hand, holding a packet of crisps in the other, desperately trying to finish a mouthful in order to shout "Eagle!" A popular choice is out the back of the van. Our vans have these handy shelves that can act as a useful table for a spread of sandwiches and flasks. You just have to make sure to take your scope out first!

Lunch from the back of the van with the Black Isle providing some nice birding opportunities
Lunch from the back of the van in the Black Isle providing some nice birding opportunities (Ailie Brown)

The view….. whether you are watching ducks paddle around a little loch, or you are scanning hills over a glen, or sitting on a mountain plateau, we always strive to make sure you have lunch with a view. Here in Strathspey, we are very fortunate to be surrounded by mountains and have plentiful lochs and rivers, so most of our days out are filled with vistas.

The most popular choice for lunch is a good ole sandwich and packet of crisps. Colder months mean flasks of soups and biscuits. I have had guests come with a proper picnic with a cheese board and deli meats. Personally, I usually rake the shelves at M and S for reduced lunches, the night before I go out guiding. It somehow tastes better knowing I got it cheap. However, if you decide to try this, you must remember to bring cutlery, I’ve had the pleasure of trying to fashion a bit of cardboard into a spoon before.

a picture of an M ans S lunch pot with a nature loch back ground.
An excellent choice for lunch (Ailie Brown)

Finally, part of our food orientated guiding thoughts, also wander to coffee. Some guests bring their own coffee, some prefer to stop and grab a takeaway latte from one of the lovely little café’s that we pass on a comfort break. We do though, take flasks of hot water with us and make coffee out in the field. Now, we don’t just have the instant stuff, we like coffee, so we also have filtered coffee and an array of flavoured teas. For me, it has to be coffee bags, the biodegradable bags (although we always take our rubbish home anyways) and very tasty coffee, this has to be the winner!

Birders having a coffee on a picnic bence.
Our students on our most recent ID course stopped for a coffee at a cafe (Ailie Brown)

If you’d like to join us for a Guided Day Out or learn more about our ID course and a great lunch spot, you can find out more here.

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