Celebrating Local Forests and Food Together

Cairngorms Connect Venison was enjoyed by over 500 people at the recent Hill to Grill festival and is now on the menu at Aviemore’s Old Bridge Inn and regularly stocked in Nethy Bridge’s Balliefurth Farm Shop.

At this year’s Hill to Grill in Nethy Bridge, we were joined by over 500 people from our local community. Together we shared food, stories, music, craft and our love for this place. 

H2G_collageL to R, top to bottom: Cairngorms Connect Venison burgers, butchery demo with Oliver Wilson, Cairngorms Connect Deer Stalker Jack Ward demonstrating a telescope, and Catriona Frankitti serving up delicious venison tasters. Photos © Catriona Parmenter Photography

Over 500  Cairngorms Connect Venison burgers and sausages were cooked up and given away for free to give a taste of this sustainable local food source. Local butcher Oliver Wilson ran a butchery demonstration and Scottish food expert Catriona Frankitti ran cooking demonstrations throughout the event, helping people discover new ways to incorporate wild venison into everyday meals. Cairngorms Connect Deer Stalkers were on hand to chat to attendees about deer management for conservation and the work they do.

H2G_collage3L to R: Sarah Hobbs from Strathspey Storywalks, forager Lucy Cooke, and NatureScot's Ian Sargent. Photos © Catriona Parmenter Photography

Connections with the local forest were forged through guided nature walks with Sarah Hobbs from Strathspey Storywalks sharing local folklore, forager Lucy Cooke teaching people about edible plants, and Ian Sargent from NatureScot pointing out signs of wildlife. See all the photos from the event taken by Catriona Parmenter by clicking here.

Where can I buy Cairngorms Connect Venison?

A key factor holding back native forest restoration and expansion in Scotland is grazing pressure from unnaturally high numbers of deer, giving native woodland little chance to recover. Consequently, deer management is a necessary tool for ecological restoration.

By harnessing the venison generated by the partnership’s deer management work, Cairngorms Connect Venison not only provides a healthy, local, sustainable food source at affordable prices, but also connects people to the landscape that surrounds them through the food they eat and the consumer choices they make.

DSC01121Cairngorms Connect Venison special at The Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore. Photo © James Stevens

The Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore now boasts Cairngorms Connect Venison sausage casserole on their autumn lunch menu and serves up delicious venison specials in the evening such as pan-fried loin of venison with a red wine jus served with root vegetables.

The restaurant purchases the whole deer from Cairngorms Connect and local butcher Grants of Speyside in Grantown breaks it down into a range of cuts for The Old Bridge Inn chefs to work with. This allows them to use every part of the animal, including making a rich stock from the bones.

OBI_OwenJack_JamesStevensThe Old Bridge Inn director Owen Caldwell with Cairngorms Connect Deer Stalker Jack Ward. Photo © James Stevens

Owen Caldwell runs The Old Bridge Inn said: “Visitors to this area and locals alike are keen to know where their food is coming from. The fact that we’re able to offer them something that’s so incredibly low on food miles, iconic to this part of Scotland, and utterly delicious is a win-win for everyone involved in the supply chain – from hill to grill.”

For people who want to cook venison at home, Cairngorms Connect Venison can be purchased from the regularly stocked Balliefurth Farm Shop in Nethy Bridge and from RSPB Scotland’s Loch Garten Nature Centre in the Spring and Summer months.

In addition to its environmental credentials, venison has approximately a third of the fat found in beef and is significantly lower in cholesterol, whilst at the same time containing more protein and essential amino acids. Produced and processed locally, Cairngorms Connect Venison has low food miles, a low carbon footprint and is 100% leadfree.

MartinDelaney_JamesStevensMartin Delaney, Head Chef at The Old Bridge Inn in Aviemore. Photo © James Stevens

To stay up to date with future Cairngorms Connect events and venison updates, sign up to our monthly newsletter!

Hill to Grill was made possible by Partnership staff and volunteers from Wildland Limited, Forestry and Land Scotland, NatureScot, and RSPB Scotland, and supporting partner Cairngorms National Park Authority, working alongside local businesses and people in the community.

Cairngorms Connect is funded by the Endangered Landscapes and SeascapesProgramme (ELSP), which is funded by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and is managed by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative.


CairngormConnect_HilltoGrillOct23_0181Cairngorms Connect Partnership staff and volunteers at Hill to Grill 2023. Photo © Catriona Parmenter Photography


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