The North Coast 500 (NC500) is a brand new coastal touring route that covers the best the Highlands has to offer in a 500 mile round trip. The route begins in Inverness and will flow through the stunning coastal edges of the North Highlands. We have recently launched the new website www.northcoast500.com which provides everyone with inspiration and ideas for completing their North Coast 500, road trip. Pitched by the media as Scotland's 'own route 66', the North Coast 500 has had an amazing response in the media and some of the links can be seen in the 'News' page on this website. The overall aim of this project is to raise awareness of the North Highlands, to increase visitors, duration of visits and of course visitor spend to support a stronger economy in the North Highlands.
Tourism is a major driver of the economy in the North Highlands and is a key focus of activity for the North Highland Initiative. The NHI Tourism Project is a free to join membership organisation committed to working with its members, the wider tourism industry and key public sector stakeholders to grow the value of tourism in the region through destination development and targeted marketing. This involves working in collaboration with tourism businesses and local tourism groups in three main areas; development of the tourism offering of the North Highlands, collaborative marketing to help increase tourism income in the North Highlands and providing a strong voice for tourism businesses in the North Highlands.
The Wild North Festival hopes to re-inspire an interest in our natural and cultural heritage to encourage curiosity about our landscapes, their history and future and to provide a focus for livelihoods based on culture and sustainable tourism amongst rural communities. The Wild North Festival for 2013/2014 was made a success thanks to the support from the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Festival in 2014 was a resounding success and thanks to the demand of this, we hope to continue to hold the Wild North Festival annually and are currently researching funding options for 2015. The Wild North Festival is on Facebook.
The Wildflower Europe project is a unique project celebrating the cultural heritage associated with both our wildflowers and the rural communities which have helped to keep them as part of our landscapes. The project has three main elements – the Patchwork Meadow, developing community archives, and annual nature festivals in Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Slovenia and Scotland. Working with other key partners, Plantlife, we were able to launch a Highlands edition of the Wild Flower Europe Festival which was well received in the community.
The Highland Bothy is a new concept designed and delivered by North Highland Initiative and Rabbies Trail Burners The Highland Bothy has been designed to bring high-quality local Highland produce to new audiences across Scotland through the new ‘Street-Food’ market trend. The unit, which has been created to look like a traditional ‘bothy’, will serve up a fantastic menu of delicious meals and snacks; unique to the street-food market. The Bothy, known as 'Rabbie's Highland Bothy' launched on January 26th in Edinburgh and we hope to have the Highland Bothy present at major events across Scotland beginning in 2015.To see some of the pictures of the bothy head to our If you are interested in booking the Highland Bothy for your event or would like to know more please contact Robin at Rabbies.
We have created the North Highland Larder, a food and drink guide in association with The List of Edinburgh, to provide the people of the North Highland’s (and those visiting) with a guide to story of the food and drink of the area in all its diversity and practical detail. We hope to use this guide to raise awareness of the local produce that is available in the area and promote our county as a food and drink destination. Download a copy here or contact us to request a printed copy.
Mey Selections is arguably one of our most successful ventures to date. Established in 2005 as part of HRH, The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesays commitment to fostering closer connections between farmers, producers and consumers. Mey Selections is the retail brand of the initiative which focuses on supplying the highest quality produce from within a 150 mile radius of the Castle of Mey. Mey Selections' current product portfolio includes; beef, lamb, biscuits and shortbread. Looking to expand in 2015 to include a new line of cashmere in Mey Selections tartan with Johnstons of Elgin along with other new products including salmon, cheese and other kitchen essentials. Providing high quality beef and lamb is one of Mey Selections core values and working with Dunbia and ABP, we offer a premium to farmers who reach Mey Selections specifications in their livestock. In 2014 we had paid over £1.5m in premiums since 2005. Find out more at www.mey-selections.com.
NHI have entered in to a new partnership with The Glenmorangie Company’s Ardbeg Distillery to work with community organisations in Port Ellen, Isle of Islay. The community organisations include:
• South Islay Development, a community organisation and charity formed in 2010
• St. John’s Church of Scotland
The Kildalton Project aims to develop a community-run hub situated in the heart of the village. As a centre for social activities, training and learning, it is also intended to be a welcome and information point for the growing number of visitors to the South of the island. St. John’s Church, Port Ellen and its congregation, who own St Columba’s Hall, the current centre for village activities, will also be important partners in developing the project with South Islay Development and NHI.
To help raise funds for this community-based initiative, Ardbeg Distillery is introducing a prestigious limited edition whisky, Ardbeg Kildalton, to go on sale immediately at the Ardbeg Distillery. With more than 20,000 visitors per year and a passionate following in the Ardbeg Committee, the Distillery plans to involve as many people as possible in the fundraising effort for the Kildalton Project.
Tom Campbell, CEO of The North Highland Initiative, will head the project team working closely with the South Islay Development board and St. John’s Church. Funds raised from the launch of Ardbeg Kildalton will contribute to the project’s development. The Kildalton Project Team will also begin a fundraising campaign to attract other supporters.