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An international reputation: Scottish textiles

With more and more evidence surfacing of the adaptability, quality and craftsmanship of Scottish textiles manufacturers catching on worldwide in fashion luxury goods and film, it is no surprise the industry has also taken on sport technology.

Performance in a fabric is crucial to hikers, walkers and cyclists. In Scotland, weather can change so frequently that when it comes to treks off the beaten track (a speciality of Scot Mountain Holidays), to quote Duracel, “it just has to work”.

But we believe gear should more than work. It should be comfortable and enhance your experience. We also believe in supporting local and regional manufacturers for economic and environmental purposes.

Scottish textiles

Using the edge trimmings from the looms to make rugs. All made from 100% wool as is tweed. Wool is coming back in to fashion in outdoor clothing.

For these reasons, we have tracked down 5 Scottish innovators in the textile sport industry who are completely changing the performance game.

Scotland’s own

1. Findra

Cycling in the Cairngorms

On and off road cycling in the Cairngorms. We know all about valuing good cycling gear!

Dubbed by SCI market research as one of the top sport textile innovations in the last five years, Findra creates mountain biking clothing especially for women. They are recognized for their seamless knitting technology and unique textiles.

2. Nikwax technology


Andy in a Nikwax Analogy smock jacket by Páramo

While Nikwax was developed in Northern England, innovater Nick Brown accredits his many walking holidays in Scotland as the inspiration for the product – so we feel it fits nicely on our list. This elastic and water-repellent treatment makes performance clothing elastic and breathable, protecting you from inevitable Scotland rain.

3. Harris Tweed Hebrides

From the Commonwealth Games to other professional sporting events, Harris Tweed is a becoming a feature of athletes all over the globe as they are revered for combining style with performance.

4. Diary Doll 

Another product innovation for women. Lightweight with a waterproof panel, these machine washable pants give women the freedom to carry on their explorations stress free.

5. Bonar Yarns

‘Greatness is in the detail’. This Scottish manufacturer has forever changed the notion of turf, enhancing sporting events all over the world.

Fit for a Highlander

Here in the Cairngorms we are part of the Highland way of life and keen nature enthusiasts, meaning we must be ready to adapt to Scotland weather in pursuing our adventures.

With manufacturers like these, nothing can hold us back!

Sleeper train + Hiking in the Cairngorms = memorable vacation time

Autumn hiking

Hiking in the autumn (Cairngorms, Highlands)

Now’s the time to make your dream come true. Never has travel to the Highlands been easier. There are direct flights from London, Birmingham and Bristol but if you really want to make the most of your time, why not try the sleeper train? You’ll do your travelling overnight so you won’t be missing out on any day time scenery/views; you’ll be able to sleep while travelling and when you wake up you’ll be deep in the heart of the Highlands, looking out at mountain views.

Hiking in the Highlandsaveimore-sunrise-mountains

Caledonian Sleeper v flying to the Highlands

The time factor:

If you’re based in London for work or to live you might find the sleeper at least as convenient as flying.

The sleeper leaves from central London about 9pm so you can work a full day and not lose any valuable holiday time to travel – by 8am you’ll be in the Highlands, either Aviemore or Fort William. To fly you need to reach the airport at least an hour before your flight leaves; the flight will take about 1 – 1.5 hours and you’ll probably have some travel time at the other end as the closest you will get to the mountains is a flight to Inverness (30 minutes drive from Aviemore). Reaching Fort William is much more problematic.

It’s easy to forget when you fly, that you still need to make allowances for the time it takes to travel out to the airport, whereas when you travel by train, you are far more likely to end up within spitting distance of your final destination.

Also, if you travel overnight on the sleeper, you are effectively multi-tasking: sleeping and travelling at the same time!

The price factor:

Tickets for the sleeper can be much more expensive than Easyjet or Ryanair flights, however, if you book your ticket 12 weeks beforehand there are cheap tickets available, which a small core of sleeper aficionados in London know. Mid-week tickets are easier to get of course, but if you’re able to commit to your travel plans around 3 months beforehand, you should be able to travel on the weekend of your choice, without too much expense. Always remember though, that travelling on the sleeper service is also saving you the cost of a night’s accommodation each way.

walking with a guide

Why take a guide in Scotland?

Another way to save time

Combine your voyage on the sleeper with an organised break. For active travellers, there are plenty of options in both the Aviemore and the Fort William areas where there are numerous walking and activity instructors; but the most effective way to make the most of your time is to book a fully inclusive package, which will make the most of your time Hiking in the Highlands.

Options for Hiking in the Highlands

  1. Research independently using suggestions from VisitScotland and WalkHighlands – to make the most of this you really need some knowledge of the local area first and you also need to pay close attention to the forecast in the days leading up to your trip. Don’t forget to check out the accommodation and meal options.
  2. Book a local guide or use the ranger service eg at Cairngorm Mountain or via the National Trust (in Torridon and on the Mar Estate near Braemar). Remember to book your accommodation and organise your meals as well.
  3. Book a fully inclusive tour using the services of a company such as Scot Mountain Holidays who will organise the accommodation, meals, transport and guiding in one package for you.


Further information:

Read about Challenge Sophie’s adventure with Scot Mountain Holidays and the sleeper service

5 hiking breaks in the Cairngorms

using the sleeper service:

Sleeper discount available with Scot Mountain Holidays (see below for details) 

There’s a lifetime of walking opportunities here in the Cairngorms National park, unfortunately most of us don’t have a lifetime to explore all those possibilities, and we have to squeeze in the chances to visit the Highlands into our busy lifestyles. The sleeper service from London to Aviemore makes the most of the limited time windows you might have. If you then combine the sleeper with an organised trip, you’ll not waste a minute.

Autumn hiking

Hiking in the autumn (Cairngorms, Highlands)

Advantages of the sleeper service

Leave London after a full day’s work (train departs about 9pm) and wake up in the mountains. Then at the end of your trip, get in a full day’s walk/ride/challenge (and even have time to shower) before departing from the Highlands and waking up back in the Big Smoke ready for a full day at work.

Organised hiking opportunties

Make even more of the limited time you have available by joining an organised group or booking a local guide. The guide/tour company will take on the responsibility for organising the logistics of your trip leaving you free to concentrate on the hiking.

Some tour companies (as opposed to individual guides) will offer fully inclusive packages where they organise the accommodation, the transport, the meals and the guiding, so all you have to do is pack your hiking gear and book your train ticket.

Red deer in the Cairngorms

Monarch of the Glens (Cairngorms)

Autumn hiking Highlands:

Try one of these organised hiking packages this autumn and spring:

Mountains and Malts:

Linking 2 of Scotland’s iconic themes – whisky and walking – this tour is a must for any active would-be whisky connoisseur. We’ll be walking in whisky country following the complete whisky story including a visit to the Speyside Cooperage (where the whisky barrels are formed), touring a distillery and finally going behind the scenes at the Whisky Castle in Tomintoul (an independent whisky shop, stocking unusual and one-off Scotch malt whiskies)

Full details and booking links here.

Malt Whisky

Sampling Scotland’s top export

Cairngorm 4000ers:

A challenging mountain adventure conquering all 5 of the Cairngorm peaks over 4000ft. Also attempted by Challenge Sophie (though her time was limited so they didn’t master all the peaks).

Full details and booking links here.

Gentle Giants

A weekend of high peak walking in the Cairngorms. We’ll head out to master Cairngorm and Ben Macdui, taking routes at the brink for the most amazing views and sunset colours (we hope).

Full details and booking links here.

Wild scenery of Scotland

Glorious wild scenery for the Cairngorms National Park

Spirit of the Cairngorms

Experience all the habitats of the Cairngorms from the ancient Caledonian pine forests at the foot of the mountain massif, rich in foraging opportunities and home to roe deer and the rare Capercaillie and crested tits; to the moorland where red grouse roam and finally explore the high mountain massif where if you’re lucky you’ll encounter reindeer and ptarmigan, who only live at altitudes above 800m.

Full details and booking links here.

Hiking in Scotland

Hiking through the varied habitats of the Cairngorms

Wild Cairngorms

Spring Watch and Autumn Watch are very well-known wildlife programmes on BBC television and always contain a focus on wildlife here in the Cairngorms National Park. 3 out of 5 of the Big Five (Golden Eagle, Red Deer and Red Squirrel) make their home here and for good measure you can also find ptarmigan, Capercaillie, crested tit and pine marten. All in all, if you’re keen on encountering the wild beasties in their natural habitats, you’ll love the hikes we’ve put together here.

Full details and booking links here.

Sleeper special

If you do decide to take advantage of the less busy autumn period to head up to the Highlands, now you can take advantage of the special sleeper discount we have added to the above trips. (Not available over bank holiday weekends.)

Take the sleeper to Aviemore and back and save £60 per person!!

Autumn hiking Highlands

Autumn Sunset in the Cairngorms

A place for all things wool

Woollen crafts in Scotland are alive and thriving, hence the birth of a new wool festival this year: The Inverness Loch Ness Knitting Festival. The festival will be an annual international celebration of fibres, dyes, yarns, crafts and craft supplies set in the Highlands. The festival hosts some of the world’s most celebrated knitters building on Highland textile history and heritage. 


Spinning wheel courtesy of Three Bags Wool

With workshops, displays, and presentations over the course of the four day event, novice and seasoned textile artists alike can enjoy the spectacular workmanship of textile artists and learn from the best all over the globe.

Aside from immersing yourself in its craftsmanship, the Loch Ness Knitting Festival boasts stunning venues including Eden Court, Loch Ness by Jacobite, Kingsmill Hotel, Inverness Botanic Garden and the Culloden Battlefield and Visitors Centre.

3 bags wool

Inside Three Bags Wool, Aberlour Scotland. Speyside Valley workshops (30 minute drive from Boat of Garten).

Loch Ness festival goers are given an exclusive tour by water, while Eden Court – the festival’s headquarters for exhibitors – is steps outside of Inverness Old Town and city centre.

Trying your hand at crafts of the Highlands

At Scot Mountain Holidays we have a passion for Highland craftsmanship which is why we are offering an accommodation and transport package to guests who don’t want to miss this spectacular event! Please enquire for details.

Crafting in Scotland

Scottish scene captured in a needle felted image

Knitting, quilting, sewing in Scotland

Crafting supplies at Three Bags Wool


The festival can be added to your personalized Scotland textiles tour, where we can also guide you to woollen mills and extended craftsmanship courses. If you would like details of the self-guided crafting possibilities in our area please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

“Making” or crafting tour

We can offer:

We can put together a package for you which would include what our son calls “making” opportunities if you wish or just browsing if you prefer also featuring hand-picked chances to sample the finest Scottish produce and comfortable accommodation for your stay with like-minded hosts.


‘Thrugs’ – rugs made from thrums, Three Bags Wool

Examples of the possibilities for your crafting holiday

No Scotland holiday would be complete without a feel for the Highland textile tradition kept alive in the Cairngorms’ very own Victorian-era Knockando Woolmill Trust. You can go inside the mill to see the Victorian machinery in action, then treat yourself to an international festival of art. You can even pursue your passion in local multi-day courses.

Courses are also available for peg loom weaving, needle felting and sewing at Three Bags Wool in Aberlour. Aberlour is only about 30 minutes drive from Boat of Garten. We are very happy to offer dinner, bed and breakfast for you if you are attending a workshop at Three Bags Wool. Please email for details. Three Bags Wool will also be exhibiting at the Loch Ness Wool Festival.

Crafts in Scotland

Thrum knitting to make a rug


Peg loom rug making with thrums

my thrug

Rebecca’s woven rug just off peg loom (first attempt at a woven rug)

We look forward to showing you!

How to get to Loch Ness Knitting Festival and Market Place

Rebecca is a keen crafter (with very little time to spare to make the projects in her head) and therefore she is keen to encourage anyone who is interested to attend this first event in Inverness. On Saturday, both Andy and Rebecca are going to the Highland Concert with Bruce Macgregor (of Blazing Fiddles fame). Transport will be available from Fraoch Lodge that evening if you are also interested in attending. We will also run a shuttle up to Eden Court (Inverness) during the day on Saturday if you’d like to take a look at the marketplace and workshops going on.

Please phone 01479 831 331 or email us (using the contact form) if you are looking for a last minute weekend away and fancy a bit of Highland culture.

Worldclass artistry

Scotland famous for textiles – Scotland’s textiles are famous all over the world, not least of all for the kilt (a Highland tradition dating back to the 16th century!) and contemporaries who continue to produce some of the world’s finest fabrics.

Here textiles are as varied as they are practical. In the Cairngorms we certainly find wildlife stalkers are prone to camouflaging tweed, while walkers often go for the synthetics. Pro tip: don’t miss out on the versatility of wool; it keeps you warm when wet, wicks away sweat and can take weeks before needing a wash.

27784678866_79b18f1ee8_o (1)

Carding wool at Knockando, great activity for kids!

The must sees of the textile industry include the Scottish Borders, Harris Tweed on the Isle of Harris, Fair Isle knitting between the Shetlands and Orkneys and Johnstons of Elgin based in London who have a free tour of their wool mill every business hour, on the hour.

Scotland textile artists have been making quite a splash in the fashion industry, too. Notables include Angharad McLarenLochaven of Scotland in Ayrshire village (known for creating the outfits for Harry Potter’s wizarding school!), Christopher Kane, Jonathan Saunders, Graeme Armour, and more. Another great article on Scotland’s influence in the fashion world is 10 Scottish manufacturers for fashion designers.

In addition, check out a few of our favourite textile and yarn manufactuers in Scotland, namely Keela and Bonar Yarns.

On our doorstep – Scotland famous for textiles

In the Cairngorms we have our very own Knockando Woolmill Trust. This charitable organization has a fully functioning water wheel where you can witness its fascinating process in action, set against a lovely Highland backdrop. You can also browse their garments in shop—check out more of our experience with Knockando and the Scottish Kitlmaker’s Exhibition.


Knockando’s heritage water wheel



The British Wool Fest in Cumbria and the Inverness Loch Ness Knitting Festival in June and September, respectively, are both wonderfully immersive introductions to textiles, and Rebecca has taken a 3 day weaving course she would highly recommend for beginners and novices.


3 day weaving course


Preparing the shuttle to pass through the shed

To learn more about these experiences ask us about our self guided tours, because any quintessential Scottish holiday can’t miss out on its Tartan and Tweed!

Check out more of our adventures at Knockando:


Victorian machinery at work, spinning yarn


Spinning the yarn onto cones

Scotland famous for textiles

Carding fleece

Scotland famous for textiles

Spinning machinery

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