The soft fruits produced in the harsh conditions of the Scottish Cairngorms

  • The Larder
  • 2 July 2013
Hill Berries

Combatting unforgiving weather and lack of sunlight for our tastebuds' delight

Growing soft fruits in the oft unforgiving conditions of the Cairngorms is no easy task. The harsh weather and paucity of sunlight at crucial times means even the hardiest varieties struggle without intensive care.

Alvie Gardens is a rarity in the region. Run by John Christie, in partnership with the Alvie and Dalraddy Estate, the walled gardens produce up to 10 tonnes of plump, sweet strawberries and raspberries every year. Cultivated in polytunnels to maximise the available heat and light, the fruits are harvested from July to October, picked daily and delivered fresh to local shops and restaurants such as Murchies in Kingussie and Rothiemurchus farm shop.

Christie favours Elsanta strawberries, a large, orange-red dessert variety and Glen Ample raspberries, which are as good in jams and jellies as off the stalk.