Episode 43: ‘The Land of Stories’ – Badenoch The Storylands
Let me take you to Badenoch, a hidden gem in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and a cultural cradle of Scotland that is full of fascinating stories, folk tales and legends.
‘The Land of Stories’ is an episode about Badenoch, its natural landscapes, cultural heritage, fascinating stories and welcoming locals. I’m taking you with me as I travel around the region by car, e-bike and on foot and speak to the people who call Badenoch their home.
We’ll go for a hike in the mountains near Kingussie, learn about the Scottish sport Shinty, and explore the history of the region in the footsteps of the Picts, Gaels, Jacobites and more.
Along the way you’ll hear the voices and stories of local Badenoch people:
- Helen Pickles, curator of the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore
- John Mackenzie, Chieftain of the Camanachd Association and Chairman of Badeoch Shinty Memories
- Sarah Hobbs, storyteller and founder of Strathspey Storywalks
After the story, I’ll tell you some of my top tips to make the most of your trip to Badenoch.
Additional music for this episode is by Charlie McKerron of Capercaillie and Session A9. The featured song ‘Dramatic Contours’ was composed for the Badenoch The Storylands. Thanks, Charlie, for the right to use the song in this episode!
Are you ready? Great – let’s travel to Scotland!
This episode is sponsored by Badenoch The Storylands, a campaign by the Badenoch Heritage group and VisitCairngorms that shines the light on the abundance of stories, music and history you can discover across this region in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.
Written and hosted by Kathi Kamleitner.
Produced, edited and sound design by Fran Turauskis.
Transcript by Kathi Kamleitner; Social media support by Kirsty Spain.
Cover Art illustrated by Lizzie Vaughan-Knight.
All original music composed by Bruce Wallace, apart from ‘Dramatic Contours’ by Charlie McKerron.
Field recordings and all photographs by Kathi Kamleitner.
Use my Badenoch travel guide to plan your trip.
My Badenoch Travel Tips
Don’t just do a day trip
Badenoch is just south of Aviemore and really not that far from Inverness, but I’d still encourage you to do more than a day trip to the area. By visiting for a few days and staying in the villages you get to spend more time exploring Badenoch and meeting its people throughout the day.
I stayed at McInnes House Hotel in Kingussie and really enjoyed being at the heart of the region.
Use the free Badenoch the Storylands app
I downloaded the Badenoch app for inspiration before my trip but I also used it a lot during my time in the area. It contains suggested itineraries and walking routes, and a map with lots of local businesses and places of interest.
There is also an Augmented Reality experience that you can use to bring historic ruins back to life. I mentioned two of them in today’s story, Ruthven Barracks and Dùn dà Làmh, but there are several others.
My favourite part of the app though is the audio section. There is music, some of which was composed especially for the app, and many stories about the local history, people and folk tales. I really enjoyed listening to the stories and music while I drove around the area and it was a great way to learn more about the places on my itinerary. I actually still listen to the music from time to time.
All the files can be downloaded within the app, so you can still listen even if your mobile reception gets patchy.
Make an effort to meet the locals
The stories of Badenoch are as memorable as the people who tell them. I loved meeting the locals during my trip here – whether it was for one of my interviews, chatting up strangers at the Shinty game, or a wee blether with one of the independent shopkeepers. I highly encourage you to approach folks, ask for their recommendations and share a story or two.
Get outside to experience the land
Visiting attractions and driving from village to village is great, but nothing beats spending time outdoors to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Badenoch. It doesn’t have to be a big adventure. There are many easy walks along the River Spey and the mountain bike centre at Laggan Wolftrax also hires out e-bikes.