Thursday 2 May 2019

Marking 35 Years of the Daynes family at Clachaig

Way back when, in 1984, May bank holiday weekend saw the arrival of the Daynes family at Clachaig. 35 years on and we're still here, still very much with the finger on the pulse of a thriving and still growing business.

Some time circa 1984

An often asked question is where are you from? At first, it's a bit of a puzzler. After three and a half decades in Glencoe there is only one answer. Well, we live here. It takes a few moments to register that there's a hint that the accent doesn't quite have that west coast lilt, and so therefore there's must be more of a history.

Until the mid 80s we lived in York. Like so many, the lure of working for yourself in the Highland glens carried some appeal. The fact that Peter Daynes was a civil engineer and had no experience of hospitality other than doing a few nights B&B didn't really come into it. One day the house was sold, the bags were packed and the move north to a new career and a new home was really happening. 

The early days were  a challenge. Very hands on. Very long hours. So much knowledge to acquire. So many stresses and pressures to deal with. The learning curve was indeed steep. The seasons were short. The financial pressure to succeed was considerable.

Clachaig was very different in those early days. And running Clachaig was very different too. It's really hard to describe just how different. The evolution from small hands on Highland hostelry to multi-million pound modern business has been gradual, but consistent.

We've changed a little too. We're a little shy when it comes to getting in front of the camera. Here's one of Ed & Guy back in December 1985. It's not deliberately in soft focus, really. It's just that the phone in those days was more bakerlite than it was 16 mega pixel integrated camera. 

Ed & Guy - do you recognise the location?

It took a while for Guy & Ed to catch up with full time life at Clachaig. After completing a degree at Leeds Uni Guy was destined to become a chemical engineer. Meanwhile Ed was finishing off school, heading off the Newcastle for a degree and then a training contract with accountants, Price Waterhouse (now PwC), including a while spent in the Singapore office.

But the lure of Glencoe gets you in the end. Careers were dropped and the move north made. Guy in 1989, and Ed in 1991. Peter & Eileen took a step back from the front line in 1992 to concentrate on Strathlachlan Guest House (now Riverbank  Holiday Cottages). Ambition ran high and we opened The Grog & Gruel in Fort William in 1994. In 1998 Guy & Ed took full control of Clachaig. 

Peter and Eileen still live locally, and still look after several of the properties in the Clachaig Holidays portfolio, this despite them being in their 80s now. And eyes are now on the 3rd generation of the Glencoe Daynes'. You'll see them pouring pints, making beds and getting to grips with the hands on elements of the business from time to time, school holidays depending. However, the question is less about whether they'll follow on the family footsteps at Clachaig and more whether Guy & Ed are prepared to step aside and let them. Yet, at least!

Clachaig is many things to many people. We see some of our regular customers every month or so. Others visit once a year; an annual pilgrimage of sorts. Some of our regulars have been visiting for decades, and have been a part of Clachaig for a lot longer than we have. Such is the nature of the place. We get to meet some amazing people. We quite often get to work with some amazing people. It's an amazing place to live and work.

So that's a potted history of the last 35 years. What else is there to say, other than bring on the next 35 years. We're more than ready and the passion still runs as strong as it did on the very first day. The "customer promise; the strap line that you'll see on our web site and elsewhere is no accident. Real people, real hospitality, real craic. That's it. No further explanation required. 

Oh, and the commute to and from work can be quite nice too.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

Scotland's Brewers Gather at Clachaig

As part of our Brewers and Suppliers night this year we invited a couple of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team along to show what they used last years fundraising money to buy. We rely on our suppliers to provide raffle prizes to raise money for the GMRT, so it was a good opportunity to show them what their raffle prizes are turned into. This February we raised £2379.40 for the GMRT.
We even got Conrad from Loch Lomond to try out the vacmat.
This year Loch Lomond Brewery retained their title as their Bravehop IPA was voted the best beer on the night. It was a close run thing though with Cromarty Brewing Co in 2nd place with their Happy Chappy. 3rd place went to Strathaven Ales with their Claverhouse.

The kitchen boys getting the buffet ready.

Conrad from loch Lomond trying out the Vacmat

Ian McConnell from Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team talking about the equipment
they bought with the money raised over FebFest 2018 

Our new Assistant Manager Jessie presenting Loch Lomond Brewery
with some Clachaig Inn Beer Glasses after they retained their title of best beer.
With Merlin photo bombing the picture.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

FebFest 2019

Well FebruaryFest is over for another year. We had a great time. We had lots of live traditional music, raffles, winter safety lectures and of course the Whisky and Gin tastings are always a treat.

Every year over FebFest we raise money for mountain safety. This year we were raising money for the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team so they could buy new equipment. 
One of 4 lucky winners of a Rab Alpha Jacket
Our target this year was £2000 which will help the rescue team to buy a new communications system. 
We are happy to say we managed to surpass that target. The final total raised was £2379.40
We can only do this with the generosity of our suppliers donate amazing prizes and of course all our fantastic customers who dug so deep to contribute to such a great cause.
Here is some of what happened over FebFest.

Gin Tasting


Whisky Tasting

Tweed Valley Ceilidh Band

Sally & Catriona



Monday 26 November 2018

Octoberfest 2018

Well better late than never. Octoberfest 2018 was another success, with our highest ever turn out for our Gin tasting. We just managed to squeeze in the 36 people who attended. This year we had Zak from Strathearn Distillery come along to showcase their gins and also some of the gins they make for other companies.

We also had a great turn out at our whisky tasting with 28 attending. Gordon and MacPhail were back again but this time we had our new rep Jim Irvine hosting the evening where he showcased some of Benromach's range of whiskies. The distillery is owned by Gordon and MacPhail.

And of course we had some great bands playing. Calum MacPhail and Sean Cousins from Hò-rò opened on Friday 12th. We had regulars White Rose and Mak-A-Din playing also, but we also welcomed a new band in Emma and the Ragmen who usually only play festivals these days but wanted to come and play at the Clachaig, they will be back again next year in April.
Calum and Sean

Emma and the Ragmen

Saturday 10 March 2018

Winter fundraising

Today we handed over the money raised over FebFest and our Brewers night to the 
Linda from the GMRT

Over the last 5 weeks we raised a total of £2627.62 which the rescue team are using to buy a True CPR Training Device and two Vacuum Mattresses. Vital parts of equipment which will help save peoples lives. So once again a big thank you to everyone that donated prizes and to everyone who bought raffle tickets.
Ian from the GMRT

Friday 9 March 2018

Brewers Night 2018

Last night we hosted our 3rd annual Brewers Night Where we invited Cairngorm, Glen Spean, Lerwick, Loch Lomond, Orkney, River Leven, Strathaven, Williams, Windswept & WooHa along with some of our other suppliers including; Cairn O’ Mohr, Gordon & MacPhail, Letterfinlay  & Thistly Cross. Our Brewers night is aimed at giving everyone the night off where they can relax, have a bit of fun and actually get to have a chat with each other in a social environment.

Once again our Chef’s surpassed themselves putting on a fantastic feast for everyone. Once everyone had their fill the music started up courtesy of some fantastic local musicians having a wee session, and the beer tasting began. 

It was third time lucky for Fiona & Euan from Loch Lomond who have one just about every award you can think of, when they finally won probably the most important award of them all winning the coveted best beer award at the Clachaig Beer Tasting with their Lost in Mosaic IPA. Picking up a couple of Clachaig Beer Glasses as their prize. After all you need some proper glasses to drink your award winning beer from.

At the end of the night we raffled off a whole load of generously donated prizes from the Brewers and we were able to raise a further £268.00 to add to the £2359.62 we raised over Febfest bringing the total raised for the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team to £2627.62 over the last 5 weeks.
Thank you to everyone that attended and those who bought raffle tickets for this great cause. Hopefully we will see you all again soon.

Wednesday 7 March 2018

FebruaryFest 2018

Well FebruaryFest is over for another year. We had a great time. We had lots of live traditional music, raffles, winter safety lectures and of course the Whisky and Gin tastings are always a treat.

Every year over FebFest we raise money for mountain safety. This year we were raising money for the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team so they could buy some new equipment. More information can be found on our website

Our target this year was £2340 which would allow the rescue team to buy a True CPR training device and 2 VacMats. We are happy to say we managed to surpass that target. The final total raised was £2359.62

We can only do this with the generousity of our suppliers donate amazing prizes and of course all our fantastic customers who dug so deep to contribute to such a great cause.

Here is some of what happened over FebFest.

Calum MacPhail & Sean Cousins opened FebruaryFest

We lured Andy back with the offer of some chilli to open our lecture series.

Just a wee bit of branding for our lecture series sponsor Rab

The Riska Ceilidh Band making their first appearance at the Clachaig

Mike Pescod was here for our second lecture

Nevisport were here for all the lectures offering their support and showing off some of Rab's latest gear.
All about the spiced Gins this February

Kevin trying to be heard after everyone was a few Gins in.

Kevin from Gordon &MacPhail handing over a bottle of Gin
(donated by River Leven Ales) to the winner of the raffle on the night.

On the Friday night Troighsgeir also made their first appearance at the Clachaig while on a mini tour

Local favourites Fras were back on the Saturday to get everyone up dancing.

Ian McConnell from the Glencoe Mountain Recue Team gave us an insight to what the team does and also brought along some equipment for people to try out after.

Linda from the GMRT getting a VacMat out

Marvin a student at the West Highland College in Fort William tried out the VacMat.

We seen if Katie could remember her First Aid training from January

For this Whisky tasting we focused on Gordon & MacPhail's Connoisseurs Choice range

Kevin was back again this time for the Whisky Tasting

Local band Tartan Paint were back in the Boots Bar

Matt Groves a lecturer at the West Highland College in Fort William rounded of a successful lecture series

Matt had prepaired a few cards for audience participation

Jamie trying to guess the average wind speed in the Cairngorms

The Sean Cousins Band closed out FebFest

And finally Karl from Glencoe Photography was on hand for our Big final raffle to take some pictures of the winners.