Exploring the rich larder of Scotland’s North West Highlands is at the heart of a new bike and hostel adventure film, Appetite for Adventure, from Hostelling Scotland and The Adventure Syndicate.
In recognition of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, Hostelling Scotland and The Adventure Syndicate, premiered their new off-road biking and adventure film, ‘Appetite for Adventure’, which promotes sustainable active travel and food tourism in the North West Highlands, at Hostelling Scotland’s AGM.
Watch the Appetite for Adventure here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpoMLA8WUeI
On this two wheeled, 250-mile, hostel packing adventure, Lee Craigie, Alice Lemkes, and Phillipa Battye from The Adventure Syndicate, a group of female adventurers whose endurance endeavours and storytelling inspire others to adventure sustainably, rode from Strathcarron in the south to Durness on Scotland’s north coast.
Welcoming, comfortable and bike friendly accommodation was provided at Hostelling Scotland’s Torridon, Gairloch Sands, Achmelvich Beach and Durness Smoo Youth Hostels for this trip.
The chosen route, specially designed to keep away from the busy tarmaced roads of the North Coast 500 as much as possible, even if that meant sections of pushing and carrying bikes up rock and scree slopes and through bogs and rivers, featured some of Scotland’s most remote and majestic landscapes, environment and natural heritage.
While tackling the off-road trails Lee, Phil and Alice also experienced the best of Scotland’s natural larder, from wild foraging and croft gardens, to community food hubs, cafes and restaurants.
The top quality, locally produced, in season food they collected became the signature ingredients for their evening meals, prepared in the hostels’ self-catering kitchens.
However, the Syndicateers required expert support with the foraging and cooking.
They joined forces with Scottish Food Tourism Ambassador, food writer, broadcaster and food anthropologist, Ghillie Basan, and her son Zeki for part of the trip.
With an extensive knowledge of artisan food producers, farmers, crofters, fishermen and distillers in some of the remotest parts of Scotland, all to be found in her recent book, A Taste of the Highlands (October 2021), Ghillie compiled a list for the Adventure Syndicate to visit every day, while Ghillie and Zeki had their own list, more accessible to four wheeled transport.
In the hostel kitchens and on outdoor fires Ghillie brought her love of food to life, demonstrating her cooking skills with some original and accessible recipes conjured up from the fresh produce sourced that day, perfectly balanced meals for weary mountain bikers.
Appetite for Adventure was commissioned by Hostelling Scotland, directed by The Adventure Syndicate.
It was filmed and edited by accomplished cycle filmmaker Maciek Tomiczek, assisted by Zeki Basan.
The film captures the true spirit of hostelling that has continued for more than 90 years – affordable and flexible accommodation, shared spaces and shared experiences, camaraderie and friendship, discovering the real Scotland through sustainable active travel, and enjoying the benefits of being an integral part of the local community with access to world class local food and drink on the doorstep.
Margo Paterson, CEO of Hostelling Scotland, said:
“We pride ourselves on being able to offer our guests expert local knowledge on where to go and what to see and local food and drink is a key part of that.
“This campaign is a celebration of the world class produce that can be found on the doorsteps of our youth hostels.
“Restrictions on social distancing during the pandemic prevented us from opening our self-catering kitchens and we know this was one of the facilities that hostellers missed the most.
“Being able to cook up a storm in the company of family, friends and fellow adventurers is a key part of the hostelling experience and we are very pleased they’ve made a welcome return.”
Lee Craigie, Director of The Adventure Syndicate, said:
“This adventure was not just about taking our bikes daft places to avoid the traffic.
“It was about choosing how we want to be in the world, what we chose to spend our money on, where we stay, where we source the food we eat, and the time we are willing to dedicate to preparing it and sharing it with good friends.
“The easy and convenient road isn’t always the most joyful, satisfying and rewarding.”
As an occasional cyclist Ghillie Basan also joined the Syndicateers for some sections of the trip, tackling the miles on an e-bike.
Of this experience she said:
“So, my arse may have been in tatters after riding a very firm e-bike but the whole trip was a joy from beginning to end – the outstanding company, the fresh local food and the comfort and welcome of the hostels.
“I used to stay in the youth hostels back in the seventies and by god they have changed!
“We had to perform duties back then like cleaning the toilet and we lived off boil-in-the-bag Vesta curries as there were no utensils to cook in!
“What a transformation!
“For the Appetite for Adventure trip we dined on crab and langoustines, local vegetables and artisan produce with ease.
“The hostel kitchens were better kitted out than my own and I am supposed to be some sort of cookery expert!”