The Estate Today
The Estate Today
In the present day the management of Cawdor Estate is conducted from our Estate Office; to be found halfway between the Castle and the village of Cawdor. Managing a 42,000 acre estate, one of the largest in the Scottish Highlands, remains a labour intensive activity, even in the 21st Century. Changing times require new innovations and new approaches. At the same time the heritage and unique landscape of the Estate must be preserved and respected. To meet these challenges we currently employ thirty permanent members of staff, including a dedicated forestry management company; a committed team who are dedicated to ensuring Cawdor Estate continues to contribute to the community and economy of the Scottish Highlands for many generations to come.
The lower reaches of Cawdor Estate remain highly fertile and provide excellent farmland. About 3,000 acres of the Estate is currently farmed in-hand, overseen by our farm manager Dave Robertson and his team. At the present time the focus is upon an arable rotation of wheat, barley and oats; with oilseed rape used as a break crop.
Traditionally the moorlands and watercourses of the Estate have also been a popular venue for country sports, and remains so today. Thanks to intensive conservation work and the tireless efforts of our gamekeepers, our moorlands are home to large stocks of indigenous red grouse. Sensitive landscape management has also ensured populations of black grouse, capercaillie and ground nesting birds such as golden plover. We also release partridge and pheasant. As a consequence we are able to offer excellent driven shoots year-in-year-out. Conservation has also been the watchword in the Drynachan Valley, where the clean and crystalline waters of the River Findhorn flow through the Estate. Our 70% catch and return policy has ensured that our seven mile stretch of riverbank is particularly well known for its large catches of river salmon, wild brown trout and sea trout.
As part of our ongoing programme of sustainable diversification, we anticipate that renewable energy will become as important a ‘farmed’ produce on the Estate as cereals and meat. We currently have a micro-hydro scheme producing electricity for the local community, with surplus supply being returned to the grid. Planning permission is in place for a 39MW wind farm at Tom nan Clach in conjunction with the developer Infinergy. Other projects currently in the conception stage are a further hydro scheme, two possible biomass schemes and exploration of opportunities for solar power and anaerobic digestion.
Holiday lets are also becoming a major part of our commercial operations. Over the past decade we have tastefully refurbished our five holiday cottages, along with Drynachan Lodge, into stylish let properties, able to accommodate parties of between two and twenty-two guests. Tourism is a vital component within the economy of the Scottish Highlands and we are pleased to be doing our bit to attract visitors to the region.
The bulk of our properties, presently numbering around eighty, continue to provide well maintained residential accommodation for our estate workers (a provision that has in the past continued into retirement) and many local families. Our properties are maintained to a high standard by our in-house maintenance team, ably supported by a number of local contractors, selected for their track record of reliability and solid craftsmanship.
We have been providing farmland to agricultural tenants on secure long term tenancies and shorter term grazing agreements throughout our history and remain committed to letting land to existing farmers and new entrants. Current debate regarding agricultural tenancy legislation promise beneficial changes which we hope will encourage a more vibrant and diverse sector.
Our commitment to the local community is not just economic. Our goal is to be a progressive commercial business; a business which creates significant value beyond financial return and makes a positive impact in the health and well-being of the local community. In recent years we have worked closely with the local community on key issues of transport, housing and education. In particular, the Cawdor Estate played a lead role in the opening of a new primary school and community centre in 2007, which today forms a vital hub in the activities of the local community. We have also worked with tenants to refurbish a former estate forestry building into the present village shop, which we and our employees use daily. This business is extremely valuable to local residents and those passing through for their ‘piece’ (Scots for sandwich). Working with local consultants, we have also been instrumental in helping shape the Highland Council’s ‘Local Development Plan’ and look forward to continuing this partnership to its fruition in years to come.