Have you ever visited any Ice Houses? Ice Houses in Scotland are definitely worth exploring as they remind you why Scottish Salmon and the whole Scottish fishing industry are so renowned. Indeed our Blervie House visitor guide I for Ice Houses suggests some great local visits.
Ice Houses for the Salmon Industry
Scotland was an agricultural nation producing food in many different forms for both the UK and abroad. Salmon was and is still today a huge part of this industry. This has not changed over the centuries.
Many of our guests visit the Scottish Dolphin Centre at Spey Bay, looking out for Dolphins. However, you can see exactly why the Dolphin Centre is located here at the same location. This is the mouth of the River Spey as it meets the Moray Firth. The Spey is not only one of Scotland’s largest rivers. It is one of the best Salmon Rivers where Salmon return to migrate upstream and spawn. For that same reason, it is one of the best locations to see Dolphins congregating, looking for their next meal.
Here you can see the huge Tugnet Ice House. Replaced today by modern freezers and refrigerators and even refrigerated lorries, this was at one stage the largest ice house in Scotland, just a third of this huge building shows above ground. Built in 1830, the ice was gathered in winter using specially cut channels in the Spey, then be stored before being used to keep the
salmon fresh for shipping.
Whilst there is not much to see inside the Ice House today and indeed exploring the icehouse now, it is hard to reconcile with today’s modern shipping methods, and one can only imagine people’s lives in those days.
However, you will not need very long in the building as even on a Summer’s day, the Ice House is very cold. Look again at the size of the building when you are inside and imagine the scale of the operation some 200 years ago. It is a far cry from the fish farms you see in lochs and inlets on the West Coast we see today.
At the same time, other fishing villages all around the coast were undertaking the same endeavours as smaller Icehouses can be seen at both Burghead and Findhorn.
And if your interest in Ice Houses goes further, you can find good examples of smaller Ice Houses for domestic use in some of the stunning Castles and Stately Homes – Duff House in nearby Banff has an excellent example on their grounds.
Every coastline village presents you with an exceptional harbour if you are exploring the Coast, particularly along this North East Coast. If you venture as far afield as Fraserburgh, you will see larger industrial trawlers alongside smaller local vessels and move towards Peterhead; you will find another Harbour previously reliant on fishing, perhaps less so in today’s age.
Even if you are not a fan of Ice Houses, Dolphins or fishing a trip around the North Eastern fishing villages is a great way to spend a day. The endless vista of the beautiful Moray Firth, the white waves crashing onto pure sandy beaches and then the huge variety in the shape of the rock formations as you enjoy your drive. My top tip would be to check out Portsoy to spot the latest peak Blinders location or better still visit the Portsoy Ice Cream shop – the best ice cream ever in my humble opinion.
Don’t forget to look for Dolphins while visiting the Icehouse; they are certainly frequenting the right place for salmon at the mouth of the River Spey.