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The Seafield & Grant Estates.

Who was who in Strathspey?

So who were the local Big Knobs ?

Taking this from the top down, the Ogilvie family have owned vast estates in various parts of Scotland. Better known as The Earls of Findlater and Seafield, for centuries they have owned the vast majority of the Spey Valley from Aviemore, all of Carrbgridge and Boat of Garten almost up to Grantown of Spey. Whilst it is not as big as it once was, it is still a huge chunk Scotland  and it is owned by one bloke.

The Grants of Castle Grant were and still are the other large landowners. Their lands are to the north of the Seafield Estate and are centred around Castle Grant near Grantown on Spey. This has been the residence of the chiefs of Clan Grant for at least 400 years. A lesser or "Cadet" branch of the family owned and lived at "The Doune" near Loch an Eilan.

Until fairly recently an estate would only sell any of its land as a last resort if they were threatened with bankruptcy, normally as a result of gambling debts. However since the 2nd World War the financial climate has changed and if estates want to make money, they now have to actually do something with some of their land other than let it out to peasant farmers and wait for the cash to roll in. It won't !!

Getting back to the Seafield Estate, tenant farmers can now apply to buy out the freehold on their farms, if they can raise the cash. Whilst this does not come cheap quite a number have managed to do this, creating a thriving very mixed local economy.

The entire area is spectacularly scenic and has always drawn visitors, since the 1960's in particular, tourism has become one of the predominant earners in the local economy.  This far North the summer season is brief and not all that warm, so it is activity based tourism, not the sit by the pool variety.  The lochs and rivers are excellent for watersports and of course fishing.

As well as summer activities the area gets a huge boost from having a second high-season in the winter for the Ski slopes on Cairngorm. The snow may be unpredictable or totally absent but despite this, people spend their money snow or no snow.

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Salmon in the Spey.

The Spey is one of Britains last remaining, almost pristine large rivers. The waters come from the rain and snow on the Cairngorms and there is little industrial development to pollute it and few dams to interrupt the "runs" of spawning fish.  The Spey Salmon know this and the river has a healthy fish stock, though not as it once was. Anyone lucky enough to own the fishing rights to a section of the spey will never be poor.

Making an Estate Pay.

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