The Speyside Centre

Written by Chris Thornton | 28th of May 2023
The Speyside Centre

The Speyside Centre is a great shop, restaurant and garden centre in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park. Found a short distance from Nethy Bridge and Aviemore, it's a brilliant place to stop on the A95 for a souvenir or a bite to eat.

My wife and I visited the Speyside Centre in March 2023 and were delighted with the lovely items in the gift shop and garden centre. Let's find out more about the Speyside Centre.

Car park at the Speyside Centre.
The car park; electric charge points are available.
 
Spey Centre main entrance.
The main entrance to the Speyside Centre.

History of the Speyside Centre

The Speyside Centre has humble roots that date back to 1972, when it began its journey as Skye Landscapes. The founders, David and Betty Lambie, fell in love with the area during their numerous visits and decided to move north with their two young sons, Craig and Iain. David left his job as a landscape drawing officer for Glasgow City Council and started his own business while the family lived in a caravan for three years. Eventually, he was able to buy the Skye of Curr plot and set up shop with Betty, marking the birth of what would become a significant community hub.

Heather plants

David's passion for Scotland's famous heather plants led him to propagate them on-site for sale. Meanwhile, Betty set up a small tearoom, probably the smallest in Scotland, with just one table and two benches. As visitors started requesting other plant materials, the family expanded their operations and created a small plant centre. Over time, this centre grew and evolved into the 'Speyside Heather Centre'.

Speyside Centre heathers.
Heather everywhere!
 
Scottish heathers. Scotlands iconic heather plant - hardy shrubs.
There are a wide selection of heathers available to buy.

Facility expansion

Over the years, the family gradually enhanced and added to the facilities to make the centre more engaging and enriching for visitors. They extended the catering facilities, specialising in Scotland's traditional pudding, the Clootie Dumpling, made according to Betty's father's recipe. The family also added a unique 'Heather Exhibition' showcasing the diverse uses of the iconic heather plant throughout history. These efforts and attractions began drawing in crowds, with the centre eventually attracting 80,000 visitors per year.

2016 fire

However, the centre's journey was not without its challenges. A devastating fire on the 29th of April 2016 wreaked havoc on the centre. But, staying true to their resilient spirit, the family battled many obstacles to restore the centre. Their efforts bore fruit in the spring of 2020 when the doors of the new centre opened, marking a new chapter in its history. Despite a brief closure due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the centre opened its doors again, and the story continues to unfold.

Gardening products
A delight for gardeners and homeowners.
 
Extensive range of seeds
Looking for seeds? The Speyside Centre has you covered!
 
A great mixture of gifts, plants and home baking
Biscuits, juices and oils.
 
Sturdy garden furniture, frost proof containers and stocking essential feeds
Lovely food stuffs and feed for wild animals.

The new Speyside Centre

The newly restored Speyside Centre is a testament to the resilience and dedication of the Lambie family, now offering a wide range of facilities and attractions designed to enrich the visitor experience.

The centre continues its legacy of promoting local crafts and products through its retail shop, which showcases a mixture of the unusual and unique, capturing the best that Scotland has to offer. Here, visitors can find a range of products, from traditional crafts to locally-made delicacies, presenting a unique shopping experience honouring local heritage.

Janette was kind enough to buy me this lovely tartan shield with thistle and purchased some lovely heather plants for herself.

Dogs are welcome with well trained owners.
An anniversary gift from my wife, Janette.
 
Dogs are welcome with well trained owners.
Recent snowfall at the centre.
 
Outdoor seating
Extensive outdoor seating (for bonnier days!).
 
A fantastic selection of heathers.Gardening and wildlife products.
Janette checking out the heathers.
 
Scotlands iconic heather plant - hardy shrubs.
Planters, ready to be used for the new season.

Speyside Centre Restaurant

For food lovers, the centre's cosy restaurant offers a menu of family favourites and local specialities. Notably, the restaurant prides itself on using locally-sourced produce wherever possible, including its much sought-after homemade Clootie Dumpling (a traditional Scottish pudding). This commitment to local produce supports the local economy and ensures a fresh and authentic taste for the centre's culinary offerings.

We didn't try the food on our visit, but the restaurant looked lovely, and the smell of great food and coffee filled the air.

Speyside Centre restaurant.
The restaurant at the Speyside Centre, you will be spoilt for choice.
 
Speyside Centre restaurant seating.
Restaurant seating.

Garden Centre

Further extending its offerings, the Speyside Centre hosts a Garden Centre, reducing its outdoor stock to minimum levels between October and February due to the winters in Strathspey. Despite this seasonal fluctuation, the Garden Centre remains a key attraction, presenting a vibrant display of local flora and serving as a testament to the area's rich biodiversity.

My wife Janette loved looking through the heathers and bought herself a couple which now have pride of place in our garden.

Wildlife hut

Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the Wildlife Viewing Area, which is well-visited by red squirrels and various birds. This viewing area provides a relaxing way to observe Strathspey's furry and feathered friends in their natural habitat.

Wildlife hut - feathered and furry friends
The wildlife hut.
 
Wildlife viewing area.
The wildlife area, no squirrels this time but plenty of birds!

Antiques and Collectables Shop

In addition, the Centre's Antiques and Collectables shop, currently undergoing a refresh, promises a unique and exciting shopping experience for those with a keen eye for vintage treasures. There was a fantastical steampunk-looking horse sculpture outside; very cool.

Steampunk horse sculpture
What a nifty sculpture.

Slides and play hut

Finally, the centre caters to its youngest visitors with a Toddler's Play Area featuring swings, slides, and a play hut. And for those looking to host events, the Lounge at Speyside Centre is an exclusive first-floor function suite providing a cosy space for various events, demonstrating the centre's commitment to serving as a versatile hub for the community.

Swings slides and play equipment.
A nice wee play park covered in March snow.
 
Toddlers play area entrance.
Entrance to the play area.

FAQs on the Speyside Centre

Here are a few frequently asked questions about the Speyside Centre.

How to get to the Speyside Centre

The Speyside Centre is easily accessible from the A95 when travelling north from Aviemore or south from Grantown-on-Spey or Aberlour.

  1. When travelling from either direction, keep an eye open for the large sign and flags of the Speyside Centre, and there is also a brown tourism sign marked "Speyside Centre" too.

  2. Follow this road a short distance and then take an immediate right to reach the centre's car park; plenty of signs keep you right.

  3. The entrance is below the large triangular part of the building.

What3words: ///paper.masses.mascots
Google maps location

Contact information:

01479 851359 / info@speysidecentre.com
Skye of Curr
Dulnain Bridge
PH26 3PA

Opening hours

The Speyside Centre is open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm, 10am opening on Sundays.

Speyside Centre main entrance sign.
The main entrance sign as seen from the A95.
 
Signs leading to the Spey Centre car park.
Signs leading to the car park.
 
Car park welcome sign.
Signage at the car park.

Does the Speyside Centre have electric car charge points?

Yes, electric charge points are available within the car park.

What is the Speyside Centre?

The Speyside Centre is a unique hub of local culture and natural beauty located in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. The centre includes a gift shop, a restaurant, a garden centre, and a kid's play area.

Is the Speyside Centre suitable for families?

Yes, the Speyside Centre is very child-friendly. They have a Toddler's Play Area with swings, slides, and a play hut. Plus, the centre's various attractions, like the wildlife viewing area, provide children with a fun and educational experience.

Is the Speyside Centre disabled-friendly?

Yes, everything is on one level; even the garden centre uses sweeping slopes instead of stairs, making it easy for wheelchairs to access most parts of the facility.

Are dogs allowed within the Speyside Centre?

Yes dogs are welcome!

Is there anything to see near the Speyside Centre?

There is so much to see in this area of Scotland, but the closest item of interest for me is Castle Roy which is only 8 minutes away by car or about an hour's walk from the centre.

Other nearby attractions:

Castle Roy
Castle Roy, a short distance from the Spey Centre.

Key information on the Speyside Centre

  • The Speyside Centre is a shop, restaurant, and garden centre located in the Cairngorms National Park, near Nethy Bridge and Aviemore, along the A95.

  • The Speyside Centre is easily accessible from the A95, and there is ample parking at the centre.

  • The centre started as Skye Landscapes in 1972, founded by David and Betty Lambie.

  • The centre was destroyed by a fire in 2016 but was rebuilt and reopened in 2020.

  • The gift shop showcases local crafts and produce, offering a unique shopping experience.

  • The Garden Centre offers a variety of plants, reducing its outdoor stock between October and February due to the winter season.

  • Additional features include a Wildlife Viewing Area, a Toddler's Play Area, and a Lounge that can be used for events.

  • The centre is child-friendly, with specific facilities like a Toddler's Play Area.

  • The centre is also accessible for disabled visitors, with facilities designed to accommodate wheelchairs.

  • The centre is particularly recommended for its range of products from all over Scotland and its extensive selection of heathers.

The Speyside Centre was rebuilt after a devastating fire.
There are many unique products to be found at the Speyside Centre.
 
A lovely selection of quality gifts and fashion accessories
Fancy a fine scarf? Or how about a dog wearing headphones and shades?
 
Beer, gin and whisky at the Speyside Centre.
The beer, gin and whisky corner!

Conclusion

Our flying visit to the Speyside Centre was lovely, there are so many excellent products sourced from all over Scotland, and if you like heathers, you will be spoilt for choice. Highly recommended while in the Strathspey/Aviemore area.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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