Yesterday was the first time The Edinburgh Blog has visited The Royal Highland Show, at Ingliston’s Royal Highland Centre. The Royal Highland Show really is a phenomenally huge event and there’s no doubt it provides a great day out. However a trip to The Royal Highland show isn’t cheap. Firstly there’s the transport cost: we paid ¬£4 return for a special Lothian bus (which I’m sure had been brought out of a well earned retirement). Ridacards were not accepted and the Royal Highland show ticket wasn’t valid on other Lothian bus routes. Entry to the Royal Highland show was ¬£20 per adult, although children under 16 were free. An advertising heavy programme and map was ¬£3. Once inside the Royal Highland show the spending didn’t stop with a plethora of food and drink stalls.
The queue to enter The Royal Highland show from the East gate lasted 15 minutes, but paying by debit card proved a frustrating process with the card machines suffering information overload. Although it was tempting to make a rash combine harvester or tractor purchase from the huge range being exhibited by the gates, we began to navigate the crowds in search of The Countryside Arena. Once there, The Galloway falconry display was impressive, bettered only by their stand which had a range of stunning owls and birds of prey on show. Later in the day The Fife and Kinross Terrier Racing display was good fun, although the noise of the barking was ringing in my ears for a long time after. Dog owners were encouraged to enter their own dogs into the race, but none managed to get off the starting blocks! Later the countryside arena played host to an entertaining sheepdog display, with ducks masquerading as sheep: ‘The Quack Commandos’
I really enjoyed wandering around the sheep and cattle enclosures, especially seeing the baby Highland cows. The cattle enclosure also gave an appreciation of how large Aberdeen Angus cattle are. After a refreshing pint of Tennents (¬£3) and a very average cheeseburger (¬£3.50) we began our walk through the crowds to the Food and Drink exhibition. En route we spotted the Arbroath Smokies stand, where haddock was being freshly smoked. The Arbroath Smokie (¬£3) was absolutely delicious and this is one company which deserves its success.
The Food and Drink exhibition was very interesting, although it emphatically emptied my wallet. The MacSween haggis stand was excellent and their haggis (served with neeps and tatties for ¬£4) was fantastically tasty. I also tried the Cranachan ice cream (¬£1.50 for cone with two scoops) from Orkney ice cream; this has to be one of the best ice creams I have ever tasted. Finally The Chocolate Fondue Company’s huge milk and white chocolate fountains proved too tempting to resist. My mixed marshmallow and strawberry skewer (¬£3.50) dipped in pure white chocolate was deliciously indulgent, as was a cup of pure hot chocolate (¬£3 and perhaps the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted). Anne Hemstock, as seen on Dragon’s Den, was at The Royal Highland show promoting her newly launched Fruitie Cutie product.
We ended the day at the Main Ring, after passing the Young Farmers tug of war competition, for The Royal Highland Show Grand Prix. ¬£15,000 (as emphasised by the commentator on dozens of occasions) was on offer in prize money for this hugely enjoyable show jumping event. We stood by the ring, which gave a great view of the horses leaping over the obstacles of the challenging course.
Our journey back was hassle free, thanks to the plethora of Lothian buses waiting outside the East entrance. Overall The Royal Highland show is a must visit event, although it will be a few years before I head back. Our day out for two cost just under ¬£75.
Further photographs from the 2008 Royal Highland Show are available.