Charlie is a native of Speyside. His family were owners of an off license grocers’ shop in the Speyside Village of Craigellachie. ‘Ironsides Supply Stores’ had strong connections with the local community particularly with three local cooperages, Popeen Mill, Willowbank and Speyside.
It was common practice for coopers to congregate within the rear shop/store room at lunchtime where mounted on a wall, his father had a ‘First Aid’ Cabinet’ with a bold red cross on the front. The coopers filed in one by one at the front shop and if any legitimate customer was there, asked to go through to the rear store to collect a ‘box’, the inference being a box of messages. In actual fact they dispensed themselves a dram (sometimes several) from the medicine cabinet which was stocked with optics of whisky, vodka and gin and had no medicinal value whatsoever. As the shop was an off license, Charlie’s father was only allowed to sell alcohol for drinking off the premises. This illegal ‘gathering’ around the medicine chest, went on for a number of years and Charlie fondly remembers the good humour and banter between his father and the coopers, some of whom have remained lifelong friends.
The Strathspey Rail Line (Dram Line) ran within 100yards of Charlie’s home. As a lad it was common practise for him to watch the Whisky Trains speed by, to and from the many Distilleries in the area. Another pastime was to play with friends on the barrel stacks at Willowbank Cooperage now a housing estate.
Charlie did not follow his father into the licensed trade but instead joined the Police where over his 30 years service he became an accomplished police trained off road driver whilst engaged in policing Scottish Ski Centres.
On retirement from the Police in 2009, Charlie chose to utilise his expertise forming Glenlivet Hill Trek, using Land Rover 4 wheel drive vehicles to transport clients on wildlife, scenery and whisky themed tours.
Charlie, along with his wife Susan, who hails from Currie near Edinburgh, reside in their hillside cottage overlooking the famous Glenlivet Distillery. Susan is an accomplished cook and is meticulous in preparation of her trademark wicker basket picnics that their company offers. Susan has even been known to drive a Land Rover on our more sedate routes and has a wealth of local knowledge which she is happy to pass on to clients. Susan and Charlie operate tours from the Speyside area and offer the facility for clients to be collected from their hotel/accommodation in Speyside. Charlie and Susan are committed to offering a true highland welcome and experience. Additional local drivers and Land Rovers are available to cater for larger parties.