Boat of Garten
What residents say about their community
Boat of Garten takes its name from the former ferry over the river Spey and is usually referred to as ‘the Boat’ by locals. It is also well known as ‘the Osprey Village’ due to the nearby RSPB Osprey Centre and the fact that these amazing birds can be spotted flying over the village regularly during the summer months.
Boat of Garten came into being with the arrival of the Highland Railway in the 19th century and still boasts a busy station with the Strathspey Steam Railway attracting large numbers of tourists throughout the year. Although the village is small in size, it is lucky to have a good range of facilities in its two shops, post office, fabulous restaurant, art gallery and café, Victorian hotel, James Braid designed golf course, Milton Loch, primary school, church, newly built community hall with an excellent reputation throughout the area, large central village green, community garden, bike hire shop as well as the RSPB Osprey Centre and a sawmill on the edge of the village which employs a significant number of local people. The community is surrounded by heather moorland and stunning pine forests that house a wide variety of wildlife including capercaillie. There are lots of routes (signed and unsigned) for walking and cycling around Boat and on to neighbouring villages, all of which show how important tourism is for the wellbeing of this small community.
The residents of Boat are very active which is borne out by the large number of community groups and organisations that exist within the village, covering a wide range of activities from bowling to badminton, SWRI, The Osprey Music Society, Showboaters and Virtually Famous (youth) drama groups, Mum & Tots to the weekly lunch club, all of which take place in the well-used new community hall and are attended by all ages within the village.
Given this level of activity, the main concern therefore to residents is twofold – any potential loss of tourist business in the village and the inability to encourage young people and families in particular to stay and keep the village thriving. Locals are very aware of how fortunate they are to have such facilities but equally understand how fragile this situation is, especially in the face of economic downturn. They would like to see business expand even further with the opportunity for small units to be available to encourage local crafts people and entrepreneurs – the old public hall has been suggested as one possible site for this. The maintenance of the railway station and its square as a means of encouraging visitors to leave the train and explore what the village has to offer is seen also as a great opportunity for Boat to retain its tourist activity.
Secondly the fabric of the community in its people, is seen to be fragile if young people and families are not able to settle here due to lack of appropriate sized housing in an affordable price bracket. The ‘success’ of the village in recent years has led to many houses being taken up as 2nd homes with the resulting loss to the upcoming community members to buy their own places. This in turn has already started to affect the social aspects of life here as well as threatening the loss of the primary school. As a consequence, there is a strong feeling in the village that such housing development is an absolute priority and would therefore be welcomed for Boat of Garten if all of the above positive aspects are to remain in place.
To find out more about Boat of Garten, general information and activities, visit the Boat of Garten Community Website and Facebook Page. To see what projects the Boat of Garten community are taking forward, have a look at their latest Community Action Plan
Boat of Garten community groups
For a complete list and more information on all the Boat of Garten community organisations see here