The Lewis family come from a long line of farmers - it was one of their ancestors who took the Hereford cow to the Americas. In 1983 Rob and Jean Lewis sold their farm outside Abergavenny in Wales and moved up to Scotland. They had looked at another farm in the area but when they saw Monachyle Mhor Rob struck a deal there and then, signing on the back of a cigarette packet. The traditional 2,000-acre hill farm was stocked with Scottish black-face sheep and they bred a mixed herd of beef cattle.
Today, the farm still has 1,000 ewes but the family is looking at alternative ways of farming. They have reduced the number of cattle but are looking at introducing more traditional breeds - and controlling the whole process from livestock to meat product. Forty Tamworth Cross pigs have recently been introduced to provide bacon, ham and pork products for the businesses - and to eat the green waste from the kitchen - while chickens now lay the hotel's eggs for breakfast. Deer and game stalking packages are available for guests, as well as grouse, pheasant and eventually duck shoots. There is salmon, trout and Arctic char in Lochs Voil and Doine and a jetty is being built for boat hire, fishing and seaplane arrivals.
The family is also looking into opening up the farm for education and conservation initiatives. Plans include planting traditional hedges to encourage bird life, insects and small mammals for a more balanced habitat and working with the CPS and RSS to better manage the native wetlands and moorland. Lower stock levels and selective grazing will, for instance, in time increase the number of flowers such as wild orchids. Long term ideas include a demonstration room to showcase the best agricultural practices and local wildlife.