HALF PRICE SALE Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Lady Claire Macdonald. - The red rose of Kinloch

13:32 10 November 2009

Claire Macdonald

Claire Macdonald

Don't dare whisper it north of the border but Lady Claire Macdonald is as Lancastrian as the hotpot she still cooks. Emma Mayoh spoke to her on the idyllic Isle of Skye

Don't be fooled by Lady Claire Macdonald. Her name may seem as Scottish as a tin of shortbread biscuits but scratch the surface, and you discover a proud Lancastrian.

'Yes, I have kept my Lancashire roots,' says the woman credited with transforming the Scottish food industry, once as famous for the quality of its produce as it was infamous for the way it was cooked. 'I go back to visit my parents at least once a month so it's still very much a part of my life.

'I sometimes think the Scots would benefit from a good dollop of Lancashire blood. They do get it from me and I think they like it!'

Joking aside, Lady Claire is quite a personality in the food world. As well as running Kinloch Lodge, the beautiful Skye home and hotel she runs with her husband Lord Godfrey Macdonald, she is also a passionate ambassador for Scottish produce, has written almost 20 recipe books, is an accomplished cookery writer and has just moved into the field of food consultancy.

Her addictive, sparky personality will have been the springboard for her success. It was formed during the years she spent living in Thurland Castle in Tunstall, just outside Kirkby Lonsdale. The castle was bought by her grandmother and Claire, her siblings and her parents, lived on the top floor of this incredible pile.

'It was such a beautiful place,' said Claire. 'It was a moated, wonderful rambling house that was perfect for us children to get lost in. We travelled all over because my father was a submariner in the Navy but we always had Thurland to come back to. And it always felt like home.

'I go back regularly and I've seen Thurland since it's been made into fantastic apartments. It's just beautiful. Other parts of Lancashire are special to me, too. The Fylde is such a beautiful area. My mother used to live at Lytham Hall. I love going back there and although my father doesn't live in Lytham anymore, he is the oldest surviving member of Royal Lytham and St Anne's Golf Club.'

It was the influence of her strong-willed grandmother and mother that nurtured her passion for good domestic cooking and seasonal, local produce. It's arguable, too, that her Lancashire grit and determination got her to where she is today.

She said: 'My first memories of food are when we were at Thurland Castle. I remember I would go outside with my grandmother and collects eggs from the hens and we would have them for breakfast.

'Sunday lunches were always a real treat too. The first meal I ever made was a fricassee from left over chicken. Cooking was a big part of my childhood.'
Her life at Kinloch Lodge, perched on the shores of Loch Na Dal, remains heavily focused on food.

Although she no longer cooks for the hotel restaurant - she leaves that to friend and accomplished chef Marcello Tully - she holds cookery courses at Kinloch as well as running the hotel with daughter Isabella and son-in-law Tim.

She also travels regularly - the day after I spoke to her she was flying to Texas for the Clan Macdonald annual general meeting with husband Godfrey, the high chief of the clan. (Their wedding featured in Lancashire Life in 1969)

But when the couple first arrived at Kinloch 40 years ago, life was quite different.
She explained: 'We'd been living in Edinburgh but we got married and we moved to Skye. It was such a shock to the system.

'Even if you had a television, there was no chance of using it because there was no reception. It really was a wilderness. Now we have a road where people can reach us. The isolation did take some getting used to. I'm used to island life though now.'

Despite being hundreds of miles away from her Lancashire birthplace she has not lost touch with home and likes to keep a keen eye on our food.

She said: 'I'm so greedy, I just love food. And there is such a lot of good food in Lancashire. I love Nigel Haworth. The Highwayman is just superb.

'The Sun Inn in Kirkby Lonsdale is also a place I love to go when I visit Lancashire. I love Lancashire hotpot and I still make it for people up in Scotland. I must confess I do use Scottish black pudding but the recipe is not mine.

'It was given to me by the last Lady Shuttleworth, what a great cook! It's brilliant, we love it. I love to entertain and this is a fantastic dish.'

Lady Claire's life is a whirlwind and it's difficult to know how she fits everything in. Possibly, it's the Lancashire resolve she learned as a child.

Although she is happy with her Scottish life, she will never relinquish her roots.'I love what I do and I love my life. But Lancashire will always be so important to me. Skye may be my home but part of my heart will always be in Lancashire. You can take the girl out of Lancashire but you'll never take Lancashire out of this girl.'

0 comments

Shop with us at Great British Life

More from People

24 minutes ago
Piers Linney

Piers Linney grew up in Lancashire and his entreprenural spirit was clear from an early age. Mairead Mahon reports

Read more
Mon, 09:31
JERSEY BOYS The Musical London photo Brinkhoff & M Genburg

From Burnley to the Big Smoke, Helen Ternent is making it on stage in the West End

Read more
Monday, August 17, 2015
Bury New Road

It may not be as well known as Manchester’s other suburbs, but Whitefield is certainly emerging from their shawdows with plenty to see and do. Words by Rebekka O’Grady

Read more
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Bobby Ball

Having already performed his self-penned play, “Rock Off, Tommy!” at the start of the year, Bobby Ball is returning to the Lowther Pavilion in Lytham with his newly written production which is two shows for the price of one.

Read more
Monday, August 10, 2015
The Great British Bake Off contestants - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

After star baker Marie was compared to Rod Stewart this week, we couldn’t help but spot that many of the other contestants shared some spooky similarities with celebrities too…

Read more
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Mosaic Sampler

A new book by Douglas Jackson recounts the extraordinary story of Lancashire’s world-class collection of Tiffany glass on display in Accrington

Read more
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
Looking along Market Place toward Castle Street

The ‘capital’ of the Ribble Valley has plenty to offer the keen shopper and history buff

Read more
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Whalley

Meet the locals who make Whalley a wonderful place to live, work and visit. Emma Mayoh reports

Read more
Monday, July 20, 2015
Devil's Bridge

This beautiful border town is a magnet for newcomers, including a metalwork artist with an international following. Sue Riley reports

Read more
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Bryn Hughes with daughter, Nicola

Saddleworth’s PC Nicola Hughes lost her life in an crime that shocked the nation. Now her proud father, Bryn Hughes, has set up a foundation in her name to help others whose lives have been shattered

Read more
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
E.H. Torrance

People didn’t mince words about E.H. Torrance - especially tripe butchers. Our resident historian tells his story

Read more
Thursday, July 2, 2015
Burscough Village

With a thriving community, you won’t be short of local places to shop in Burscough

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Andy Flintoff

Preston’s Ashes hero Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff will be back in the city this month as he kicks off a new career. Words by Paul Mackenzie

Read more
Friday, June 26, 2015
The Queen in A Wing of the disused gaol

Her Majesty visited the Lancaster landmark at an important time in its history, says Lord Shuttleworth

Read more

NEWSLETTER SIGNUP



Lancashire's trusted business finder