Lochcarron of Scotland: In conversation with Leah Robertson

In 2022, we launched our brand new Milne Graden tartan, which was brought to life by the world leading tartan manufacturer, Lochcarron of Scotland. We are lucky to call Lochcarron our neighbours, as their mill is based just a short drive from the estate in Selkirk.

With a heritage dating back to 1892, Lochcarron of Scotland have centuries of knowledge about crafting tartan and champion Scottish wool production. 2023 has been a highly memorable year for this special team and we caught up with Leah Robertson to find out more…

Lochcarron of Scotland Visitor Centre

Lochcarron of Scotland has been working to improve its sustainability and champion Scottish wool. Tell us more about this journey.

For the past few years, we have been working towards sourcing wool for our premium Strome kilt quality from Scotland. This is a product that makes up 25% of our annual sales. Previously, our wool for this product was sourced from New Zealand and we were conscious that not only does this have a high environmental impact, but the Lochcarron team really wanted to support the British farming industry too.

Following much research and development, we found the perfect wool through a mix of Romney Marsh and Cheviot sheep. We are incredibly proud to be able to trace all of our wool back to the flocks from which it was gathered and can guarantee it is all 100% Scottish wool.

This change has rippled through some of the other products that we weave as we move forward to increase the quantity of Scottish and British wool in the composition of our fabrics.

Lochcarron of Scotland Wool

Your immense sustainability efforts were recently recognised at the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards. What did that achievement mean to the team?

It was amazing to be a finalist in the ‘Positive Change’ Category at the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards. We were up against some fashion and retail giants, so it was wonderful to be recognised alongside some of the largest international companies.

Even though we did not win the award, being finalists has spurred us on to continue our further reduce our environmental impact.

What is the next step in the Lochcarron of Scotland sustainability journey?

This year, we joined the SOSE Beacon Business Net Zero Accelerator group with six other Scottish Border companies as part of this project sponsored by the Scottish Government. The programme is happening in all regions of Scotland to help develop and put in place a credible decarbonisation plan. We are keen to be able to measure our environmental impact clearly and we know this desire to measure properly is shared by many companies. By being part of this trial project, we have tools to allow us to progress with our ethical and sustainable journey and to measure the positive changes we have already made.

Working with other businesses has also created a synergy where we can share knowledge and challenges, allowing us to reach net zero quicker together.

Recently, King Charles III and Queen Camilla visited the Lochcarron mill in Selkirk. Tell us about their visit and the impact it has had on the team.

We were delighted to welcome King Charles III and Queen Camilla to Lochcarron as part of Royal Week this summer. King Charles has long been an advocate for British wool and is the patron of the Scottish Tartan Authority.

His majesty was incredibly dynamic and had a wonderful energy during the entire time he spent at the mill. He is very knowledgeable about wool and has a deep passion for craftsmanship, nature, heritage, community, and locally sourced products. King Charles and Queen Camilla took the time to engage with each member of the team and made everybody feel at ease.

We had the same quality of wool on the loom that was used for the Milne Graden Tartan, and Queen Camilla was interested in hearing more about its special qualities.

During their time in the Scottish Borders as part of Holyrood Week, they also visited the Great Tapestry exhibition in Galashiels, as well as a walkabout in Galashiels culminating with a very special visit to the Selkirk and a presentation from the Common Riding. It was certainly a big day of engagements for the King and Queen, and we commend their hard work and time given to highlight our industry and the Border region.

How can the guests of Milne Graden find out more about Lochcarron of Scotland?

We have a brand new Visitor Centre based within our mill in the historic town of Selkirk, which opened in 2022. This is the site of our working weaving mill and is a wonderful sensory experience which guests can visit Monday to Thursday all year round.

You will get to see the process of creating tartan, with time to look for gifts in the shop before returning to your cottage on the estate to enjoy the Milne Graden blankets which were made here.

There is also a premium fitting room if you would like tailored kilts or highland wear. For those looking for a smaller token from your visit, we also have an outlet bursting with Lochcarron products, including scarves, blankets, and ties.

You can find out more about Lochcarron of Scotland by following @lochcarron_of_scotland on Instagram or searching www.lochcarron.co.uk.


Make A Day Of It – The Journey To Lochcarron

When enjoying a day out at Lochcarron of Scotland, make sure to stop by some of our other favourite places to visit and make a full day of it.

Floors Castle
Upon leaving Milne Graden, take the journey along the side of the River Tweed to Kelso (13 miles from Milne Graden), where you will stumble across the magnificent Floors Castle. Call into their Terrace Café, where you can enjoy a lovely cup of coffee, delicious cake, and leg stretch around their gorgeous gardens before heading on your way.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland
After you have admired the tartan at Lochcarron in Selkirk, take the short drive to the awe-inspiring Great Tapestry of Scotland (6 miles from Selkirk). Discover Scotland’s story, history and natural landscape, which has been brought to life by thousands of stitchers from across Scotland and is now housed in an award-winning purpose-built centre which opened in 2021. You will certainly be inspired by the intricate detail and craftsmanship at this outstanding exhibition.

The Return Journey
Bring your journey to a close with a final stop in the quaint town of Melrose (23 miles from Milne Graden), where you can enjoy an evening meal at Provender (5 miles from Galashiels), offering delicious seasonal meals made from local ingredients. They have won several awards, including a Michelin Bib Gourmand, and provide a truly wonderful dining experience.


Credit for images of the King and Queen, and Lochcarron of Scotland: Lochcarron of Scotland