Camping in Braewick & a Beef Lasagne Recipe
by Elizabeth Atia -
On the last weekend of the summer holidays before the kids returned to school we had one final fantastic summer adventure: we went camping for the weekend in the wigwams at the Braewick Cafe and Caravan Park in Eshaness on the north west mainland of Shetland.
Eshaness boasts some of the most beautiful scenery Shetland has to offer and the cafe and caravan park overlook the magnificent "Da Drongs" sea stacks and Braewick Beach.
This was the second time this summer we've stayed in a wigwam. The first time was in July in the Cairngorms, and we were very impressed by them. These wooden wigwams can sleep a family of six, or four adults, and foam mattresses are provided. You need to bring your own sleeping gear. Ok, so it's not proper camping, but when you've got wee ones in tow this is a more comfortable way to do it - the best of both worlds.
The Braewick wigwams come equipped with lights, a small fridge, a kettle and an electric heater and the views out the window over the sea are stunning! Toilet and laundry facilities are available in the cafe next door. Staying here will cost between £38-42.50 per night, and they book up quickly so if you're wanting to stay here you'll have to book well in advance.
There's no fire pit for outdoor cooking (but then there's nothing to burn so that's understandable). Picnic tables are provided and you could set up your own barbecue in the barbecue area.
There is also a fab children's play area that kept my little ones entertained for hours.
I love outdoor cooking and so, despite the rain in the morning, I made us a hearty pot of porridge on my gas camping stove; perfect fuel for a day's adventuring.
If cooking outdoors in the rain isn't your thing, the chef in the cafe makes a fantastic range of meals using produce sourced from the Braewick Croft next door. On the first night we were there we dined indoors, and we dined well in a relaxed atmosphere with the most stunning views over the water.
Scott Parker, an Australian who has called Shetland home for the last twelve years, is the chef at the cafe. Classically trained he started off as a chef in an Italian restaurant and he now makes a gorgeous selection of meals for customers at the cafe.
For evening meals it's recommended you book in advance for his a la carte menu. During the day a tempting range of hot and cold savoury snacks and home bakes is on offer. The premises are licensed so you an enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, should you wish. There's also free wifi.
I had the Shetland beef lasagne (served with chunky chips, salad and coleslaw) and I loved it so much that I cheekily asked for the recipe the following day - and Scott obliged! Although he tends to make his lasagne on an industrial size he happily gave me a scaled down version to share with Taste of Shetland readers.
As our luck should have it rain was predicted for the entire weekend we were booked to stay in Braewick. Not a drizzle type of rain but the heavens are opening torrential type of rain.
That didn't stop us!
Head to toe in waterproofs we headed down to the beach for a grand adventure, Goonies-style. You can read all about this adventure (and there is a bonus peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie recipe) over on my blog Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.
No trip to the north west mainland of Shetland is complete without a visit to the stunning Eshaness cliffs. 350-400 million years ago Shetland was located near the equator in the centre of a large volcanically active super-continent. The cliffs you see now at Eshaness cut through the flank of one of these volcanoes. It has been described as 'the best section through the flank of a volcano in the British Isles' (source).
If you have the time (at least three hours) a walk along the cliff tops is a must-do. This week a geologist has claimed that the Calders Geo sea cave at Eshaness is the largest subterranean cavern in Shetland. You can watch the news report by BBC Radio Shetland Mike Grundon here.
THINGS TO DO IN ESHANESS:
1. Visit the Eshaness Lighthouse and walk around the surrounding area
2. Walk down to Braewick Beach (The Amenity Trust has great walking guide here).
3. Visit the Tangwick Haa Museum
4. Visit the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, the community garden, toilets and charity shop.
5. While you're there you could eat at the St. Magnus Bay Hotel
6. Make a tv series. Eshaness was the filming location of the BBC drama 'Shetland - Raven Black'.
Braewick Cafe Lasagne
Servings: 4 people
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
IngredientsFor the Tomato Sauce
- Onion - 1 large (diced)
- Garlic - 2 large cloves (finely chopped)
- Olive oil - 2 tbsp
- Shetland beef mince - 500 grams
- Sea salt - (to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper - (to taste)
- Dried mixed herbs - 1 tbsp (or a handful of fresh, if available)
- Rosemary - 1 tbsp (chopped)
- Red wine - 125 ml
- Oxo cubes - 2 (or other beef bouillon)
- Tomato paste/puree - 1 142g tin
- Tin chopped tomatoes - 1
- Shetland Dairies Double Cream - 2 284 ml
- Vegetable Bouillon Granules - 1 tsp
- White Wine - splash
- Cheddar Cheese - 200 grams (grated)
- Dried Lasagne Sheets -
- Heat olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium high heat.
- Gently sauté the onion until it softens, about five minutes.
- Add beef mince and garlic and cook until browned, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the remaining sauce ingredients, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until it has reduced into a lovely sauce. Set aside.
- To prepare the cheese sauce gently heat the double cream, white wine and vegetable bouillon until just before boiling point.
- Remove from heat, add the grated cheese and stir until melted. Thin with a little milk if it is too thick.
- To assemble, alternate layers of the tomato sauce with lasagne sheets in a casserole dish and top with the cheese sauce.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes in a preheated 200 C oven.
Have you visited Braewick and Eshaness? What did you think?