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Golspie Mill

Michael Shaw

Sutherland, Scotland

Food & Drink


Each morning Michael heads up to the millpond about three hundred metres from his house to turn the sluice gate to release the water. It runs down a purpose-built narrow stream and speeds past hens and cockerels either side before hitting the paddles at the top of the wooden wheel. The momentum kicks the old wheel into life and its motion powers the mill.

The Victorian stone mill sits in a valley below the road which passes above it in Golspie, Scotland. The building fell into disrepair in the 1950s but was lovingly restored in the 90s by its previous owners. It is set over three floors and sitting proudly on one side of the building is the workhorse of the business, the traditional wooden wheel which powers the mill every day. We stand speaking to Michael on the second floor. Flour dust is dancing in the air, whipped up by our movement and caught by the light coming through the single-paned windows. At the end of the room, a number of huge mechanical cogs turn, powered by the outside wheel, driving the huge stone grinders inside. He says, “I’ll get about three or four hours of power before the pond runs out and needs refilling.” In those three hours, Michael will grind a variety of flour and peasmeal, the latter being a high protein pea flour that has become a speciality of the mill. Once the power runs out upstairs, Michael will move downstairs and spend the afternoon packing to send out to suppliers.

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