Highlands and Western Isles CAMRA

Campaign for Real Ale


The formation and aims of CAMRA

CAMRA is an independent, voluntary, consumer organisation which campaigns for real ale, real cider & perry, real pubs and consumer rights. CAMRA was formed in 1971, initially to ensure that beer drinkers had the opportunity to drink Real Ale in their pubs, which at that time was beginning to disappear. Nationally CAMRA has over 160,000 members (January 2015) and the Campaign has nowadays widened its scope:

CAMRA's Current Key Campaigns

CAMRA Campaigning in Scotland

A Short History of the Highlands and Western Isles Branch

In the beginning the whole of the north of Scotland was run from Aberdeen, until 21/11/92 when a meeting was held in The Phoenix in Inverness chaired by the Scottish Regional Director, George Howie. It was thought that there was enough interest to form a separate Branch. On 08/01/93, at another meeting at The Phoenix, The Inverness and Highlands Branch was formed, initially as a Sub Branch of Aberdeen. The Committee voted in was Chair - Bill Tring, Secretary - Gareth Nicholas, Treasurer - Ann Johnson and Membership Secretary - Simon Thomson. The Branch area encompassed the Highlands and Islands, but not including the Orkney Isles (with only brewery in the area) nor Shetland which Aberdeen wanted to keep. Nor did our area initially include Fort William, Onich and Glencoe which Glasgow were loath to let go.

During the first year we hosted a Scottish Branches meeting in the Gellions and ran a small Real Ale Festival at Boat of Garten in one of the carriages of the Strathspey Steam Railway. We also organised the first of a regular, Marymas Fayre beer tent, in the Northern Meeting Park up until the final event in 2011. At a CAMRA meeting in Derby in October 1993 we were given full Branch status. At the time of our formation there were very few real ale outlets and no breweries. As time went on the Fort William and Onich area was released to us but Glasgow kept Glencoe.

In November 2005, due to more pubs and breweries reaching most of our Branch area, our Branch name was changed to Highlands and Western Isles.

By 2014 the Branch was run by a committee of 12, although the faces had changed. We have reached 240 members, spread over the whole area. Over 200 outlets sell real ale and because we have sufficient top quality outlets, we are able to fill our allocation of 35 Good Beer Guide entries. The number of Breweries continues to increase and although some have fallen by the wayside most have grown in size to cope with demand, and beers brewed in the Highlands & Western Isles may be found in pubs and supermarkets throughout the UK. Some even enjoy international sales.

We have an excellent quarterly Newsletter and a website which give locals and visitors an insight into our Branch, a list of real ale outlets, breweries and diary information.

Here's a fascinating article on the history of Brewing in the Highlands and Western Isles by former Chair Eric Mills:

Brewing in the Highlands - revised July 2019

September 2014, CAMRA celebrated the 40th anniversary of CAMRA in Scotland.