Bread Matters courses are held at Macbiehill Farmhouse, Lamancha, West Linton in the Scottish Borders. Set in five acres of certified organic land, with wonderful views up the valley to the Broughton Hills, the former farm steading has been extended to provide spacious teaching facilities complete with a wood-fired brick oven and professional baking equipment.
Numbers are limited to a maximum of 11, so everyone is guaranteed plenty of individual attention.
Macbiehill lies just off the A701 near Lamancha, about 17 miles South of Edinburgh.
If you have booked a place on a course...
...we would encourage you to come by public transport. This isn't easy because there are no buses down our road, but here's what we can offer:
The evening before each course we run a free taxi service from Edinburgh Waverley station to the B&B that you have chosen from our approved list, and we'll run you back to the station to catch your train home. And to minimise our collective impact on the area and the environment, during the course we run a free shuttle between your B&B and Macbiehill Farmhouse where the courses are held.
The nearest major station is Edinburgh Waverley, which is served by the East Coast line (fastest trains from London Kings Cross - under 4½ hours) and the West Coast line (fastest trains from London Euston - under 5 hours). We provide transport (see above) from Waverley station at about 7 pm on the evening before each course to any of the accommodation on our list.
From Edinburgh Bus Station, buses 100, 101, 102 and 103 go to West Linton, route 62 goes to Leadburn (4 miles from Macbiehill, at the junction between the A701 and A703) and routes 37 and 47 go to Penicuik.
From the South: M6, M74 (Junction 15), A701 through Moffat, Tweedsmuir, Broughton and Blyth Bridge. About six miles North of Blyth Bridge, you will see signs to Whitmuir Organic Farm which is on the right of the A701. About 50 yards after Whitmuir, take the left turn signposted to Macbiehill.
From the North: leave the Edinburgh by-pass (A720) at Straiton, taking the A701 signposted to Penicuik and Peebles A703. Keep on the A701 through Penicuik and beyond to Leadburn, where the A701 takes a right turn off the main road which becomes the A703. After about four miles, through Lamancha, watch for a sign to Macbiehill which is a right turn just before Whitmuir Organic Farm on your left.
After turning off to Macbiehill: In less than half a mile, at the crest of a hill, look out for a sign to Macbiehill Farm on your left. Turn down a rather bumpy tree-lined lane. At the end (about 300 yards) go straight on until you can go no further. The entrance to Macbiehill Farmhouse is through large wooden doors into a courtyard.
The nearest international airport is Edinburgh, from where the number 100 bus shuttles to the city centre (close to the bus and train stations and the high street.) This service runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every ten minutes during peak hours and every half an hour off-peak. If you arrive in the city centre at a suitable time on the evening before a course you may take advantage of our free pick-up (see BY TRAIN above). If this doesn’t work out, it is better to take a taxi direct from the airport to Macbiehill (about 20 miles). Car hire is available at the airport.
There is a local taxi company based in West Linton - Green Lyne: 07771 756471 or email email@example.com
Macbiehill is in a wonderful location – tucked away in the rolling hills yet barely forty minutes from the centre of Edinburgh. There is great walking through tranquil countryside and the nearby Pentland Hills, friendly towns and villages to explore, the River Tweed and the textile and knitwear industries, not to mention castles, abbeys and museums that reflect the area’s turbulent history.
Half a mile away is Whitmuir Organic Farm whose new restaurant and farm shop are both a destination in themselves and an inspiring harbinger of how Scotland can feed itself responsibly in a changing world.
The courses begin at 10 am on the first day and in most cases end at 4 pm on the last day.
Veronica Burke (married to Andrew Whitley) provides all the meals using organic and local ingredients, some grown on the Macbiehill smallholding which achieved full organic accreditation in April 2012. Most orf the remainder coming from nearby Whitmuir Organic Farm. Coffee, lunch and tea punctuate baking sessions and as the course progresses we sample the products we have made fresh from the wood-fired oven.
We provide an evening meal on the first day of each course (Tuesday on the Advanced). Partners not attending the course are welcome to come to this meal (at extra cost).
All the courses are taught by Andrew Whitley who started The Village Bakery Melmerby in 1976 without any obvious qualifications other than a conviction that it didn’t make sense to pursue perpetual economic growth if resources were limited and the way we were using them resulted in unfairness and ill-health. He started to bake bread from locally-grown organic wheat and, without realising it, became a leader in the slow fight-back of artisans against the adulterated uniformity of British breadmaking.
For more than two decades he was the only commercial baker in the country using renewable energy by baking in wood-fired brick ovens. Before starting the bakery, he had worked as a producer in the BBC Russian Service. A visit in the early 1990s to post-communist Russia enabled him to study sourdough and he then launched a range of naturally-fermented rye breads that met a sudden demand from people in the UK who found they could no longer tolerate factory bread.
Andrew left The Village Bakery in 2002, did a Masters in Food Policy at City University and wrote Bread Matters, described by one reviewer as ‘a searing critique of commercial baking methods’. He chaired the Soil Association’s Processing Standards Committee for many years and co-founded the national Real Bread Campaign.
Veronica Burke thinks that bread matters too. She regards it as the perfect place to start reconnecting with our food and with our capacity to sustain ourselves.
Veronica has thirty years’ experience of working with children, families and professionals in the family justice system, as a social worker, mediator and trainer. Providing organic food and a warm welcome for Bread Matters courses is hardly an obvious career step, but there is some logic in the mix. Veronica believes that real food is more than just fuel and nutrients. It is the medium for nurture and for shared enjoyment that can satisfy, soothe, change our mood and affect our behaviour, and interesting things always start to happen when a group of people make bread together.
Veronica has developed her interest in sustainable style and created an image consultancy called Fried Green Tomatoes (www.friedgreentomatoes.co.uk). She provides colour analysis, personal styling and a creative approach to looking good and feeling great without costing the earth.
Andrew and Veronica are collaborating on a number of projects that will bring breadmaking to different groups of people, including families, young people and professionals who want to make creative changes in the way they work together. As a means to facilitate communication and to shift dynamics, and as an essential skill for life, making bread has a lot to offer. As part of a new and sustainable, human-scale food system, it has the power to transform the way we look after ourselves, each other and the places we live in.
The course achieves a great combination of professionalism and informality – great fun and instructive.
I feel I learnt so much and Andrew is always interesting to listen to.Many thanks to Veronica. She made us all feel very welcome.’
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