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30th Anniversary Golden Spurtle Porridge Making World Championship Carrbridge

Scotland is passionate about food but one in particular always comes to mind, it's oats! From oat biscuits, oats in the Haggis, to oats in the Scottish dessert - Cranachan and of course porridge oats. We were excited to finally visit the Scottish Highland village of Carribridge to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the annual Golden Spurtle Porridge Making World Championships.

Golden Spurtle Award
The world famous Golden Spurtle with Carrbridge Pack Horse bridge behind. ©C James Ross

30th Anniversary Golden Spurtle Porridge Making World Championship Carrbridge

History of Scottish Oats

Oats have been known for thousands of years. The earliest evidence of human consumption dates to more than 30,000 years ago, when it appears that wild oats were ground into a porridgelike oatmeal. Ancient Greeks and Romans knew that oats were edible, but the grain was typically only eaten by animals and peasants.

The dish has traditionally been closely associated with Scotland, possibly because oats can be successfully cultivated on marginal upland soils. In 1775, Dr. Samuel Johnson wrote that oats were "a grain which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people". Since medieval times a lack of sun and high humidity allowed only the hardiest grains to grow. Far more reliable than wheat or maize harvests in harsh weather, oatmeal - oats that have been dehusked, steamed, and flattened - quickly became the staple food for the lower classes.

Traditionally enjoyed for breakfast during the winter months, made with only water, boiled in a pan and stirred with a Spurtle (to avoid lumps), then in later years flavoured with salt. Today we like to have it with milk instead of water, sprinkled with sugar, and add a variety of fresh fruit, to be eaten throughout the year.

How do you like yours? oatmeal or rolled oats? with water or milk? then there is the great debate of having porridge with salt or sugar!

There are many health benefits of eating porridge. Some say porridge is a super-food with its complex carbohydrates, that are slowly released into the body throughout the whole day.

Scott's Porage Oats is a Scottish breakfast cereal (a brand of porridge) sold in the United Kingdom. The former Scott's Company was established in Glasgow by A&R Scott, two brothers who made a partnership to manufacture oat products. Scott's Porage Oats was trademarked in 1914, later purchased by Quaker Oats in 1982.

Did you know remnants of porridge making have been discovered in the kitchens of the Neolithic village - Skara Brae located on Orkney?

Neolithic House
Neolithic House, Skara Brae ©M D Harding Travel Photography

History of the Golden Spurtle World Championships

The first Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship was first held in Carrbridge on Sunday 11 September 1994.

About The Golden Spurtle World Championships

Inside Carrbridge Old Village Hall
Sarah Rankin with 2023 Golden Spurtle Porridge World Championship Judges ©M D Harding Travel Photography

The World Porridge Making Championship is organised by local volunteers. The ability to run such events is a real challenge to the local community. For 30 years the residents of Carrbridge have risen to that challenge. The event continues to show the power of porridge attracting so many from all corners of the globe to a friendly Highland village.  


The village throws its doors open to visitors each year. Located in the Cairngorms National Park and close to the ever-popular destination of Aviemore there are many choices for visitors to the area.  One such event is Carrbridge Golf Club is running the Ladies and Gents World Porridge Open competition.

From an initial 60 entries from 20 countries, a lucky 30 from 13 countries have made it through the ballot and are set to battle it out for the coveted Golden Spurtle that took place in the village of Carrbridge on 7th October 2023.


The flags of far-flung countries such as; Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Cyprus, USA, Germany, Ukraine, Ghana, and Zimbabwe adorned the old village hall in Carrbridge. 

Charlie Miller, the Porridge Chieftain of the 2023 event said. “We have had an extraordinary response this year and look forward to literally welcoming the world to our home here in Carrbridge. We are so proud that after 30 years the event remains so popular, and residents and volunteers continue to put Carrbridge on the world map.”


The rules are very straight forward. The winner must combine the perfect plate of porridge using just three ingredients: oats, salt, and water. There is also the Speciality Award for the competitor who dreams up a dish with oatmeal as one of the ingredients.

Nearly two-thirds of competitors are first-timers to the competition. They will have to twirl their spurtles to their very best ability as also within the field lurk five past world champions desperate to regain the title.

Defending Golden Spurtle World Champion Lisa Williams is returning to defend her title. Lisa said. “I am looking forward to returning to beautiful Carrbridge and meeting up with porridge family old and new. I will be bringing back the Golden Spurtle and my aim remains the same as previous years, get two recipes out within the 30-minute time scale. This year I love my speciality recipe but may have bitten off more porridge than I can chew! But as last year's speciality winner Chris Young told me, that's what makes it exciting! Here's to 30 years of The Golden Spurtle.”


The organising volunteers confirmed that 30% of competitors are from Scotland, 30% from the rest of the UK, 17% from Europe, and 23% from the rest of the world.


The event is sponsored by Hamlyns of Scotland. Alan Meikle, Managing Director of Hamlyns of Scotland said: “The World Porridge Making Championship is a real highlight of Scotland’s food calendar and we can’t wait to return to Carrbridge in October to celebrate 30 years of competition. The international line up will make the event particularly special this year, and it will be really interesting to try all the different recipes from around the world.” 


Charlie Miller added. “It is wonderful to see so many past champions returning. The defending champion Lisa will need to be at her very best to head them off along with the aspiring new entrants. As always we are so grateful to our main sponsor Hamlyns of Scotland and all the other businesses and volunteers that support the event.“


No competition is complete without its judges. The 2023 line-up was led by chief judge Neil Mugg, Chef Lecturer at Perth College UHI, whose impressive CV includes resort pastry chef at Gleneagles. Alongside Neil are New Zealand-born chef Kirsten Gilmour, owner of The Bothy Bakery in Grantown on Spey, and Christina Conte, an LA-based Scottish Italian food blogger, and previous Speciality Porridge champion. The audience will be guided through the day by the Master of Ceremonies Masterchef finalist and proud Highlander Sarah Rankin.


Sarah said. “I am thrilled to be MCing the 30th Annual Golden Spurtle Porridge Championship, and cannot wait to see what exciting creations from this most humble of ingredients our contestants will wow the judges with this year. With such an international field this promises to be a wonderful event, celebrating oats, Scotland, and the creativity of porridge lovers everywhere. The day is always a fun and welcoming one and I can't wait to get chatting to the porridge cooks old and new in beautiful Carrbridge.

The full list of competitors for the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championships 2023 (listed under preferred national flag):

Adam Kiani, Pakistan

Adam Miller, Scotland

Alison Taylor, Scotland

Amy Wilson, USA

Anna Kemper, Germany

Anthony Comber-Badu, Ghana

Chris Ormiston, Scotland

David Buchanan, Indonesia

Doug Mackay, Scotland

Duncan Chisholm, Scotland

Euan Grant, Scotland

Gillian Francis, England

Ian Bishop, Scotland, World Champion 2008

James Dobbie, UK

James Leach, UK

Kellie Spooner, Northern Ireland

Lilian Campbell, Australia

Lisa Williams, UK, World Champion 2019, 2022

Lucy Hunter, UK

Miriam Groot, Netherlands, World Champion (Speciality) Virtual 2021

Natasha Delmar, Ukraine

Nick Barnard, England, World Champion (Speciality) 2013, 2019

Paula Bendiek, Germany

Pavlos Theodorou, Cyprus

Robert Fisher, UK

Ruth Groombridge, Zimbabwe

Simon Rookyard, Wales, World Champion 2015

Tim Sumner, UK

Toby Wilson, Australia

Tracy Griffen, Leith

The event was entertaining from start to finish! Discovering new takes on porridge dishes including some unique ingredients such as cloud-berries, birch maple, chocolate, and even hallucinogenic tea, tasting after each round with a disclaimer on the porridge including hallucinogenic ingredients, learning a thing or two about some local whiskies, with the obligated tasting, well someone had to (wink). After all the rounds, it was time for the grand finale. Congratulations to Adam Kiani and speciality winner Bobby Fisher.

Golden Spurtle Winner 2023
Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championship Winner Adam Kiani ©M D Harding Travel Photography

We thoroughly enjoyed it! The Carrbridge Old Village Hall was a hive of activity from 10am through to the closing awards around 5pm. It is said that over 400 people visited throughout the day.

If you are planning on visiting Carrbridge for this year's annual Golden Spurtle Porridge Making Competition (5th October 2024) do book your accommodation and evening meals ASAP to avoid disappointment!





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